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NICHOL'S SERIES OF STANDARD DIVINES. 



PURITAN PERIOD. 



BY JOHN C. MILLER, D.D., 

LINCOLN OOLLEQB ; HONORAET CANON OF WORCBSTEB; RECTOR OF ST MARTIN'S, BIRMINGHAM. 



THE 



WORKS OP THOMAS BROOKS. 



VOL. II. 



COUNCIL OF PUBLICATION. 



W. LINDSAY ALEXANDER, D.D., Professor of Theology, Congregational 
Union, Edinburgh. 

JAMES BEGG, D.D., Minister of Newington Free Church, Edinburgh. 

THOMAS J. CRAWFORD, D.D., S.T.P., Professor of Divinity, University, 
Edinburgh, 

D. T. K. DRUMMOND, M.A., Minister of St Thomas's Episcopal Church, 
Edinburgh. 

WILLIAM H. GOOLD, D.D., Professor of Biblical Literature and Church 
History, Reformed Presbyterian Church, Edinburgh. 

ANDREW THOMSON, D.D., Minister of Broughton Place United Presby- 
terian Church, Edinburgh. 

Enteral suitor. 
REV. THOMAS SMITH, M.A., EDiNBimGH. 



THE COMPLETE WORKS 



THOMAS BROOKS. 



BY THE REV. ALEXANDER BALLOCH GROSART, 
LIVEBPOOL. 



VOL. II. 



! containing: 

( (• 

AN ABK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS THE PRJXV-KkS OF HEAVEN HEAVEN 

ON EAETH ; OR, WELL-GROtJ^ESll) ASSURANCE. ' ,^ , , 






EDINBURGH: JAMES NICHOL. 

LONDON : JAMES NISBET AND CO. DUBLIN : G. HERBERT. 



M.DCCC.LXVI. 



XDiNBUBoa : 

PKllrntD BT JOHN OREIO AND SON, 
OLD PHl'SIC OABSENS. 



^^o?o7j^^ 



/ 









CONTENTS. 



I.-AN ARK FOE ALL GOD'S NOAHS. 



Epistle Dedicatory, 
Introduction, 

Analysis of Text and Topics, 
I. What a Portion God is. 



(1- 
(2. 
(8. 

(4. 
(5. 
(6. 

(7. 

(8. 

(9. 
(10. 
(11. 
(12. 
(13 
(14. 



Present, 

Immense, . . . 

All-sufficient, 

Absolute, needful, and necessary, 

Pure and universal, 

Glorious, happy, and blessed, 

Peculiar, 

Universal, 

Safe and secure, . 

Suitable, 

Incomprehensible, 

Inexhaustible, 

Soul-satisfying, . 

Permanent, indefinite, never-failing, everlasting. 



(15.) Incomparable, 

n. Grounds of Title unto God as a Portion. 

(1.) Free favour and love of God, 
(2.) Covenant of grace, 
(3.) Marriage-union, 

II. Improvement of the Truth that God is a Portion. 

(1.) Fret not on account of prosperity of the wicked 

(2.) Be content with present condition, 

(3.) Those mistaken who judge saints to be unhappy, 

(4.) Set not affections on earthly portions, 

(5.) Be cheerful under all crosses and troubles, 

(6.) Away with all expedients and compliances, 

(7.) Glory in God as a portion, 



PAGE 

3-9 

10 

11-12 

12-13 
13-15 
15-16 
17-18 
18-21 
21-22 
22-23 
23-26 
26-27 
27-28 
28-30 
30-32 
82-35 
35-37 
37-39 



89-40 
40 

40-41 



41-47 

47-52 
52-54 
54-56 
56-58 
68-59 
59-60 



CONTENTS. 



(8.) Shall want nothing good, 

(9.) Away with inordinate cares, 
(10.) All is the believer's, 
(11.) God no hurtful portion, . 
(12.) Let the saints think of G-od as their portion, 
(13.) Be not afraid to die, 
(14.) Make it fully out that God is your portion ; its advantages, 

Question 1. How shall we know whether God be our portion ? 
Answered, 
,, 2. How shall we evidence this ? Answered, 
Incitements to see that God is our portion, 
How to make God our portion. 
Objections answered, .... 

Positions that may be useful. 



PAGE 

60-62 
62-66 
66-67 
67-71 
71-73 
7a-74 
74-82 

82-106 
106-111 
111-115 
115-119 
119-127 
127-136 



II -THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. 



Epistle Dedicatory, being an Eposition and Application of 

Mat. VI. 9, . . . . . . 189-161 

To the Keader, ...... 162-163 

Doctrine : That closet prayer or private prayer is an indispensable 

duty, &c., proved, ..... 165-166 

Twenty Arguments for Closet-Prayer. 

(1.) The most eminent saints have done it, . . . 166-169 

(2.) Christ did it, . . . . . . 169-171 

(3.) A distinction from hjrpocrites, .... 171-172 

(4.) Can thus more fully unbosom ourselves, . . . 172-173 

(5.) Secret duties shall have open rewards, . . . 173-174 

(6.) God most manifests himself in private, . . . 174-177 

(7.) Life is the only time for it, ... . 177 

(8.) The great prevalency of it, . . . . 177-183 

(9.) The most soul-enriching of duties, . . . 183-184 

(10.) Take many things together, .... 184 

(11.) Christ much delighted by, .... 185 

(12.) Believers only get God's secrets, . . . 185-188 

(13.) The Christian's meat and drink in difficulties, . 190-191 

(14.) God is omnipresent, ..... 191-192 

(15.) Private prayer neglected brings neglect to public prayer, . 192-193 
(16.) The times call aloud for it, . . . .193-194 

(17.) The near relations to the Lord call for it, . . . 1^4-195 

(18.) God hath given special marks of favour in secret prayer, . 195-196 

(19.) Satan, a great enemy to it, . . .• . 196-197 
(20.) Believers, those from whom private prayer may be looked 

for, ...... 197-198 

The doctrine condemns five sorts of persons, . . . 199-202 

Six objections stated and met, ..... 202-248 

Eleven advices and counsels, ..... 248-277 

Means and rules, . . . . . . . 277-299 



CONTENTS. VU 

PAGE 



UI.-HEAVEN ON EAKTH. 

Epistle Dedicatory, ...... 808-311 

To THE Saints, ....... 812-315 

The Preface, Touching the Nature of Assurance, . . 816-317 

Chapter I. 

Proving by ten arguments, that persons in this life may attain 
to a well-grounded assurance of their everlasting happiness 
and blessedness, ...... 818-328 

This truth improved against Papists and Arminians, . . 828-830 

Chapter II. 

Containing several weighty propositions about assurance, . 330-346 

Further in this chapter is shewed, ten special seasons and times, 
wherein the Lord is pleased to give to his people a sweet 
assurance of his favour and love, . . . . 346-873 

Chapter III. 

Containing ten hindrances and impediments that keep poor souls 
from assurance, with the means and helps to remove those 
impediments and hindrances .... 878-892 

Further in this chapter is laid down six motives to provoke Chris- 
tians to put out all theu: strength and might against bosom- 
sins, against the iniquity of their heels, against the sins 
that do so easily beset them, .... 392-395 

Also five means to help on the mortification and destruction of 

bosom-sins, . . . . . . 395-897 

Chapter IV. 

Containing ten motives or incentives, to provoke all that want 
assurance, to be restless in their spirits till they have 
obtained it, ...... 397-406 

Also in this chapter you have ten advantages that will redound 
to such souls that get a well-grounded assurance of their 
everlasting happiness and blessedness, . . . 406-413 

Chapter V. 

Shewing nine ways and means of gaining a well-grounded assur- 
ance, &c. In the handling of which several considerable 
questions are also resolved, .... 413-483 

Also in this chapter eight special things are discovered : 
As first, what knowledge that is that doth accompany salvation, 438-446 
Secondly, What faith that is that accompanies salvation, that 

borders upon salvation, ..... 446-459 
Also several hints are given, both concerning strong and weak 
!< foith, ....... 460-461 



CONTENTS. 



Thirdly, What repentance that is that accompanies salvation, . 

Fourthly, What obedience that is that accompanies salvation, . 

Fifthly, What love that is that accompanies salvation, . 

Fourteen ways whereby that love that doth accompany salva- 
tion doth display and manifest itself. 

Sixthly, What prayer that is that doth accompany salvation, . 

Eight differences betwixt the prayers of souls in Christ, and 
souls out of Christ, betwixt the prayers of believers and 

, and unbelievers, ...... 

Seventhly, What perseverance that is that doth accompany sal- 
vation, ....... 

Eighthly, What hope that is that doth accompany salvation. 

Two cautions upon the whole, . . . . . 



PAGE 

461-468 
468-476 
476-481 

481-490 
490-496 



497-501 

501-503 
503-511 
511-512 



Chapter VI. 



Shewing eight notable differences between a true and a counter- 
feit assurance, &c., ..... 512—519 

Also in this chapter is set forth in nine special things, the 
difference between the whisperings of the Holy Spirit and 
the hissings of the old serpent, &c., . . . 519-523 



Chapter VII. 

Containing answers to several special questions about assurance : 

As first, How those should strengthen and maintain their 
assurance that have obtained it, &c. This question is 
answered nine ways, ..... 523-527 

The second question is, how such sad souls may be supported 
from fainting and languishing, that have lost that sweet and 
blessed assurance that once they had. Six answers are 
given to the question, ..... 527-529 

The third question is, how such souls may recover assurance, 
who once had it but have now lost it. Five answers 
given to this question, . . . . . 530-532 

Some uses of the point, ..... 532-533 



AN ARK FOU ALL GOD'S NOAHS. 



VOL. II. 



NOTE. 

The ' Ark for All God's Noahs' was originally puhlished in 1662, and the next edition 
— from which our text is taken — appeared in 1666, but is not designed ' second ' or other- 
■wise. In this, as in other cases, the Publisher seems to have kept the types standing, 
and to have issued rapidly large impressions without ever changing the date. The title- 
page is given below.* A quaint and beautiful little edition of this book bears the imprint 
' Glasgow College, Printed by Alex. Millar, and are to be sold in his shop opposite to the 
Well, in the Salt Mercat, 1738." 12mo. G. 

* AN ^ 

AKKE 

FOB ALL 

GODS NOAHS 
In a gloomy stormy day ; 

OR, 

The best Wine reserved till last. 

OB, 

The transcendent Excellency of a 

believers portion above all earthly 

Portions whatsoever : 

Discovered in several SERMONS, 

which may be of singular use at all 

times, but especially in these Breaking times, 

wherein many have, and many daily do 

break for more than their all, and 

wherein many thousands are 

turned out of all, &c. 

. By THOMAS BROOKS, late Preacher of the 
Gospel at Margarets New Fishstreet, and still 
Preacher of the Word in London, and 
Pastor of a Congregation there. 

1 looked on my right hand, and beheld, hut there was no 
man that would know me, refuge failed me, no man 
cared for my soul, I cryed unto thee, Lord, / said 

• thou art my refuge, and my portion in the land of the 
living, Psal. 142. 4, 5. 

London, Printed by M. S. for Henry Cripps, at the 

first entrance into Poj»e«-head Alley, next 

to Lombard street, 1666. 



EPISTLE DEDICATORY. 



To all the merchants and tradesmen of England, especially these of the 
city of London, with all other sorts and ranks of persons that 
either have or would have God for their portion, grace, mercy, 
and peace be multiplied. 

Gentlemen, — The wisest prince that ever sat upon a throne hath 
told us, that *a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of 
silver,' or as the Hebrew hath it, ' a word spoken, ViDN'py^ upon his 
wheels,' that is, rightly ordered, placed, and circumstantiated. Such a 
word is, of all words, the most excellent, the most prevalent, and the 
most pleasant word that can be spoken ; such a word is, indeed, a word 
that is like * apples of gold in pictures of silver.' Of all words such a 
word is most precious, most sweet, most desirable, and most delectable. 
O sirs ! to time a word, to set a word upon the wheels, to speak a 
word to purpose, is the project of this book. Though all truths are 
glorious, yet there is a double glory upon seasonable truths ; and, there- 
fore, I have made it my great business in this treatise to hold forth as 
seasonable a truth, and as weighty a truth, and as comfortable and 
encouraging a truth, as any I know in all the book of God. The mother 
of King Cyrus* willed, that the words of those that spoke unto her son 
should be in silk, but certainly seasonable words are always better than 
silken words. 

Every prudent husbandman observes his fittest season to sow his 
seeds, and therefore some he sows in the autumn and fall of the leaf, 
and some in the spring and renewing of the year ; some he sows in a 
dry season, and some he sows in a wet ; some he sows in a moist clay, 
and some he sows in a sandy dry ground, as the Holy Ghost speaks, 
' He soweth the fitches and the cumin, and casteth in wheat by mea- 
sure,' Isa. xxviii. 25. And so all spiritual husbandmen must wisely 
observe their fittest seasons for the sowing of that immortal seed that 
Good hath put into their hands ; and such a thing as this is I have had 
in my eye, but whether I have hit the mark or missed it, let the Chris- 
tian reader judge. 

One speaking of the glory of heaven saith, * That the good things of 

eternal life are so many that they exceed number, so great that they 

exceed measure, and so precious that they are above all estimation,' &c.* 

The same may I say concerning the saint's portion, for certainly the 

« * Mandane, daughter of Astyages — G. ' Augustine. — G. 



4 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD S NOAHS. 

good things that are in their portion, in their God, are so many that 
they exceed number, so great that they exceed measure, and so precious 
that they are above all estimation. 

The same author in one of his epistles hath this remarkable relation, 
viz., That the same day wherein Jerome died, he was in his study, and 
had got pen, ink, and paper to write something of the glory of heaven 
to Jerome, and suddenly he saw a light breaking into his study, and 
smelt also a very sweet smell, and this voice he thought he heard : * O 
Augustine, what doest thou ? dost think to put the eea into a little 
vessel ? When the heavens shall cease from their continual motion, 
then shalt thou be able to understand what the glory of heaven 
is, and not before, except you come to feel it as I now do.'' Certainly, 
the glory of heaven is beyond all conception and all expression, and so 
is that portion that is a little hinted at in the following discourse. And, 
indeed, a full description of that God, that is the believer s portion, is a work 
too high for an Aaron when standing upon mount Hor ; or for a Moses, 
when standing on the top of Nebo after a Pisgah prospect ; yea, it is a 
work too high and too hard for all those blessed seraphims that are still 
a-crying before the throne of God, * Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of 
hosts.'^ No finite being, though never so glorious, can ever be able 
fully to comprehend an infinite being. In the second verse of the sixth 
of Isaiah, we read that each seraphim had six wings, and that with 
twain he covered the face of God, with twain his feet, and with twain 
he did fly, intimating, as one well observes upon the place,' that with 
twain they covered his face, the face of God, not their own face, and 
with twain they covered has feet, not their own feet. They covered 
his face, his beginning being unknown ; they covered his feet, his end 
being incomprehensible ; only the middle are to be seen, the things 
which are, whereby there may be some glimmering knowledge made 
out what God is. The wise man hit it, when he said, ' That which is 
afar off and exceeding deep, who can find it out f Eccles. vii. 24.* Who 
can find out what God is ? The knowledge of him a prio7'i is so far 
off, that he whose arm is able to break even a bow of steel is not able 
to reach it ; so far off, that he who is able to make his nest with the 
eagle is not able to fly unto it ; and so exceeding deep, that he who could 
follow the leviathan could not fathom it ; that he who could set out 
the centre of the earth, is not able to find it out ; and who then is able 
to reach it ? In a word, so far ofl'and so deep too, that ' the depth saith. 
It is not in me ; and the sea saith, It is not in me.' It is such a deep 
to men and angels as far exceeds the capacity of both. Augustine 
speaking to that question, What God is ? gives this answer :* ' Surely 
such a one as he, who, when he is spoken of, cannot be spoken of ; who, 
when he is considered, cannot be considered of; who, when he is com- 
pared to anything, cannot be compared ; ami when he is defined, 
groweth greater by defining of him. If that great apostle, that learned 
his divinity among the angels, yea, to whom the Holy Ghost was an 

* See Index under Jerome for other references to this. — O. 
' Nnm. XX. 28 ; Deut. xxxii. 49, and xxxiv. 1 ; Isa. vi. 3. 

" Vide Origen on the text. 

* There are many depths in God which our shallow reason cannot fathom ; and, indeed, 
it is the credit of our religion, and the glory of our God, that he is unsearchable. 

' Augustine, defide contra Arrianum, cap. vi. 



EPISTLE DEDICATORY. 5 

immediate tutor, did know but * in part/ then certainly those that are 
most acute and judicious in divine knowledge may very well conclude, 
that tbey know but part of that part that was known to him/' As for my 
own part,. I dare pretend but to a spark of that knowledge that others . 
have attained to, and yet who can tell but that God may turn this 
spark into such a flame as may warm the hearts of many of his dear 
and precious ones. Much is done many times by a spark. 

O sirs ! catch not at the present profits, pleasured, preferments, and 
honours of this world, but ' lay up a good foundation for the time to 
come,' provide for eternity, make sure your interest and propriety in 
God. It was an excellent saying of Lewis of Bavyer [Bavaria ?], em- 
peror of Germany : ' Such goods,' said he, ' are worth getting and own- 
ing, as will not sink or wash away if a shipwreck happen.' How many 
of you have lost your all by shipwrecks ! and how hath divine provi- 
dence by your multiplied crosses and losses taught you that, that the 
good things and the great things of this world cannot be made sure ! 
How many of you have had rich inheritances left you by your fathers, 
besides the great portions that you have had with your wives, and 
the vast estates that you have gained by trading ; but what is become of 
all ? Is not all buried in the deep, or in the grave of oblivion ? Oh 
the unconstancy and the grand impostury of this world ! Oh the flux 
and reflux of riches, greatness, honours, and preferments T How many 
men have we seen shining in their worldly pomp and glory like stars 
in the firmament, who are now vanished into smoke or comets ! How 
hath the moon of many great men's riches and honour been eclipsed 
at the full, and the sun of their pomp gone down at noon ! 

' It was,' saith the historian [Justinian], ' a wonderful precedent of 
vanity and variety of human condition to see mighty Xerxes to float 
and fly away in a small vessel, who but a little before wanted sea-room 
for his navy.' The Dutch, to express the world's vanity and uncer- 
tainty, have very wittily pictured a man with a full blown bladder on 
his shoulders, and another standing by pricking the bladder with a pin, 
with this motto, Quam subito, How soon is all blown down ! I am not 
willing to make the porch too wide, else I might have given you famous 
instances of the vanity and uncertainty of all worldly wealth, pomp, and 
glory, from the Assyrian, Chaldean, Persian, Grecian, and Roman king- 
doms, whose glory now lies all in the dust. By all this it is most 
evident that earthly portions cannot be made sure, they ' make them- 
selves wings, and they fly away,' Prov. xxiii. 5. 

Oh ! but now God is a portion that may be made sure. In the time 
of the Marian persecution, there was a woman, who, being convened 
before bloody Bonner, then bishop of London, upon the trial of religion, 
he threatened her that he would take away her husband from her : 
saith she, Christ is my husband. I will take away thy child ; Christ, 
saith she, is better to me than ten sons. I will strip thee, saith he, of 
all thy outward comforts ; but Christ is mine, saith she, and you can- 
not strip me of him.'* A Christian may be stripped of anything but his 
God ; he may be stripped of his estate, his friends, his relations, his 

^ Such are not only good echolars, but also great scholars, who have learned con- 
tentedly to be ignorant where God would not have them knowing. 
^ ' Mr Foxe, Acts and Monum. [See under Bonner. — G.] 



6 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. 

liberty, his life, but he can never be stripped of his God. As God is a 
portion that none can give to a Christian but himself, so God is a por- 
tion that none can take from a Christian but himself; and, therefore, 
a.^ ever you would have a sure portion, an abiding portion, a lasting 
portion, yea, an everlasting portion, make sure of God for your portion. 

O Sirs ! that you would judge that only worth much now, which 
will be found of much worth at last, when you shall lie upon a dying 
bed, and stand before a judgment-seat. Oh that men would prize and 
value all earthly portions now, as they will value them when they come 
to die, and when their souls shall sit upon their trembling lips, and 
when there shall be but a short step between them and eternity. Oh, 
at Avhat a poor rate, at what a low rate do men value their earthly por- 
tions ! then, certainly, it will be their very great wisdom to value their 
earthly portions now as they would value them then. And oh that men 
would value this glorious, this matchless portion that is held forth in 
this treatise now, as they will value it and prize it when they come to 
die, and when they come to launch out into the ocean of eternity ! I 
have read of a stationer, who, being at a fair, hung out several pictures 
of men famous in their kinds, among which he had also the picture of 
Christ, upon which divers men bought according to their several 
fancies : the soldier buys his Caesar, the lawyer his Justinian, the 
physician his Galen, the philosopher his Aristotle, the poet his Virgil, 
the orator his Cicero, and the divine his Augustine ; but all this while 
the picture of Christ hung by as a thing of no value, till a poor chap- 
man, that had no more money than would purchase that, bought it, 
sayiug. Now every man hath taken away his god, let me have mine 
too. O Sirs ! it would make any gracious, any serious, any ingenious, 
any conscientious heart to bleed, to see at what a high rate all sorts 
and ranks of men do value earthly portions, which at best are but coun- 
terfeit pictures, whenas this glorious portion that is here treated on 
hangs by as a thing of no value, of no price. Most men are mad upon 
the world, and so they may have much of that for their portion, they 
care not whether ever they have God for their portion or no. Give them 
but a palace in Paris, and then with that French duke [the Duke of 
Burbone (Bourbon)] they care not for a place in paradise ; give them 
but a mess of pottage, and let who will take the birthright ; give them 
but manna in a wilderness, and let who will take the land of Canaan ; 
give them but ground which is pleasant and rich, and then with the 
Keubenites they will gladly take up their rest on this side the Holy 
Land ; give them but their bags full, and their barns full, and then 
with the rich fool in the Gospel they can think of nothing but of taking 
their ease, and of eating and drinking, and making merry, Luke xii. 
l()-22. So brutish and foolish are they in their understandings, as if 
their precious and immortal souls were good for nothing but as salt to 
keep their bodies from rotting and stinking. 

Oh that these men would seriously consider, that as a cup of pleasant 
wine, offered to a condemned man in the way to his execution, and as 
the feast of him who sat under a naked sword, hanging perpendicularly 
over his head by a slender thread,^ and as Adam's forbidden fruit, 
seconded by a flaming sword, and as Belshazzar's dainties, overlooked 
* Damocles, Cicero. Ihuc. v. 21 ; Horace, Carm. iii. I. xvii. — G. 



EPISTLE DEDICATORY. 7 

by an handwriting against the wall ; such and only such are all earthly 
portions to those that have not God for their portion. 

Well, gentlemen, remember this, there is no true happiness to be 
found in any earthly portions. Solomon, having made a critical in- 
quiry after the excellency of all creature comforts, gives this in as the 
ultimate extraction from them all, ' Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.' 
If you should go to all the creatures round, they will tell you that 
happiness is not in them. If you should go to the earth, the earth will 
tell you that happiness grows not in the furrows of the field. If you 
go to the sea, the sea will tell you that happiness is not in the treasures 
of the deep. If you go to the beasts of the field, or to the birds of the 
air, they will tell you that happiness is not to be found on their backs, 
nor in their bowels. If you go to your bags, or heaps of gold and 
silver, they will tell you that happiness is not to be found in them. 
If you go to crowns and sceptres, they will tell you that happiness is 
too precious and too glorious a gem to be found in them. 

As it is not the great cage that makes the bird sing, so it is not the 
great estate that makes the happy life, nor the great portion that makes 
the happy soul. There is no true comfort nor no true happiness to be 
drawn out of the standing pools of outward sufiiciencies. All true com- 
fort and happiness is only to be found in having of an all-sufficient 
God for your portion: Ps. cxliv. 15, 'Happy is that people that is in 
such a case, yea, happy is that people whose God is the Lord.' And 
therefore, as ever you would be happy in both worlds, it very highly 
concerns you to get an interest in God, and to be restless in your own 
souls till you come to enjoy God for your portion. 

A man that hath God for his portion is a non-such ; he is the rarest 
and the happiest man in the world ; he is like the morning star in the 
midst of the clouds ; he is like the moon when it is at full ; he is like 
the flower of the roses in the spring of the year ; he is like the lilies 
by the springs of waters ; he is like the branches of frankincense in the 
time of summer ; he is like a vessel of massy gold that is set about with 
all manner of precious stones.^ 

Nothing can make that man miserable that hath God for his portion, 
nor nothing can make that man happy that wants God for his portion : 
the more rich, the more wretched ; the more great, the more graceless ; 
the more honourable, the more miserable that man will be that hath 
not God for his portion. The Sodomites were very wealthy, and who 
more wanton and mcked than thej- ? The Egyptians and Babylonians 
were very rich, great, and potent in the world, and what greater op- 
pressors and persecutors of the people of God than these ? Oh the 
slavery, the captivity, and the woful misery of the people of God under 
those cruel tyrants ! Have not the Nimrods, the Nebuchadnezzars, the 
Belshazzars, the Alexanders, and the Csesars, &c., been commonly the 
lords of the world, and who so abominably wicked as these ? No men 
for wickedness have been able to match them or come near them. 

It hath been long since observed to my hand, that Daniel sets forth 
the several monarchies of the world by sundry sorts of cruel beasts, to 
shew that as they were gotten by beastly subtilty and cruelty, so they 
were supported and maintained by brutish sensuality, craft, and tyranny 
( * This you will find fully cleared up in the following treatise. 



8 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. 

I have read of a Lacedaemonian that said, that they well deserved 
death that did not quench tjrranny, they should quite have consumed 
it with fire. But whether he hit the mark or missed it, let the reader 
judge. Well, Sirs ! you may be the lords of this world, and yet you 
will certainly be miserable in another world, except you get God for 
your portion. The top of man's happiness in this world lies in his 
having of God for his portion. He that hath God for his portion en- 
joys all ; and he that wants an interest and propriety in God enjoys 
nothing at all. 

Gentlemen, I have read of an heathen who, seeing a sudden ship- 
wreck of all his wealth, said, Well, fortune, I see now that thou wouldst 
have me to be a philosopher. Oh that you would say under all your 
heavy losses and crosses, Well ! we now see that God would have us 
' lay up treasure in heaven,' Mat. vi. 19, 20; we now see that God would 
have us look after a better portion than any this world affords ; we 
now see that it highly concerns us to secure our interest and propriety 
in God ; we now see that to enjoy God for our portion is the one thing 
necessary. Have not many of you said, nay sworn, that if you might 
but see and enjoy the delight of your eyes, that then you should have 
a sweeping trade, and abound in all plenty and prosperity, and grow 
rich and great and glorious in the world, and be eased of everything 
that did but look like a burden, &c. If it be indeed thus with you, 
why do you so complain, murmur, and repine ? and why do many of 
you walk up and down the Exchange and streets with tears in your 
eyes, and with heaviness in your hearts, and with cracked credits, and 
threadbare coats, and empty purses ? and why are so many of you 
broke, and so many prisoners, and so many hid, and so many fled ? 
But if it be otherwise, and that you are sensible that you have put a 
cheat upon yourselves, I say not upon others, and that as you have 
been self-flatterers, so you have been self-deceivers, the more highly it 
concerns you to do yourselves, your souls that right, as to make sure 
[of] God for your portion. For what else can make up those woful 
disappointments under which you are fallen ? 

It is a sad sight to see all the arrows that men shoot to fall upon 
their own heads, or to see them twist a cord to hang themselves, or to 
see men dig a pit for others and to fall into it themselves ; and it is but 
justice that men should bake as they brew, and that they which brew 
mischief should have the first and largest draught of it themselves. 

Now the best way to prevent so sad a sight and so great a mischief, 
is to get God for your portion : for when once God comes to be a man's 
portion, then 'all things shall work together for his good,' Rom. viii. 28, 
and then God will preserve him from such hurtful and mischievous 
actings. The whole world is a great bedlam, and multitudes there are 
that think madly, and that design madly, and that talk madly, and 
that act madly, and that walk madly. Now as you would not be found 
in the number of those bedlams, it highly concerns you to get God for 
your portion, that so you may be filled with that wisdom that may pre- 
serve you from the folly and madness of this mad world. 

Gentlemen, the following sermons I preached in the year 1660, at 
Olave's, Bread Street, and God blessed them then to those Christians 
that attended on my ministry, and I hope he will bless them also to 



EPISTLE DEDICATORY. 9 

the internal and eternal welfare of your souls, to whom they are now 
dedicated. They are much enlarged; the profit will be yours, the 
labour hath been mine. I judge them very seasonable and suitable to 
present dispensations, else they had not seen the light at this time. 
Curiosity is the spiritual adultery of the soul ; curiosity is that green- 
sickness of the soul, whereby it longs for novelties, and loathes sound 
and wholesome truths ; it is the epidemical distemper of this age and 
hour. 

And therefore, if any of you are troubled with this itch of curiosity, 
and love to be wise above what is written, and delight to scan the 
choice mysteries of religion by carnal reason, and affect elegant expres- 
sions and seraphical notions, and the flowers of rhetoric, more than 
sound and wholesome truths, then you may eiise yourselves, if you 
please, of the trouble of reading this following treatise ; only remember 
thi^, that the prudent husbandman looks more and delights more in the 
ripeness and soundness and goodness of the corn that is in his field, 
than he doth at the beauty of the cockle ; and remember, that no man 
can live more miserably than he that lives altogether upon sauces ; and 
he that looks more at the handsomeness than he doth at the whole- 
someness of the dishes of meat that are set before him, may well pass 
for a fool. 

Well, gentlemen, for a close, remember this, that as Noab was drunk 
with his own wine, and as Goliath was beheaded by his own sword, and 
as the rose is destroyed by the canker that it breeds in itself, and as 
Agrippina was killed by Nero, to whom she gave breath ; so if ever you 
are eternally destroyed, you will be destroyed by yourselves ; if ever 
you are undone, you will be undone by yourselves ; if ever you are 
scourged to death, it will be by rods of your own making ; and if ever 
the bitter cup of damnation be put into your hands, it will be found to 
be of your own preparing, mingling, and embittering. 

Behold, I have set life and death, heaven and hell, glory and misery, 
before you in this treatise ; and therefore, if you will needs choose death 
rather than life, hell rather than heaven, misery rather than glory, what 
can be more just than that you should perish to all eternity ? If you 
will not have God for your portion, you shall be sure to have wrath for 
your portion, and hell for your portion, &c. 

Well, sirs ! remember this at last : every man shall only thank his 
own folly for his own bane, his own sin for his own everlasting shame, 
his own iniquity for his own endless misery. 

I have now no more to do but to improve all the interest that I have 
in heaven, that this treatise may be blessed to all your souls, and that 
you all experience what it is to have God for your portion; for that will 
be my joy as well as yours, and my crown as weU as yours, and my 
glorying as well as yours, in the great day of our Lord Jesus ; and so 'I 
commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to 
build you up, and to give you an inheritance among them that are 
Banctified/ Acts xx. 32 ; and rest, gentlemen, your souls' servant, 

Thomas Brooks. 



A MATCHLESS PORTION. 



The Lord is my portion, saith Tny soul ; therefore vnll I hope 
in him.r—liAM.. III. 24. 

Certainly if Ennius could pick out gold out of a dunghill, I may, by 
divine assistance, much better pick out golden matter out of such a 
golden mine as my text is, to enrich the souls of men withal. The best 
of painters [Apelles], to draw an exquisite Venus, had set before him 
an hundred choice and selected beauties, to take from one an eye, 
another a lip, a third a smile, a fourth an hand, and from each of them 
that special lineament in which the most excelled ; but I have no need of 
any other scripture to be set before me to draw forth the excellency of the 
saints' portion than that which I have now pitched upon ; for the beauty, 
excellency, and glory of an hundred choice scriptures are epitomized in 
this one. 

The Jewish doctors and other writers differ about the time of Jere- 
miah's penning this book of the Lamentations ; but to be ignorant of 
the circumstance of time when this book was made, is such a crime as 
I suppose will not be charged upon any man's account in the great day 
of our Lord Jesus. 

Doubtless this book of the Lamentations was composed by Jeremiah 
in the time of the Babylonian captivity. In this book the prophet 
sadly laments and bewails the grievous calamities and miseries that had 
befallen the Jews, viz. the ruin of their state, the devastation of their 
land, the destruction of their glorious city and temple, which was the 
great wonder of the world, the profanation of all his holy things, the 
contemptible and deplorable condition of all sorts, ranks, and degrees of 
men ; and then he complains of their sins as the procuring causes of all 
those calamities that God in his righteousness had inflicted upon them. 
He exhorts them also to patience under the mighty hand of God, and 
stirs them up to repent and reform, as they would have their sins par- 
doned, judgments removed, divine wrath pacified, their insulting enemies 
suppressed, and former acts and grants of favour and grace restored to 
them. 

But to come to the words of my text. 

The Lord Jehovah, from Havah, lie was. This name Jehovah is the 
most proper name of God, and it is never attributed to any but to GoA 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. U 

1. First, Jehovah sets out God's eternity, in that it containeth all 
times, future, present, and past.' 

2. Secondly, It sets out also God's self-existency, coming from havah, 
to be. 

3. Thirdly, When either some special mercy is promised, or some 
extraordinary judgment is threatened, then the name of Jehovah is com- 
monly annexed ; to shew that that God whose being is from himself, and 
who gives a being to all his creatures both on heaven and on earth, will 
certainly give a being to his promises and threatenings, and not fail to 
accomplish the words that are gone out of his mouth. 

4. Fourthly, This name Jehovah consists only of quiescent letters, 
i. e. letters of rest, as the Hebrews call them, to shew that there is no 
rest till we come to Jehovah, and that in him we may safely and securely 
rest, as the dove did in Noah's ark. 

'Is my portion.' Chelki, from P^^, chalak; the Hebrew word signi- 
fies to divide. He alludes, as I take it, to the dividing of the land of 
Canaan amongst the Israelites by lot. 'The Lord,' saith he, *is my 
portion,' my part, my lot; and with this portion I rest fully satisfied, 
as the Israelites were to do with their parts and portions in that plea- 
sant laud. It is true, saith Jeremiah, in the name of the church, I am 
thus and thus afflicted, and sorely distressed on all hands; but yet 'the 
Lord is my portion,' and that supports and bears up my spirits from 
fainting and sinking in this evil day. 

'Saith my soul.' Naphahi, from ^^^, nephesh; the Hebrew word 
hath nine several senses or significations in the Scripture. But let this 
suffice, that by soul here in the text we are to understand the heart, 
the mind, the spirit, and the understanding of a man. Well, saith the 
prophet, though I am in a sea of sorrow, and in a gulf of misery, yet my 
heart tells me that ' the Lord is my portion ;' my mind tells me that 
' the Lord is my portion ;' my spirit tells me that * the Lord is my por- 
tion ;' and my understanding tells me that ' the Lord is my portion ;' 
and therefore I will bear up bravely in the face of all calamities and 
miseries. 

' Therefore will I hope in him.' The Hebrew word ?*niK, that is here 
rendered hope, is from ^m, JacA-aZ, that signifies both hoping, expecting, 
and trusting ; also it signifies a patient waiting upon the Lord.^ The 
prophet Jeremiah had not only a witness above him, but also a witness 
within him, that the Lord was his portion ; and therefore he resolves 
firmly to hope in the Lord, and sweetly to trust on the Lord, and 
quietly and patiently to wait upon the Lord, till God should turn his 
storm into a calm, and his sad winter into a blessed summer. 

In my text there are three things observable : 

First, An assertion or proposition in those words, ' The Lord is my 
portion.' 

Secondly, A proof of it in those words, ' saith my soul.' 

Thirdly, The use or inference from the premises in those words, 
« Therefore will I hope in him.' 

The words being thus opened, the proposition that I intend to insist 
upon is this, viz. : 

' The three syllables contain the notes of all times : Je, the time to come ; ho, the time 
present ; vaJi, the time past. * Gen. viii. 10 ; Isa. xlii. 4 ; Fa. xxxi. 25. 



12 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LaM. III. 24. 

Doct. That the Lord is the saints' portion, the Lord is the believers' 
portion. 

I shall call in a few scriptures to witness to the truth of this proposi- 
tion, and then I shall further open it to you : Ps. xvi. 5, ' The Lord is 
the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup : thou maintainest my 
lot ;' Ps. Ixxiii. 26, ' My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the 
strength of my heart, and my portion for ever ;' Ps. cxix. 57, ' Thou art 
my portion, O Lord: I have said that I would keep thy words;' Jer. x. 16, 
' The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is the former of all things ; 
and Israel is the rod of his inheritance : the Lord of hosts is his name.' 

Now for the further opening and clearing up of this great and glorious, 
this sweet and blessed truth, I shall endeavour to shew you, 

First, What a portion the Lord is to his saints, to his gracious ones ; and, 

Secondly, The reasons or grounds whereupon the saints have laid 
claim to God as their portion. 

I. For the first, What a portion God is. Now the excellency of this 
portion I shall shew you by an induction of particulars, thus : 

(1 .) First, God is a present portion. He is a portion in hand, he is 
a portion in possession. All the scriptures that are cited to prove the 
doctrine, evidence, this to be a truth, Ps. xlviii. 14, Isa. xxv. 9. And so 
doth that Ps. xlvi. 1, ' God is a very present help in trouble.' The He- 
brew word hetsaroth is in the plural number troubles, that is, God is a pre- 
sent help in many troubles, in great troubles, and in continued troubles. 
Betsaroth is from ntV, tsor, that signifies to straiten, and closely to 
besiege. It notes theextremityofaffliction and trouble.^ When the people 
of God are in their greatest extremity, then God will be a present help, 
a present portion to them : Isa. xliil 2, ' When thou passest through 
the waters, I will be with thee ; and through the rivers, the}'' shall not 
overflow thee : when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be 
burnt, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.' God will be a present 
help, a present relief, a present support, a present comfort, a present 
portion to his people, in all those great and various trials that they may 
be exercised under : Ps. cxlii. 5, * I cried unto thee, O Lord : I said, 
Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.' God is 
a portion in present possession, and not a portion in reversion. The 
psalmist doth not say. Thou mayest be my portion in another world, but 
'Thou art my portion in the land of the living;.' nor he doth not 
say. Thou wilt be my portion in another world, but ' Thou art my 
portion in the land of the living.' Look, as Elkanah gave Hannah 
a worthy portion in hand, 1 Sam. i. 5, so God gives himself to his 
saints as a worthy portion in hand. Many men wait, and wait long, 
for their earthly portions before they enjoy them ; yea,, their patience is 
oftentimes wore so threadbare in waiting, that they wish their parents 
in Abraham's bosom ; ay, and sometimes in a worser place, that so 
they may inherit their honours, lordships, lands,, treasures, &c. Look, 
as a bird in the hand is worth two, ay, ten, in the bu«h, so a portion in 
possession is worth two, ay, ten, in reversion. Now, God is a portion 
in present possession, and that speaks out the excellency of the saints' 

* Maximilian, the emperor, was so delighted with that sentence of Paul, SiDeus nobit- 
eum, if God be with us. who shall be against us ? that he caused it to be written upon the 
walk in most rooms of his palace. 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 13 

portion. As he in Plutarch said of the Scythians, that although they had 
no music nor vines among them, yet, as a better thing, they had gods, 
so I may say, though the saints have not this, nor that, nor the other 
earthly portion among them, yet, as a better thing, they have God for 
their present portion ; and what can they desire more ? But, 

(2.) Secondly, As God is a present portion, so God is an immense 
portion, he is a vast large portion, he is the greatest portion of all por- 
tions : ] Tim. vi. 15, 'Which in his times he shall shew, who is the 
blessed and only potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.' These 
words are a stately and lofty description of the greatness of God. The 
apostle heapeth up many words together, to shew that in greatness 
God excels all: Isa. xL 15-17, 'Behold, the nations are as a drop of a 
bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance : behold, he 
taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not suffi- 
cient to bum, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. All 
nations before him are as nothing ; and they are counted to him less 
than nothing, and vanity.' Not only one nation, but many nations ; 
yea, not only many nations, but all nations, in comparison of God, are 
but as the drop of a bucket ; and what is lesser than a drop ? and as the 
small dust of a balance ; and what is of lighter weight and lesser worth 
than the small dust or powder of the balance that hangs on the scale, 
and yet never alters the weight ? yea, they are nothing, they are less 
than nothing. And though Lebanon was a very great spacious forest, 
and had abundance of beasts in it, yet God was a God of that infinite 
greatness, that though all the beasts harbouring in that stately forest 
should be slain, and all the wood growing on it cut down to burn them 
with it, all would not make up a sacrifice any ways answerable or propor- 
tionable to his greatness with whom they had to do. And so in that 
Ps. cxlvii. 5, ' Great is our Lord, and of great power ; his understanding 
is infinite,' or as the Hebrew hath it, ' of his understanding there is no 
number.' Such is his greatness, that he knows not only all kinds and 
sorts of things, but even all particulars, though they exceed all number : 
Ps. cxlv. 3, ' Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his great- 
ness is unsearchable,' or as the Hebrew hath it, ' of his greatness there 
is no search.' God is infinitely above all names, all notions, all con- 
ceptions, all expressions, and all parallels : Ps. cl. 2, ' Praise him for his 
mighty acts, praise him according to his excellent greatness,' or great- 
ness of greatness, or abundance of greatness, or according to the multi- 
tude of his greatness, as the Hebrew and Greek carries it ; and so in 
that Deut. x. 17, ^ For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of 
lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not 
persons, nor taketh reward.'' God is the original cause of all greatness. 
All that greatness that is in any created beings, whether they are angels 
or men, is from God ; all their greatness is but a beam of his sun, a 
drop out of his sea, a mite out of his treasury. God is a God of that 
infinite greatness, that he fills heaven and earth with his pi-esence ; he 
is everywhere, and yet circumscribed to no place ; he is in all things, 
and without all things, and above all things, and this speaks out his 
immensity, Ps. cxxxix. Job had a very large portion, before God made 
a breach upon him : * He had seven thousand sheep, and three thousand 

! ^ In Daniel, God is called El Elim, the mighty of mightiea. 



14 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LaM. III. 24. 

camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and 
a very great household,' Job i. 3; but at last God gives him twice as 
much as he had at first, * for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six 
thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she 
asses,' Job xlii. 1 2. Cattle are only instanced in, because the wealth 
of that country consisted especially in cattle ; but yet, doubtless, Job 
had a great many other good things, as goods, lands, possessions, and 
stately habitations ; but what is all this to a saint's portion ? Certainly, 
had not Job had God for his portion, he had been but a rich fool, a 
golden beast, notwithstanding all the great things that God had heaped 
upon him. And so Ahasuerus had a very large portion, ' he reigned 
from India unto Ethiopia, over a hundred and seven and twenty pro- 
vinces,' Esther i. 1, 2 ; but what were all his provinces but as so many 
handfuls of dust, in comparison of the saints' portion ? The whole 
Turkish empire, saith Luther, is but a crust that God throws to a dog. 
Had a man all the world for his portion, it would be but a poor pittance. 
Nebuchadnezzar had a very great portion : Daniel v. 18, 19, ' O thou 
king, the most high God gave thy father Nebuchadnezzar a kingdom, 
and majesty, and glory, and honour. And for the majesty that he gave 
him, all people, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him : 
whom he would he slew, and whom he would he kept alive, and whom he 
would he set up, and whom he would he put down.' And so in that 
Jer. xxvii. 5-8, ' I have made the earth, the man, and the beast that 
are upon the ground, by ray great power, and by my outstretched arm ; 
and I have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me. And now 
have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, king of 
Babylon, my servant ; and the beasts of the field have I given him also 
to serve him. And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his 
son's son, until the very time of his land come ; and then many nations 
and great kings shall serve themselves of him. And it shall come to 
pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same 
Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck 
under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith 
the Lord, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, 
until I have consumed them by his hand." The portion that here God 
gives to Nebuchadnezzar is a wonderful large portion ; and yet all these 
nations that God gave to him were but as so many molehills, or as so 
many birds' nests, compared with a saint's portion. All nations are but 
as a drop of a bucket, that may in a moment be wiped off with a 
finger, in comparison of God, nay, they are all nothing ; but that word 
is too high, for they are less than nothing. Had a man as many worlds 
at his command as there be men on earth, or angels in heaven, yet 
they would be but as so many drops, or as so many atoms to a saint's 
portion. 

When Alcibiades was proudly boasting of his lands that lay together, 
Socrates wittily rebukes his pride by bringing him a map of the world, 
and wishing him to shew him where his lands did lie ; his lands would 
hardly amount to more than the prick of a pin.^ England, Scotland, 
and Ireland are but three little spots to the vast continents that be in 

' See also Jeremiah xxviii. 14. 

* Cf. Plato Conviv. Isocrates, De Bigis 12. — G. 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs, 15 

other parts of the world ; and what then is thy palace, thy lordships, 
thy manors, thy farm, thy house, thy cottage, but a little minum, but 
a prick of a pin to God, who is so great, so vast a portion ! Oh, sirs ! 
had you the understanding of all the angels in heaven, and the tongues 
of all the men on earth, yet you would not be able to conceive, express, 
or set forth the greatness and largeness of a saint's portion. Can you 
tell the stars of heaven, or number the sands of the sea, or stop the 
sun in his course, or raise the dead, or make a new world ? Then, and 
not till then, will you be able to declare what a great, what an immense 
portion God is. If * eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it 
entered into the heart of man to conceive, the great things that God 
hath laid up in the gospel' (for so that 1 Cor. ii. 9 is to be understood), 
oh how much less, then, are they able to declare the great things that 
God hath laid up for his people in another world ! But, 

(3.) Thirdly, As God is an immense portion, a large portion, so God 
is an all-sufficient poHion : Gen. xvii. 1, * And when Abram was 
ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto 
him, I am the Almighty God : walk before me, and be thou perfect. 
I am God Almighty,' or as some carry the words, ' I am God all-suffi- 
cient, or self-sufficient.'' God hath self-sufficiency and all-sufficiency 
in himself Some derive the word Shaddai, that is here rendered 
almighty or all-sufficient, from Shad, a dug, because God feeds his 
children with sufficiency of all good things, as the tender mother doth 
the sucking child: Gen. xv. 1, 'After these things the word of the 
Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram : I am thy 
shield, and thy exceeding great reward ;' I will be thy buckler to defend 
thee from all kind of mischief and miseries, and I will be thy exceeding 
great reward to supply thee with all necessary and desirable mercies ; 
and what can a saint desire more ? Ps. Ixxxiv. 1 1, * For the Lord God 
is a sun and shield ; the Lord will give grace and glory : and no good 
thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.' The sun, which 
among all inanimate creatures is the most excellent, notes all manner 
of excellency, provision, and prosperity ; and the shield, which among 
all artificial creatures is the chiefest, notes all manner of protection 
whatsoever. Under the name of grace, all spiritual good is wrapped 
up ; and under the name of glory, all eternal good is wrapped up ; and 
under the last clause, ' no good thing will he withhold,' is wrapped up 
all temporal good : all put together speaks out God to be an all-suffi- 
cient portion. Before the world was made, before angels or men had a 
being, God was as blessed and as glorious in himself as now he is. God 
is such an all-sufficient and such an excellent being, that nothing can 
be added to him to make him more excellent. Man in his best estate 
is so great a piece of vanity, Ps. xxxix. 5, that he stands in need of a 
thousand thousand things ; he needs the air to breathe in, the earth to 
bear him, and fire to warm him, and clothes to cover him, and an house 
to shelter him, and food to nourish him, and a bed to ease him, and 
friends to comfort him, &c. But this is the excellency of God, that he 
hath all excellencies in himself, and stands in need of nothing. Were 
there as many worlds as there are men in the world, and were all those 
worlds full of blessed saints, yea, were there as many heavens as there 
, ' Jn quo nihil desiderari possit boni. — Zanchius, de nat. Dei, lib. iv. cap. i. qu. 1. 



16 AN AEK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LaM. III. 24. 

are stars in heaven, and were all those heavens full of glorious angels, 
yet all these saints and angels together could not add the least to God ; 
for what can drops taken out of the sea add unto the sea ? what can 
finite creatures add to an infinite being ? Though all the men in the 
world should praise the sun, and say, The sun is a glorious creature, 
yet all this would add nothing to the light and glory of the sun ; so, 
though all the saints and angels shall be blessing, and praising, and 
admiring, and worshipping of God to all eternity, yet they shall never 
be able to add anything to God, who is blessed for ever. O Christians ! 
God is an all-sufficient portion : his power is all-sufficient to protect 
you ; his wisdom is all-sufficient to direct you ; his mercy is all-sufficient 
to pardon you ; his goodness is all-sufficient to provide for you ; his 
word is all-sufficient to support you and strengthen you ; and his grace 

s all-sufficient to adorn you and enrich you ; and his Spirit is all- 
sufficient to lead you and comfort you ; and what can you desire more ? 
O sirs ! God hath within himself all the good of angels, of men, and 
universal nature ; he hath all glory, all dignity, all riches, all treasures, 
all pleasures, all delights, all comforts, all contents, all joys, all beati- 
tudes in himself All the scattered excellencies and perfections that be 
in the creatures are eminently, transcendently, and perfectly in him. 
Look, as the worth and value of many pieces of silver are contracted in 
one piece of gold, so all the whole volume of perfections which is spread 
through heaven and earth are epitomised in God, according to that old 
saying, Omne honum in sumTno bono, all good is in the chiefest good.' 
God is one infinite perfection in himself, which is eminently and vir- 
tually all perfections of the creatures. All the good, the excellency, the 
beauty and glory, that is in all created beings, are but parts of that 
whole that is in God ; and all the good that is in them is borrowed and 
derived from God, who is the first cause, and the universal cause, of all 
that good that is in angels or men. God is a sufficient portion to secure 
vour souls, and to supply all your wants, and to satisfy all your desires, 
and to answer all your expectations, and to suppress all your enemies, 
and, after all, to bring you to glory ; and what can you desire more ? 

But now all earthly portions are insufficient portions ; they can 
neither prevent afflictions, nor support the soul under afflictions, nor 
mitigate afflictions, nor yet deliver a man from afflictions ; they can 
neither arm the soul against temptations, nor comfort the soul under 
temptations, nor lead the soul out of temptations.^ All the creatures 
in the world are but as so many cyphers without God ; when God 
frowns, all the creatures in the world are not sufficient to cheer the 
soul ; when God withdraws, all the creatures in the World are not suffi- 
cient to sustain the soul ; when God clouds his face, all the creatures in 
the world are not sufficient to make it day with the soul, &c. There is 
not enough in the whole creation to content, quiet, or satisfy one im- 
mortal soul. He that hath most of the world would have more, and he 
that hath least of the world hath enough, if his soul can but groundedly 
say, ' The Lord is my portion,' But, 

* God is omnia super omnia ; and many of the very heathens counted God optimum 
maximum, the best and greatest. 

« A golden crown cannot cure the headache, nor a purple robe cannot fray away a 
burning fever, nor a bed of gold cannot give ease to a distempered body, nor the velvet 
slipper cannot take away the paiu of the gout. 



Lam. III. 24).] an ark for all god's noahs. 17 

(4.) Fourthly, As the Lord is an all-sufficient portion, so the Lord is 
a most absolute, needful, and necessary jpoiiion. The want of an 
earthly portion may trouble me, but the want of God for my portion 
will damn me. It is not absolutely necessary that I should have a por- 
tion in gold, or silver, or jewels, or goods, or lands ; but it is absolutely 
necessary that I should have God for my portion. I may have union 
and communion with God, though, with the apostles, I have neither 
gold nor silver in my purse, Acts iii. 6 ; I may be holy and happy, 
though, with Lazaru.s, Luke xvi. 20, 21, I have never a rag to hang on 
my back, nor never a dry crust to put into my belly ; I may to heaven 
at last, and I may be glorious in another world, though, with Job, I 
should be stripped of all my worldly glory, and set upon a dunghill in 
this world. Job i., &c. ; but I can never be happy here, nor blessed here- 
after, except God be my portion. Though I could truly say that all 
the world were mine, yet if I could not truly say that the Lord is my 
portion, I should be but miserable under all my worldly enjoyments. 
To have God for my portion is absolutely necessary, for without it I 
am for ever and ever undone, Eph. ii. 12. In this verse you have 
several withouts, and it is very observable that they that were without 
God in the world, they were without Christ, without the church, with- 
out the covenant, without the promise, and without hope in the world ; 
and therefore, such persons must needs be in a most sad and deplorable 
condition, &c. 

[1.] First, In relation to the soul, and in relation to salvation, God is 
the most absolute necessary portion. If God be not ray portion, my 
soul can never enjoy communion with him in this world ; if God be not 
my portion, my soul can never be saved by him in the other world. 
But, 

[2.J Secondly, When sinners are under terrors and horrors of con- 
science, when their consciences are awakened and convinced of the vile- 
ness of their natures, of the unspeakable evil that is in sin, yea, in the 
least sin, and of their lost, undone, and miserable estate out of Christ, 
Oh then ! what would they not give to have God for their portion?' Oh, 
then they would give all the gold and silver they have in the world to 
have God for their portion ; oh, then they would give, Micah vi. 6, 7, 
* thousands of rams, and ten thousands of rivers of oil ; yea, they would 
give their first-born, they would give the very fruit of their bodies, that 
they might have God to be the portion of their souls ; oh, then they 
would say, as Mephibosheth said unto the king, ' Let Ziba take all, for- 
asmuch as my lord the king is come again in peace unto his own house,' 
2 Sam. xix. 29, 30. Under distress of conscience, poor sinners will cry 
out, Oh ! let who will take all our honours, and all our manors, and all 
our treasures, and all our stores, and all our lands, and all our lordships, 
and all our bags, so we may have God for our portion. Oh ! let us but 
have God for our portion, and we care not a straw who takes all. Now, 
what doth this speak out, but that, of all portions, God is the most ab- 
solute necessary portion ? But, 

[3.] Thirdly, Upon a dying bed, an awakened sinner sets the highest 
price, value, and esteem upon such as have God for their portion. Now 
' Una gultula maloe conscientice totum mare mundani gaudii absorbet. — Luther. 

^VOL. II. B 



18 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LaM. Ill 24. 

he esteems a saint in rags that hath God for his portion above a wicked 
emperor in his royal robes, who hath only the world for his portion. 
What though wicked men, when they are in the height of their worldly 
prosperity, felicity, and glory, do slight the saints, and revile and scorn 
the saints, and contemn and undervalue the saints, Lam. ii. 14, 15; 
Zeph. ii. 8-10, &c. ; yet, when death knocks at their doors, and when 
their consciences are startled, and when hell fire flashes in their faces, 
and when the worm within begins to gnaw, oh now, if all the world were 
a lump of gold, and in their hands to dispose of, they would give it all, 
so they might have that honour and happiness to change conditions 
with those who have God for their portion : Num. xxiii. 10, ' Let me 
die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.' Though 
men who have their portion in this life do not love to live the life of 
the righteous, yet, when they come to die, they are often desirous that 
they might die the death of the righteous. And this many hundred 
ministers and Christians can witness from their own experience. 
Lazarus having God for his portion, when he died he went to heaven 
without a rag on his back, or a penny in his purse ; whereas Dives, who 
had not God for his portion when he died, went tumbling down to hell 
in all his riches, bravery, and glory.^ Oh ! it is infinitely better to go 
to heaven a beggar than to go to hell an emperor ; and this the sinner 
understands when his conscience comes to be enlightened upon a dying 
bed, and therefore he cries out, Oh send for such a minister, and send for 
such and such a Christian, and let them pray with me, and counsel me, 
and, if it be possible, give out some drops of comfort to me. Oh that I 
had never derided nor reviled them ! Oh that I had never opposed and 
persecuted them ! Oh that I had lived at such a rate of holiness and 
exactness as they have done ! Oh that I had walked with God as they 
have walked ! Oh that I had laid out my time, my strength, my treasure, 
my parts, my all for God, as they have done ! Oh that my estate was as 
good, as safe, and as happy as theirs is ! Oh that I could as truly say 
that the Lord is my portion, as they can say that the Lord is their por- 
tion ! And what doth all this speak out, but that high esteem and 
value that they set upon those that have God for their portion ? So 
that upon this threefold account, we may safely conclude that God is a 
most absolute, needful, and necessary portion. But, 

(5.) Fifthly, As the Lord is a most absolute, needful, and necessary 
portion, so the Lord is a pure and unmiaxd portion. God is an un- 
mixed good, he hath nothing in him but goodness; he is an ocean of 
sweetness, without one drop of bitterness ; he is a perfect beauty, with- 
out the least spot or shadow of deformity, Deut. xxxii. 4, Hab. i. 13. 
All other portions are a bitter sweet ; but God is a rose without prickles ; 
he is a good, in which there is not the least evil : 1 John i. 5, * God is 
light, and in him is no darkness at all' There are no mixtures in God. 
God is a most clear, bright, shining light, yea, he is all light, and in 
him is no darkness at all. God is all light and all love, all sweetness 
and all goodness, all kindness and all graciousness, and there is no un- 
comeliness, no unloveliness, no bitterness, nor no darkness at all in God. 
The moon when it shines brightest hath her dark spots and specks ; 
but God is a light that shines most gloriously without the least spot or 
^ See Wisdom v. 1-8. All these verses are worth their weight in gold. 



Lam. III. 21'.] an ark for all god's noahs. 19 

speck ; God is a most pure, clear, splendid light. It is very observable, 
that the apostle, to illustrate the perfect purity of God, adds a negative 
to his affirmative, * in him is no darkness at all;' that is, God is so pure, 
that not the least spot, the smallest speck of vanity or folly, can cleave 
to him. God is a pure, a most pure act, without the least potentiality, 
defectibility, or mutability, and therefore in the highest sense he ' is 
light, and in him is no darkness at all.' By this metaphorical descrip- 
tion of God the apostle would not have us think that the nature of God 
is changed into the nature of light ; but by this similitude the apostle 
would represent something of the purity and excellency of God to us. 
The sun is light, the moon is light, and the stars are light ; but it 
would be blasphemy for us to imagine that the essence of God is the 
same with this of the creatures ; but this, sirs ! you must remember, 
that there are many excellent properties of light, for which God is often 
in the Scripture resembled to light. As 

[1.] First, Light is pure, and so is God : Hab. i. 13, ' Thou art of 
purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.' There 
are four things that God cannot do : 

(1.) He cannot lie. 

(2.) He cannot die. 

(3.) He cannot deny himself, nor 

(4.) He cannot look with a favourable eye upon iniquity. He is a 
God of that infinite purity, that he cannot look upon iniquity but w^ith 
an hateful eye, an angry eye, a revengeful eye, and with a vindictive 
eye. 

[2 ] Secondly, All things are conspicuous to the light, and so tliey 
are to God :^ Heb. iv. 13, ' Neither is there any creature that is not 
manifest in his sight : but all things are naked and open unto the eyes 
of him with whom we have to do.' The Greek word nr^a-xriKisiLha, is a 
metaphor, say some, that is taken from the priests under the law, who 
when they killed the beasts for sacrifice, all things that were within 
the beasts were laid naked and bare before the priest, that so he might 
see what was sound and what was corrupted. Others say, the apostle 
alludes to the anatomising of such creatures, wherein men are very 
cautious and curious to find out every little vein or muscle, though they 
lie never so close. Others say, that it is a metaphor taken from those 
that lie with their faces upwards, that all passengers may see who they 
are. All agree in this, that all men's insides and outsides are anato- 
mised, dissected, quartered, and laid naked to the eye of God : Job 
xxxiv. 21, 22, ' For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all 
his goings. There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the 
workers of iniquity may hide themselves.' ' If thou canst not hide thy- 
self from the sun, which is God's minister of light, how impossible will 
it be to hide thyself from him whose eyes are ten thousand times 
brighter than the sun,' saith Ambrose. But, 

[3.] Thirdly, Without light nothing can he seen; so without the beams 
of heavenly light no heavenly things can he seen. A man cannot see 
God, but in that light that comes down from above ; a man cannot see 

> Ps. xli. 12 ; 1 Sam. ii. 1, 3 ; Ps. zvi. 8 ; cxix. 168. God is totut oeulut, all eye 
Athenodonis, an heathen, could say, that God was everywhere, and beheld all that was 
dorse.. [This Athenodorus was surnamed Cananites — G.] 



20 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LaM. III. 24. 

Christ without he be first enhghtened by Christ ; a man cannot see 
heaven, but in that light that comes from heaven, James i. 17, 1 Cor. ii. 
10, 12, 14-16. Were it not for the sun, it would be perpetual night in 
the world, notwithstanding all the torches that could be lighted, yea, 
notwithstanding all the light of the moon and stars ; so it would be 
perpetual night with poor souls, notwithstanding all the torchlight of 
natural parts, and creature comforts, and notwithstanding all the star- 
light of civil honesty and common gifts, and notwithstanding all the 
moonlight of temporary faith and formal profession, did not the Sun of 
righteousness arise and shine upon them. But, 

[4.] Fourthly, Tltere is nothing more vleaeant than the light : 
Eccles. xi. 7, 'Truly the light is sweet, and it is a very pleasant thing 
to behold the sun.' A philosopher being asked whether it were not a 
pleasant thing to behold the sun ? answered, that that was a blind 
man's question, because life without light is but a lifeless life. Now, as 
there is nothing more pleasant and delightful to the eye than light, so 
there is nothing more pleasant and delightful to the soul than God. 
The poor northern nations, in Strabo, that want the light of the sun for 
some months together, when the term of his return approaches, they 
climb up into the highest mountains to spy it; and he that spies it first 
was accounted the best and most beloved of God, they chose him king 
almost, as the Tyrians did Strato.^ Now the return of the sun is not 
more pleasant and delightful to those poor northern nations, than God 
is pleasant and delightful to all gracious souls. But, 

[5.] Fifthly, The light shines and scatters its rays over all the world, 
over east, west, noHh, and south, and so doth the "presence and good- 
Qtess of God, Ps. exxxix. But, 

[6.] Sixthly, The light is a creature of a most resplendent beauty, 
lustre, and glory; it dazzles the eyes of the beholders ; and so God is 
a God of that transcendent beauty, majesty, and glory, that the very 
eyes of the angels are dazzled, as not being able to behold the bnght- 
ness of his glory : Isa. vi. 2, ' God dwells in that light which no man 
can approach unto.' But, 

[7.] Seventhly, and lastly. The light of all bodies is (he most incom- 
pound light ; it will never mix with darkness ; no more will God : 
2 Cor. vi. 14, 'What communion hath light with darkness V The na- 
ture of God is void of all composition. Light expels darkness, it never 
mixes nor mingles with it. By what has been said, you see that God 
is a pure and an unmixed light, and that in him there is no darkness 
at all. 

But now all worldly portions are mixed with many troubles, sorrows, 
cares, fears, hazards, dangers, vexations, oppositions, crosses, losses, and 
oftentimes with many gripes of cor;science too. All earthly portions 
are mixed portions ; the goodness of all creatures is a mixed goodness ; 
our wine is mixed with water, our silver with tin, our gold with dross, 
our wheat with chaff, and our honey with gall, &c. Every bee hath 
his sting, and every rose hath his prickles; and this mixture speaks out 
all earthly portions to be 'vanity and vexation of spirit,' Eccles. i. 13.a 

' See Justin, xviii. 8. — Q. 

* All earthly riches are true gardens of Adonis, where we can gather notliing but tri- 
vial liuwers, surrounded with many briars and thorns. 



Lam. Ill, 24] an aek for all god's noahs. 21 

That great prince Xerxes was wont to say, You look upon my crown 
and my purple robes, but did you know how they were lined with 
thorns, you would not stoop to take them up.^ And who is there in 
this our English Israel that cannot with both hands subscribe to this ? 
The emblem of King Henry the Seventh, in all his buildings, in the 
windows, was still a crown in a bush of thorns f wherefore, or with what 
historical allusion he did so, is uncertain ; but surely it was to imply 
thus much, that great places are not free from great cares, that no 
man knows the weight of a sceptre but he that sways it. This made 
Saul to hide himself amongst the stuff, when he should have been made 
king. Many a sleepless night, many a restless day, many a sad temp- 
tation, and many a busy shift,^ will their ambition cost them, that affect 
such places of eminency. Besides, high places are commonly very slip- 
pery ; he that stands in them may suddenly fall, and wound his con- 
science, or easily fall and break his neck. But, 

(6.) Sixthly, As God is a pure and unmixed portion, so he is a 
glorious, a happy, and a blessed portion, Ps. xvi. 5, 6. He is so in 
himself, and he makes them so too who enjoy him for their portion : 
Ps. xxxiii. 12, ' Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, and the 
people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.' All the happi- 
ness and blessedness of the people of God stands in this, that God is 
their God, and that he is their portion, and that they are his inheritance. 
The Hebrew word ashrei, that is here rendered blessed, is. Oh the bless- 
edness ! or Oh the heaped up happiness of those whose God is the 
Lord ! The happiness of such is so great and so glorious, as cannot be 
conceived, as cannot be uttered. The words are a joyful acclamation 
for their felicity that have God for their portion : Ps. cxliv. 15, ' Happy 
is that people that is in such a case ; yea, happy is that people whose 
God is the Lord.' David having prayed for many temporal blessings in 
the behalf of the people, from ver. 12 to ver. 15, at last concludes, 
'Blessed are the people that are in suchacase ;' but presently he checks and 
corrects himself, and eats, as it were, his own words, but rather, ' happy is 
that people whose God is the Lord.' The Syriac rendereth it question- 
wise, ' Is not the people [happy] that is in such a case ?' The answer is, 
'Ko,' except they have God to boot, Ps. cxlvi. 5. Nothing can make that 
man truly miserable that hath God for his portion, nor nothing can 
make that man truly happy that wants God for his portion. God is the 
author of all true happiness ; he is the donor of all true happiness ; he 
is the maintainer of all true happiness, and he is the centre of all tnia 
happiness and blessedness ; and, therefore, he that hath him for his 
God, for his portion, is the only .happy man in the world.* 

But now all earthly portions cannot make a man truly happy and 
blessed, A crown, a kingdom cannot ; for Saul and other princes have 
found it so. Honours cannot ; for Haman and others have found it so. 
A high and noble birth cannot ; for Absalom, Amnon, and others have 
found it so. Riches cannot ; for the ,rich fool in the Gospel, and many 
thousand others, have found it so. Large dominions and great com- 
mands cannot ; for Ahasuerus, Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and others, 
■ ' Plutarch: Xerxes— G. * B. Hall. » ' Expedient'.— G, 

* If a man should make a criticul inquiry after true happiness, from the highest angel 
in heaven to the lowest worm on earth, the joint voice of all the creatures would be, that 
happiness is not in them. 



22 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

have found it so. Policy cannot ; for Ahithophel and other great coun- 
sellors have found it so. Glorious apparel and delicate fare cannot ; for 
Dives and others have found it so. Applause and credit among the 
people cannot ; for Herod and others have found it so. Learning and 
great gifts cannot ; for the scribes and pharisees, and many others, have 
found it so. No earthly thing, nor earthly creature, can give happiness 
nor blessedness to man. Non dot quod non habet, nothing can give 
what it hath not. If the conduit hath no water, it can give no water ; 
if the sun hath no light, it can give no light ; if the physician hath no 
remedy, he can give no remedy, &c. 

But now it is a very true observation, though it be a very sad observa- 
tion, viz.. That every wicked Tnan's portion is cursed unto him. 

Do but compare the scriptures in the margin together,' and then let 
conscience judge. All a wicked man's relations are cursed to him, and 
all a wicked man's contentments and enjoyments are cursed to him, 
and all his mercies within doors are cursed to him, &c. What though 
a man should match with one that hath many thousand bags of gold 
for her portion, yet if the plague should be in every bag, would you 
count him happy in this match ? Surely no. Verily this is the case 
of every man that hath not God for his portion. But 

(7.) Seventhly, As God is a glorious portion, so he is a peculiar por- 
tion, he is a portion peculiar to his people, Ps. cxlii. 5, 6 ; Jer. x. 16. 
This is evident in the text, and in all the scriptures cited to prove the 
point, Ps. xvi. 5, and so in that Ps. Ixvii. 6, * Then shall the earth yield 
her increase, and God, even our own God, shall bless us :' and so Ps. Ixviii. 
20, ' He that is our God is the God of salvation,' or ' God of salvations,* 
as it is in the Hebrew. God is a God of all manner of salvations ; he 
hath all sorts and ways of salvations ; he is not only powerful, but also 
skilful, to save his people from ten thousand deaths and dangers. Faith 
is an appropriating grace, it is much in appropriating of God to itself: 
' My Lord and my God,' and my Redeemer and my Saviour and my 
portion ;'* Ps. Ixxiii. 26, ' My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the 
strength of my heart and my portion for ever.' In Gideon's camp every 
soldier had his own pitcher, Judges vii. 16; amongst Solomon's men of 
valour, every man wore his own sword, 1 Chron. xxvi. 30 ; and the five 
wise virgins had every one oil in her own lamp, Mat. xxv. 4. Luther 
was wont to say, that there lay a great deal of divinity couched up in 
pronouns, as in meum, tuum, suum, mine, thine, his : and so faith's 
appropriating of God to the soul, as its own portion, is all in all. God 
is a portion peculiar to the saints ; he is the hidden manna, the new 
name, the white stone, the bread to eat that others know not of There 
is never a hardened Pharaoh in the world that can truly say, ' The Lord 
is my portion ;' nor there is never a murdering Saul in the world that can 
truly say, ' The Lord is my portion ;' nor there is never a painted bloody 
Jezebel in the world that can truly say, ' The Lord is my portion ;' nor 
there is never a cunning Ahithoph§l in the world that can truly say, 'The 
Lord is my portion ;' nor there is never a proud Haman in the world that 
can truly say, ' The Lord is my portion ;' nor there is never a tyrannical 
Nebuchadnezzar in the world that can truly say, ' The Lord is my por- 

' Dent, xxviii. 17-20 ; Job xx. 22-29, and chap. xxiv. 18 ; Prov. Hi. 88; Mai. ii. 2, 
&o. * John XX. 28 ; Job xix. 25 ; Luke i. 47. 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 23 

tion;' nor there is never a crafty Herod in the world that can truly 
say, 'The Lord is my portion ;' nor there is never a rich Dives in the 
world that can truly say, ' The Lord is my portion ;' nor there is never 
a treacherous Judas in the world that can truly say, ' The Lord is my 
portion ;' nor there is never an hypocritical Simon Magus in the world 
that can truly say, 'The Lord is my portion ;' nor there is never an 
apostatizing Demas in the world that can truly say, ' The Lord is ray 
portion;' nor there is never a persecuting scribe or pharisee in the 
world that can truly say, ' The Lord is my portion.' It is only the 
saint that can truly say, ' The Lord is his portion/ for God is peculiarly 
his, he is only his. 

But now all earthly portions are common portions ; they are all 
common to good and bad, to the righteous and to the wicked, to the 
clean and to the unclean, to him that sacrificeth and to him that sacri- 
ficeth not, to him that sweareth and to him that feareth an oath, 
Eccles. ix. 1-3. Was Abraham rich ? so was Dives too ; was David a 
king ? so was Saul too ; was Daniel a great favourite at court ? so was 
Haman too, &a , And indeed usually the basest and the worst of men 
have the largest share in earthly portions ; which made Luther say, 
that the whole Turkish empire was but a crust that God cast to a dog. 
Abraham gave unto his sons of the concubines gifts, and sent them 
away, but unto Isaac he gave all that he had, Gen. xxv. 5, 6. So all 
earthly portions, which are giftless gifts, God gives them to the worst 
and vilest of men ; Daniel iv. 17, * This matter is by decree of the 
watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones ; to the intent 
that the living may know, that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of 
men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the 
basest of men ;' and so in that Daniel xi. 31, ' And in his estate shall 
stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the 
kingdom, but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by 
flatteries.' Interpreters do generally agree, that by this vile person in 
the text is meant Antiochus Epiphanes, that was so great and mighty 
a prince, that when the Samaritans did write to him, they write, 
Antiocho magno deo, to Antiochus the great god. And indeed his 
very name speaks him out to be some great and glorious person, for 
Antiochus Epiphanes is Antiochus the illustrious, the famous ; and yet 
you see that the Holy Ghost, speaking of him, calls him a vile person 
Ah ! how vile in the eyes of God are the greatest men in the work' 
who have not God for their portion ! Augustus in his solemn feasts 
gave trifles to some, but gold to others. God gives the trifling portions 
of this world to the vilest and worst of men, but his gold, his Christ, 
himself, he gives only to his saints: Gal. ii. 20, ' And the life which I 
now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved 
me, and gave himself for me.' Haws,^ that are for hogs, grow upon 
every hedge ; but roses, that are for men, they only grow in pleasant 
gardens ; you know how to apply it. Though many have counterfeit 
jewels, yet there are but a few that have the true diamond ; though 
many have their earthly portions, yet there are but a few that have 
God for their portion. But, 

(8.) Eighthly, As God is a peculiar portion, so he is a universal 
• , * Fruit of the hawthorn. — Q. 



24 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

portion. He is a portion that includes all other portions. God hath 
himself the good, the sweet, the profit, the pleasure, the delight, the 
comfort, &c., of all portions.' There is no good in wife, child, father, 
friend, hu.sband, health, wealth, wit, wisdom, learning, honour, &c., but 
is all found in God : Rev. xxi. 7, ' He that overcometh shall inherit all 
things, and I will be his God, and he shall be my son ;' or as the Greek 
hath it, 6 vixSiv, he that is overcoming, though he hath not yet over- 
come, yet if he be striving for the conquest, and will rather die than he 
will give up the bucklers, ' he shall inherit all things ;' that is, he shall 
inherit God in all and all in God:* Gen. xxxiii. 9, 'And Esau said, 
I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself;' as 
the Hebrew hath it, Li Bab, ' I have much, my brother.' And indeed 
it was very much that an Esau should say he had much ; it is more than 
many of the Esaus of these times will say. But Jacob speaks at a far 
higher rate in ver. 11 : ' Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to 
thee, because God hath dealt graciously with me, and becau.se I have 
enough; ' or rather, as the Hebrew hath it, Li chol, I have all. Esau had 
much, but Jacob had all, because he had all in God, and God in all. 
Hahet omnia qui habet habentem omnia, he hath all that hath the haver 
of all : 2 Cor. vi. 10, ' As having nothing, and yet possessing all things.' 
There is in God an immense fulness, an ocean of goodness, and an over- 
plus of all that graciousness, sweetness, and kindness that is to be found 
in all other things or creatures. As Noah had a copy of every kind of 
creature in that famous library of the ark, out of which all were reprinted 
to the world, so he that hath God for his portion hath the original copy 
of all blessings, out of which all may easily be renewed. All the good- 
linesses and all the glories of all the creatures are eminently and per- 
fectly to be enjoyed in God. God is an universal excellency. All the 
particular excellencies that are scattered up and down among angels, 
men, and all other creatures, are virtually and transcendently in him, he 
hath them all in his own being, Ephes. i. 3.^ All creatures in heaven and 
earth have but their particular excellencies ; but God hath in himself the 
very quintessence of all excellencies. The creatures have but drops of 
that sea, that ocean, that is in God, they have but their parts of that 
power, wisdom, goodness, righteousness, holiness, faithfulness, loveliness, 
desirableness, sweetness, graciousness, beauty, and glory that is in God. 
One hath this part, and another hath that ; one hath this particular 
excellency, and another hath that ; but the whole of all these parts and 
excellencies are to be found only in God. There is none but that God, 
that is an universal good, that can truly say. All power, all wisdom, all 
strength, all ktiowledge, all goodness, all sweetness, all beauty, all glory, 
all excellency, &c., dwells in me. He that can truly say this, is a god, 
and he that cannot is no god. There is no angel in heaven, nor saint on 
earth, that hath the whole of any one of those excellencies that are in 
God ; nay, all the angels in heaven, and all the saints on earth, have not 
among them the whole of any one of those glorious excellencies and 
perfections that be in God. AH the excellencies that are scattered up 

• Rom, viii. 32, God is the bonum in quo omnia bona. 

* Qui habet hoc unum, habet unum universale. 

' When Paulinus Nolanus, a great man, had his city taken away from him by the bar- 
barians, he prayed thus : Lord, let me not be troubled at the loss of my gold, silver, honour, 
&C., for thou art all, and much more than all these to me. [See Index tub nomine. — G.] 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 25 

and down in the creatures, are united into one excellency in God ; but 
there is not one excellency in God that is fully scattered up and down 
among all the creatures. There is a glorious union of all excellencies in 
God, and only in God. 

Now this God, that is such an universal good, and that hath all excel- 
lencies dwelling in himself, he says to the believer, as the king of Israel 
said to the king of Assyria, 'I am thine, and all that I have,' 1 Kings xx.-i. 
Our propriety reacheth to all that God is, and to all that God hath, Jer, 
xxxii, 38, 42 God is not parted, nor divided, nor distributed among his 
people, as earthly portions are divided among children in the family ; so 
as one believer hath one part of God, and another believer hath another 
part of God, and a third another part of God ; oh no, but every believer 
hath whole God wholly, he hath all of God for his portion. God is not 
a believer's portion in a limited sense, nor in a comparative sense, but 
in an absolute sense. God himself is theirs, he is wholly theirs, he is 
only theirs, he is always theirs. As Christ looks upon the Father, and 
saith, 'All thine is mine, and mine is thine,' 1 Cor. iii, 28, Job. xvii. 10, 
that may a saint say, looking upon God as his portion. He may truly say, 
O Lord, thou art mine, and all that thou hast ; and I am thine, and all 
that I have. A saint may look upon God and say, O Lord, not only thy 
gifts but thy graces are mine, to adorn me and enrich me; and not only thy 
mercies and thy good things are mine to comfort me, and encourage me, 
but also thou thyself art mine; and this is my joy and crown of rejoicing. 
To be able to say that God is mine, is more than if I were able to say 
that ten thousand worlds, yea. and as many heavens, are mine ; for it is 
God alone that is the sparkling diamond in the ring of glory. Heaven 
would be but a low thing without God, saith Augustine ; and Bernard 
had rather enjoy Christ in a chimney-corner, than to be in heaven with- 
out him ; and Luther had rather be in hell with Christ, than in heaven 
without him. It is God alone that makes heaven to be heaven. 

Now God is so every particular belie*^er's portion, as that he is every 
believer's portion : 1 Cor. i. 1, 2 ' Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus 
Christ, through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, unto 
the church of God, which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified 
in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call 
upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both theirs and ours.' 
As the sun is every man's sun to see by, to walk by, to work by ; 
and as the sea is every man's sea to trade by, &c. ; so God is every 
believer's portion. He is a poor saint's portion as well as a rich 
saint's portion ; he is the despised believer's portion, as well as the ex- 
alted believer's portion ; he is the weak believer's portion, as well as the 
strong believer's portion ; he was as much his portion who miscalled his 
faith, and who m the behalf of his son cried out with tears, ' Lord, I 
believe, help my unbelief,' Mark xi. 24, as he was Abraham's portion, 
who, in the strength of his faith, offered up his only son. Gen. xxii. ; he was 
as much Job's portion sitting on a liunghill, as he was David's portion 
sitting on a royal throne ; he was as much Lazarus his portion, that 
had never a penny in his purse, as he was Solomon's portion, who made 
gold and silver as plenteous in Jerusalem as the stones of the streets, 
2 Chron. i. 15. God is not my portion alone, but he is every saint's 
portion in heaven, and he is every saint's portion on earth. The father 



26 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LaM. III. 24. 

is every child's portion, and though they may wrangle and quarrel, and 
fall out one with another, yet he is all their portions ; and so it is here ; 
and oh what a spring of joy and comfort should this be to all the saints. 
Riches are not every believer's portion, but God is every believer's por- 
tion ; honour and preferment in the world is not every believer's portion, 
but God is every believer's portion ; liberty and freedom is not every 
believer's portion, but God is every believer's portion ; credit and ap- 
plause in the world is not every believer's portion, but God is every 
believer's portion ; prosperity and success is not every believer's portion, 
but God is every believer's portion, &c. 

God is a universal portion, all things receive their being, essence, and 
existence from him, for the fulness of all things is in him, really and 
eminently. The heathen philosophers of old called God to vav, i. e. all 
or everything, and in that oracle 'great Pan is dead,' of which Plutarch 
makes mention. Christ is called the greater Pan, because, say some, he 
is the Lord of all, and containeth all things in himself: Exod. xxxiii. 19, 
' I will make all my goodness pass before thee,' to wit, because in God 
are all good things, God is all things, God is everything. The cream, 
the good, the sweet, the beauty, and the glory of every creature, and of 
every thing, centres in God. But, 

(9.) Ninthly, As God is an universal portion, so God is a safe portion, 
a secure portion. He is a portion that none can rob or wrong you of; 
he is a portion that none can touch or take from you : he is a portion 
that none can cheat or spoil you of God is such a portion, that no friend, 
no foe, no man, no enemy, no devil can ever rob a Christian of ^ O 
Christians, God is so yours in (/hrist, and so yours by covenant, and so 
yours by promise, and so yours by purchase, and so yours by conquest, 
and so yours by donation, and so yours by marriage union and com- 
munion, and so yours by the earnest of the Spirit, and so yours by the 
feelings and witnessings of the Spirit, that no power or policy on earth 
can ever finger your portion, or cheat, or rob you of your portion : Ps. 
xlviii. 1 4, ' For this God is our God for ever and ever, and he will be 
our guide even unto death.' He is not only our God for the present, nor 
he will not be only our God for a short time longer; oh no, but he will 
be our God for ever and ever. If God be once thy portion, he will be 
for ever thy portion. It must be a power that must over-match the 
power of God, and a strength that must be above the strength of God,^ 
that must rob or spoil a Christian of his portion ; but who is there that 
is stronger than God ? Is the clay stronger than the potter, or the stubble 
than the flame, or weakness than strength? yea, is not the very weakness 
of God stronger than man ? and who then shall ever be able to take away 
a Christian's portion from him ? Rom. ix., 1 Cor. i. 25, and chap. x. 22. 

But now a man may be easily deprived of his earthly portion. How 
many have been deprived of their earthly portions by storms at sea, and 
others by force and violence, and others by fraud and deceit, and others 
by hideous lying and hellish swearing ? Many have lost their earthly 
portions by treachery, knavery, perjury, subtilty, robbery, &c. Some 
play away their earthly portions, and others with Esau fool away their 
earthly portions, and not a few, with the prodigal, sin away their earthly 

' These things I have formerly handled more largely, and, therefore, a touch here 
must suffice, &c. 



Lam. III. 24-.] an ark for all god's noahs. 27 

portions. Ahab's fingers itched to be a-fingering of Naboth's dneyard. 
] Kings xxi. 1-5. A man can no sooner come to enjoy an earthly por- 
tion, but other men's fingers itch to be a-fingering of his portion, as daily 
experience doth sufficiently evidence. But God is a portion that the fire 
cannot bum, nor the floods cannot drown, nor the thief cannot steal, nor 
the enemy cannot sequester, nor the soldier cannot plunder a Christian 
of, A man may take away my gold from me, but he cannot take away 
my God from me. The Chaldeans and the Sabeans could take away 
Job's estate from him, but they could not take away Job's God from 
him, Job i. And the Amalekites burnt Ziklag, and robbed David of his 
substance, and of his wives, but they could not rob him of his God, 
1 Sam. XXX. And those persecutors in the 10th and 11th chapters of 
the Hebrews plundered the saints of their goods, but they could not 
plunder them of their God. Till weakness can make a breach upon 
strength, impotency upon omnipotency, the pitcher upon the potter, and 
the crawling worm upon the Lord of hosts, a saint's portion is safe and 
secure. It is true, sickness and disease may take away my health and 
my strength from me, and death may take away my friends and my 
relations from me, and enemies may take away my estate, my liberty, 
my life from me ; but none of all these can take away my God from me. 
I have read of the men of Tyrus, how that they chained and nailed their 
god Apollo to a post, that so they might be sure of him, supposing that 
all their safety lay in the enjoyment of him. Certainly God is so chained, 
and so linked, and so nailed to his people by his everlasting love, and 
by his everlasting covenant, and by the blood of his Son, and by his 
oath, and by that law of relation that is between him and them, that no< 
created power shall ever be able to deprive them of him. But, 

(10.) Tenthly, As God is a safe portion, a secure portion, so he is a 
suitable portion, Ps. iv. 6-7. No object is so suitable and adequate 
to the heart as he is. He is a portion that punctually, exactly, and 
directly suits the condition of the soul, that suits the desires of the soul, 
the necessities of the soul, the wants of the soul, the longings of the 
soul, and the prayers of the soul. The soul can crave nothing, nor wish 
for nothing, but what is to be found in this portion. Here is light to 
enlighten the soul, and wisdom to counsel the soul, and power to support 
the soul, and goodness to supply the soul, and mercy to pardon the soul, 
and beauty to delight the soul, and glory to ravish the soul, and fulness 
to fill the soul, &c. Health is not more suitable to the sick man, nor 
wealth to the poor man, nor bread to the hungry man, nor drink to the 
thirsty man, nor clothes to the naked man, nor balm to the wounded 
man, nor ease to the tormented man, nor health to the diseased man, 
nor a pardon to the condemned man, nor a guide to the blind man, &c. 
than this portion is suitable to all the necessities of man ; and this speaks 
out the excellency of this poriion above all other portions. Now there 
is no earthly portion that can suit an immortal soul ; he is a fool upon 
record that said, ' Soul, thou hast goods laid up for many years, take 
ease, eat, drink, and be merry,' Luke xii. 18-20. If the man, saith 
Ambrose upon the words, had the soul of a swine, what could he have 
said more ? for those things were more suitable to swine than they were 
to an immortal soul. Man's soul is a spiritual and immoital substance, 
it is,capable of union and communion with God ; it is capable of a choice 



28 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LaM. III. 24. 

enjoyment of God here, and of an eternal fruition of God hereafter. A 
great shoe will not fit a little foot, nor a great sail a little ship, 
nor a great ring a little finger; no more will any earthly portion 
suit an immortal soul. The soul is the breath of God, the beauty of 
man, the wonder of angels, and the envy of devils. It is of an angel- 
ical nature ; it is an heavenly spark, a celestial plant, and of a divine 
offspring. So that nothing can suit the soul below God, nor nothing 
can satisfy the soul without God. The soul is so high and so noble a 
piece, that all the riches of the east and west Indies, nor rocks of 
diamonds, nor mountains of gold, can fill it, or satisfy it, or suit it. 

When a man is in prison, and condemmed to die, if one should come 
to him, and tell him, that there is such a friend or such a relation that 
hath left him a very fair estate, a brave seat, &c., yet all this would not 
please him, nor joy him, because it doth not suit his present condition ; 
oh, but now let a man bring him his pardon, sealed under his prince's 
hand, oh how will this delight him and joy him ! And so tell a man 
that is ready to starve, that such and such loves him, and that such and 
such intends well towards him, &c., yet all this doth not take him, it 
doth not satisfy him, and all because it doth not suit him ; oh but now 
do but bring him food to eat, and this will joy him and delight him, and 
all because it suits him. That is the highest good, that is the most 
suitable good to the soul, and such a good is God ; that is the most 
excellent portion, that is the most suitable portion to the soul, and such 
a portion is God. But, 

(11.) Eleventhly, As God is a suitable portion, so he is an incom- 
« preheTisible portion. No created understanding can comprehend what 
a portion God is, Ps. cxlvii. 5, Job xxvi. 14, It is true God is not in- 
comprehensible, in regai'd of his own understanding, for he perfectly 
understands himself, else he could not be God; but God is incom- 
prehensible in regard of us, and the angels, who are no ways able to 
comprehend infiniteness : 1 Kings viii. 27, * But will God indeed dwell 
on the earth ? behold the heaven, and heaven of heavens, cannot contain 
thee ; how much less this house that I have builded !'^ God is an infinite 
being, and therefore he cannot be contained in any place, nor compre- 
hended by any created being. Such multiplied phrases and Hebraisms 
as are here, as heaven, and the heaven of heavens, do very emphatically 
set out the immensity and incomprehensibleness of God : Job xxxvii. 23, 
' Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out' We are as well able to 
comprehend the sea in a cockle-shell, as we are able to comprehend God. 
God is above all name, all notion, and all comprehension. God is so 
incomprehensible, that you shall as soon tell the stars of heaven, and 
number the sand of the sea, and stop the sun in his course, and raise 
the dead, and make a world, as you shall be able to comprehend the in- 
finiteness of God's essence : Ps. cxlv. 3, ' His greatness is unsearchable.' 
The most perfect knowledge that we can have of God is, that we cannot 
perfectly know him, because we do know him to be infinitely and incom- 
prehensibly perfect : Rom. xi. 33, ' Oh the depth both of the wisdom and 
knowledge of God ! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways 

' Aristotle, that great secretary of nature, being not able to comprehend the reason of 
the sea's ebbing and flowing, cast himself into it; oh how much less able was he to com- 
prehend God, blessed for ever 1 



Lam. III. 24] an ark for all god's noahs. 29 

past finding out ! When men and angels do search farthest into God's 
perfection, they do then most of all discover their own imperfection ; 
for it is utterly impossible for angels or men, by their most accurate dis- 
quisition, to find out the Almighty to perfection, 1 Tim. vi. 16, 'who 
only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach 
unto, whom no man hath seen, nor can see.' Here is a denial both of 
the fact and the possibility. It is a good observation of Chrysostom 
on the Avords, Diligentice Pavli attende, non dicit lucem incomprehen- 
sibilem, &c. Observe the diligence of Paul, he doth not say a light 
incomprehensible, but a light inaccessible, which is much more ; for that 
which, being sought and searched for, cannot be comprehended, we say 
is incomprehensible ; but that which suffereth not by any means the 
labour of searching after, and which no one can come near, that is in- 
accessible. There is infinitely more in God than the tongues of men or 
angels can express.' There is much in God beyond the apprehension 
and comprehension of all created beings. The sum of all that philoso- 
phers and schoolmen have attained to concerning this great principle, 
amounts to no more than this, viz , that men and angels can never com- 
prehend that perfection which dwells in God ; for the perfection of God 
is infinite, and therefore incomprehensible. God, saith Dionysius, is a 
super-substantial substance, an understanding not to be understood, a 
word never to be spoken. 

When one was asked what God was, he answered, that he must be 
God himself, before he could know God fully. 

When the tyrant Hiero asked the poet Simonides what God was,* he 
craved a day to study an answer ; but the more he sought into the 
nature of God, the more difficult he found it to express ; the next day, 
after being questioned, he asked two days, and the third time he craved 
four, and so went on, doubling the number; and being asked why he did 
so, he answered, that the more he studied the nature of God, the less 
he was able to define what God was. He being so incomprehensible in 
his nature, the more this poor heathen inquired, the more he admired, 
and the less he understood. 

It was a notable observation of Chrysostom, who being very busy 
and studious in searching into the nature of God, saith, I am like a man 
digging in a deep spring ; I stand here, and the water riseth upon me ; 
and I stand there, and still the water riseth upon me. Indeed, this is 
a knowledge that passeth knowledge, Ephes. iii. 19. 

The Turks build their mosques* or churches without any roof, because 
they hold as we do, that God is incomprehensible. God is a circle whose 
centre is everywhere, and whose circumference is nowhere, all which 
speaks out his infiniteness and incomprehensiblencss. 

But now all earthly portions are easily apprehended and comprehended. 
A portion in money, or plate, or goods, or lands, or jewels, is easily cast 
up, and so many hundreds or thousands a year are quickly told. There 
are few, except it be children or fools, but can readily give an account 
of all earthly portions. The child's portion, and the wife's portion, and 
the servant's portion, and the soldier's portion, and the poor man's portion, 

' If one man had all the reason, gifta, graces, and excellencies that are in angels and 
men, yet would he never bo able to comprehend an incomprehensible God. 
* Simonides apud Ciceronem de Nat. Deoorum, lib i. * Spelling, 'Moachea,'— G. 



30 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24<. 

and the rich man's portion, are talked on all the city over, and all the 
town over, and all the country over; but God is such an incomprehensible 
portion, that there is not a man in town, city, or country that is able to 
comprehend him, Prov. iii. 15. But, 

(12.) Twelfthly, As God is an incomprehensible portion, so God is an 
inexhaustible portion; a portion that can never be spent, that can 
never be exhausted ; a fountain that still overflows ; a rich mine that 
hath no bottom ; a spring that can never be drawn dry, but continiies 
always full, without augmentation or diminution: John iv. 14, 'But 
whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst ; 
but the water that I shall give him shall be a well of water springing 
up unto everlasting life.' If grace in the soul be such a perpetual flow- 
ing fouutain, that it shall never be exhausted till grace be swallowed up 
in glory, then certainly the God of grace is much more an inexhaustible 
fountain that can never be drawn dry. Angels, saints, and sinners have 
lived upon this portion almost this six thousand years, and it is not in 
the least diminished. Col. i. 16, 17. God hath his city-house, and his 
country-house, where millions have been kept at his table, and lived 
upon his purse, his charge, even days without number, and yet God is 
not one penny the poorer for all this. This portion is like the meal in 
the barrel, and the oil in the cruse, which never failed : I Kings xvii. 
14-16, 'For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall 
not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord 
sendeth rain upon the earth. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither 
did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord which he 
spake by Elijah.' God is such a portion as cannot be wasted nor dimi- 
nished ; he is such a portion as can never fail. Should all Christians 
now live to the age of the patriarchs, who lived many hundred years, 
and should they all live freely, and keep open house every day in the 
year, yet at the end, not a dram, not a penny, no not a farthing of this 
portion will be expended or diminished. 

Though men have never so great a stock, yet if they still spend upon 
it they will certainly consume it; oh, but God is such a stock as can never 
be spent, as can never be consumed. If a sparrow should but fetch a drop 
of water out of the sea once a day, yea, once in a thousand years, yet in 
time it would be exhausted ; oh but God is such a sea, such an ocean, 
that if every angel in heaven, and every saint and sinner on earth, 
should drink whole rivers at a draught, yet not one drop could be dimi- 
nished. If a child should take but a cockle-shell of water out of the 
sea every day, the sea would be really the less, though not visibly the 
less, and in time it would be exhausted, and drawn dry ; but let all 
created beings be every day a-d rawing from God, yet they shall never 
lessen him, they shall never draw him dry. The mother's breasts 
are often drawn dry, but the more you draw at the breasts of God, 
the more milk of grace and comfort will flow in upon you : Isaiah 
Ixvi. 10, 11, 'Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be ye glad with her, 
all ye that love her : rejoice for thy joy with her, all ye that mourn 
for her; that ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her 
consolation ; that you may milk out, and be delighted with the 
abundance of her glory.' God keeps open house for all comers 
and goers, for aU created creatures both in heaven and earth ; and 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 31 

though they are perpetually sucking at his breasts, yet the more they 
draw, the more the heavenly milk of divine joy, content, and satisfaction 
flows in abundantly upon them, Ps. civ. 24. All creatures, both high 
and low, rich and poor, honourable and base, noble and ignoble, bond 
and free, Jews and Gentiles, are all maintained upon God's own cost and 
charge ; they are all fed at his table, and maintained by what comes out 
of his treasury, his purse ; and yet God is not a pin the poorer for all 
this. It would break and beggar all the princJes on earth, to keep but 
one day the least part of that innumerable company that God feeds, 
and clothes, and cherishes, and maintains every da}' upon the account 
of his own revenue, which is never the poorer for all the vast expenses 
that he is daily at. There is still in God a fulness of abundance, and a 
fulness of redundance, notwithstanding the vast sums that he hath, and 
doth daily expend. It were blasphemy to think that God should be a 
penny the poorer by all that he hath laid out for the maintenance of 
those millions of angels and men, that have had their dependence upon 
him, from their first creation to this very day. Look, as the sun hath 
never the less light for filling the stars with light, and as the fountain 
hath never the less water for filling the lesser vessels with water that 
are about it ; so though God fills all the vessels, both of grace and glory, 
with his own fulness, yet he is never the less full himself; there is still 
in God plenitudo fontis, the fulness of a fountain. Look, as the over- 
flowing fountain pours out water abundantly, and yet after all it remains 
full ; so though the Lord be such an overflowing fountain as that he fills 
all, yet still he retains all fulness in himself 

I have read of a Spanish ambassador, that, coming to see the treasury 
of Saint Mark in Venice, that is so much cried up in the world, he fell 
a-groping at the bottom of the chests and trunks, to see whether thev 
had any bottom ; and being asked the reason why he did so, answered 
in this among other things. My master's treasure differs from yours, and 
excels yours, in that his hath no bottom as yours have, alluding to the 
mines in Mexico, Peru, and other parts of the western India. All men's 
mints, bags, purses, and coffers may be quickly exhausted and drawn 
dry, but God is such an inexhaustible portion, that he can never be 
drawn dry; all God's treasures are bottomless, and all his mints are 
bottomless, and all his bags are bottomless. Millions of thousands in 
heaven and earth feed every day upon him, and yet he feels it not ; he 
is still a-giving, and yet his purse is never empty ; he is still a-fillino- 
all the court of heaven, and all the creatures on earth, and yet he is a 
fountain that still overflows. There be them that say, that it is most 
certainly true of the oil at Rheims, that though it be continually spent 
in the inauguration of their kings of France, yet it never wastes ; but 
whatever truth is in this story, of this I am most sure, that though all 
the creatures in both worlds live and spend continually on Christ's stock, 
yet it never wasteth. 

But now all earthly portions are frequently exhausted and drawn dry. 
The prodigal quickly spent his patrimony upon his harlots, Luke xv. ; and 
how many drunkards, and gluttons, and wantons, and gamesters, and 
roysters, &c., do daily bring a noble to ninepence ! Pro v. xxiii. 20, 21. 
' Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?' saith God to Job, 
chap, xxxviii. 22, &c. Now, saith Gregory, the treasures of the snow are 



32 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LaM. III. 24. 

worldly riches, which men rake together, even as children do snow, which 
the next shower washeth away, and leaves nothing in the room of it but 
dirt. And ah ! how many merchants, and shopkeepers, and others in 
these breaking times, have found all their riches and earthly portions 
to melt away as snow before the sun ! how many of late have been very 
rich one week, and stripped of all the next, and set with Job upon the 
dunghill ! All earthly portions are like water in a cistern, that may 
easily and quickly be drawn dry; but God is an inexhaustible portion, 
that can never be drawn dry ; and this discovers the excellency of this 
portion above all other portions. But 

(1 3.) ThirteentMy, As God is an inexhaustible portion, so God is a 
soul-satisfying portion, Ps. xvii. 15. He is a portion that gives the soul 
full satisfaction and content: Ps. xvi. 5, 6, 'The Lord is the portion of 
mine inheritance and of my cup : thou maiutainest my lot. The lines 
are fallen unto me in pleasant places ; yea, I have a goodly heritage.' 
It was well with him as his heart could wish. And so in that Ps. Ixxiii. 
25, ' Whom have I in heaven but thee i and there is none upon earth 
that I desire besides thee;' or as some render it, 'I would I were in 
heaven with thee' ; or as others read the words, 'I have sought none in hea- 
ven or earth besides thee;' or as others, ' I desire none in heaven or earth 
besides thee,' or ' I affect none in heaven, nor none on earth like thee ; I 
love none in heaven, nor none on earth, in comparison of thee ; I esteem 
thee instead of all other treasure, and above all other treasures that are 
in heaven, or that are on earth.'^ The holy prophet had spiritual and 
sweet communion with Christ to comfort and strengthen him ; he had a 
guard of glorious angels to protect him and secure him, and he had 
assurance of heaven in his bosom to joy and rejoice him ; and yet it 
was none of these, nay, it was not all these together, that could satisfy 
him, it was only an infinite good, an infinite God, that could satisfy him. 
He very well knew that the substantial of all true happiness and 
blessedness did lie in God, and his enjoyment of God, It was not his 
high dignities nor honours that could satisfy him ; it was not the strength, 
riches, security, prosperity, and outward glory of his kingdom that could 
satisfy him ; it was not his delightful music, nor his noble attendance, 
nor his well furnished tables, nor his great victories, nor his stately 
palaces, nor his pleasant gardens, nor his beautiful wife, nor his lovely 
children, that could satisfy him ; all these without God could never satisfy 
him ; but God without all these was enough to quiet him, and satisfy 
him: John xiv. 8, 'Philip said unto him. Lord, shew us the Father, and 
it sufficeth us.' A sight of God will satisfy a gracious soul more than 
all worldly contentments and enjoyments, yea, one sight of God will 
satisfy a saint more than all the glory of heaven will do. God is the 
glory of heaven. Heaven alone is not sufficient to content a gracious 
soul, bnt God alone is sufficient to content and vsatisfy a gracious soul. 
God only is that satisfying good, that is able to fill, quiet, content, 
and satisfy an immortal soul. Certainly, if there be enough in God to 
satisfy the spirits of just men made perfect, whose capacities are far 
greater than ours, Heb. xii. 23-25 : and if there be enough in God 
to satisfy the angels, whose capacities are far above theirs ; if there 
be enough in God to satisfy Jesus Christ, whose capacity is un- 
' Vide Jerome, CalviD, Cajetan, Marlorat, Mollerus. &c. 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 33 

conceivable and unexpressible ; yea, if there be enough in God to satisfy 
himself, then certainly there must needs be in God enough to satisfy the 
souls of his people. If all fulness, and all goodness and infiniteness will 
satisfy the soul, then God will. There is nothing beyond God imagin- 
able, nor nothing beyond God desirable, nor nothing beyond God delec- 
table ; and therefore the soul that enjoys him, cannot but be satisfied 
with him. God is a portion beyond all imagination, all expectation, all 
apprehension, and all comparison ; and therefore he that hath him 
cannot but sit down and say, I have enough, Gen. xxxiii. 11 : Ps. Ixiii. 
5, 6, ' My soul shall be satisfied as with^ marrow and fatness ; and my 
mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips ; when I remember thee upon 
my bed, and meditate on thee in the night-watches.' Marrow and fat- 
ness cannot so satisfy the appetite, as God can satisfy a gracious soul ; 
yea, one smile from God, one glance of his countenance, one good word 
from heaven, one report of love and grace, will infinitely more satisfy an 
immortal soul, than all the fat, and all the marrow, and all the dainties 
and delicates of this world can satisfy the appetite of any mortal man. 
' My soul shall be satisfied with fatness and fatness'; so the Hebrew 
hath it ; that is, my soul shall be topful of comfort, it shall be filled up 
to the brim with pleasure and delight, in the remembrance and enjoy- 
ment of God upon my bed, or upon my beds, in the plural, as the 
Hebrew hath it. David had many a hard bed and many a hard lodging, 
whilst he was in his wilderness condition. It oftentimes so fell out that 
he had nothing but the bare ground for his bed, and the stones for his 
pillows, and the hedges for his curtains, and the heavens for his canopy; 
yet in this condition God was sweeter than marrow and fatness to him ; 
though his bed was never so hard, yet in God he had full satisfaction 
and content : Jer. xxxi. 14, ' My people shall be satisfied with goodness, 
saith the Lord ; and * my God shall supply all your need, according to 
his riches in glory, by Christ Jesus,' Philip, iv, 19, saith Paul, that great 
apostle of the Gentiles. The Greek word vXy^Buasi signifies to Jill up, 
even as he did the widow's vessels, 2 Kings iv. 4, till they did overflow. 
God will fill up all, he will make up all, he will supply all the wants, 
and necessities of his people. That water that can fill the sea, can much 
more fill a cup; and that sun which can fill the world with light, can much 
more fill my house with light. So that God that fills heaven and earth 
with his glory, can much more fill my soul with his glory. To shew 
what a satisfying portion God is, he is set forth by all those things that 
may satisfy the heart of man, as by bread, water, wine, milk, honours, 
riches, raiment, houses, lands, friends, father, mother, sister, brother, 
health, wealth, light, life, &c. And if these things will not satisfy, what 
will ? It is enough, says old Jacob, that Joseph is alive, Gen. xlv. 28 ; 
so says a gracious soul, It is enough that God is my portion! A pardon 
cannot more satisfy a condemned man, nor bread an hungry man, nor 
drink a thirsty man, nor clothes a naked man, nor health a sick man, 
&c., than God doth satisfy a gracious man. But, 

Now worldly portions can never satisfy the souls of men, Eccles. v. 10. 
* He that loveth silver shall never be satisfied with silver ; nor he that 

' Cheleb vade then, fat and fat ; so the Hebrew bath it ; and hereby is meant satiety of 
pleasures, &c. 

VOL. II. C 



34; AN AUK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LaM. III. 24«. 

loveth abundance with increase. This is also vanity.'' All the world 
cannot fill the soul, nor all the creatures in the world cannot stock the 
soul with complete satisfaction. As nothing can be the perfection of 
the soul but he that made it, so nothing can be the satisfaction of the 
soul but he that made it. If a man be hungry, silver cannot feed him ; 
if naked, it cannot clothe him ; if cold, it cannot warm him ; if sick, it 
cannot recover him ; if wounded, it cannot heal him ; if weak, it cannot 
strengthen him ; if fallen, it cannot raise him ; if wandering, it cannot 
reduce him ; oh how much less able is it then to satisfy him ■ He that, 
out of love to silver, seeketh after silver, shall love still to seek it, but 
shall never be satisfied with it. A man shall as soon satisfy the grave, 
and satisfy hell, and satisfy the stomach with wind, as he shall be able 
to satisfy his soul with any earthly portion. All earthly portions are 
dissatisfying portions, they do but vex and fret, gall and grieve, tear and 
torment, the souls of men. The world is a circle, and the heart of man 
is a triangle, and no triangle can fill a circle.^ Some good or other will 
be always wanting to that man that hath only outward good to live upon. 
Absalom's beauty could not satisfy him, nor Haman's honour could not 
satisfy him, nor Ahab's kingdom could not satisfy him, nor Balaam's 
gold could not satisfy him, nor Ahithophel's policy could not satisfy him, 
nor the scribes and pharisees' learning could not satisfy them, nor Dives's 
riches could not satisfy him, nor Alexander's conquests could not satisfy 
him ; for when, as he thought, he had conquered one world, he sits down 
and wishes for another world to conquer ; and Cyrus the Persian king 
was wont to say, did men but know the cares which he sustained under 
his imperial crown, he thought no man would stoop to take it up.' 
Gilimex, king of the Vandals, when he was led in triumph by Belisarius, 
cried out, ' Vanity of vanity, all is vanity.' Charles the fifth, emperor 
of Germany, whom of all men the world judged most happy, cried out 
with detestation to all his honours, riches, pleasures, trophies, Ahite 
hinc, ahite longe, get you hence, let me hear no more of you. And it 
hath been long since said of our King Henry the second, 

' He whom, alive, the world could scarce suffice, 
When dead, in eight-foot earth contented lies.'* 

By all these instances, it is most evident that no earthly portions can 
satisfy the souls of men. Can a man fill up his chest with air ? or am 
he fill up the huge ocean with a drop of water ? or can a few drops of 
beer quench the thirst of a man in a burning fever ? or can the smell of 
meat, or the reeking fume of a ladle, or dreaming of a banquet, satisfy 
an hungry stomach ? No ! no more can any earthly portions fill or satisfy 
the heart of man. If emptiness can fill the soul, if vanity can satisfy 
the soul, or if vexation can give content to the soul, then may earthly 
portions satisfy the soul, but not till then. When a man can gather 
grapes of thorns, and figs of thistles, and turn day into night, and win- 
ter into summer, then shall he find satisfaction in the creatures ; but 
not before. All earthly portions are weighed in the balance of the 

' Some read the words thus: He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver, and 
he that loveth it in the multitude of it shall not have fruit. 

* If the whole world were changed into a globe of gold, it could not fill one heart, it 
could not satisfy one immortal soul. ^ Ascribed to Xerxes; Plutarch. — G. 

* Fuller's Chuicb History, book iii. cent. xii. sec. vii. from Matthew Paris, p. 151. — G. 



Lam. III. 24] an ark for all god's noahs. 35 

sanctuary, and they are found to be lighter than the dust of the balance; 
and this will rather inflame the thirst than quench it. 

A man that hath only the world for his portion, is like to Noah's dove 
out of the ark, that was in continual motion, but could find no resting 
place ; but a man that hath God for his portion is like the dove, re- 
turning; and restincr in the ark, The soul can never be at rest, till it 
comes to rest and centre in God.^ God himself is the soul s only home, 
no good but the chiefest good can suflSce an immortal soul. Look, as 
God never rested till he had made man, so man can never rest till he 
comes to enjoy God ; the soul of man is of a very vast capacity, and no- 
thing can Hll it to ihe brim but he that is fulness itself. It is the 
breast, and not the baby^ nor the rattle, that will satisfy the hungry 
child ; and it is God, and not this or that creature, that can satisfy the 
soul of man. But, 

(14J) Fourteenthly, As God is a soul-satisfying portion, so God is a 
permanent portion, an indefinite portion, a never failing portion, 
a lasting, yea, an everlxisting fortlon : Ps. Ixxiii. 26, ' My flesh and my 
heart faileth ; but God is the strength, or the rock, of my heart, and my 
portion forever.' God is a fountain which the hottest summer dries not, 
a bottomless treasure that can never be expended. God ever was, and 
ever will be. He cannot borrow his being from anything, who gives 
being and well-being to all things. ' God is Alpha and Omega, the first 
and the last, he is yesterday and to-day, and the same for ever,' Rev. i. 8. 
God is the Almighty, which is, and which was, and which is to come. 
All the difierences of time are united by some to connote the eternity 
of God, in that Exod, iii. 14, 'And God said unto Moses, I AM that I 
AM : and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath 
sent me untoyou.'^ Some translate this text, according to the full scope 
of the future amongst the Hebrews, ' I am that I am, that I was, and 
that I will be ;' for the future amongst the Hebrews points at all dif- 
ferences of time, past, present, and to come ; but others, obsei-ving the 
strict and proper signification of the future, translate it thus, ' I will be 
that I will be.' This name of God imports two of God's incommunicable 
attributes. 

First, His eternity, when he saith, ' I will be.' 

Secondly, His immutability, when he saith, ' That I will be.' The 
Rabbins, upon this text, express themselves after this manner : ' The 
blessed God said unto Moses, Say unto them, I that have been, and 1 
the same now, and I the same for time to come,' &c.; but others, more 
agreeable to the Chaldee paraphrase, express themselves thus : ' I, he 
that is, and was, and hereafter wiU be, hath sent me unto you.'* But 
it is observable, that the angel of the waters unites all ditferences of 
time in that great and glorious acknowledgment. Rev. xvi. 5, ' Thou art 
righteous, Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast 
judged thus.' God is a God of that infinite excellency and glory, that 

' A reminiscence of Augustine's memorable saying, ' Fecisti nos ad te, Domine, et in- 
quietum est cor nostrum donee requiescat in te,' Conf. i. 1. — G. . * 'Doll.' — G. 

3 Omnia tempora eonjuncta de Deo dicta eternitatem connotant. 

* Vide Ainsworth and D. Rivetus on the place. The Hebrew words in this Exod. iii. and 
their several significations do well agree with the name Jehovah, which implieth, that 
God here sending Moses, is eternal in his being, faithful in hig promisefi, and almighty 
in the performance thereof. 



30 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LaM. III. 24. 

it is utterly impossible for him to be better, or other than he is. If 
God should in the least be alterable or mutable, he would pre.sently 
cease to be God. God is a God of that transcendent excellency, that 
there can be nothing added to him, nor nothing subtracted from him. 
If you add anything to him, you deny him to be God ; and if you take 
anything from him, you destroy his being, James i. 17 ; Ps. xc. 2, ' From 
everlasting to everlasting thou art God.' * And Mary hath chosen the 
better part, which shall never be taken from her,' Luke x. 42. God is 
eternal, as neither being capable of a beginning nor ending ; and there- 
fore the Egyptians used to signify God by a circle, and the Persians 
thought that they honoured God most, when, going up to the top of the 
highest tower, they called him the circle of heaven. Now you know a 
circle hath no end. And it was a custom among the Turks to go up 
every morning to a high tower, and to cry out, God always was, and 
always will be, and so salute their Mahomet. Some things have a be- 
ginning, but no ending, as angels and the souls of men ; and some things 
have no beginning, and yet have an end, as the decrees of God in their 
final accomplishment ; and some things have both a beginning and an 
ending, as all sublunary things ; but God hath neither beginning nor 
ending. All creatures have a lasting, angels have an outlasting, but 
God hath an everlasting being: 1 Tim. i. 17, 'Now unto the King eternal, 
immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory, for ever 
and ever. Amen.' God is without beginning and end, first and last, 
past and to come : Ps. cii. 25-27, *0f old hast thou laid the foundation 
of the earth ; and the heavens are the works of thy hands. They shall 
perish, but thou shalt endure ; yea, all of them shall wax old like a gar- 
ment : as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed : 
but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.' Were there 
no other scripture to prove the eternity and immutability of God, this 
were enough.' Whatever changes may pass upon the heavens and the 
earth, yet God will always remain unchangeable and unalterable. By 
what hath been said, it is most evident that God is an everlasting portion, 
that he is a never-failing portion. 

But now all earthly portions are very uncertain ; now they are, and 
anon they are not: Prov. xxiii. 5, 'Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that 
which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly 
away as an eagle towards heaven.' Though the foolish world call riches 
substance, yet they have no solid subsistence. All earthly portions are 
as transitory as a shadow, a ship, a bubble, a bird, a dream, an arrow, 
a post that passeth swiftly away. Riches were never true to any that 
have trustee! in them. In this text, riches are said not to be, because 
they do not continue to be ; they will not abide by a man, they will 
not long continue with a man, and therefore they are as if they were 
not.2 All earthly things are vain and transitory, they are rather shows 
and shadows than real things themselves: 1 Cor. vii. 31, ' For the fashion 
of this world passeth away.' The Greek word eyjiiia signifies a mathe- 
matical figure, which is a mere notion, and nothing in substance. All 

' He that made heaven and eartli must needs be before them, and therefore eternal; 
but this God did, ergo. 

- Crassus was so ricli that he maintained an army with his own revenues; yet he, his 
great army, with liis son and heir, fell together, and so his great estate fell to others. [Jioo 
index under Crassus for other references to this. — G.] 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 37 

the glory of this world is rather a matter of fashion than of substance, 
it is a body without a soul, it is a golden shell without a kernel, it is a 
show without a substance. There is no firmness, there is no solidness, 
there is no consistency, there is no constancy in any of the creatures. 
All the pomp, and state, and glory of the world is but a mere piece of 
pageantry, a mask, a comedy, a fantasy : Acts xxv. 23, ' And on the mor- 
row, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp.' The 
original words, /ierd mXKrig <pavTa<fiot.i, signifies great fantasy, or vain show. 
The greatest glory and pomp of this world, in the eye of God, in the 
account of God, is but as a fantasy or a shadow. It was a custom in 
Home, that when the emperor went by upon some great day in all his 
imperial pomp, there was an officer appointed to burn fla.K before him, 
and to cry out, Sic transit gloria mundi, so the glory of this world 
passeth away ;* and this was purposely done to put him in mind that all 
his honour, pomp, glory, and grandeur should soon pass and vanish 
away, as the flax did that he saw burnt before his eyes. That great 
conqueror of the world, Alexander, caused a sword in the compass of a 
wheel to be painted upon a table, to shew that what h.e had gotten by 
the sword was subject to be turned about by the wheel of fortune f and 
many great conquerors, besides him, have found it so, and many now 
alive have seen it so. 

Look, as the rainbow shews itself in all its dainty colours, and then 
vanisheth away; so doth all worldly honours, riches, and preferments 
shew themselves and then vanish away ; and how many in our days 
have found it so ! When one was a-commending the riches and wealth 
of merchants ; I do not love that wealth, said an heathen, which hangs 
upon ropes, for if they break, the ship and all her wealth miscarries. 
Certainly within these few months the miscarrying of several ships hath 
caused several merchants sadly to miscarry. Astorm at sea, a spark of fire, 
an unfaithful servant, a false oath, or a treacherous friend, may quickly 
bring a man to sit with Job upon a dunghill. Look, as the bird flies 
from tree to tree, and as the beggar goes from door to door, and as the 
pilgrim travels fram place to place, and as the physician walks from 
patient to patient ; so all the riches, honours, and glory of this world do 
either fly from man to man, or else walk from man to man. Who knows 
not, that many times one is made honourable by another's disgrace ? 
another is made full by another man's emptiness ? and a third is made 
rich by another's poverty ? How soon is the courtier's glory eclipsed, if 
the prince doth but frown upon him ! and how soon doth the prince 
become a peasant, if God doth but frown upon him ? Now one is ex- 
alted, and anon he is debased ; now one is full, and anon he is hungry ; 
now one is clothed gloriously, and anon he is clothed with rags ; 
now one is at liberty, and anon he is under restraint ; now a man hath 
many friends, and anon he hath never a friend. There is nothing but 
vanity and uncertainty in all earthly portions. But, 

(15.) Fifteenthly, and lastly. As God is a permanent and never failing 
portion, so God is a.n incomparable portion ; and this follows clearly 
and roundly upon what hath been said ; for, 

• Cf. Sibbess Works, toI. iv. Notes d p. 58, and k p. 805, vol. vii. pp. 603, 604.— G. 

* jj'lutaich in the life of Alexander, &c. 



38 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

(1.) If God be a present portion, a portion in hand, a portion in pos- 
session ; and, 

(2.) If God be an immense portion, if he be the vastest, the largest, 
and the greatest portion ; and, 

(3.) If God be an all-sufficient portion ; and, 

(4.) If God be the most absolute, needful, and neces^ry portion ; and 

(5.) If God be a pure and unmixed portion ; and, 

(6.) If God be a glorious, a happy, and a blessed portion ; and, 

(7.) If God be a peculiar portion ; and, 

(8.) If God bfe a universal portion ; and, 

(9.) If God be a safe portion, a secure portion, a portion that none 
can rob or wrong us of; and, 

(10.) If God be a suitable portion ; and, 

(11.) If God be an incomprehensible portion ; and, 

(12.) If God be an inexhaustible portion, a portion that can never 
be spent, that can never be exhausted or drawn dry ; and, 

(13.) If God be a soul-satisfying portion ; and, 

(1 4.) If God be a permanent and an everlasting portion : then it must 
very necessarily follow, that God is an incomparable portion. But such 
a portion God is, as I have proved at large ; and, therefore, beyond all 
dispute, God must needs be an incomparable portion : Prov. iii. 13-15, 
' Happy is the man that findeth wisdom,' (that is, the liord Jesus Christ), 
* and the man that getteth understanding : for the merchandise of it is 
better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine 
gold. She is more precious than rubies : and all the things thou canst 
desire are not to be compared to her.' All the gold of Ophir, and all 
the silver of the Indies, which are but the guts and garbage^ of the 
earth, are nothing, yea, less than nothing, compared with God. God is 
a portion more precious than all those things which are esteemed most 
precious. A man may desire, what not ? he may desire that all the 
mountains in the world may be turned into mountains of gold for his 
use ; he may desire that all the rocks in the world may be turned into 
the richest pearls for his use ; he may desire that all the treasure that 
is buried in the sea may be brought into his treasuries ; he may desire 
that all the crowns and sceptres of all the princes and emperors of the 
world, may be piled up at his gate, as they were once said to be at 
Alexander's ; yet all these things are not comparable to a saint's portion, 
3'^ea, they are not to be named in that day, wherein the excellency of a 
saint's portion is set forth. Horace writes of a precious stone that was 
more worth than tw<^ty thousand shekels, and Pliny valued the two 
precious pearls of Cleopatra at twelve hundred thousand shekels.' But 
what were these, and what were all other precious stones in the world, 
but dung and dross, in comparison of a saint's portion ? Philip, iii. 7, 9. 
I have read a story of a man, whom Chrysostom did feign to be in prison. 
Oh, saith he, if I had but liberty, I would desire no more ! He had it. 
Oh then, if I had but for necessity, I would desire no more ! He had it. 
Oh then, had I for a little variety, I would desire no more ! He had it. 
Oh then, had I any office, were it the meanest, I would desire no more ! 
He had it. Oh then, had I but a magistracy, though over one town only, 
I would desire no more ! He had it. Oh then, were I a prince, I would 
» Spelled 'garbidge.'— G. » Nat. Hist. lib. ix. c. 58.— G, 



Lam III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 39 

desire no more ! He had it. Oh then, were I but a king, I would 
desire no more ! He had it. Oh then, were I but an emperor, I would 
desire no more ! He had it. Oh then, were I but emperor of the whole 
world, I would then desire no more ! He had it ; and yet then he 
sits down with Alexander, and weeps that there are no more worlds for him 
to possess. Now did any man enjoy what he is said to desire, it would 
be but a very mean portion compared with God. We may truly say of 
all the honours, riches, greatness, grandeur, and glory of this world, com- 
pared with God, as Gideon sometimes said of the vintage of Abiezer, 
' The gleanings of Ephraim are better than the vintage of Abiezer,' 
Judges viii. 2 ; so the very gleanings, yea, the vsmallest gatherings of 
God, are far better, and more excellent and transcendent, they are more 
satisfying, more delighting, more ravishing, more quieting, and more 
contenting than all earthly portions are or can be. What comparison is 
there between a drop of a bucket and the vast ocean ? between a weak 
drop, which recollecting all its force, yet hath not strength enough to 
fall, and the mighty waters ? Or what comparison is there between the 
dust of the balance and the whole earth ? Why, you will say, there 
is no comparison between these things ; and I will say, there is less be- 
tween all finite portions, and such an infinite portion as God is. For 
this is most certain, that there must needs be always an infinite distance 
between what is finite and what is infinite; and such a portion God is. 
By all that hath been said, it is most evident that God is an incompar- 
able portion. 

But now all earthly portions are comparable portions. You may easily 
and safely compare one earthly portion with another, one prince's re- 
venues may be comparable to another's, and one great man's lordships 
may be comparable to another's, and one merchant's estate may be com- 
parable to another's, and one gentlen^en's lands ma,y be comparable to 
another's, and one wife's portion may be comparable to another's, and 
one child's portion may be comparable to another's, &c., but God is an 
incomparable portion. There is no comparison to be made between 
God and other portions. And thus I have in these fifteen particulars 
fully discovered the excellency of the saints' portion above all other 
portions. 

And, therefore, I shall now come to the second thing, and that is, to 
shew you, 

II. Upon what grounds their title unto God as their portion is 
founded and bottomed ; and they are these that follow : — 

(1.) First, The free favour and love of God, the good will and plea- 
sure of God, is the true ground and bottom of God's bestowing of himself 
as a portion upon his people, Deut. vii. 6-8 ; Ezek. xvi. 1-15. There 
was no loveliness nor comeliness in them that should move him to bestow 
himself upon them. They had neither portion nor proportion, and there- 
fore there was no cause in them why God should bestow himself as a 
portion upon them. God, for the glory of his own free grace and love, 
hath bestowed himself as a portion upon those who have deserved to 
have their portion amongst devils and damned spirits, in those torments 
that are endless, ceaseless, and remediless. The Ethnics^ feign, that 
their gods and goddesses loved some certain trees, for some lovely gooil 
' That i8, the heathens, applied to all nations, non-Jewish and non-Christian. — G. 



'40 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

that was in them ; for Jupiter loved the oak for durance, and Neptune 
the cedar for stature, and Apollo the laurel for greenness, and Venus the 
poplar for whiteness, and Pallas the vine for fruitfulness ; but what 
should move the God of gods to love us, who were so unworthy, so filthy, 
so empty, so beggarly, that were trees indeed, but such as Jude mentions, 
'corrupt, fruitless, twice dead, and plucked up by the roots'? ver. 12. 
The question may be resolved in three words, Amat quia amat, he loves 
us because he loves us. The root of all divine love to us lieth only in 
the bosom of God. But, 

(2.) Secondly, Their title to God as their portion is founded upon 
God's free and voluntary donation of himself to them in the covenant 
of grace, Ezek. xi. 19 ; Heb. viii. 10-13. In the covenant of grace, God 
hath freely bestowed himself upon his people : Jer. xxxii. 88, 40, ' And 
they shall be my people, and I will be their God : and I will make an 
everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, 
to do them good ; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall 
not depart from me.' The covenant of grace is the great charter, it is 
the Magna Charta of all a saint's spiritual privileges and immunities. 
Now in this great charter, the Lord hath proclaimed himself to be his 
people's God: Jer, x. 16, 'The portion of Jacob is the former of all 
things ; the Lord of hosts is his name.' He that is the former of all 
things, even the Lord of hosts, is the portion of Jacob ; and he is Jacob's 
portion, by virtue of that covenant of grace, which is a free, a full, a rich, 
and an everlasting covenant : a covenant that he will never break, nor 
alter, nor falsify ; a covenant that he hath sworn to make good, as you 
may see by comparing the scriptures in the margin together.' That 
covenant of grace, whereby God gives himself to be his people's God and 
portion, he is bound to make good by his oath ; and, therefore, certainly 
whoever is forsworn, God will never be forsworn. The Egyptians, though 
heathens, so hated perjury, that if any man did but swear ' By the life 
of the king,' and did not perform his oath, that man was to die, and no 
gold was to redeem his life, as Paulus Fagius observeth in his comment 
on Genesis.'' To think that God will not make good that covenant that 
he hath bound himself by oath to make good, is blasphemy, yea, it is to 
debase him below the very heathens. All laws, both divine and human, 
have left no such bond of assurance to tie and fasten one to another, as 
that of an oath or covenant ; which, as they are to be taken in sincerity, 
so they are to be kept inviolably. Certainly, the covenant and oath of the 
great God, is not like a gipsy's knot, that is fast or loose at pleasure. 
Whoever breaks with him, yet he will be sure, faithfully and inviolably 
to keep his covenant and his oath with his. But, 

(3.) Thirdly, Their title to God as their God and portion, is founded 
and bottomed upon that marnage union that is between God and his 
people, Jer. iii. 13, 14. Hosea ii. 19, 20, 23, 'And I will betroth thee 
unto me for ever ; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, 
and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies : I will betroth 
thee unto me in faithfulness ; and thou shalt know the Lord. And I 
will sow her unto me in the earth ; and I will have mercy upon her 
that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them that are not my 

' Ps Ixxxix. 34, 85 ; Isaiah liv. 9, 10 ; Ps. cxi. 5 ; Ps. cv. 9 ; Mic. vii. 20 ; Heb. vi. 13-19 
Luke i. 73. * Inserted in the Critici Sacri. — G. 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 41 

people, Thou art my people ; and they shall say, Thou art my God.' This 
threefold repetition, ' I will betroth thee,' ' I will betroth thee,' ' I will 
betroth thee,' notes three things, 

[1.] First, the certainty of their marriage union and communion 
with God. 

[2.] Secondly, The excellency and dignity of their marriage union 
and communion with God. And, 

[3.] Thirdly, The dijfficulty of believing their marriage uvdon and 
communion with God. There is nothing that Satan doth so much envy 
and oppose, as he doth the soul's marriage union and communion with 
God ; and therefore God fetches it over again and again and again, ' I 
will betroth thee unto me,' &c. And so in that Isaiah Ixi. 10, ' I will 
greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God ; for he 
hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me 
with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with 
ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.' And so, chap. 
Ixii. 5, ' For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry 
thee : and as a bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God 
rejoice over thee.'' I have read of five sisters, of the same birth, pedigree, 
and race, whereof one was married to a knight, another to an earl, a third 
to a gentleman, a fourth to a mean man, and the fifth to a filthy beggar. 
Though they were all alike by birth and descent, yet their difference 
did lie in their marriage. We are all alike by creation, by the fall, by 
nature, and by the first birth ; it is only our marriage union and com- 
munion with God that differences us from others, and that exalts and 
lifts us up above others. Look, as the husband is the wife's by marriage 
union and communion, so God is the believer's God and portion, by virtue 
of that marriage union and communion that is between God and the 
believer. And let thus much suffice for the second thing. 

III. I shall come now to the third thing, and that is, to maJce some 
improvement of this blessed and glorious truth to ourselves; and, 
therefore. 

Is it so, that God is the saint's portion, and that he is such an excellent, 
and such a transcendent portion above all other portions, as hath been 
fully evidenced ? Then, 

[1.] First, Let not the saints that have God for their portion fret and 
vex themselves, because of those earthly portions that God commodity 
bestoivs upon the worst of men. There is a great aptness in the best 
of men to envy those earthly portions that God often bestows upon the 
worst of men. The lights of the sanctuary have burnt dim, stars of no 
small magnitude have twinkled, men of eminent parts, famous in their 
generations for religion and piety, have staggered in their judgments, 
to see the flourishing estate of the wicked.^ It made Job to complain, 
Job xxi. 7-16, and chap. xxiv. 12, and Jeremiah to expostulate with God, 

' What was said by one of the Rabbins concerning Methuselah's wife, that she had nine 
husbands in one, is very applicable to the believer that hath God for his husband. 

* Diogenes, the Cynic philosopher, seeing Harpalus, a vicious person, still thriving in 
the world, he was bold to say, that wicked Harpalus his living long in prosperity, was an 
argument that God had cast off his care of the world, that he cared not which end went 
forward ; and no wonder if this heathen stumbled at the prosperity of the wicked, when 
80 many of the precious sons of Zion have stumbled at that stumbling-stone. [Harpalus : 
Pausania, i. 37 ; Athen. xiii.; Diod. xvii. 108. — G.] 



42 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24<. 

chap. xii. 1, 2, and David even to faint and sink, Ps. Ixxiii. To see the 
prosperity of the ungodly, to see the wicked in wealth and the saints 
in want, the wicked in their robes and the saints in their rags, the 
wicked honoured and the saints despised, the wicked exalted and the 
saints debased, the wicked upon thrones and saints upon dunghills, is 
a sight that hath sadly put the best of men sometimes to it. But this 
is a temper of spirit that doth noways become those that have God for 
their portion ; and therefore the psalmist, in the 37th Psalm, cautions 
the saints against it no less than three several times, as you may see in 
verses 1, 7, 8. There is nothing that doth so ill become a saint that hath 
God for his portion, as to be sick of the frets ; and to prevent this mis- 
chief, this sickness, the precept is doubled, and redoubled, 'fret not, 
fret not, fret not.' Though they that have sore eyes are offended at 
bright clear lights, yet they that have God for their portion should never 
fret or fume, storm or rage, because some are greater than they, or richer 
than they, or higher than they, or more honourable than they, because 
all their prosperity is nothing but an unhappy happiness ; it is nothing 
but a banquet, like Haman's, before execution ; and what man is there, 
that is in his wits, that would envy a malefactor who meets with honour- 
able entertainment as he is going along to execution ? All a wicked 
man's delicate meats, his fine bits, and his murdering morsels, are sauced, 
and all his pleasant and delightful drinks are spiced, with the wrath and 
di.spleasure of an angry God ; and why then should you fret and vex at 
their prosperity ? What madness and folly would it be in a man that 
is heir to many thousands per annum, to envy a stage player that is 
clothed in the habit of a king, but yet not heir to one foot of land, no, 
nor worth one penny in all the world, and who at night must put off 
his royal apparel, and the next day put on his beggarly habit ? Oh, 
sirs ! it will be but a little little while before the great God will disrobe the 
wicked of all their prosperity, felicity, and worldly glory, and clothe 
them with the rags of shame, scorn, and contempt for ever ; and there- 
fore, oh what folly and madness would it be for those that are heirs of 
God, and joint heirs with Christ of all the glory of heaven, to envy the 
prosperity of the wicked, Rom. viii. 17. 

The prosperity of the wicked lays them open to the worst and greatest 
sins. 

[1.] First, It lays tkem open to all uncleaninees and Jilthiness, 
Jer. V. 7, 8. 

[2.] Secondly, It loiys them open to pride and contempt of God, Ps. 
Ixxiii. 3-13, Deut. xxxii. 15. 

[3.] Thirdly, /^ lays thenn open to vex, oppress, tyrannize, persecute, 
insult, and triumph over the poor people of God, as you may see in 
Pharaoh, Saul, Ahab, Jezebel, Haman, and the scribes and pharisees. 

[4.] Fourthly, It lays them, open to a neglect and slighting of the 
ways of God, and of the otyJlinances of God, Job xxL 5-16 ; Mai. iii. 13-15 ; 
Jer. xxii. 21. Wheu the protestants in France were in their prosperity, 
they slighted powerful preachings, &c., and began to affect a vain frothy 
way of preaching and living, which ushered in the massacre upon them. 
Moulin' hit it, when, speaking of the French protestants, he said, when the 
papists hurt us and persecute us for reading the scriptures, we burn with 
' Peter du Moulin, D.D.— G. 



Lam. III. 2^.] an ark for all god's noahs. 43 

zeal to be reading of them ; but now persecution is over, our Bibles are 
like old almanacs. 

[5.] Fifthly, It lays them open to a stupidness, unmindfulnesa, and 
forgetfulness of the afflictions of the people of God, Amos vi. 1-8. 
Pharaoh's chief butler was no sooner set down in the seat of prosperity, 
but quite contrary to his promise, he easily forgets Joseph in misery. 

[6.] Sixthly, It layeth them open to dreadful apostasy froTn the 
ways and worship of Ood, Deut. xxxii. 15-18. No sooner was Israel 
possessed of the good land that flowed with milk and honey, &c., but 
they forsook the true worship of God, and fell to the worshipping of 
idols, for which at last the good land spewed them out as a generation 
cursed and abhorred by God. 

[7.] Seventhly, It lays them open to all carnal security, as you may 
see in the old world : their prosperity cast them into a bed of security, 
and their security ushered in a flood of sin, and that flood of sin ushered 
in a flood of wrath. Mat. xxiv. 37-39. 

[8.] Eighthly, It lays them open to idolatry, which is a God-provoking 
arid a land-destroying sin, Hosea ii. 6-8, and chap. iv. 6, 7, &c. Ah, 
sirs ! who can seriously consider of the dreadful sins that the prosperity 
of the wicked lays them open to, and yet fret and vex at their prosperity? 

Again, as their prosperity lays them open to the greatest sins, so their 
prosperity lays them open to the greatest temptations. Witness their 
tempting of themselves, and their own lusts, and witness their temptings 
of others to the worst of wickedness and villanies, and witness their fre- 
quent tempting and provoking of the great God to his own face, and 
witness their daily, yea, their hourly tempting of Satan to tempt their own 
souls. O sirs ! as there is no condition that lays persons open to such 
great transgressions as prosperity doth, so there is no condition that lays 
persons open to such horrid temptations as prosperity doth ; and why 
then should God's holy ones envy wicked men's prosperity, and worldly 
glory, &c. ^ 

Again, Their prosperity, and worldly felicity and glory, is all the 
poHion, and all the heaven and happiness that ever they are like to 
have : Ps. xvii. 1 4, ' From men of the world, which have their portion in 
this life.' Certainly, men whose hearts are worldly, whose minds are 
worldly, whose spirits are worldly, whose desires are worldly, whose hopes 
are worldly, and whose main ends are worldly, have only the world for 
their portion ; and what a pitiful perishing portion is that ! Men that 
choose the world as their portion, and that delight in the world as their 
portion, and that trust to the world as their portion, and that in straits 
run to the world as their portion, and that take content and satisfaction 
in the world as their portion ; doubtless these have never known what it 
is to have God for their portion. That is a very heart-cutting and soul- 
killing word that you have in that Mat. vi. 2, ' Verily I say unto you, 
that they have their reward.' The scribes and pharisees proposed to 
themselves, the eyes of men, the praise of men, and the applause of men, 
for a reward of their alms, &c., and Christ tells them, that they have 
their reward ; not God's reward, but theirs ; that is, that reward that 
they had propounded to themselves, as the prime and ultimate end of 
their actions ; and doubtless that word was a thunderbolt to Dives, 'Son, 
remember that thou in thy lifetime received thy good things, and like- 



44f AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

wise Lazarus his evil,' &c., Luke xvi. 25. Wicked men have their best 
here, their worst is to come ; they have their comforts here, their tor- 
ments are to come ; they have their joys here, their sorrows are to come ; 
they have their heaven here, their hell is to come. Gregory being ad- 
vanced to great preferment, professed that there was no scripture that 
struck so much terror and trembling into his heart, as that scripture 
did, 'Here you have your reward.' Had wicked men but their eyes in 
their heads, and a little understanding in their hearts, and life in their 
consciences, they would quickly conclude that it is hell on this side hell, 
for a man to have his portion in this world ; and why then should you 
envy the prosperity of the wicked ? 

Again, All their prosperity is cursed unto them, ; as you may see by 
comparing the scriptures in the margin together.' All their comforts 
are cursed without doors, and all their comforts are cursed within doors ; 
there are snares on all their tables, and poison in all their cups, and the 
plague in all their brave clothes, &c. Dionysius the tyrant, to shew 
Damocles, one of his flatterers, the felicity, or rather the infelicity, of 
a king, attired him as a king, and set him at the table, served as a 
king ; and whilst he was in his imperial robes, he caused a naked sword, 
with the point downward, to be hung just over his head by a horse hair, 
which made Damocles to tremble, and to forbear both meat and mirth.' 
Though the feast was a royal feast, and the attendance royal attendance, 
and the music royal music, yet Damocles, for his life, could not taste of 
any of those varieties that were before him, nor take any comfort or 
contentment in any other part of his royal entertainment, because of 
the sword, the sword, that hung but by a single hair over his head. 
O sirs ! a sword, a sharp sword, a two-edged sword, a sword of dis- 
pleasure, a sword of wrath, a sword of vengeance, hangs over the head 
of every wicked person when he is in his most prosperous and flourish- 
ing condition ; and had sinners but eyes to see this sword, it would be 
as the handwriting upon the wall ; it would cause their thoughts to be 
troubled, and their countenances to be changed, and their joints to be 
loosed, and their knees to be dashed one against another ; and why, 
then, should Christians fret and vex at the prosperity of the wicked ? 

Again, When wicked men are at the highest, then are they nearest 
their fall ; as you may see in that 37th Psalm, and that 73d Psalm, 
and in those great instances of Pharaoh, Adoni-bezek, Benhadad, Ahab, 
Sennacherib, Haman, Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Herod, &c.' 
Look, as the ship is soonest cast away when she is top and top-gallant, 
so when wicked men are top and top-gallant, when they are at the 
height of all their pomp, bravery, and worldly glory, then God usually 
tumbles them down into the very gulf of misery. The gi-eat ones of 
the world have suddenly fallen from their highest honours and dignities, 
and have been sorely and sadly exercised with the greatest scorns and 
calamities. Let me give you this in a few remarkable instances. 

Valerian, the Roman emperor, fell from being an emperor to be a 
footstool to Sapor, the king of Persia, as often as he took horse.* 

' Deut. xxviii. 15-68 ; Lev. xxvi. 14-39 ; Prov. iii. :<3 ; Mai. ii. 2. 

• Vide Cicero Tusc. Quasi. [Cf. Index under Damocles for former references. — G.] 

s Exod.xiv. ; Judges i. 6,7 ; 1 Kings xx. and xxii.; 2 Kings xix. ; Esther vi. 4 ; Dan. v. 

* Amm. Marcel, xxiii. 5; Trehell. Polh. Frag. Vit. Valerian; Aurel. Vict.de Goes, 
xxxii. £pit. xxxii. ; Eutrop. ix. 6. — G. 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 45 

Valeris the emperor, a furious Arian, being wounded in a fight with 
the Goths, in his flight he betook himself to a poor cottage, wherein he 
was burnt by the Goths.^ 

Aurelianus, the Roman emperor, brought Tetricus^ his opposite, and 
the noble queen Zenobia of Palmerina,' in triumph to Rome in golden 
chains. 

Bajazet, a proud emperor of the Turks, being taken prisoner by Tam- 
berlain,* a Tartarian emperor, he bound him in chains of gold, and used 
him for a footstool when he took horse ; and when he ate meat, he made 
him gather crumbs under his table and eat them for his food. 

Caesar, having bathed his sword in the blood of the senate and his 
own countrymen, is, after a while, miserably murdered in the senate by 
his own friends, Cassius and Brutus, to shew that they are but the 
scourges and rods of the Almighty, which he will cast into the fire as 
soon as he hath done with them. 

The victorious emperor, Henry the Fourth, who in sixty-two pitched 
battles for the most part became victorious, fell to that poverty and misery 
before he died, that he was forced to petition to be a prebend in the church 
of Spire to maintain him in his old age, which the bishop of that place 
denied him ; whereupon he brake forth into that speech of Job, ' Have 
pity upon me, O my friends, for the hand of the Lord hath touched 
me,' Job xix. 21. He died of grief and want. 

And Procopius reports of king Guidimer, who was sometimes a potent 
king of the Vandals, that he was brought so low as to entreat his friend 
to send him a sponge, a loaf of bread, and an harp : a sponge to dry up 
his tears, a loaf of bread to maintain his life, and an harp to solace him- 
self in his misery. 

Dionysius, king of Sicily, was such a cruel tyrant that his people 
banished him. After his banishment he went to Corinth, where he 
lived a base and contemptible life. At last he became a schoolmaster, 
that so, when he could no longer tyrannize over men, he might over 
boys. 

Great Pompey, that used to boast that he could raise all Italy in arms 
with a stamp of his foot, had not so much as room to be buried in. 

And William the Conqueror's corpse lay three days unburied, his in- 
terment being hindered by one that claimed the ground to be his. 

And Pythias pined to death for want of bread, who once was able to 
entertain and maintain Xerxes's mighty army.^ 

And Philip de Comines reports of a Duke of Exeter, who though he 
had married Edward the Fourth's sister, yet he saw him in the low 
countries begging barefoot.® 

And so Belisarius, a most famous general, and the only man living 
in his time for glorious victories, riches, and renown, yet in his old age 
he had his eyes put out by the empress Theodora; and being led at last 
in a string, he was forced to cry out. Date panem Belisario, &c., Give 

' Tacitus Hist. i. 7, 52, 67, 61, 66, et alibi ; Plutarch. Otho, c. 6.— G. 

* See Dissertation by Do Boze in Memoires de rAcademie de Sciences et Belles Lettres 
Vol. xxvi. p. 504 — G. 

3 Palmyra. See Treliell. Polis, ^ri^. Tyrann.; Zonarxii, 27.— G. * Tamerlane. G 

s Turk. Hist. fol. 220, &c. [KnoUes — G.] 

* In the celebrated ' Memoirs,' sub Exeter. — Q. 



46 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LaM. III. 21-. 

a crust to old blind Belisarius, whom virtue advanced, but envy hath 
brought into this great misery. By all these royal instances, you see 
the truth of that which once a royal slave hinted to Sesostris. The story 
runs thus : — 

Sesostris having taken many of his neighbour kings prisoners, he 
made them to draw his chariot by turns. Now, it so happened that 
one of these royal slaves, as he was drawing in the chariot, had his eye 
almost continually fixed on the wheels, which Sesostris observing, asked 
him why he looked so seriously upon the wheels. He answered, that 
the faUing of that spoke lowest which was even now highest, put him in 
mind of the instability of fortune. Sesostris, duly weighing the parable, 
would never after be drawn by his royal slaves any more. 

By what hath been said, it is more evident that when wicked men 
are highest they are nearest their fall; and that none fall so certainly 
and so suddenly, and under such dreadful calamities and miseries, as 
those that have been the most highly advanced in all worldly dignities 
and glories. And why, then, should any fret or vex at their outward 
prosperity or worldly felicity ? 

Again, God will bt^g them to an account for all tlioae talents of 
power, of honour, of riches, of trust, of time, of interest that God hath 
given them in the world; and the more they have employed the 
liberality and bounty of God against God or his glory, or interest, or 
people, the shorter shall be their felicity, and the more endless shall be 
their misery. Mat. xxv. 14-31. The greatest account and the greatest 
damnation commonly attends the great ones of the world. I have read 
of Philip the Third of Spain, whose life was free from gross evils, pro- 
fessing that he would rather lose all his kingdoms than offend God will- 
ingly ; yet being in the agony of death, and considering more thoroughly 
of that account he was to give to God, fear struck him, and these words 
brake from him, ' Oh, would to God I had never reigned I Oh that those 
years I have spent in my kingdom, I had lived a private life in the wil- 
derness ! Oh that I had lived a solitary life with God, how much more 
confidently should I have gone to the throne of God ! What doth all 
my gloiy profit me now, but that I have so much the more torment in 
my death, and the greater account to give up to God V I have read of 
a soldier, who, being to die for taking a bunch of grapes contrary to his 
general's command, as he was going along to execution, he went eating 
of his grapes, whereupon one of his fellow-soldiers rebuked him, saying, 
What! are you eating your grapes now you are going to execution? 
The poor fellow replied, Prithee, friend, do not envy me my grapes; for 
I shall pay a dear price for them, I shall lose my life for them ; and so 
accordingly he did. So I saj^ Oh you that have God for your portion, 
do not envy, do not fret and vex, at the prosperity of the wicked ; for 
what though they have more than their heart can wish, what though 
they live in pleasure and wallow in aU carnal and sensual delights, &c., 
yet they have a sad account to give up to God, and they shall pay dear 
at last for all their worldly enjoyments. For without sound repentance 
on their sides, and pardoning grace on God's, they shall not only lose 
their lives, but they shall also for ever lose their immortal souls ; and 
therefore never fret at their prosperity. 

O sirs, do not you remember that Lazarus did not fret nor fume 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 47 

because Dives had robes for his rags, and delicates for his scraps ? &c. 
for he very well knew that though he was sine domo, yet not sine 
Domino. He had a guard of glorious angels to transport his holy, 
precious, heaven-born soul into Abraham's bosom. He knew that it 
was better to beg on earth, than to beg in hell. O sirs, what is dark- 
ness to light, earth to heaven, chaff to wheat, tin to silver, dross to gold, 
or pebbles to pearls ? No more are all earthly portions to that God 
who is the saints' portion ; and, therefore, let not the saints, that have 
such a matchless portion, envy the prosperity and felicity of wicked 
men. It is the justice of envy to kill and torment the envious; and, 
therefore, shun it as you would posion in your meat, or a serpent in the 
way. A man were better have a serpent tumbling up and down in his 
bowels, than to have envy a-gnawing in his soul. Envy is as pernicious 
a wickedness, as it is a foolish and a groundless wickedness. Envy is a 
scourge to scourge the soul; it is a serpent to sting the soul; it is a 
poi.son to swell the soul; it is a saw to saw the soul; it is a moth that 
corrupts the soul, and it is a canker that eats up the soul; and there- 
fore fly from it, as you would fly from the most cruel and destroying 
adversary. O sirs, to be angry, because God is bountiful to others ; 
to frown, because God smiles upon others; to be bitter, because God is 
sweet in his dealings with others; and to sigh, because God multiplies 
favours and blessings upon others; what is this but to turn others' good 
into our own hurt, others' glory and mercy into our own punishment 
and torment ? And if this be not to create a hell in our own hearts, I am 
much mistaken. I shall conclude this first inference with the counsel 
of the prophet in that Ps. xlix. 1(5, 17, 'Be not thou afraid when one 
is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased ; for when he dieth 
he shall carry nothing away ; his glory .shall not descend after him.' When 
the bodies of the wicked are rotting in their graves, and their souls are 
roaring in hell, none of their worldly greatness, pomp, state, glory, 
gallantry, riches, rents, or revenues, shall descend after them to 
administer one drop of comfort to them; and therefore never envy their 
outward prosperity or worldly glory, &c. But, 

(2) Secondly, If the saints have such an excellent, such a transcen- 
dent, and such a matchless portion, oh then, let them he content with 
their present condition, let them sit down satisfied and contented, 
though they have hut a handful of meal in their harrel, and a little 
oil in a cruse, 1 Kings xvii. 12. sirs, in having of God you have 
much, in having of God you have enough, in having of God you have 
all ; and why then should you not sit down quiet with your present 
allowance ? Certainly, if much will not satisfy you, if enough will not 
satisfy you, if all will not satisfy you, nothing will satisf}'^ you: Heb. 
xiiL 5, ' Let your conversation be without covetousness (or love of silver, 
as the Greek word signifiesj; and be content with such things as you 
have (or as the Greek hath it, a^xou/zico/ ro7j rra^ovsiv, be content with pre- 
sent things): for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.' 
There are five negatives in the Greek, ' I will not, not, not, not, not 
leave thee nor forsake thee ;' fully to assure and fully to satisfy the 
people of God that he will never forsake them, and that he will ever- 
lastingly stick close to them. What doth this unparalleled gemination, 
' I will never, never, never, never, never,' import but this, ' I will ever, 



4-8 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LaM. III. 24. 

ever, ever, yea and for ever and ever take care of thee, and look after 
thee, and be mindful of thee.' Though they had changed their glory 
for contempt, Heb. xi. 36-38, their fine raiment for sheep-skins and 
goat-skins, their silver for brass, their plenty for scarcity, their fulness 
for emptiness, their stately houses for holes and caves, and dens of the 
earth, yet they are to be contented and satisfied with present things, 
upon this very ground, that God will always cleave to them, and that 
he will never turn his back upon them. The Hebrews had been stripped 
and plundered of all their goods that were good for any thing, and yet 
they must be contented, they must sit down satisfied, with their hands 
upon their mouths, though all were gone, Heb. x. 34. Though men cannot 
bring their means to their minds, yet they must bring their minds to 
their means, and then they will sit down in silence, though they have 
but a rag on their backs, a penny in their purse, and a crust in their cup- 
boards, &c. O sirs ! a little will serve nature, less will serve grace, though 
nothing will serve men's lusts ; and why then should not Christians be 
contented with a little?^ O friends ! you have but a short journey to go, 
you have but a little way home, and a little will serve to bear your charges 
till you come to heaven, and therefore be contented with a little. To have 
more than will serve to bring a man to his journey's end is but a bur- 
den. One staff is helpful to a man in his journey, but a bundle is hurt- 
ful ; and this, doubtless, Jacob well understood when he made that 
proposal in Gen. xxviii. 20, 21, * If God will give me bread to eat, and 
raiment to put on, then shall the Lord be my God.' Jacob doth not 
say. If God will give me delicates and junkets to eat, he shall be my 
God ! Oh no ! But if he will give me but bread to eat, though it be 
never so coarse, and never so black, and never so dry, he shall be my 
God. He doth not say. If God will give me so many hundreds, or so 
many thousands a year, he shall be my God ! Oh no ! But if he will 
give me bread to eat, he shall be my God. Nor he doth not say, If 
God will give me so many hundred pounds in my purse, a comfortable 
habitation, and a thriving trade, he shall be my God ! Oh no ! But if 
he will give me bread to eat, he shall be my God. Nor he doth not 
say. If God will give me costly apparel, or rich and royal raiment to 
put on, he shall be my God ! Oh no ! But if God will give me rai- 
ment to put on, though it be never so mean and poor, he shall be my 
God. If Jacob may but have a little bread to feed him, and a few 
clothes to cover him, it is as much as he looks for. Look, as a wicked 
man in the fulness of his sufficiency is in straits, as Job speaks. Job xx. 
22, so a holy man, in the fulness of his straits, enjoys an all-sufficiency 
in God, as you may see in Jacob. O Christians ! though you have 
but little, yet you have the highest and the noblest title that can be to 
that little that you do enjoy ; for you hold all in capite, as the apostle 
sheweth in that large charter of a Christian, ] Cor. iii. 21-23, which the 
wicked do not. Now, a hundred a year upon a good title is a better 
estate than a thousand a year upon a cracked, crazy title. Saints have 
the best title under heaven for all they enjoy, be it little or be it much. 
But all the titles that sinners have to their earthly enjoyments are but 
crazy titles, yea, in comparison of the saints' titles, they are no titles. 

' Nature is content with a little, as not to starve, not to thirst, saith Galen, 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 49 

Again, That little that a saint hath, he hath it from the special love 
and favour of God ; he hath it from, a reconciled God, Prov. xv. 17. 
Now, a little from special love is better than a great deal from a general 
providence. A penny fr-om a reconciled God is better than a pound 
from a bountifril God ; a shilling from God as a father is a better estate 
than an hundred from God as a creator. The kiss that a king gave to 
one in the story, was a greater gift than the golden cup that he gave 
to another ; a little, with the kisses of God's mouth, is better than all 
the gold of Ophir, Cant. i. 2. A drop of mercy from special love is 
better than a sea of mercy from common bounty. Look, as one draught 
of clear, sweet spring water is more pleasing, satisfying, and delightful 
to the palate than a sea of brackish salt water, so one draught out of 
the fountain of special grace is more pleasing, satisfying, and delightful 
to a gracious soul than a whole sea of mercy from a spring of common 
grace : and therefore do not wonder when you see a Christian sit down 
contented with a little. 

Again, That little that a Christian hath shcM he certainly blessed 
and sanctified to him, 1 Tim. iv. 3-5 ; Titus i. 15 ; Jer. xxxii. 41, &c. 
Though thy mercies, Christian, are never so few, and never so mean, 
yet they shall assuredly be blessed unto thee. The Lord hath not only 
promised that he will bless thy blessings to thee, but he hath also sworn 
by himself that in blessing he will bless thee ; and how darest thou 
then, O Christian, to think that the great and faithful God will be 
guilty of a be, or that which is worse, of perjury ? Gen. xxii. 16, 17. 
Now, a little blessed is better than a great deal cursed ; a little blessed 
is better than a world enjoyed ; a pound blessed is better than a thou- 
sand cursed ; a black crust blessed is better than a feast cursed ; the 
gleanings blessed are better than the whole harvest cursed ; a drop of 
mercy blessed is better than a sea of mercy cursed ; Lazarus's crumbs 
blessed was better than Dives his delicates cursed ; Jacob's Uttle blessed 
unto him was better than Esau's great estate that was cursed unto him. 
It is always better to have scraps with a blessing than to have manna 
and quails with a curse ; a thin table with a blessing is always better 
than a full table with a snare, Ps. Ixxviii. 18, 32 ; a thread-bare coat 
with a blessing is better than a purple robe cursed ; a hole, a cave, a 
den, a barn, a chimney-corner, with a blessing, is better than stately 
palaces with a curse ; a woollen cap blessed is better than a golden 
crown cursed ; and it may be that emperor understood as much, that 
said of his crown, when he looked on it with tears, If you knew the 
cares that are under this crown, you would never stoop to take it up.* 
And, therefore, why should not a Christian be contented with a little, 
seeing his little shall be blessed unto him ? Isaac tills the ground, and 
sows his seed, and God blesses him with an hundred fold. Gen. xxvl 1 2 ; 
and Cain tills the ground, and sows his seed, but the earth is cursed to 
him, and commanded not to yield to him his strength. Gen. iv. 12. Oh, 
therefore, never let a Christian murmur because he hath but a little, 
but rather let him be still a-blessing of that God that hath blessed his 
little, and that doth bless his little, and that will bless his little to him. 

Again, That little estate that a righteous man hath is most com/monly 

» Cyrufl.— G. 

VQL. IL D 



60 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

a more lasting, a more abiding, a more permanent, and a more en- 
during estate than the great and large estates of the wicked are, Pro v. 
XV. 16, and xvi. 8. Ps. xxxvii. 16, ' A little that a righteous man hath, 
is better than the riches of many wicked.' One old piece of gold is 
worth more than a thousand new counters, and one box of pearls is 
more worth than many loads of pebbles, and one hundred pounds a 
year for ever is better than many hundreds in hand. It is very observ- 
able the psalmist doth not simply say, the estate, but the rich estate ; 
the riches not of one, or a few, but of many wicked, are not comparable 
to that little that a righteous man hath. The Hebrew word l^J^'i, Ha- 
mxyn, that is here rendered riches, signifies also a multitude, or an 
abundance, or store of riches.^ A little that a righteous man hath is 
better than the multitude of riches, or the abundance of riches, or the 
store of riches that many wicked men have ; and he gives you the 
reason of this in the l7th verse : ' For the arms of the wicked shall be 
broken, but he upholdeth (or under-props) the righteous.' By ' the arms 
of the wicked,* you are to understand their strength, their valour, their 
power, their wit, their wealth, their abundance, which is all the arms 
they have to support and bear up themselves in the world with. Now, 
these arms shall be broken, and when they are broken, then, even then, 
will God uphold the righteous, that is, God will be a continual over- 
flowing fountain of good to his righteous ones, so that they shall never 
want, though all the springs of the wicked are dried up round about 
them. 

O Sirs ! there are so many moths, and so many dangers, and so 
many crosses, and so many losses, and so many curses that daily attends 
the great estates of wicked men, that they are very rarely long-lived. 
Ah ! how many in this great city are there that have built their nests 
on high, and that have thought that they had laid up riches for many 
years, and that have said in their hearts, that their lands, and stocks, 
and trades, and houses, and pompous estates should abide for ever, who 
are now broken in pieces like a potter's vessel. Ah ! how often doth 
the pride, the oppression, the lying, the cheating, the over-reaching, 
the swearing, the cursing, the whoring, the covetousness, the drunken- 
ness, and the wantonness of the wicked, cut the throat of all their 
mercies ! These are the wickednesses that as a fire bums up all their 
outward enjoyments, and that turns their earthly paradise into a real 
helL It is the wickedness of the wicked that causeth their prosperity 
to wither, and that provokes God to turn their plenty into scarcity, 
their glory into contempt, and their honour into shame. It is very 
observable, that in the holy Scriptures the prosperous estates of the 
wicked are frequently compared to things of an abrupt existence,^ to a 
shadow which soon passeth away; to chaff, which a puff, a blast of wind 
easily disperseth and scattereth; to grass, which quickly withereth 
before the sun ; to tops of corn, which in an instant are cut off; to the 
unripe grape, which on a sudden drops down ; yea, to a dream in the 
night ; and what is a dream, but a quick fancy, and a momentary 
vanity ? All the riches that the wicked gain, either by their trades, or by 

* From this word Bamon comes the word Mammon, Luke xvi. 9. 
» Job xiv. 2; xxi. 17, 18; Isa. xxix. 5; 2 Kings xix. 26; Job xxiv. 24; xv. 33; 
ZZ.8. 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 51 

their friends, or by their great places, or by their high offices, or by their 
subtle contrivances, or by their sinful compliances ; and all the honour 
they gain in the court, or in the camp, or in the school, is but light and 
inconstant ; it is but like the crackling of thorns under a pot. They 
are fading vanities, that commonly die before those that enjoy them 
are laid in the dust. 

Oh, therefore, let all Christians be contented with their little, seeing 
that their little shall outlast the large estates of wicked and ungodly 
men. A man that hath God for his portion can truly say that which 
no wicked man in the world can say, viz., * Surely goodness and mercy 
shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of 
the Lord for ever,' Ps. xxiii. 6. The psalmist doth not say that good- 
ness and mercy should follow him a day, or a few days, or many days, 
but that 'goodness and mercy should follow him all the days of his life.' 
The Hebrew word radaph, that is here rendered to follmv, signifies to 
persecute ; saith the psalmist, * Goodness and mercy shall follow me, as 
the persecutor follows him he persecutes;' that is, it shall follow me frf 
quently, it shall follow me constantly, it shall follow me swiftly, it sha. 
follow me earnestly, it shall follow me unweariedly. The word signifies^ 
a studious, anxious, careful, diligent following ; it is a metaphor that is 
taken from beasts and birds of prey, that follow and fly after their prey 
with the greatest eagerness, closeness, and unweariedness imaginable. 
Why thus should mercy and loving-kindness follow David all the days 
of his life; and if in a temptation, he should prove so weak and so 
foolish as to run from goodness and mercy, yet goodness and mercy 
should follow him, like as the sun going down followeth the passenger 
that goeth eastward with his warm beams. 

O, but now the mercies of the wicked are short-lived. Though the 
wicked flourish and spread themselves like a green bay tree one day, 
yet they are cut down the next, and there is neither root nor branch 
to be found, tale nor tidings to be heard of them ; for in a moment, 
they, with all their greatness, state, pomp, and glory, are utterly van- 
ished and banished out of the world, Ps. xxxvii. 35-37. And so, Ps. 
xxxiv. 10, ' The young lions do lack and suffer hunger: but they that 
seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.' Young lions are lusty, 
strong, fierce, and active to seek their prey, and have it they will if it 
be to be had : and yet for all that they shall lack and suffer hunger. 
By young lions, the learned understand, 

[1.] First, All wicked rulers; men that are in the highest places and 
authority, as the lion is the king of beasts, Prov. xxviii. 15, Ezek. 
xxxii. 2. 

[2.] Secondly, By lions they understand all cruel oppressors, that are 
still oppressing and grinding of the faces of the poor: Prov. xxx. 30 ; 
* rich cormorants,' as the Septuagint renders it, ' who live on the spoil 
of the poor, and are never satisfied.' 

[3.] Thirdly, By lions, they understand the tyrants and the mighty 
Nimrods of the world, which are sometimes called lions, Jer. ii. 15, 
1 Chron. xi. 22, Nahum ii. 13. 

[4.] ATid lastly. By lions, they understand all the crafty and subtle 
politicians of the earth : Ezek. xxxviii. 13, 'The lion lurks very craftily 
and, secretly for his prey.' The sum of all is this, That wicked men 



52 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LaM. III. 24. 

that are in the highest authority, and that great oppressors, cruel 
tyrants, and crafty politicians shall be impoverished, and brought to 
penury, beggary, and misery. And this we have often seen verified 
before our eyes. 

O Christian ! what though thou hast but a little of this world, yet 
the God of all mercies, and all the mercies of God, the God of all com- 
forts, and all the comforts of God, are thine ; and what wouldst thou 
have more ? In God is fulness, all fulness, infinite fulness ; and if thi.s, 
with a little of the world, will not satisfy thee, I know not what will. 
If a God for thy portion will not content thee, all the world will never 
content thee. Shall Diogenes, a heathen, be more content with his 
tub to shelter him, and with his dish to drink in, than Alexander was 
with all his conquests?' And shall not a Christian sit down contented 
and satisfied in the enjoyment of God for his portion, though he hath 
but a tub to shelter him, bread to feed him, and a dish of water to 
refresh him ? I shall conclude this head with a weighty saying of 
Cato's, Si quid est quo utar utor, si non seio quia sum ; mihi vitio 
vertunt, quia multis egeo, et ego illis, quia nequeunt egere. I have 
neither house, nor plate, nor garments of any price in my hands ; what 
I have I can use ; if not, I can want it : some blame me because I want 
many things, and I blame them because they cannot want.* Oh let 
not nature do more than grace ! Oh let not this heathen put Chris- 
tians to a blush ! But, 

(3.) Thirdly, If God be the saint s portion, the sinners are much mis- 
taken, that judge the saints to be the most unhappy men in the world. 
There are no men under heaven in such a biassed and happy estate as 
the saints are, Baalam himself being judge, Num. xxiii. 5-11. A man 
that hath God for his portion, is honourable even in rags, Ps. xvi. 3. He 
liath some beams, some rays, of the majesty and glory of God stamped 
upon his soul, and shining upon his face, and glittering in his life; and 
he that is so blind as not to behold this, is worse than Balaam the witch. 
Though the blind Jews could see no form, nor comeliness, nor beauty in 
Christ that they should desire him, Isa. liii. 2 ; yet the wise men that came 
from the east could see his divinity sparkling in the midst of the straw ; 
they could see an heavenly majesty and glory upon him when he lay 
among the beasts, when he lay in a manger, Luke ii. 7. Witness their 
tedious journey to find him, and witness their worshipping of him, and 
witness those rich and royal presents that they brought unto him, Mat. 
ii. 11. So though the blind sots of the world can see no lovehness nor 
comehness,.no beauty nor glory, in the saints, or upon the saints, that 
should render them amiable and desirable in their eyes, yet God, and 
Christ, and angels, and those that are wise in heart and wise to salva- 
tion, can see a great deal of divine beauty, majesty, and glory upon all 
those that have God for their portion. There is no happiness to that 
of having God for a man's portion : Ps. cxliv. 15, ' Happy is that people 
that is in such a case' (but give me that word again), *yea, happy is that 
people whose God is the Lord.' He that hath not God for his portion 

' The immortal ' tub,' belonging to the Metroum or temple of the mother of the gods. 
Cf. Seneca, Ep. 99. Lucian, Quomodo Conscr. Hist. ii. p. 364. Diog. Laert. vi, 23 ; 
Jnvenal xiv. 308; also Plutarch, Alexander, c. 14 — G. 

* Aulus Gelliua. [Cato, sub Indice. — G.] 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 53 

can never be happy, and he that enjoys God for his portion can never 
be miserable. Augustine, speaking of one who, passing by a stately 
house which had fair lands about it, and asking another whom he met 
to whom that house and lands belonged, he answered, to such an one. 
Oh, says he, that is a happy man indeed. No, says the other, not so 
happy as you think; for it is no such happiness to have that house and 
land, but he is happy indeed that hath the Lord for his God, for that is 
a. privilege that exceeds all things whatsoever. Fch-, saith he, he that 
hath honour and riches may go to hell for all them, but he that hath 
God to be his God, is sure to be everlastingly happy. According as a 
man's portion is, so is he. Now, if God be a man's portion, who is the 
spring, the fountain, the top of all excellency and glory, then certainly 
that man must needs be an excellent man that hath God for his por- 
tion ; and upon this score it is that the righteous man is more excellent 
than bis neighbour.' Let the righteous man's neighbour be never so 
great, and never so rich, and never so mighty, and never so noble, yet 
if he hath not God for his portion, the righteous man is more excellent 
than he. And the reason is evident, because he hath that God for his 
portion that is most eminent and excellent. O sirs ! if God be most 
excellent, if God be alone excellent, then they must needs be most ex- 
cellent that have God for their portion. It is very observable that, 
according to the excellency of God, the excellency of the saints is in 
some proportion hinted at in Scripture ; as in that Deut. xxxiii. 26, 29, 
' There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun ;' and presently it follows, 
'Happy art thou,-0 Israel; who is like unto thee?' or. Oh the happi- 
nesses of thee, O Israel ! Oh the multiplied happiness, the heaped-up 
happiness, that attends Israel ! The saints that have God for their por- 
tion are the world's paragons; they are worthies 'of whom this world is 
not worthy ;' they are such great, such noble, such worthy worthies, that 
this world is not worthy to think on them, to look on them, to wait on 
them, or to enjoy their company. One saint that hath God for his por- 
tion, is more worth than all the millions of sinners in the world that 
have not God for their portion. God delights to reflect his glory upon 
his saints; for as there are none like to God, so there are none like to 
the people of God. Look, as God is a nonsuch, so his people are a 
nonsuch ; and so in that 2 Sam. vii. 22, 23, ' Wherefore thou art great, 
O Lord God ; for there is none like thee, neither is there any God besides 
thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears; and what one 
nation in the earth is like thy people V Look, as the excellency of God 
rises, so in a proportion the excellency of the saints rises ; and look, as 
there are no gods in all the world that are so excellent as God is, so 
there are no people in all the world that are so excellent as the people 
of God are. Every one that hath God for his portion resembles the 
child of a king, as Zeba and Zalmunna said to Gideon of his brethren. 
Judges viii. 18. If you look upon their divine and heavenly origin, you 
shall find that they are bom of the blood-royal, and that they are his 
sons who is the King of kings, and Lord of lords; yea, all the saints that 
have God for their portion are kings : Rev, i. 6, 'And hath made us kings 

' Prov. xii. 26. A man that hath God for his portion, doth as much excel and out- 
shine such as have only Mammon for their portion, as the sun excels and out-shines the 
stars, t 



54 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. fLAM. III. 24. 

and priests unto God and his Father.' ^ They have the power, sovereignty, 
and authority of kings, they arc privileged as kings, they are guarded 
as kings, they are adorned as kings, they are entertained as kings, they 
feed as kings, they feed high, they live upon God and Christ, and all 
the glory of heaven ; and they are clothed as kings, they are clothed 
with Christ's righteousness, and with the garments of joy and gladness. 
Kings have great alliance, and so have the saints that have God for 
their portion. Kings have a very great influence, and so have they that 
have God for their portion. A man in rags that hath God for his por- 
tion is a more honourable person than the greatest monarch on earth 
that hath only the world for his portion. I have read of Alexander the 
Great, and of Pompey the Great, and of Charles the Great, and of Abner 
the Great, and of Herod the Great ; but what were all these great men 
but grasshoppers to the saints that have God for their portion ? Men 
that have had God for their portion have been very famous, illus- 
trious, and glorious, when they have been friendless, and houseless, and 
penniless ; yea, when they have been under the swords, and saws, and 
haiTOws of persecution.^ When Maximian, the tyrant, had plucked out 
one of Paphnutius the Confessor's eyes, that good emperor Constantine 
saw such a lustre, beauty, and glory upon Paphnutius, that he fell upon 
him and kissed him ; and he kissed that very hole most wherein one of 
the Confessor's eyes had been, as being most ravished and delighted with 
that hole. His name that hath God for his portion shall live, when the 
name of the wicked shall rot, Prov. x. 7, Ps. cxii. 9. His name shall be 
written in golden characters upon marble, when the name of the wicked 
shall be written in the dust. 

The blind besotted world are sadly out, who are ready to set the 
crown of honour and happiness upon any heads, rather than upon theirs 
that have God for their portion. Look, as Samuel, beholding the 
beauty and stature of Eliab, would needs have him anointed, and the 
crown set upon his head, when the crown was designed for David at the 
sheep-fold, 1 Sam. xvi. 6, 12, so vain men are very apt to set the crown 
of happiness upon their heads who have the greatest share in this world, 
whenas the crown of happiness and blessedness is only to be set on their 
heads that have God for their portion. What the Queen of Sheba said 
of Solomon's servants, ' Happy are thy men, happy are these thy ser- 
vants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom,' 
1 Kings X. 8, is here very applicable to the saints : * Happy, happy, 
yea, thrice happy are those precious sons and daughters of Sion that 
have God for their portion.' A man that hath God for his portion shall 
live happily and die happily, and after death he shall remain happy to 
all eternity ; and therefore we may well cry out, ' Oh, the happiness and 
blessedness of that man that hath God for his portion 1' But, 

(4.) Fourthly, If the saints have such an excellent, such a matchless, 
portion, oh, then, let them never set their hearts and affections upon 
any earthly portions, Prov. xxiii. 5. It is true, O.Christian, thou mayest 
lay thy hand upon an earthly portion, but thou must never set thy heart 
upon an earthly portion : Ps. Ixii. 10, 'If riches increase, set not thy 
heart upon them.' The Hebrews put the heart for the thoughts, affec- 

' Rev. xvii. 14, v. 10 ; Daniel vii. 27 ; 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23 ; Ps. xxxiv. 14 ; Heb. i. 14 ; 
Ps. xlv. 13 ; I Cor. i 30. * As you may see in the 10th and 11th chaps, of the Hebrews. 



Lam. III. 24«.] an ark for all god's noahs. 55 

tions, love, desire, joy, hope, confidence, &c. If riches increase, oh, set 
not thy thoughts upon them ; if riches increase, oh, set not thy affec- 
tions upon them ; if riches increase, oh, set not thy love upon them, 
set not thy desires upon them, set not thy joy and delight upon them, 
nor never place thy hope or confidence in them. Oh ! what a shame 
and dishonour would it be to see men of great estates to rake in dung- 
hills, and to sweep channels, and to carry tankards of water, and to cry 
trifles up and down the streets ! And is it not a greater shame, a 
greater dishonour, to see tliose that have the great God for their portion, 
to set their hearts and affections upon a little white and yellow clay ? 
It was a generous speech of that heathen, Themistocles, who, seeing 
something glister like a pearl in the dark, scorned to stoop for it him- 
self, but bid another stoop, saying. Stoop thou, for thou art not Themis- 
tocles.^ Oh ! it is below a generous Christian, a grsicious Christian, a 
noble Christian, that hath God for his portion, to stoop to the things of 
this world. A true-bred Christian will set his feet upon those very 
things that the men of the world set their hearts : Rev. xii. 1 , ' And 
there appeared a great wonder in heaven, a woman clothed with the 
sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve 
stars.' The church is compared to a woman for her weakness, for her 
lovingness,for her comeliness, and for her fruitfulness ; and being clothed 
with the Sun of righteousness, she hath the moon, that is, the world, 
under her feet. The church treads under her feet all temporary and 
transitory things, which are as changeable as the moon. She treads 
upon all worldly and carnal enjoyments and contentments, as things 
below her, as things not worthy of her. What vanity is it for a great 
man to set his heart on bird's nests, and paper kites that boys make 
fly in the air ? And as great, yea, a greater vanity it is for the saints 
that have God for their portion, to set their hearts upon the poor little 
low things of this world. It is not for you to be a-fishing for gudgeons, 
but for towns, forts, and castles, said Cleopatra to Mark Antony. So say 
I, it is not for you that have Ciod for your portion, to be a-fishing for 
the honours, riches, and preferments of the world ; but for more 
grace, more holiness, more communion with God, more power 
against corruptions, more strength to withstand temptations, more 
abilities to bear afiiictions, more sense of divine love, and more assur- 
ance of interest in Christ, and in all that glory and happiness that 
comes by Christ. When Alexander heard of the riches of India, he 
regarded not the kingdom of Macedonia, but gave away his gold ; and 
when he was asked, what he kept for himself? he answered, Spem 
tnajorum et meliorwrn, the hope of better and greater things.^ O sirs ! 
when you look upon those riches of grace, those riches of glory, those 
riches of justification, those riches of sanctification, and those riches of 
consolation that are in that God that is your portion, how should you 
disregard, how should you despise, how should you scorn the great 
things, and the gay things of the world ! It was a notable speech of 
Erasmus, if his wit were not too quick for his conscience ? I desire, said 
he, neither wealth nor honour, no more than a feeble horse doth an 
heavy cloak-bag. O Christians ! you have many thousand excellencies 

• Plutarch in Life of Themistocles. — G. 

(* Plutarch: Alexander. — G. » Melchior A dam : Erasmus. — G. 



56 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

in God to set your affections upon, and you have many thousand excel- 
lencies in Christ to set your aftections upon, and you have many thou- 
sand excellencies in the Spirit to set your affections upon, and you have 
many thousand excellencies in the covenant to set your affections upon, 
and you have many thousand excellencies in the gospel to set your 
affections upon, and you have many thousand excellencies in the ordi- 
nances to set your affections upon, and you have many thousand 
excellencies in promises to set your affections upon, and you have many 
thousand excellencies in prophecies to set your affections upon, and 
you have many thousand excellencies in rare providences to set your 
affections upon, and you have many thousand excellencies in the saints 
to set your affections upon ; and therefore, for shame, set not your 
affections upon things below, set not your hearts upon things that 
perish. Col. iii. 1. A man can never come to set his heart upon any 
earthly portion, but that God will either embitter it, or lessen it, or 
cloud it, or wholly strip him of it ; and therefore sit loose, I say again, 
sit loose in your affections to all worldly enjoyments. But, 

(5.) Fifthly, If the saints have such a glorious, such an incomparable 
portion ; then let them he cheerful and comfortable under aU worldly 
crosses, losses, and troubles. Acts v. 17-42, Rom. v. 2-4. With what 
a Roman spirit do many vain men of great estates bear up under great 
losses and crosses ; and shall not grace do more than nature 1 Shall not 
the Spirit of God do more than a Roman spirit ? O sirs, how can you 
look upon God as your portion, and not bear up bravely under any 
worldly loss? Heb. x. 34. 'For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, 
and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that 
ye have in heaven a better, and an enduring substance.' They had 
God for their portion, and the joy of the Lord was their strength, and 
therefore they could rejoice in whatever damage came upon them by 
the hand of violence. And so David could comfort himself in his God, 
and encourage himself in his God, when Ziklag was burned, his wives and 
children carried captive, and the people in a readiness to stone him, 1 Sam. 
XXX. 6. Now all was gone, he looks up to God as his portion, and so he 
bears up bravely and cheerfully in the midst of all extremity of misery.^ 
And so Habakkuk was a man of the same noble temper, as you may 
see in that Hab. iii. 17, 18 : ' Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, 
neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labour of the olive shall fail, and 
the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold, 
and there shall be no herd in the stalls ; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, 
I will joy in the God of my salvation. Although the fig-tree shall not 
blossom, yet I will rejoice in the Lord.' Ay, but that is nothing, to 
rejoice in the Lord as long as there is fruit in the vines ; ay, but 
saith he, ' Though there be no fruit in the vines, yet I will rejoice in 
the Lord.' Ay, but that is nothing, to rejoice in the Lord so long as 
the labour of the olive doth not fail ; ay, but saith he, ' Though the 
labour of the olive shall fail, yet I will rejoice in the Lord.' Ay, but 
that is nothing, to rejoice in the Lord so long as the fields do yield their 
meat ; ay, but saith he, ' Though the fields shall yield no meat, yet I 
will rejoice in the Lord/ Ay, but that is nothing, to rejoice in the 

^ Better is that hell on earth which makes way for heaven, than that heaven on earth 
which makes way for helL 



Lam. III. 24] an ark for all god's noahs. 57 

Lord, so long as the flock is not cut off from the fold ; ay, but saith 
he, ' Though the flock shall be cut off from the fold, yet I will rejoice 
in the Lord." Ay, but that is nothing, to rejoice in the Lord, so long 
as there be herds in the stalls ; aye, but saith he, ' Though there be no 
herd in the stalls, yet will I rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of 
my salvation.' Habakkuk could rejoice in the Lord, and joy in that God 
that was his portion, not only when all delightful comforts and content- 
ments should fail, but also when all necessary comforts and contentments 
should fail. Habakkuk was a man of raised spirit, he knew that he 
had that God for his portion that did contain in himself all comforts 
and contentments, and that could easily make up the want of any 
comfort or contentment, and that would certainly lie himself in the 
room of every comfort and contentment, that either his children should 
need or desire; and in the power of this faith he rejoices and triumphs 
in a day of thick darkness and gloominess : 1 Sam, i. 5, 18, ' But unto 
Hannah he gave a worthy portion, for he loveji Hannah, and her 
countenance was no more sad.' O my brethren, it doth no ways 
become those that have God for their portion to walk up and down the 
world with clouded countenances, with sadded countenances, or with 
dejected countenances, &c., and therefore, under all your crosses and 
losses, wipe your eyes, and walk up and down with pleasant counte- 
nances, with cheerful countenances, and with smiling countenances, and 
this will be an honour to God, and an honour to religion, and an honour 
to profession, and an honour to that saintship that is too much slighted 
and scorned in the world. 

Indeed, when wicked men are exercised with crosses and losses, it is 
no wonder to see them take on like madmen, and see them take on bit- 
terly, like Micah, when he cried out, ' They have taken away my gods, 
and what have I more ? and what is this that ye say unto me. What 
aileth thee ?' Wicked men's bags and goods are their gods ; they are 
their portion, they are their all ; and when these are gone, all is gone 
with them ; when these are taken away, all is taken away with them ; 
and therefore it is no wonder to hear them cry out, ' Undone, undone !' 
and to see them sit down and weep, as if they were resolved to drown 
themselves in their own tears. But you that have God for your por- 
tion, you have such a portion that shall never be taken from you. As 
Christ told Mary, ' Thou hast chosen the better part that shall never be 
taken from thee,' Luke x. 42 ; and therefore it highly concerns you to 
bear up bravely, as well when you have but little, as when you have 
much ; and as well when you have nothing, as when you have every- 
thing. You shall be sure to enjoy all in God, and God in all ; and what 
would you have more ? Seneca once told a courtier that had lost his 
son, that he had no cause to mourn either for that or aught else, because 
Caesar was his friend ! O then, what little cause have the saints to 
mourn for this or that loss, considering that God is their friend ; yea, 
which is more, that God is their portion. I have read of a company of 
poor Christians, who, being banished to some remote parts, and one 
standing by, seeing them pass along, said, that it was a very sad condition 
that those poor people were in, to be thus hurried from the society of 
men, and to be made companions with the beasts of the field ; True, 
said another, it were a sad condition indeed, if they were carried to a 



58 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LaM. III. 24. 

place where they could not find their God ; but let them be of good 
cheer, for God goes along with them, and will follow them with the 
comforts of his grace wheresoever they go. Would it not make a man 
either sigh or laugh to see a man lament and take on bitterly for the 
loss of his shoe-strings, when his purse is safe ; or for the loss of a little 
lumber, when all his goods are safe ; or for the burning of a pig-stye, 
when his dwelling-house is safe ; or for the loss of his scabbard, when 
his life is safe ? And why, then, should a Christian lament and take 
on for the loss of this or that, so long as his God is safe, and his portion 
is safe ? But, 

(6.) Sixthly, If the saints have such an excellent and such a trans- 
cendent portion, as hath been discovered, then away with all sinful 
shifts, ways, courses, and compliances to gain an earthly portion. 
Was it not horrid, yea, hellish baseness in Ahab, who had a whole 
kingdom at his devotion, to possess himself of poor Naboth's vineyard, 
by false swearing, hypocrisy, treachery, cruelty, and blood ? 1 Kings xxi. 
But, certainly, it is a far greater baseness and wickedness in those that 
have God for their portion, or at least pretend to have God for their 
portion, to be a-sharking,^ and a-shifting, and a-complying with the lusts 
of men, and with the abominations of the times ; and all to hold what 
they have, or else to raise themselves, and greaten themselves, and en- 
rich themselves, by others' ruin. These men might do well to make that 
Jer. xvii. 11 their daily companion : ' As the partridge sitteth on eggs, 
and hatcheth them not ; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, 
shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.' 
The crafty fox in the fable hugged himself to think how he had cozened 
the crow of his breakfast ; but when he had eaten it, and found him- 
self poisoned with it, he wished that he had never meddled with it. 
O sirs ! there is a day a-coming, wherein men shall wish that they 
had never laboured to sin themselves into honours, riches, preferments, 
high offices, and high places, when God shall let some scalding drops of 
his wrath to fall upon their spirits, who have sold all Christ's and Chris- 
tians' concernments, and their own consciences, to gain riches and high 
offices ! How will they curse the day wherein they were born, and be 
ready, by the knife or the halter, to put an end to their most wretched 
days ! Oh what a sad and lamentable thing would it be to see men 
worth many thousands a-year a-purloining from others ! But it is a far 
more sad and lamentable thing to see men who pretend to have God 
for their portion, to act all this, and more than this, and all to lay up 
an earthly portion for themselves and others. How many be there 
in these days who pretend very high towards God, and yet ' sell the 
righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes,' Amos ii. 6 ; yea, 
that pollute the name of God, the worship of God ; and that slay the 
souls of men for handfuls of barley, and pieces of bread ; and that will 
say anything, or swear anything, or bow, or crouch to anything, for a 
piece of silver and a morsel of bread, or to be put into one of the priest's 
offices, Ezek. xiii. 19, 1 Sam. ii. 36. Christian, thou hast all honours 
and riches and preferments in that God that is thy portion ; and why 
then shouldst thou go about to sin thyself into the enjoyment of those 
things which thou hast already in thy God ? Hast thou forgot that 

' * Swindling.' — G, 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 59 

Solomon got more hurt by his wealth, than ever he got good by his 
wisdom ? and that David was best in a wilderness, and that our sto- 
machs are usually worse in summer, and that the moon is furthest from 
the sun when it is fullest of light ; and that all that a man gets by break- 
ing with God and his conscience, he may put in his eye ; and that the 
coal that the eagle carried from the sacrifice to her nest, set all on fire.* 
Have you forgotten what is said of Abraham in that Gen. xiii 2, viz., 
' That lie was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold ?" The Hebrew 
word cabbedh, that is here rendered rich, signifies heavy, to shew that 
riches are a very heavy burden, and oftentimes an hindrance in the way 
to heaven. Oh ! how vain, how uncertain, how vexing, and how divid- 
ing are the great things of the world ! How unfit do they make many 
men to live, and how unwilling do they make many men to die ! Oh 
what is gold in the purse, when there is guilt upon the conscience ! 
What are full bags, when sin and wrath are at the bottom of them ! O 
sirs ! you have an infinite fulness in that God that is your portion, and 
that fills all in all ; and whv then should you break the hedge to gain 
the world ? But, 

(7.) Seventhly. If the saints have such an excellent, glorious, and 
incomparable portion, 1 Cor. i. 31, oh then let them glory in their por- 
tion, let them rejoice and delight thernselves in their portion. Man is 
a creature very apt and prone to glory in earthly portions, when he 
should be a-glorying in the Lord : Jer. ix. 23, 24, * Thus saith the Lord, 
Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man 
glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches, but let him 
that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that 
I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteous- 
ness in the earth, for in these things I delight, saith the Lord ;' Isa. 
xli. 16, ' Thou shalt rejoice in the Lord, and shalt glory in the Holy One 
of Israel ;' and chap. xlv. 25, * In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be 
justified, and shall glory." Oh how should the saints, that have God for 
their portion, make their boast of their God, and rejoice in their God, 
and glory in their God ! Shall the men of the world glory in an earthly 
portion, and shall not a saint glory in his heavenly portion ? Shall they 
glory in a portion that they have only in hope, and shall not a Chris- 
tian glory in that portion that he hath already in hand ? Shall they 
glory in a portion that they have only in reversion, and shall not a 
saint glory in that portion that he hath in present possession ? Shall 
they glory in their hundreds and thousands a year, and shall not a 
Christian glory in that God that fills heaven and earth with his glory ? 
In all the scriptures there is no one duty more pressed than this, of 
rejoicing in God ; and indeed, if you consider God as a saint's portion, 
there is everything in God that may encourage the soul to rejoice in 
liim, and there is nothing in God that may in the least discourage the 
soul from rejoicing and glorying in him.^ O Christians, the 'joy of 
the Lord is your strength,' Neb. viii. 10 ; it is your doing strength, and 
your bearing strength, and your suffering strength, and your prevailing 
strength ; it is your strength to work for God, and it is your strength 

' .^sop: [Balorius].— G. 

* Compare these scriptures together: Philip, iii. 1, iv. 4; Ezek. x. 17; Joel ii. 23; Pa. 
xxxiji. 1, lixix. 12, 13, tjdix. 1, 2. 



60 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

to wait on God, and it is your strength to exalt and lift up God, and it 
is your strength to walk with God ; it is your strength to live, and your 
strength to die, and therefore be sure to keep up your joy in God. It 
is one of the saddest sights in all the world to see a man that hath God 
for his portion, with Cain to walk up and down this world with a de- 
jected countenance. It was holy joy and cheerfulness that made the 
faces of several martyrs to shine as if they had been the faces of angels. 
One observes of Crispina, that she was cheerful when she was appre- 
hended, and joyful when she was led to the judge, and meiTy when she 
was sent to prison, and so she was when bound, and when lift up in a 
cage, and when examined, and when condemned.^ O Christians ! how 
can you number up the several souls that you deject, the foul mouths 
that you open, and the bad reports that you bring upon the Lord and 
his ways by your sad, dejected, and uncomfortable walking! It is very 
observable that the Lord takes it so very unkindly at his people's hands 
when they go sighing, lamenting, and mourning up and down, whenas 
they should be a-rejoicing and a-delighting of themselves in him and 
his goodness, that he threatens to pursue them to the death with all 
manner of calamities and miseries upon that very score : Deut. xxviii. 
47, 48, ' Because thou servest not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, 
and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things, therefore 
shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, 
in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things ; 
and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck until he have destroyed 
thee.' But, 

(8.) Eighthly. If the saints have such a great, such a large, and such 
an all-sufficient portion as hath been shewed they have, then certainly 
they shall never want anything that is good for them. David tells 
you that his cup run over, Ps. xxiii. 5, 6. The words are an allusion 
to the Hebrew feasts. David's table was richly and nobly spread, both 
in sight and spite of all his enemies. In one God is every good ; and 
what can he want that enjoys that God ? God is a bundle of all good- 
ness and sweetness. And look, as God is the best God, so he is the 
greatest and the fullest good. He can as easily fill the most capacious 
souls up to the very brim with all inward and outward excellencies and 
mercies, as Christ did once fill those water-pots of Galilee up to the 
very brim with wine, John ii. 1-11. If God hath enough in himself 
for himself, then certainly he hath enough in himself for us ; that water 
that can fill the sea can much more easily fill my cup or my pot : ' My 
people shall be satisfied with goodness, saith the Lord,' Jer. xxxi. 14 ; 
' And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not 
turn away from them to do them good, yea, I will rejoice over them to 
do them good ; and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my 
whole heart, and with my whole soul,' Jer. xxxii. 40, 41 ; ' My God shall 
supply all your need,' Philip, iv. 19, or, ' My God shall ("^rXi^^usu") fill up 
all your need,' as he did the widow's vessels in that 2 Kings iv. 3-6. 
Godliness hath the promise both of this life and that which is to come, 
1 Tim. iv. 8. He that hath God for his portion shall have all other 
things cast into his store, as paper and packthread is cast into the bar- 
gain, or as an handful of corn is cast into the corn you buy, or as huck- 
* August, in Ps. cxxxviL [Clarke as before. — G.] 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 61 

sters cast in an overcast among the fruit you buy, or as an inch of 
measure is given into an ell of cloth, Mat. vi. 25, 31-33. O sirs, how 
can that man be poor, how can that man want, that hath the Lord of 
heaven and earth for his portion ? Surely he cannot want light that 
enjoys the sun, nor he cannot want bread that hath all sorts of grain 
in his bams, nor he cannot want water that hath the fountain at his 
door ; no more can he want anything that hath God for his portion, 
who is everything, and who will be ever3rthing to every gracious soul. 
O sirs ! the thought, the tongue, the desire, the wish, the conception, 
all fall short of God, and of that great goodness that he hath laid up for 
them that fear him, Ps. xxxi. 19 ; and why then should they be afraid of 
wants ? Ps. civ. 10-31. How doth that pretty bird the robin-redbreast 
cheerfully sit and sing in the chamber window, and yet knows not 
where he shall make the next meal, and at night must take up his 
lodging in a bush. Oh what a shame is it that men that have God for 
their portion should act below this little bird. I have read of famous 
Mr Dod, who is doubtless now high in heaven,' who intended to marry, 
was much troubled with fears and cares how he should live in that con- 
dition, his incomes being so small that they would but maintain him in 
a single condition ; and looking out at a window, and seeing a hen 
scraping for food for her numerous brood about her, thought thus with 
himself : This hen did but live before it had these chickens, and now 
she lives with all her little ones ; up6n which he added this thought 
also, I see the fowls of the air neither sow nor reap, nor gather into 
barns, and yet my heavenly Father feeds them, Mat. vi. 25 ; and thus 
he overcame his fears of wanting.^ O Christians! you have such a 
Father for your portion, as will as soon cease to be, as he will cease to 
supply you with all things necessary for your good. It was a good say- 
ing of one, I would desire neither more nor less than enough ; for I may 
as well die of a surfeit as of hunger, and he is rich enough that lacketh 
not bread, and high enough in dignity that is not forced to serve. 
Plutarch's reasoning is good, «■« '"wv p/X5v 'xa.yra. xotm, friends have all 
things in common ; but God is our friend, ergo we cannot want; a 
rare speech from an heathen. Rather than Israel should want, did 
not God feed them with manna in the wilderness ? and rather than 
Elijah and the widow should not have their wants supplied, did 
not God work a miracle, by causing the handful of meal in the 
barrel, and the little oil in the cruse, to last and hold out till he 
supplied them in another way ? Rather than Elijah shall want, God 
will feed him with a raven, and by that miraculous operation save him 
from a perishing condition. O sirs ! all the attributes of God are so 
engaged for you that you cannot want, and all the promises of God are 
60 engaged to you that you cannot want, and all the affections of God 
are so set upon you that you cannot want ; and why then should you 
fear wants ? O sirs ! hath God given you his Son, his Spirit, his grace, 
his glory, yea, himself, and will he deny you lesser things,^ Rom. viii. 32. 
Hath he given you those things that are more worth than ten thousand 

• Died 1645, aged 96 ; for other references to this holy and venerable man, see Index, 
mb nomine. — G. 

» See Life of Dod in Brook's ' Puritans,' Vol. iii. seq. — G. 

' Gregory the great was wont to say, that he was a poor man, whose soul was void of 
grsuse, pot he whose coffers were empty of money. 



62 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

worlds, and will he not give you bread to eat, and raiment to put on ? 
Hath he given you those spiritual riches that infinitely exceed and excel 
all the riches, rubies, and pearls in the world ; and will he deny you a 
little money in your purses to bear your charges till you come to heaven? 
Hath he given you a crown, and will he deny you a crust ? Hath he 
given you his royal robes, and will he deny you a few rags ? Hath he 
given you a royal palace, and will he deny you a poor cottage to shelter 
you from the stormy winter and from the scorching summer ? yea, doth 
he feed his enemies, and clothe his enemies, and protect his enemies, 
and provide for his enemies, which are the generation of his wrath and 
curse, and will he not do as much for you, O ye of little faith ? Will he 
do so much for them that hate him, and will he not do as much for you 
that love him ? Doubtless he will. Will he feed the ravens, and pro- 
vide for the ox and the ass, and clothe the grass of the field ; and will 
he suffer you, who are his love, his joy, his delight, to starve at his feet, 
for want of necessaries ? Surely no. 

But suppose you were under many real wants, yet certainly this very 
consideration, that the Lord is your portion, should quiet your hearts, 
and bear up your spirits bravely under them all. Jerome tells us of one 
Didymus, a godly preacher, who was blind ; Alexander, a godly man, 
coming to see him, asked him, whether he was not sorely troubled and 
afflicted for want of his sight. Oh yes, said Dydimus, it is a very great 
affliction and grief to me. Whereupon Alexander chid him, saying. 
Hath God given you the excellency of an angel, of an apostle, and are 
you troubled for that which rats and mice, and brute beasts enjoy ? O 
sirs ! if God hath given you himself for a portion, then certainly it is a 
sinful thing, a shameful thing, an unworthy thing for you to be so 
troubled, afflicted, and grieved, because you want this and that worldly 
contentment and enjoyment, which God bestows upon such whose 
wickedness hath debased them below the ox and the ass, I mean, men 
of beastly spirits, and beastly principles, and beastly practices, Isa. i. 2, 3. 
Look, as Benjamin's mess was five times greater than his brethren's, 
Gen. xliii. 34 ; so those that have God for their portion have five 
thousand times a greater portion than the wicked of the world, whose 
portion only lies in perishing trifles, and in tried vanities; and therefore 
there is no just reason, no Scripture reason, why they should be afraid 
of wants. But, 

(9.) Ninthly, If the saints have such a great, such a large, such an 
all-sufflcient, such an infinite, and such an incomparable portion, as hath 
been made evident they have, oh then a/way wUh all iriordinate cares 
for the things of this life. Oh say to all vexing, wasting, distracting, and 
disturbing cares, as Ephraim once said to his idols, ' Get you hence, for 
what have I any more to do with you?' Hosea xiv. 8. Christ's counsel 
should lie warm upon every man's heart that hath God for his portion, 
'Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or. What shall we drink 1 
or. Wherewithal shall we be clothed?' Mat. vi. 31, and so should the 
apostle's, ' Cast all your care on him; for he careth for you,' 1 Peter v. 7, 
and so should the psalmist's also, ' Cast thy burden (or as the Greek well 
turns it, thy care) upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee : he shall 
never suffer the righteous to be moved,' Ps. Iv. 22. Some write, that 
lions sleep with their eyes open and shining ; but the Lion of the tribe 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 63 

of Judah, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the keeper of Israel, never slum- 
bers nor sleeps ; his eyes are always open upon the upright ; he still 
stands sentinel for his people's good, and therefore why should inordinate 
cares eat up the hearts of Christians? O Christians! of all burdens 
the burden of cavking cares will sit the heaviest upon your spirits. 
There is no burden that will bow you and break you like this. In- 
ordinate cares vex the heart, they divide the heart, they scratch and 
tear the heart, they pierce and wound the heart through and through 
with many sorrows, 1 Tim. vi. 10. Inordinate cares will either crowd 
out duties, as in Martha, Luke x. 40, or else they will crowd into duties 
and spoil duties, as in that Luke viii. 14, * the cares of the world choke 
the word.' Look, as Pharaoh's ill-favoured lean kine ate up the fat. 
Gen. xlL 4, so all inordinate ill-favoured cares will eat up all those fat and 
noble cares for God, for his glory, for heaven, for holiness, for grace, for 
glory, for power against corruptions, for strength to resist temptations, 
and for support and comfort under afflictions, &c., with which the soul 
should be filled and delighted. Oh that you would for ever remember 
these few things, to prevent all inordinate, distrustful, and distracting 
cares. 

[1.] First, That they are a dishcmour and a reproaxih to the all- 
sujfficiency of Ood ; as if he were not able to supply all your wants, and 
to answer all your desires, and to succour you in all your distresses, and 
to deliver you out of all your calamities and miseries, &c. 

[2.] Secondly, Inordinate cares are a dishonour and a reproach to 
the omnisdency of God} As if your wants were not as well known to 
him as his own works, and as if he had not a fixed eye upon all the 
straits and trials that lies upon you, and as if he did not know every 
burden that makes you to groan, and did not behold every affliction that 
makes you to sigh, and did not observe every tear that drops from your 
eyes, &c. ; whereas his eye is still upon you : Deut. xi. 11, 12, "But the 
land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and 
drinketh water of the rain of heaven ; a land which the Lord thy God 
careth for : the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the 
beginning of the year, unto the end of the year.' And do you think 
that he will not have as great a care, and as tender a regard of you who 
are his jewels, his treasure, his joy, yea, who are the delight of his soul, 
and the price of his Son's blood ? 

[3.] Thirdly, Inordinate cares are a disJixynour and a repi^oach to 
the authority of God. As if the earth were not the Lord's and the ful- 
ness thereof, and as if all creatures were not at his command and at his 
dispose, whenas he is the great proprietaiy, and aU is his by primitive 
right, and all the creatures are at his service, and are ready at a word 
of command to serve where he pleaseth, and when he pleaseth, and as 
he pleaseth, and whom he pleaseth. Pa xxiv. 1 ; Ps. 1. 1 0. 

[4.] Fourthly, Inordinate cares are a dishonour and a reproach to 
the mercy, bounty, and liberality of God. They proclaim God to be a 
hard master, and not to be of so free, so noble, and so generous a spirit, 
as Scripture and the experiences of many thousands speaks him to 
be. I have read of a duke of Milan, that marrying his daughter to a 
son of England, he made a dinner of thirty courses, and at every course 
' Ps cxxxix. 11 ; Pb. xl. 5 ; Job. xxxi. 4 ; 2 Chron. xvi. 9, &c. 



64 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

he gave so many gifts to every giiest at the table, iis there were dishes 
in the course. Here was a rich and royal entertainment, here was noble 
bounty indeed ; but this bounty is not to be named in the day wherein 
the bounty and liberality of God to his people is spoken of Princes' 
treasures have been often exhausted and drawn dry, but the treasures 
of God's bounty and liberality were never, nor never shall be, exhausted 
or drawn dry.^ O sirs ! you are as well able to tell the stars of heaven, 
and to number the sands of the sea, as you are able to number up the 
mercies and favours of God that attends his people in one day, yea, that 
attends them in one hour of the day, or in one minute of an hour; such 
is his liberality and bounty towards them. God is always best, when he 
is most in the exercise of his bounty and liberality towards his people. 
His favours and mercies seldom come single. There is a series, a con- 
catenation of them, and every former draws on a future ; yea, such is the 
bounty and liberality of God, that he never takes away one mercy, but 
he hath another ready to lay in the room of it ; as Joshua began to shine 
before Moses his candle was put out ; and before Joshua went to bed, 
Othniel the son of Kenaz was risen up to judge. Eli was not gathered to 
his fathers, before Samuel appeared hopeful ; nor Sarah was not taken 
away till Rebekah was ready to come in her stead. The Jews have a 
saying, that never doth there die any illustrious man, but there is an- 
other born as bright on the same day. 

[5.] Fifthly, Inordinate cares are a reproach and a dishonour to 
the fidelity of God. As if he were not the faithful witness, the faithful 
God, that hath bound himself by promise, by covenant, and by oath, to 
take care of his people, and to provide for his people, and to look after 
the welfare of his people.'* God is that ocean and fountain from whence 
all that faithfulness that is in angels and men do issue and flow, and 
his faithfulness is the rule and measure of all that faithfulness that is 
in all created beings, and his faithfulness is unchangeable and perfect 
Though the angels fell from their faithfulness, and Adam fell from his, 
yet it is impossible that ever God should fall from his. God's faith- 
fulness is a foundation-faithfulness ; it is that foundation upon which 
all our faith, hope, prayers, praises, and obedience stands ; and there- 
fore,, whoever is unfaithful, God will be sure to shew himself a faithful 
God, in making good all that he hath spoken concerning them that fear 
him. I had rather, said Plutarch, that men should say there was never 
any such person in the world as Plutarch, rather than say that Plutarch 
is unfaithful. Men were better say that there is no God, than to say 
that God is an unfaithful God ; and yet this is the constant language 
of inordinate cares. O sirs ! God's goodness inclines him to make good 
promises, precious promises ; and his faithfulness engages him to make 
those promises good, 2 Peter i. 4. If the word be once gone out of his 
mouth, heaven and earth shall sooner pass away, than one jot of that 
word shall fail. Mat. v. 18. Men say and unsay what they have said ; 
they often eat their words as soon as they have spoke them ; but so 
will not God. This faithfulness of God Joshua stoutly asserts to the 
height ; he throws down the gauntlet, and doth, as it were, challenge 

• Mercy and bounty is as essential to God, as light is to the sun, or as heat is to the fire. 
» Rev. i. 6, iii. 14 ; Isa. xlix. 7 ; 1 Cor. i. 9, x. 13 ; 2 Thes. iii. 3 ; Heb. x. 23 ; Rev. 
xix. 11 : Heb, vi. 13-19. 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 65 

all Israel to shew but that one thing that God had failed them in of all 
the good things that he had promised, Joshua xxiii. 14, 15. If God in 
very faithfulness afflicts his people to make good his threatenings, oh, 
how much more in faithfulness will he preserve and provide for his 
people, to make good his promises ! Ps. cxix. 75. God hath never 
broke his word nor cracked his credit by deceiving, or by compounding 
for one penny less in the pound than what he hath promised to make 
good. God stands upon nothing more than his faithfulness, and glories 
in nothing more than his faithfulness ; and yet all inordinate cares 
leaves a blot upon his faithfulness. But, 

[6.] Sixthly and lastly. Inordinate cares are a reproach to the pity 
and compassion of God, Mat. vi. S2. They speak out God to be a God 
of no pity, of no bowels, of no tenderness ; whereas God is all pities, all 
bowels, all compassions, all tendernesses : Ps. ciii. 13, ' Like as a father 
pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.' There is 
an ocean of love and pity in a father's heart to his children, Gen. xxxiii. 
13, 14; and there is much more in God's to his. Hence he is called 
the Father by way of eminency ; and indeed, originally and properly, 
there is no Father to him, there is no Father like him, there is no 
Father besides him ; and he is called the Father of all mercies, because 
all the mercies, all the pities, all the bowels, all the compassions that 
are in all the fathers on earth, are but a drop of his ocean, a spark of 
his flame, a mite out of his treasury.' That father that sees his child 
in want, and pities him not, and pitying, if able, relieves him not, for- 
feits the very name of father, and may better write himself monster than 
man. I have read of a young man who, being at sea in a mighty storm, 
was very merry when all the passengers were at their wit's end for fear, 
&c. ; and when he was asked the reason of his mirth, he answered, that 
the pilot of the ship was his father, and he knew that such was his 
father's pity and compassion, that he would have a care of him. O sirs ! 
whatever storms the people of God may be in, yet such is his pity and 
compassion towards them, that he will be sure to have a care of them. 
Tlie Lord is all that to his people, and will be all that to his people, yea, 
and infinitely more than that which Isis Mammosa was to the Egyp- 
tians, a god full of dugs ; and whilst he hath a breast, there is no reason 
why his children should fear the want of milk. That golden promise, 
Heb. xiii. 5, were there no more, hath enough in it to steel and arm the 
soul against all inordinate cares. The Greek hath five negatives, and 
may thus be rendered : ' I will not, not leave thee, neither will I not, 
not forsake thee.'^ Five times, as one well observes, is this precious 
promise renewed, that we may suck and be satisfied with the breasts of 
its consolations, that we may milk out and be delighted with the abun- 
dance of its glory. O sirs ! shall the word, the promise, the protest of 
a king, arm us and cheer us up against all inordinate cares, and shall 
not the word, the promise, the protest of the King of kings, so often 
repeated, much more arm us against all base, distrustful, and distracting 
cares ? O Christians ! the remembrance of this blessed truth, that God 

' Eph. iii. 16. God is pater miserationum ; 1am pius nemo, tam pater nemo, saith Bernard. 
- ei) (in ou S« at) firi, never, in no wise, in no case ; whatever 1 do, 1 will not do this, 
whatever shift 1 make. 

VOL. II. E 



66 AN ARK FOR ALL QOD'S NOAHS. [LaM. III. 24. 

is your portion, should make you sing care away, as that famous martyr 
said, ' My soul is turned to her rest ; I have taken a sweet nap in 
Christ's lap ; and therefore I will now sing away care, and will be care- 
less, according to my name.'' If the sense of God's being a man's 
portion will not bum up all those inordinate cares that commonly fills 
his head, and that disturbs, and distracts, and racks his heart, I profess 
I cannot tell what will. It was a strange speech of Socrates, a heathen : 
Since God is so careful for you, saith he, what need you be careful for 
anything yourselves ? But, 

(10.) Tenthly, If God be the saints' portion, then all is theirs. As 
he said, Ghristus mens et omnia, Christ is mine, and all is mine ; so 
may a Christian say, DeiLS 'm,eus et omnia mea, God is mine, and all is 
mine.* If God be thy portion, then heaven and earth are thine ; then 
all the good and all the glory of both worlds are thine ; then all the 
upper and the nether springs are thine : 1 Cor. iii. 21, ' AH things are 
yours ;' ver. 22, ' whether Paul, or ApoUos, or Cephas, or the world, or 
life, or death, or things present, or things to come ; all are yours.' The 
scope of the apostle is not to shew that such as are saints, and have 
God for their portion, have a civil and common interest in all men's 
earthly possessions ; but it is to shew that aU things are prepared, 
ordered, and ordained by God to serve the interest of his people, to 
work for the good of his people, and to help on the happiness and 
blessedness of his people. All the gifts, and all the graces, and all the 
experiences, and all the excellencies, and all the mercies of the ministers 
of the gospel, whether they are ordinary or extraordinary, are all for 
the information, edification, confirmation, consolation, and salvation of 
the church ; and all the good and all the sweet of the creatures are to 
be let out for the good of the people of God, and for the comfort of the 
people of God, and for the encouragement of the people of God ; all 
changes, all conditions, all occurrences, shall be sure ' to work together 
for their good,' Rom. viii. 28, that have God for their portion. What- 
ever the present posture of things are, or whatever the future state of 
things shall be, yet they shall all issue in their good, in their profit, in 
their advantage, that have God for their portion. Look, as the wife 
communicates in her husband's honour and wealth, and as the branches 
partake of the fatness and sweetness of the root, and as the members 
derive sense and motion from the head ; so the saints communicate in 
all that good which in God is communicable to them. God is commu- 
nicative, as the fig-tree, the vine, and the olive is. sirs ! if God be 
your portion, then every promise in the book of God is yours, and every 
attribute in the book of God is yours, and every privilege in the book 
of God is yours, and every comfort in the book of God is yours, and 
every blessing in the book of God is yours, and every treasury in 
the book of God is yours, and every mercy in the book of God is 
yours, and every ordinance in the book of God is yours, and every sweet 
in the book of God is yours ; if God be yours, all is yours. When Alex- 
ander asked king Porus, who was then his prisoner,^ how he would be 
used ? he answered in one word, Baff/X/xwj, like a king. Alexander again 

• John Carless in a letter to Mr Philops. — Acts and Mon. fol. 1743, &c. [Foxe by 
Townsend, vol. viii. p. 172, and sub nomine. — G.] 

* Cf. Sibbes's Works, Vol. ii., note w, p. 195. — G. ^ Plutarch in Apophthegmata. 



Lam. III. 24..] an ark for all god's noahs. 67 

replying, Do you desire nothing else ? No, saith he, all things are in 
BasiXijcuc, in this one word, like a king; so all things are in this one 
word, ' The Lord is my portion.' He that hath God for his portion, 
hath all things, because God is all things ; he is a good that contains 
all good in himself. All the good that is to be found in honours, in 
riches, in pleasures, in preferments, in husband, in wife, in children, in 
friends, &c., is to be found only and eminently in God. You have all 
in that great God that is the saints' great all. Col. iii. 11. But, 

(11.) Eleventhly, If God be the saint's portion, and such a portion as 
I have at large discovered him to be, then certainly God is no injurious 
poiiion, no mischievous pooiion, no huftful portion, nx) prejudicial 
portion. Surely there can be no danger, no hazard, no hurt in having 
God for a man's portion. Oh ! but oftentimes earthly portions do a 
great deal of hurt, a great deal of mischief ; they ruin men's bodies, 
they blast and blot men's names, and they lay men open to such sins, 
and snares, and temptations, that for ever undoes their immortal souls. 
Oh what a trappan^ are worldly portions to most men ! yea, what fuel 
are they to corruption ! and how often do they lay persons open to de- 
struction ! Eccles. V. 13, ' There is a sore evil which I have seen under 
the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.' 
Though riches in themselves are God's blessings, yet through the cor- 
ruptions that are in men's hearts, they prove weapons of wickedness 
and engines to evil * There is a sore evil,' the Septuagint reads it, in- 
firmitas pessiTna, a sore disease ; Pagnin and Arias Montanus reads it 
mala injirmitas, an evil disease ; others read it languor 'pessimus, a 
sore weakness. The Hebrew word, cholah, signifies such a sore evil as 
sticks close and is not easily removed ; they are kept a thousand thou- 
sand ways for their hurt. Latimer, in a sermon before king Edward 
the Sixth, tells a story of a rich man, that when he lay upon his sick 
bed, some told him that came to visit him, that by all they were able 
to discern he was a dead man ; he was no man for this world. As soon 
as ever he heard these words, saith Latimer, What, must I die ? said 
the sick man : send for a physician ; wounds, sides, heart, must I die, 
and leave these riches behind me ? wounds, sides, heart, must I die, and 
leave these things behind me ? and nothing else could be got from him 
but wounds, heart, sides, must I die, and leave these riches behind me ? 
Do you think, sirs, that riches were not kept for this man's hurt? With- 
out a perad venture in this man's heart was writ ' the god of this pre- 
sent world.' 

And the same father Latimer elsewhere saith, that if he had an 
enemy to whom it was lawful to wish evil, he would chiefly wish him 
great store of riches, for then he should never enjoy any quiet. As I 
have read of one Pheraulas,'^ a poor man, on whom king Cyrus be- 
stowed so much that he knew not what to do with his riches ; being 
wearied out with care in keeping of them, he desired to live quietly, 
though poor, as he had done before, than to possess all those riches with 
discontent ; therefore he gave away all his wealth, desiring only to en- 
joy so much as might relieve his necessities, and give him a quiet pos- 
session of himself 

Queen Mary said, when she was dying, that if they should open her 
• ^repan,' = snare. — G. * Xenophon, Cyrop. ii. 3, sec. 6, 7, and viii. 8.— G. 



68 AN ARK FOB ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

when she was dead, they should find Calice ' lying at ihe bottom of her 
heart, implying that the loss of it broke her heart. 

The historian observes that the riches of Cyprus invited the Romans 
to hazard many dangerous fights for the conquering of it. 

When the Indians had taken some of the Spaniards, who made gold 
their god, they filled their mouths with it, and so choked them ; they 
melted their gold, and poured it down their throats, resolving that they 
should have their fill of gold, who preferred gold before the lives and 
souls of men.^ How many millions of bodies and souls have the 
Spaniards destroyed, to possess themselves of the riches of the WevSt 
Indies ! But let me a little further shew you how hurtful, how danger- 
ous and pernicious earthly riches, earthly portions, are oftentimes to 
their owners ; and this I shall do by a brief induction of these par- 
ticulars. 

[1.] First, RieJies encourage and advantage persons to make the 
strongest and the stoutest opposition agaitist anything that is good} 
Rich persons usually are the greatest opposers both of religion and of 
religious persons : James ii. 6, 7, ' But ye have despised the poor. Do 
not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment-seats ? 
Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by which ye are called V 
And this you may see also in the rich citizens of Jerusalem, and in king 
Herod ; and the very same spirit you may run and read in the scribes 
and pharisees, who were the rich and the great men of the times, and 
the very same opposing spirit lives and works strongly in the hearts of 
many great ones this day. But, 

[2.] Secondly, Earthly portions do estrange the heart from God ; as 
you see in the prodigal, Luke i. 5, and in those wealthy monsters 
that say unto God, ' Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge 
of thy ways ; what is the Almighty, that we should serve him 1 and 
what profit should we have, if we pray unto him ?' Job xxi. 13-15. 
But, 

[3.] Thirdly, As earthly portions do estrange the soul from God; so 
they do often swell the soul, and puff up the soul, Ps. x. 1-7, &c. 
Salvian counts pride the rich man's inheritance. Men's minds ebb and 
flow with their means, their blood commonly rises with their outward 
good. Pride, saith Bernard, is the rich man's cousin, it blows him up 
like a bladder with a quill, it makes him grow secure, and so prepares 
him for sudden i-uin : so that he may well sing his part with those sad 
souls, 'What hath pride profited us ? or what profit hath the pomp of 
riches broijght us ? All those things are passed away like as a shadow, 
and as a post that passeth by,' Wisd. v. 8, 9. But, 

[4.] Fourthly, Eartldy ricftes commonly cast men into a deep sleep 
of security.* Thus they served David in that Ps. xxx. 6, 7, and thus 
they served the fool in the Gospel, Luke xii. 16-22, and thus they 
served the old world ; and so they did Sodom and Gomorrah afterwards, 
and so they did the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and 
their hosts, Judges viii. 11, 12, and so did the people of Laish, in that 

' 'Calaia.' — G. 2 Done to Crassus. See Index, «/i nowitne. — G. 

• Not only the history of the ten persecutions, but also all other histories do very 
strongly evince this. 

* Amos i. 12-14 ; ponder the words. 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs, 69 

Judges xviii, 6-28 ; and so the peace, plenty, aud prosperity of the 
Bohemians cast them into so great a security, that they began to grow 
very loose and base in their lives, and very cold and careless in the 
things of God, and in all their soul-concernments ; insomuch that many 
of their most pious and prudent men did presage, that certainly some 
horrible storm would suddenly arise, and that some dreadful tempest 
without all peradventure would beat upon them ; and accordingly it 
came to pass. Alexander slew him whom he found asleep on the 
watch ; and God finding the Bohemians in a deep sleep of sin and 
security, he brought the devouring sword upon them. Mercury could 
not kill Argus, till he had cast him into a sleep, and with an enchanted 
rod closed his eyes. No more can the devil or the world hurt any 
man, till by dandling of him on the knee of prosperity, they come to 
lull him asleep in the bed of security. But, 

[5.] Fifthly, Earthly riches do frequently divert the souls of men 
from, embracing and closing with the golden seasons and ojppoHu- 
nities of grace. Riches are the thorns that choke the word, and that 
make men barren and unfruitful under the word. Mat. xiii. 22. Rich 
Felix had no leisure to hear poor Paul, though the hearing of a sermon 
might have saved his soul, and made him happy in both worlds. Acts 
xxiv. 24-27 ; and the rich fool in the Gospel was so taken up in pulling 
down his barns, and in building of them greater, and in bestowing of 
his fruits and his goods, that he had no time to prevent the ruin of his 
soul, Luke xii 15-22 ; and Dives was so taken up with his riches, 
pomp, state, and with his royal apparel, royal attendance, and royal 
fare, that he never minded heaven, nor never dreaded hell, till he did 
awake with everlasting flames about his ears, Luke xvi. 19-31. Sicily 
is so full of sweet flowers, that dogs cannot hunt there ; ' and so what 
do all the sweet profits, pleasures, and preferments of this world, but 
make men lose the scent of grace, the scent of glory, the scent of 
holiness, and the scent of happiness.^ It is true, rich men will have 
their eating times, and their drinking times, and their trading times, 
and their sporting times, and their sleeping times, and that which is 
worse, their sinning times, &c. But ah, how rare is it to see rich men 
covet after hearing times and praying times, and reading times, and 
meditating times, and mourning times, and repenting times, and 
reforming times. Rich men will have time for everything, but to 
honour God, exalt Christ, obey the Spirit, love the saints, attend 
ordinances, and save their own immortal souls. Oh the time, the 
thoughts, the strength, the spirits that rich men spend and consume 
upon their riches, whilst their precious souls lie a-bleeding to death, 
and an eternity of misery is posting upon them. But, 

[6.] Sixthly, Earthly riches commonly load the soul with a multi- 
tude of cares, fears, griefs, and vexations, which do mightily disturb 
the soul, distract the soul, yea, often rack, torture, and torment the 
soul. "What if such a friend should be unfaithful to his trust ? what if 
such a ship should miscarry ? what if such an one should break, that 
owes me so much ? what if my title to such a lordship should not 

^ Query «reed '?— G. « Diodorus Siculus [tub voce. — G.] 

' Some say, where gold grows, no plant will prosper ; certainly, where riches bear the 
bell, no good, no grace, will thrive or prosper. 



70 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

prove good ? what if flaws be found in my evidences for such and such 
lands ? what if fire should consume my habitation ? what if thieves 
should rob me of my treasure ? &c., and what do all these wJiats 
tend to, but to break a man's heart in a thousand pieces ? But, 

[7.] Seventhly, Earthly riches are many times fuel for the greatest 
and the grossest sins; as pride, oppression, revenge, cruelty, tyranny, 
gluttony, drunkenness, wantonness, and all manner of uncleanness and 
filthiness. Riches are a bawd to those very sins that require the 
largest stock to maintain .them. Vices are more costly than virtues. 
Virtue observes a mean, but vice knows none ; vice is all for extremes ; 
witness the prodigious wickedness of these times.^ But, 

[8.] Eighthly, Earthly riches are many times reserved as witnesses 
against the rich in the great day of their account. James v. 1-3, ' Go 
to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for the miseries that shall come 
upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments moth-eaten. 
Your gold and silver is cankered ; and the rust of them shall be a 
witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have 
heaped treasure together for the last days.' The rust of the rich man's 
cankered gold and his moth-eaten apparel shall be brought in as dread- 
ful witnesses against him in the great day. The poet feigned Pluto 
to be the god of riches and of hell too, as if they were inseparable. By 
all these particulars you see how hurtful, how prejudicial earthly por- 
tions often prove to their owners. 

Oh, but now God is a portion that will never hurt a man, that will 
never harm a man, that will never in the least prejudice a man. 
Among all 'the spirits of just men made perfect,' Heb. xii. 22, 23, 
there is not one to be found that will give in his witness against this 
sweet and blessed truth that I have asserted; and among all the saints 
on earth you shall not find one, but will with both hands readily sub- 
scribe to this glorious maxim, viz.. That God is such a portion, that 
hath never hurt them, that hath never harmed them, yea, that he is 
such a portion that hath done them good all their days, and one upon 
whom they have lived, and by whom they have been maintained ever 
since they ' hung upon the breasts,' Ps. xxii. 9. Holy Polycarp hit it, 
when he said, ' This sixty-eight years have I served the Lord, and he 
never did me any hurt; and shall I now forsake him?^ Surely no. 
But now earthly riches, for the most part, do a world of mischief and 
hurt to their owners. Oh the souls that earthly riches have pierced 
through and through with many sorrows ! Oh the minds that earthly 
riches have, blinded ! Oh the hearts that earthly riches have hardened ! 
Oh the consciences that earthly riches have benumbed ! Oh the wills 
that earthly riches have perverted ! Oh the affections that earthly 
riches have disordered ! Oh the lives that earthly riches have corrupted ! 
And Oh the souls that earthly riches have destroyed ! But, 

[9.] Ninthly and lastly, Eaiihly riches, for tJie most part, make men 
unwilling to die. Oh how terrible is the king of terrors to the rich 
and the great ones of the world, 1 Sam. xxviii. 20, Dan. v. 1-7. And 
so Henry Beaufort, that rich and wretched cardinal, in the reign of 
Henry the Sixth, perceiving death at hand, spoke thus : Wherefore 

* Compare these scriptures together, Ps. Ixxiii. 1-13, Deut. xxxii. 15-17, Jer. v. 7, 8 
Hosea xiii. 6, Jamea v. 1-7. " Martyred. — G. 



Lam. III. 24.] an aek for all god's noahs. 71 

should I die, being so rich ? If the whole realm would save my life, I . 
am able either by policy to get it, or by riches to buy it ; fie, quoth he, 
will not death be hired ? will moaey do nothing ?^ It is reported that 
Queen Elizabeth could not endure so much as to hear death named ; 
and Sigismund the emperor, and Louis the Eleventh, king of Fraace, 
straitly charged all their servants, that when they saw them sick, they 
should never dare to name that bitter word death in their ears. 
Vitellius, an emperor of Rome — a notorious glutton, as you may easily 
judge, by his having at one supper two thousand fishes, and seven 
thousand birds — when he could not fly death, he made himself drunk 
that he might not be sensible of the pangs of death.* It was a very 
prudent and Christian speech of Charles the Fifth to the duke of Venice, 
who when he had shewed him the glory of his princely palace and 
earthly paradise, instead of admiring it, or him for it, he only returned 
him this grave and serious Tnemento, Hcec sunt qucB faciunt invitos 
mori, these are the things which make us unwilling to die, &c. And 
by daily experience we find that of all men wealthy men are most un- 
willing to die. Oh, but now God is such a portion as fits and disposes 
the soul to die, yea, as makes the soul look and long for death, and that 
makes death more desirable than life itself. A man that hath God for 
his portion, that hath God in his arms, may well sing it out with old 
Simeon, ' Lord, let thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word : 
for mine eyes hath seen thy salvation,' Luke ii. 25, 29, 30 ; and with 
Paul, ' 1 desire to be dissolved, and to be with Christ,' Philip, i. 23 ; and 
with the church, ' Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like a roe, or 
to a young hart upon the mountain of spices,' Cant, viil 1 4 ; and, 
' Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly,' Rev. xxii. 20. Did Christ die for 
me that I might live with him ? I will not therefore desire to live long 
from him. All men go willingly to see him whom they love, and shall 
I be unwUling to die that I may see him whom my soul loves ? Surely 
no. Augustine longed to die that he might see that head that was once 
crowned with thorns. The dying words of my young Lord Harrington 
were these : ' O my God, when shall I be with thee ?'^ Cyprian could 
receive the cruellest sentence of death with a Deo gratias; and holy 
Andrew saluted the cross on which he was to be crucified, saying, 'Take 
me from men, and restore me to my master.' And so Laurence 
Saunders, when he was come to the stake at which he was to be burnt, 
he kissed it, saying, * Welcome the cross of Christ, welcome everlasting 
life.* But, 

(12.) Twelfthly, If God be the saints' portion, oh then let the saints 
still think of Ood, and look upon God under this notion. A man that 
hath God for his portion should always have very high, noble, sweet, 
and precious thoughts of God. It becomes not those that have God for 
their portion to be always looking upon God as an angry God, or as a 
displeased Father, or as an incensed judge, or as an enraged enemy, or 
as a bitter friend. When God would make known his name, his nature, 
his glory to Moses, he proclaims himself to be, 'The Lord God, merciful 
and gracious, long-sufifering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keep- 

* A great man wrote thus a little before his death, Spes et fortuna valete. 

• Erasmus hit it when he said, Timor mortis p^OT quam ipsa mors. 

» Funeral Sermon by Stock, 1610.— G. * Clark, at b^ore.—0^ 



72 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

. ing mercies for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin,' 
Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7. And certainly to keep up such precious thoughts 
and notions as these are of God, is that work of works that lies upon 
every man's hand that hath God for his portion. Osirs! there is a very 
great aptness and proneness, even in those that have God for their 
portion, to have black, dark, hard, dismal, and dreadful thoughts and 
apprehensions of God, as you may see in Asaph, Heman, Job, David, 
&c.^ By nature we are as full of hard thoughts of God, as hell is full 
of sin ; and when the heart is not mightily over-awed by the Spirit of 
God and overpowered by the grace of God, there all manner of dark 
and dismal apprehensions of God abounds. Besides, Satan knows very 
well that our corrupt natures are made up of sad and hard thoughts of 
God ; and therefore he will use all his power and craft to blow up every 
spark, every hard thought of God, into aflame, especially when outward 
troubles and inward distresses are upon us. What says Satan ? Dost 
thou think that God loves thee ? O Christian, when he deals thus 
sharply and severely with thee, doth he pretend kindness to thee, and 
yet hide his face from thee, and set thee up as a mark to shoot at ? 
How can he be thy friend, who hath cast thee down at thine enemies' 
feet, and given thee up into their paws and jaws ? How canst thou 
think that he hath any pity and compassion towards thee, who makes 
no better provision for thee ? What vanity is it to believe that he will 
give thee a crown, that denies thee a crust ? And that he will give thee 
an house not made with hands, and yet suffer thee to be turned out of 
house and home ? And that he will do so much for thee in another 
world, who doth so little for thee in this world ? &c. And thus Satan 
takes his opportunities to provoke corrupt nature and to kill the soul 
with hard thoughts of God. And certainly that Christian is a very great 
stranger to his own heart, that is not able to say from experience that 
it is one of the highest and hardest works in this world to keep up good 
and gracious thoughts of God, to keep up honourable and noble thoughts 
of God, in a suflering condition or under dark and dismal dispensations. 
Oh, but now those that have God for their portion, they should abandon 
and abhor all hard thoughts of God, yea, how severe soever the dealings 
of God are towards them, yet it is their duty and their glory to keep 
up very sweet and precious thoughts of God, Ps. Ixxiii. 1. sirs! the 
more choice and honourable thoughts you keep up of God in your own 
souls, the more you will love the Lord, and the more you will delight 
in the Lord, and the more content and satisfaction you will take in the 
Lord. Such Christians that take a pleasure to be still a-representing 
of God to themselves in the most hideous, terrible, and amazing shapes, 
they kill their love and their joy, and they create a hell of torments in 
their own souls. Well, Christians ! let me put a cluster of the grapes 
of Canaan into your hands at once, and that by telling of you, that the 
more glorious and blessed thoughts you keep up in your souls of God, 
the more spiritual, the more frequent, the more fervent, the more 
abundant, the more constant, and the more unwearied you will be in 
the work of the Lord, and the more all your graces will be acted, 
exercised, strengthened, and increased, yea, and the more your evidences 
for heaven will be cleared, your gracious experiences multiplied, your 
* Fs. Izxyii. and Ixxxviii ; Job hi.; Fs. Ixxiii. 11-14. 



Lam. III. 24-.] an ark for all god's noahs. 78 

communion with God raised, your way to glory facilitated, and all your 
sufferings sweetened ; and therefore never let noble and precious 
thoughts of God die in your souls. Though he frown upon thee, O 
Christian, yet say, he is thy portion ; and though he chides thee, yet 
say, he is thy portion ; and though he corrects thee, yet say, he is thy 
portion ; and though he deserts thee and carries it strangely towards 
thee, yet say, he is thy portion ; and though he snatches many a mercy 
from thee, yet say, lie is thy portion ; and though he multiplies thy 
burdens upon thee, yet say, he is thy portion ; and though he writes 
bitter things against thee, yet say, he is thy portion ; yea, though he 
should pass a sentence of death upon thee, yet still say, he is thy por- 
tion. O Christians, this would still raise an heaven in your hearts, if 
under all dispensations you would still look upon God as your portion, 
and live upon God as your portion. But, 

(13.) Thirteenthly, If God be a believer's portion, then never let a 
believer he afraid to die or unwilling to die. Let them be afraid to 
die that have only the world for their portion here, and hell for their 
portion hereafter; but let not a saint be afraid of death, that hath for 
his portion the Lord of life.^ A man that hath God for his portion 
should rather court death than tremble at it ; he should rather sweetly 
welcome it than turn his back upon it ; for death to such an one is but 
the way to paradise, the way to all heavenly delights, the way to those 
everlasting springs of pleasure that are at God's right hand, the way to 
life, immortality, and glory, and the way to a clear, full, constant, and 
eternal fruition of God, Ps. xvi. 11. Augustine upon those words, Exod. 
xxxiii. 20, 21, 'Thou canst not see my face and live,' makes this short 
but sweet reply, ' Then, Lord, let me die, that I may see thy face.' 
Death is a bridge that leads to the paradise of God. All the hurt that 
it can do is to bring a believer to a full enjoyment of his portion.* When 
Modestus, the emperor's lieutenant, threatened to kill Basil, he answered, 
If that be all, I fear not ; yea, your master cannot more pleasure me 
than in sending me unto my heavenly Father, to whom I now live, and 
to whom 1 desire to hasten. Old Alderman Jordan used to say that 
death would be the best friend he had in the world, and that he would 
willingly go forth to meet it ; or rather say with holy Paul, ' O death, 
where is thy sting ?' triumphing over it. What is a drop of vinegai* 
put into an ocean of wine ? what is it for one to have a rainy day, who 
is going to take possession of a kingdom ? A Dutch martyr feeling the 
flame to come to his beard, ' Ah, said he, what a small pain is this, to 
be compared to the glory to come !'* Lactantius boasts of the brave- 
ness of that spirit that was upon the martyrs in his time. Our chil- 
dren and women, not to speak of men, saith he, do in silence overcome 
their tormentors, and the fire cannot so much as fetch a sigh from them. 
John Noyes took up a faggot at the fire and kissed it, saying, ' Blessed 
be the time that ever I was bom, to come to this preferment.'* Never 

* See twenty arguments in my 'String of Pearls,' to move you to be willing to 
die. — G. 

* Bernard saith that he heard his brother Gerard, when just in dying, rejoice and 
triumphingly say, Jam mors mihinon stimulus sedjubilut. 

3 [Foxe.] Acts and Mon., 813. [By 'Dutch' is meant High Dutch, i.«. German; 
' Dentsch: of. stib voce, in Foxe, by Townsend, vol. iv. pp. 282-284. — G.] 

* Clare's ' Martyrologie,' as before, p. 49.J. — G. 



74 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

did neckerchief become me so well as this chain, said Alice Driver, 
when they fastened her to the stake to be burnt.' Mr Bradford put off 
his cap, and thanked God, when the keeper's wife brought him word 
that he was to be burnt on the morrow.* Mr Taylor fetched a frisk 
when he was come near the place where he was to suffer.^ Henry and 
John, two Augustine monks, being the first that were burnt in Ger- 
many, and Mr Rogers, the first that was burnt in Queen Mary's days, 
did all sing in the flames ;* and be of good cheer, said the woman-mar- 
tyr to her husband that was to suffer with her, for though we have but 
an ill dinner on earth, we shall sup with Christ in heaven. And what 
said Justin Martyr to his murderers, in behalf of himself and his fellow- 
martyrs? ' You may kill us, but you can never hurt us.' Ah, Christians! 
how can you read over these choice instances and not blush* and not be 
ashamed to consider what a readiness, what a forwardness, and what a 
noble willingness there was in these brave worthies to die and go to 
heaven, and to be fully possessed of their God, of their portion, whilst 
you shrug at the very thoughts of death, and frequently put that day 
far from you, and had rather, with Peter, fall upon ' building of taber- 
nacles,' Mat. xvii. 4, than, with Paul, ' desire to be dissolved, and to be 
with Christ,' Philip, i. 23. Christians! how justly may that father 
be angry with his child that is unwilling to come home ! and how justly 
may that husband be displeased with his wife who is unwilling to ride 
to him in a rainy day, or to cross the sea to enjoy his company ! And 
is not this your case ? is not this just your case, who have God for your 
portion, and yet are unwilling to die, that you may come to a full en- 
joyment of your portion ? But, 

(J 4.) Fourteenthly, and lastly, If God be the saint's portion, then 
let all the saints give all diligence to make this clearly and fully ovi 
to their own souls, that God is their portion, 2 Pet. i. 5-8. Next to a 
man's having God for his portion, it is the greatest mercy in this world 
for a man to know that God is his portion, and to be able groundedly 
to say with the church, ' The Lord is my portion,' saith my soul. Now 
this is a work that may be done. I suppose there is never a believer 
on earth but may attain unto this personal evidence and certainty of 
knowledge that God is his portion. Express promises speaks out such 
a thing as this is : Zech. xiii. 9, ' They shall call upon my name, and I 
will hear them ; I will say, It is my people, and they shall say, It is my 
God ;' so Ezek. xxxiv. 30, ' Thus shall they know that I the Lord their 
God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my 
people, saith the Lord ;' Ps. ix. 18, ' For the patient abiding of the meek 
shall not be forgotten for ever.' God will as soon put the faith of re- 
liance and the faith of assurance to a blush, as he will put the faith of 
expectance to a blush :' Ps. xxii. 26, ' The meek shall eat and be satis- 
fied, they shall praise the Lord that seek him ; your heart shall live for 
ever.' First or last, such as seek him shall have such an answer of their 
prayers as shall turn their prayers into praises, and their petitions into 
thanksgivings : Ps. Ixxxiv. 11, * The Lord will give grace and glory, and 

* Clarke's Martyrologie, p. 504. — G. 

» Ibid., p. 440, 454 — G, ^ ibid., p. 442.— G. * Ibid., sub nomimbus—G. 

' Heb. i. 37. M(«j«» JV»», ?«■«». Here are two diminutives in the Greek, a little, little 
vhile, to note that God will not in the least delay his coming to his people. 



Lam. III. 24.] an aek for all god's noahs. 75 

no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.' God 
will be an universal, all-sufficient, and satisfactory good to them that 
walk uprightly. The Lord is as full of goodness as the sun is full of 
light, and he will as freely, and as fully, and as impartially communi- 
cate his goodness to them that walk uprightly, as the sun doth her light 
both to the just and the unjust, Mat. v. 45. As under the name of no 
good thing will he withhold, all temporal good things are to be under- 
stood, so under the name of grace all spiritual good things are to be 
understood, and under the name of glory all eternal good things are to 
be understood. And now, if God will give all spiritual and all eternal 
good things to his people, how can he then but sooner or later give a 
clear and satisfactory evidence into his people's bosoms that he is their 
portion ? And not only express promises, but also the graces of the 
Spirit and the testimony of the Spirit confirms the same thing. The 
language of every saving grace is this : The Lord is thy portion, thou 
believing soul ; and the language and testimony of the Spirit is the 
same : Rom. viii. 15, * Ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby 
we cry, Abba, Father;' ver. 16, ' The Spirit itself beareth witness with 
our spirits that we are the children of God.' Shall an instinct in nature 
teach young ones to know their dams, and shall not the Spirit of God, 
by a divine instinct, teach the saints to know God to be their God, and 
to be their portion also? Surely yes. Though this or that particular 
Christian may go to his grave without a satisfactory evidence ih his 
own bosom that God is his portion, yet in an ordinary course, at first 
or last, God doth give his people some assurance that he is their por- 
tion, yea, rather than they shall always live or die without assurance of 
their salvation, and that he is their portion, he will work a miracle to 
assure them of his love. 

I have both heard and read of a rare story of Mrs Honywood, a famous 
profcwssor of the gospel, and one that for many years together lay under 
the burden of a wounded spirit, and was much troubled in mind for want 
of assurance that God was her portion, and that she should be saved 
from wrath to come. At length there came a godly minister to her, 
who endeavoured to settle her faith and hope in Christ ; and pressing 
many gospel promises upon her, she took it with a kind of indignation 
and anger that he should offer to present any promises to her, to whom, 
as she thought, they did not belong ; and having a Venice-glass in her 
hand, she held it up, and said, Speak no more to me of salvation, for I 
shall as surely be damned as this poor brittle glass shall be broke against 
the wall, throwing it with all her force to break it. But it so pleased 
God that, by a miraculous providence, the glass was preserved whole. 
The minister, beholding the miracle, took up the glass, and said unto 
her, 'Behold, God must work a miracle before you, before you will 
believe.' And for ever after that day she had very strong assurance of 
her salvation, and that God was her portion ; and so lived and died in 
a sweet and comfortable sense of the love and favour of God. 

Now, to provoke you to labour with all your might to attain to a 
clear, personal, satisfactory evidence in your own bosoms that God is 
your portion, do but seriously consider and lay to heart the rare and 
singular advantages that will redound to your souls by this means. I 
shall jOnly touch upon some, by which yourselves may guess at others. 



76 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

[1.] First, By this means your hearts will come to be fixed, settled, 
and established. A man's soul never comes to be fixed and settled by 
knowing in the general that God is the saint's portion, but by a personal 
evidence and certainty of knowledge that he is his particular portion. 
Whilst a man's particular propriety is unsettled, all is unsettled in his 
soul ; but when a man's particular propriety is settled, when he can say. 
This God is my God, and the Lord is my portion, then all is settled, 
then all is at peace in the soul, Ps. Ivii. 7, cviii. 1, cxii. 7. A man that 
hath God for his portion, if he do not know it, will still be like a ship 
at sea in the midst of a storm, tossed here and there, and now rolling 
on one side and then on the other, and never quiet, never lying still ; 
but a man that hath God for his portion, and knows it, he is like a ship 
in a good harbour, that lies quiet and still; yea, he is like mount Zion, 
that cannot be removed. But, 

[2.] Secondly, A clear, personal evidence that God is a man's portion, 
will rid his soul of all sinful doubts. O Christians ! now your hearts are 
as full of doubts as hell is full of darkness. One day you doubt whether 
your graces are true, and another day you doubt whether your comforts 
are true. Now, you doubt of your saintship, and anon of your sonship, 
and then of your heirship. Sometimes you doubt of your communion with 
God, sometimes you doubt of your acquaintance with God, and sometimes 
you doubt of your acceptance with God. One hour you doubt of the favour 
of God, and the next hour you doubt of your access to God. And as it is 
thus with you, so it will be thus with you till you come to have some clear 
satisfaction in your own spirits that God is your portion. O Christians ! 
had you but once a personal evidence in your own bosoms that God is your 
portion, all those doubts that are bred and fed by ignorance and unbelief, 
and that rob the soul of all joy, comfort, and content,and that render men 
babes in Christianity, and that cast reproach upon God, Christ, and the 
promises, &c., and that do most gratify and advantage Satan to tempt and 
try your souls, would vanish and disperse as the clouds do before the sun 
when it shines in its brightness. Till a Christian's eyes be opened to 
see God to be his portion, his heart will be full of doubts and perplexi- 
ties. Though Mary Magdalene was very near to Christ, yet she stands 
sighing, mourning, and complaining, that 'they had stolen away her 
Lord,' John xx. 3 3-16. A Christian may have God for his portion, yet 
till he comes to see God to be his portion, he will spend his days in 
sighing, mourning, and complaining. O Christians ! till you come to 
see God to be your portion, your doubts will lie down with you and 
rise with you, they will talk with you and walk with you, till they make 
your lives a very hell. It was an excellent speech of Luther, ' The whole 
Scripture,' saith he, ' doth principally aim at this thing, that we should 
not doubt, but that we should hope, trust, and believe that God is a 
merciful, bountiful, and gracious God to his people.' And what will 
bring a man's heart over to answer to this blessed aim of the Scripture? 
Certainly nothing below an assurance that God is his portion. It was 
a noble resolution of blessed Bradford, who, in one of his epistles, 
saith thus : ' O Lord, sometimes methinks I feel it so with me, as if 
there were no difference between my heart and the hearts of the wicked. 
My mind is as blind as theirs, and my will as stout, stubborn, and re- 
bellious as theirs; and ray affections are as much disordered as theirs, 



Lam. hi. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 77 

and my conscience as much benumbed and stupefied as theirs, and my 
heart as hard and flinty as theirs, &c.; shall I therefore conclude that 
thou art not my Father ? Nay, I will reason otherwise,' saith he ; ' I 
do believe thou art my Father; I will come unto thee, that thou mayest 
enlighten this blind mind of mine, and bend and bow this stout and 
stubborn will of mine ; and that thou mayest put order into these dis- 
ordered affections of mine, and that thou mayest put life and quickness 
into this stupefied and benumbed conscience of mine, and that thou 
mayest put softness and tenderne.ss into this hard and flinty heart of 
mine.'^ And thus he nobly reasoned himself, and believed himself, out 
of all his fears and doubts. There is no such way for a man to be rid 
of all his fears and doubts, as to live in the sight and faith of this truth, 
that God is his portion. 

Plutarch reports of one, who would not be resolved of his doubts, 
because he would not lose the pleasure in seeking for resolution, like to 
him that would not have his physician to quench the thirst he felt in his 
ague, because he would not lose the pleasure of drinking; and like those 
that would not be freed from their sins, because they would not lose the 
pleasure of sinning. But I hope better things of all those that have 
God for their portion, than to find them in love with their doubts, or 
to be unwilling to be rid of their doubts. Next to a man's going to 
hell, it is one of the greatest afflictions in the world for a man always 
to live in doubts about his going to heaven. Next to damnation, it is 
one of the greatest troubles that can attend a Christian, to be always 
exercised and perplexed with doubts about his salvation. Next to being 
damned, it is the hell of hells to live in continual fears of damnation. Now 
the only way to prevent all this, is to know that God is your portion. 
But, 

[3.] Thirdly, A clear, personal evidence that God is a man's portion, 
will exceedingly sweeten all the crosses, losses, and changes that shall 
attend him in this world. Habakkuk knew that God was the God of 
his salvation ; and that he was his portion ; and therefore he rejoices : 
' Though the fig-tree did not blossom, and though there were no fruit in 
the vines ; and though the labour of the olive did fail, and the fields did 
yield no meat, and the flocks were cut off from the fold, and there were 
no herd in the stalls,' Hab. iii. 17, 18. And the same noble temper 
was upon those worthies in Heb. x. 34, ' They took joyfully the spoiling 
of their goods, knowing in themselves that they had in heaven a better 
and an enduring substance.' They took joyfully the spoiling of their 
earthly portions, being well assured in their own souls that they should 
enjoy an heavenly portion, an everlasting portion. And so the apostles 
knew that they had ' an house not made with hands, eternal in the 
heavens,' 2 Cor. v. 1 ; and this carried them bravely through honour 
and dishonour, through evil report and good report, and through 
all weaknesses, sicknesses, distresses, wants, dangers, and death ; 
and this made their heavy afflictions light, and their long afflictions 
short, and their bitter afflictions sweet, 2 Cor. iv. 16-18. This was that 
tree which, being cast in the waters of Marah, made them sweet, Exod. 
XV. 23-25 ; and this was that that did unsting all their crosses, losses, 
and reproaches, and that made them rejoice and sing under those very 
1 As before, see Index sub nomine. — G. 



78 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LaM. III. 24. 

burdens and trials that would have broke the necks, backs, and hearts 
of others, Acts v. and xvi. When a man hath a clear personal evi- 
dence that God is his portion, then no outward changes will make any- 
considerable change in him. Though Laban had changed Jacob's wages 
ten times, yet Jacob was Jacob still, Gen. xxxi. 7. Let times change, and 
men change, and powers change, and nations change, yet a man that hath 
God for his portion, and knows it, will never change his countenance, 
nor change his Master, nor change his service, nor change his works, nor 
change his ways. Under all changes he will still be sernper idem, 
always the same. Many great and dreadful changes passed upon 
Joseph, but yet under all Joseph's bow ' abode in strength,' Gen. xlix. 
23, 24. When a man knows that God is his portion, whatever changes 
may pass upon him, yet his bow will still abide in strength. Marcellus 
the pope would not change his name, according to the custom of other 
popes, to shew his immutability, and that he was no changeling ;' but 
how many are there in these days, who were looked upon as better 
men, who have changed their names, their notes, their coats, their prin- 
ciples, their practices, and all for worldly advantages. These change- 
lings, that change from better to worse, and from naught to be very 
naught, yea, stark naught, are the worst and the naughtiest of men, 
and deserve to be hanged in chains ; and certainly, when the wrath of 
God breaks forth, these changelings shall be as stubble before it, Mai. 
iv. 1, Heb. X. 38. God abhors none as he doth those who run from him 
to serve other lords, and who gad about to change their way : Jer. ii. 
36, 37, ' Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way ? thou 
also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria. Yea, 
thou shalt go forth from him, and thine hands upon thine head ; for 
the Lord hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in 
them.' There is nothing that will keep a man from apostasy, and from 
making a defection from God, his ways, his worship, his glory, &c., like 
a blessed persuasion that God is his portion, 2 Peter i. 5-11. But, 

[4.] Fourthly, A clear personal evidence that God is a man's por- 
tion, will exceedingly raise and advance the comfort and joy of a man's 
heart. It is not merely my having of God for my portion, but it is my 
seeing, it is my knowing, it is my fruition of God as my portion, that is 
the true spring of all delight, comfort, and consolation. When a man's 
interest in God is clear, then all the precious promises will be full wells 
of salvation, and full breasts of consolation to him, but till then they 
will be but as dry breasts, as barren heaths, as a fruitful wilderness, 
and as empty wells.^ Whilst a man is doubtful whether God be his 
God, it is certain that the spring of joy and comfort will run low in his 
soul ; whilst a man lives in fear that his title and interest is not good, 
how can he rejoice ? When a man's interest in God is clear, then his 
heaven of joy begins. A man that hath God for his portion, and knows 
it, cannot but live in a paradise of joy, and walk in a paradise of joy, 
and work in a paradise of joy, and eat in a paradise of joy, and recreate 
himself in a paradise of joy, and rest in a paradise of joy ; he cannot 
but have an heaven of joy within him, and an heaven of joy about him, 

> Qii. Marcellus IL, who was pope only twenty-three days — G. 

2 2 Peter i. 4 ; Isa. xii. 3, and Ixvi. 2. Without delight the soul cannot live : take 
away all delight, and the soul dies, saitb Augustine. 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 79 

and an heaven of joy over him. All his looks will speak out joy within, 
and all his words will speak out joy within, and all his works will speak 
out joy within, and all his ways will speak out joy within. I remember 
a notable saying of one, How sweet was it to me of a sudden to be 
without those sweet vanities ! and those things which I was afraid to lose, 
with joy I let go ; for thou, who art the true and only sweetness, 
didst cast out those from me, and instead of them didst enter in thyself, 
who art more delightful than all pleasure, and more clear than all light.^ 
When a man's interest in God is clear, his joy will be full, John xvi. 24; 
when a man is happy, and knows it, he cannot but rejoice; when a man 
hath God for his portion, and knows it, all the world cannot hinder the 
strong consolations of God from rising high in his soul. Why have the 
saints in heaven more joy and delight than the saints on earth, but be- 
cause they have a clearer and a fuller knowledge of their interest and 
propriety in God than the others have ? The knowledge of a man's 
propriety^ in God is the Comfort of comforts. Propriety makes every 
comfort a pleasurable comfort, a delightful comfort. When a man walks 
in a fair meadow, and can write mine upon it, and into a pleasant garden, 
and can write mine upon it, and into a fruitful corn-field, and can write 
mine upon it, and into a stately habitation, and can write Tnine upon it, 
and into a rich mine, and can write mine upon it, oh how doth it please him ! 
how doth it delight him ! how doth it joy and rejoice him ! Of all words 
this word meum is the sweetest and the comfortablest. Ah ! when a man 
can look upon God, and write meum; when he can look upon God, and 
say. This God is my God for ever and ever ; when he can look upon 
God, and say, This God is my portion ; when he can look upon God, and 
say with Thomas, ' My Lord and my God,' John xx. 28, how will all the 
springs of joy rise in his soul ! Oh who can but joy to be owner of that 
God that fills heaven and earth with his fulness ? who can but rejoice 
to have him for his portion, in having of whom he hath all things, in 
having of whom he can want nothing ? The serious thoughts of our 
propriety in God will add much sweet to all our sweets, yea, it will 
make every bitter sweet. When a man seriously thinks. It is my God 
that cheers me with his presence, it is my God that supports me with 
his power, it is my God that guides me by his counsel, it is my God 
that supplies me with his goodness, and it is my God that blesses all 
my blessings to me ; it is my God that afflicts me in love, it is my God 
that hath broken me in my estate and in my credit, it is my God that 
hath sorely visited such a child, it is my God that hath passed a sen- 
tence of death upon such a friend, it is my God that hath thus strait- 
ened me in my liberty, and it is my God that hath thus cast me down 
at my enemies' feet, &c., how doth these thoughts cheer up the spirit 
of a man, and make every bitter sweet, and every burden light unto 
him. 

A beautiful face is at all times pleasing to the eye, but then espe- 
cially when there is joy manifested in the countenance. Joy in the 
face puts a new beauty upon a person, and makes that which before 
was beautiful to be exceeding beautiful ; it puts a lustre upon beauty. 
And so doth holy joy put a divine beauty and lustre upon all the ways 
of God, and upon all the people of God. And therefore, it highly con- 

* Augustine in his Confessions. * ' Property' = ' interest'. — G. 



80 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

cems all Christians, as they would have an heavenly beauty, lustre, and 
glory upon them, to rejoice; and that they may rejoice, it doth as highly 
concern them to know their interest and propriety in God. But, 

[5.] Fifthly, A clear personal evidence that God is a man's portion 
will vetnf much raise him in his communion with God, and exceedingly 
sweeten his fellowship with God} There are no Christians on earth 
that have such high, such choice, such free, such full, such sweet, and 
such uninterrupted communion with God, as those that have a clear 
sight of their interest and propriety in God. The spouse, in that book 
of Solomon's Song, again, and again, and again sings and sounds out 
her propriety and interest in Christ : Cant. ii. 16, * My beloved is mine, 
and I am his.' Cant. vi. 3, ' I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine.' 
Cant. vii. 10, ' I am my beloved's, and his desire is towards me.' Now, 
mark, how doth the sense of this her propriety in Christ work ? Why, 
it works very highly, very strongly, very inflamingly, very affectionately : 
Cant. i. 2-4, ' Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for thy 
love is better than wine: because of the savour of thy good ointments, 
thy name is as ointment poured forth, and therefore do the virgins 
love thee. Draw me, we will run after thee : the king hath brought 
me into his chambers; we will be glad and rejoice in thee; we will 
remember thy love more than wine : the upright love thee.' Ver. ] 3, 
* A bundle of myrrh is my beloved imto me ; he shall lie all night be- 
twixt my breasts.' Chap. ii. 3-6, ' As the apple-tree among the trees of 
the wood, so is ray beloved among the sons. I sat down under his 
shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet unto my taste. He 
brought me to the banqueting-house, and his banner over me was love. 
Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love. 
His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.' 
And chap. vii. 5, ' The king is held in the galleries.' The spouse had a 
clear sight and a deep sense of her interest and propriety in Christ ; 
and oh, how high, how close, how full, how sweet, is she in her com- 
munion and fellowship with Christ ! It is the sight and sense of pro- 
priety and interest that heightens and sweetens that communion that 
is between husband and wife, father and child, brother and sister, and 
friend and friend ; so it is the sight and sense of a man's propriety and 
interest in God that heightens and sweetens his communion and fellow- 
ship with God. A clear sight of a man's interest and propriety in God 
will exceedingly sweeten every thought of God, and every appearance of 
God, and every taste of God, and every smile of God, and every com- 
mijnication of God, and every ordinance of God, and every work of God, 
and every way of God ; yea, it will sweeten every rod that is in the 
hand of God, and every wrinkle that is in face of God, Ps. cxxxix. 17,18. 
A man that sees his interest in God, will hang upon him, and trust in 
him, though he should write never such bitter things against him, and 
though he should deal never so severely with him, yea, though he 
shoidd slay him, as you may see in Job xiii. 15. He hit it who said, 
A man whose soul is conversant with God shall find more pleasure in 
the desert and in death, than in the palace of a prince. Urbanus 

* 1 John i. 1-4 ; 2 Cor. 13, 14. Man's summum bonum stands in his communion with 
God, as Scripture and experience evidences, Ps. cxliv. 15. My God and I am good com- 
pany, said famous Dr Sibbes. 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 81 

Regius, having one day's converse with Luther, said,' It was one of the 
sweetest days that ever he had in all his life. But if one day's com- 
munion with Luther was so sweet, oh how sweet must one day's com- 
munion with God be. And therefore, as ever you would have high, 
and full, and sweet communion with God, keep up a clear sight, a 
blessed sense of your interest and propriety in God. But, 

[6.] Sixthly, A clear personal evidence that God is a man's portion, is a 
ffian's all in all. O sirs ! this is the life of your lives, and the life of your 
prayers, and the life of your praises, and the life of your confidences, 
and the life of your mercies, and the life of your comforts, and the life 
of your hopes, &c. A clear sight of your propriety in God is the very- 
life of promises, the life of ordinances, the life of providences, the life 
of experiences, and the life of your gracious evidences. It is a pearl of 
price ; it is your paradise ; it is manna in a wilderness, it is water out of 
a rock, it is a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night ; it is Jacob's 
ladder ; it is a salve for every sore, it is physic for every disease, it is a 
remedy against every malady ; it is an anchor at sea, and a shield on 
shore ; it is a star to guide you, a staff to support you, a sword to defend 
you, a pavilion to hide you, a fire to warm you, a banquet to refresh 
you, a city of refuge to secure you, and a cordial to cheer you; and 
what would you have more ? But, 

[7.] Seventhly, and lastly, A clear personal evidence that God is a 
man's portion will exceedingly sweeten the thoughts of death, and all 
the approaches of death, and all the warnings and forerunners of 
death unto him. It will make a man look upon his last day as his 
best day, Eccles. vii. 1 ; it will make a man look upon the king 
of terrors as the king of desires. Job xviii. 14 ; it will make a man 
laugh at the shaking of the sjiear, at the sounding of the trumpet, 
at the confused noise of the battle, at garments roUed in blood, at the 
. sighs and groans of the wounded, and at the heaps of the slain. It was 
the martyrs' clear sight of their interest and propriety in God that 
made them compliment with lions, and dare their persecutors, and to 
kiss the stake, and to sing and clap their hands in the midst of the 
flames, and to tread upon hot burning coals as upon beds of roses, and 
divinely to triumph over their tormentors. It was this that made the 
primitive Christians ambitious of martyrdom, and that made them 
willingly and cheerfully lay down their lives, that they might. Elijah- 
like, mount to heaven in fiery chariots. A man that sees his propriety 
in God, knows that death shall be the funeral of all his sins, sorrows, 
afflictions, temptations, desertions, oppositions, vexations, oppressions, 
and persecutions; and he knows that death shall be the resurrection of his 
hopes, joys, delights, comforts, and contentments, and that it shall bring 
him to a more clear, full, perfect, and constant enjoyment of God : and 
this makes him sweetly and triumphantly to sing it out, O death! where 
is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory?' 1 Cor. xv. 35-37. And 
oh that these seven considerations might prevail with all your souls to 
be restless, till you have in your own bosoms clear and full satisfaction 
that God is your portion. Now this last inference leads me by the 
hand to an use of trial and examination. O sirs! if God be the saint's 

^ ^ A dam in vit. Begii, p. 78. 

VOL. II. p 



82 AN AEK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [Lam. III. 24. 

portion, the believer's portion, how highly doth it concern every one 
that looks upon himself as a saint or as a believer, to search, try, and 
examine whether God be his portion or no ? 

Quest. But you will say, How shall we know whether God be our portion 
or no ? Oh ! were all the world a lump of gold, and in our hands to dis- 
pose of, we would give it to know that God is our portion ! Oh ! the 
knowledge of this would be as life from the dead ; it would create an 
heaven in our hearts on this side heaven ; it would presently put us into 
a paradise of pleasure and delight ; but still the question is, How shall 
we know it 1 It is an easy thing to say that God is our portion ; but 
how shall we come infallibly to know that God is our portion ? 

Now, to give clear and full satisfaction to this great and weighty 
question, I shall give in these following answers, by which you may 
certainly and undoubtedly know, whether God be your portion or no : 

[1.] First, If God be thy portion, then thou hast very sweet, pi'ecious, 
high, and honourable thoughts of God ; then thy thoughts will still be 
running out after God, and thy meditations of him will be sweet.* A 
man that hath God for his portion, is always best when his thoughts and 
meditations are running out most after God : Ps. civ. 34, ' My medi- 
tations of him shall be sweet ; I will be glad in the Lord ;' Ps. Ixiii. 5, 6, 
* My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness ; and my mouth 
shall praise thee with joyful lips ; when I remember thee upon my bed 
(or beds, as the Hebrew hath it; David never bedded at home nor abroad, 
here nor there, but still his thoughts were running out to God), and 
meditate on thee in the night watches;' Ps. cxxxix. 17, 18, 'How precious 
also are thy thoughts unto me, O God ! how great is the sum of them ! 
if I should count them, they are more in number than the sand : when 
I awake, I am still with thee.' The psalmist had very frequent, high, 
precious, and honourable thoughts of God; he valued nothing at so high 
a rate as sweet and noble thoughts of God, and of his power, wisdom, 
goodness, faithfulness, and graciousness, &c. David had such precious 
thoughts of God, and such great and glorious thoughts of God, and such 
infinite and innumerable thoughts of God, that he was as well able to 
number the sands of the sea, as he was able to number them up : ' And 
when I awake I was still with thee.' He was still a-contemplating upon 
God ; he did fall asleep with precious thoughts of God, and he did awake 
with precious thoughts of God ; he did rise up with precious thoughts 
of God, and he did lie down with precious thoughts of God ; he did go 
forth with. precious thoughts of God, and he did return home with pre- 
cious thoughts of God. Take a Christian when he is himself, when he 
is neither under sad desertions, nor black temptations, nor great afflic- 
tions, and he can as soon forget his own and his father's house, the wife 
of his bosom, the fruit of his loins, yea, he can as soon forget to eat his 
bread, as he can forget his God. 

When Alexander the Great had overthrown Darius, king of Persia, 
he took among the spoils a most rich cabinet, full of the choicest jewels 
that were in all the world ; upon which there rose a dispute before him, 
to what use he should put the cabinet ; and every one having spent his 

* Lord, saith Austin, the more I meditate on thee, the sweeter thou art unto me. 
Jerome calls meditation his paradise, and Theophylact calls it the very gate and portal 
by which we enter into glory. To think is to live, saith Cicero. 



I 



Lam. III. 24).] an akk for all god's noahs. 83 

judgment according to his fancy, the king himself concluded, that he 
would keep that cabinet, to be a treasury to lay up the books of Homer 
in, which were his greatest joy and delight.' A sanctified memory is a 
rich cabinet full of the choicest thoughts of God \^ it is that rich treasury 
wherein a Christian is still a-laying up more and more precious thoughts 
of God, and more and more high and holy thoughts of God, and more 
and more honourable and noble thoughts of God, and more and more 
awful and reverent thoughts of God, and more and more sweet and 
comfortable thoughts of God, and more and more tender and compas- 
sionate thoughts of God, &c. Take a Christian in his ordinary course, 
and you shall find that wherever he is, his thoughts are running out 
after God ; and about whatever he is, his thoughts are still a-running out 
after God ; and into what company soever he is cast, whether they are 
good or bad, yet still his thoughts are running out after God, &c. 

Look, as an earthly-minded man hath his thoughts and meditations 
still exercised ard taken up with the world, as you may see in Haman, 
whose neart and thoughts were taken up with his honours, perferments, 
riches, wife, children, and friends, &c.:^ Esther v. 10-12, 'Nevertheless 
Haman refrained himself, and when he came home, he sent and called 
for his friends, and Zeresh his wife. And Haman told them of the glory 
of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things 
wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him 
above the princes and servants of the king. Haman said moreover, 
Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the 
banquet that she had prepared but myself ; and to-morrow am I invited 
unto her also with the king.' And the same spirit you may see working 
in those that had made gold their god, in that Ps. xlix. 10, 11, 'For he 
seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, 
and leave their wealth to others. Their inward thought is, that their 
houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling-places to all genera- 
tions : they call their lands after their own names.' The Hebrew run- 
neth thus : ' Their inwards are their houses for ever,' as if their houses 
were got within them. Not only the thoughts, but the very inmost 
thoughts, the most retired thoughts and recesses of worldlings' souls, are 
taken up about earthly things ; and though they care not whether their 
names are written in heaven or no, yet they do all they can to propa- 
gate and immortalise their names on earth. And the rich fool was one 
in spirit with these the psalmist speaks of, as you may see in that Luke 
xii. 16, 22, ' And he spake a parable unto them, saying. The ground of 
a certain rich man brought forth plentifully. And he thought within 
himself (the Greek word dnXoyl^iTo is a marvellous proper word for the 
purpose ; it signifies to talk with a man's self, or to reason with a man's 
self This foolish worldling was much in talking to himself, and in 
reasoning with himself about his goods and barns, &c., as the usual 

• ^Plutarch: a commonplace of Alexander's ' Lives.' — G. 

* Ps. XXV. 1 ; Ps. Ixxxvi. 4 : Ps. cxlii. 8 ; Basil calls meditation on [God] the treasury, 
where all graces are locked up. 

* The thoughts and hearts of the people of Constantinople were so extremely set upon 
the world, and running out after the world, that they were huying and selling in their 
shops even three days after the Turks were within the walls of their city; and that was 
the rekson that the streets run down with their blood, and the blood of their wives and 
children. [Knolle's Turkish History, as before. — G. 



84 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

manner of men is that are of a worldly spirit), saying. What shall I do, 
because I have no room where to bestow my fniits ? And he said, This 
will I do : I will pull down my bams, and build greater ; and there will 
I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul. Soul, 
thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, 
and be merry.' Among all his worldly thoughts, there is not one thought 
of God, of Christ, of grace, of heaven, of holiness, of eternity, to be found. 
His thoughts were so taken up with his bags, and his bams, and his 
buildings, and his ease, and his belly, that he had no time to think of 
providing for another world ; and therefore God quickly despatches him 
out of this world, and throws him down from the highest pinnacle of 
prosperity and worldly glory into the greatest gulf of wrath and misery, 
ver. 20. And this foolish worldling puts me in miud of another, who, 
being offered an horse byhisfellow upon condition that he would but say 
the Lord's prayer, and think upon nothing but God, which proffer being 
accepted, he began : ' Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy 
name.' But I must have the bridle too, said he. No, nor the horse 
neither, said the other ; for thou hast lost both already. 

When worldlings should most think of God, and be most struck with 
the dread and majesty of God, and be most afflicted and taken up with 
the glory of God, yet then their thoughts and hearts will be a-gadding and 
a-running after the world, as you may see in Ezekiel's hearers ; Ezek. 
xxxiii. 30-32, and in Paul's, Philip, iii. 18, 19. When queen Mary was 
dying, she said that if they did but open her when she was dead, they 
should find Calais lying at her heart. Ah ! how often doth stinking lusts 
and rotten towns, and moth-eaten bags, and other trifling vanities, lie 
near those hearts where God, and Christ, and the Spirit, and grace, and 
ordinances, and saints, and heaven should lie ! Look, as the thoughts 
of the men of the world do mainly run out after the world, after their 
earthly portions, so the thoughts of those that have God for their por- 
tion do mainly run out after God, and they are never so well as when 
they are most a-thinking and a-musing on God. But, 

[2.] Secondly, If God be thy portion, then in all thy str aits, tHals, trou- 
bles, and wants, thou wilt run to thy God, thou wilt fly to the Lord,as to 
thy only city of refuge :' 1 Sam.xxx. 6, 'And David was greatly distressed, 
for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people 
was grieved (or bitter) every man for Tiis sons, and for his daughters ; 
but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.' When a shower of 
stones were coming about David's ears, he runs and shelters himself 
under the wings of his God. Though David was an exile in an hea- 
thenish country, though Ziklag, the place of his habitation, was burnt, 
though he had neither house nor home to flee to, though his wives were 
in his enemies' hands, and though his friends and followers were des- 
perately incensed, enraged, exasperated, and provoked against him, and 
took counsel together about stoning of him, looking upon him as the 
author of all their crosses, losses, calamities, and miseries ; yet now he 
comforts and encourages himself in the Lord his God : Ps. cxlii. 4, ' I 
looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that woiild 
know me : refuge failed me ; but no man cared for my soul.' But what 

» Ps. xxviii. 1 ; xxxi. 2, 3 ; Ixi. 2 ; Ixii. 2,6,1; xcii. 15 ; xciv. 22 ; xxxii. 1, 2. 



I 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 85 

doth the psalmist do in this case ? Doth he despair or despond ? No. 
Doth he cast away his hope and confidence in God ? No. Why, what 
doth he do then 1 Why, when all outward comforts fail him, he runs 
to God as to his last refuge : ver. 5, 6, 'I cried unto thee, O Lord : I 
said. Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living. 
Attend unto my cry, for J am brought very low : deliver me from my 
persecutors, for they are stronger than I.' He doth not run in his straits 
from God to the creatures, for that had been to run from the fountain 
of living waters to broken cisterns, Jer. ii. 12, 13, John vi. 68, Isa. 
xxxiii. 1 6, from the light of the sun to the light of a farthing candle, 
and from the Rock of ages to a leaf driven about with the wind, and 
from paradise into an howling wilderness, &c. But whither doth he 
run then ? Why, he runs to God ; he knew that God was his light, his 
life, his love, his peace, his joy, his strength, his shelter, his safety, his 
security, his crown, his glory, and therefore he runs to his God. And, 
indeed, in times of danger, whither should the child run to shelter him- 
self but to his father ? and whither should the wife run but to her 
husband ? and the servant but to his master ? and the soldier but to 
his stronghold ? and a Christian but to his God 'i Pro v. xviii. 10, 'The 
name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runneth into it and 
is safe.' Sometimes by the naime of the Lord we are to understand 
God himself, but most commonly God's attributes are called his name, 
because by them he is known, as a man is by his name ; and here by the 
name of the Lord we are to understand the power of the Lord, for by 
that God is known, as men are known by their names. Now God him- 
self is a strong tower, and the power of God is a strong tower, yea, it is 
a tower as high as heaven, and as strong as strength itself ; it is a tower 
so deep no pioneer can undermine it, so thick no cannon can pierce it, 
so high no ladder can scale it, so strong that no enemy can assault it or 
ever be able to stand before it, and so well furnished and provided for 
all purposes and intents, that all the powers of darkness can never dis- 
tress it, or in the least straiten it. Now to this impregnable and inex- 
pugnable tower the righteous in all their distresses and dangers run. 
All creatures run to their refuges when they are hunted and pursued, 
and so do righteous souls to theirs. But what doth the righteous man 
gain by running to his strong tower ? Why, he gains safety ; he is safe, 
saith the text, or rather according to the Hebrew ^iK'J^ exaltatur,^ he is 
exalted, he is set aloft, he is a soul out of gunshot, he is a soul out of 
all hazard and danger, he is safe in everlasting arms, he is safe in his 
strong tower of defence, he can easily overlook all hazards, yea, he can 
look upon the greatest dangers with an holy neglect. And when the 
burning fiery furnace was heated seven times hotter than at first, whither 
doth Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego run ? Why, they run to God : 
Dan. iii. 16-18, 'Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, answered and said 
to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in 
this matter. If it be so, our God, whom we serve, is able to deliver us 
from the burning fiery furnace ; and he will deliver us out of thy 
hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will 
not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set 

* The Hebrew word is from Sagab, that signifies to exalt, or to set aloft. 



86 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LaM. III. 24. 

up.' And so Moses in that Ps. xc. 1, 'Lord, thou hast been our 
dwelling-place in all generations ;' or as the Hebrew hath it, thou hast 
been our refuge-place in generation and generation. By this Hebraism, 
generation and generation, the prophet sets forth all generations, to 
shew that there hath been no generation wherein God hath not been 
the refuge of his people. God was a refuge to his people before the 
flood, and he hath been a refuge since the flood, and he will be a refuge 
to his people, whilst he hath a people in the world. All the time that 
Moses and the people of Israel were a-travelling up and down in that 
terrible howling wilderness, wherein they were compassed about with 
dreadful dangers on all hands, God was a refuge and a dwelling-place 
unto them. In all their troubles and travels for four hundred years 
together, God was a shelter, a refuge, and an house of defence unto 
them. Every man's house is his strong castle, and thither he retreats 
when dangers come ; and thus did the people of God in the text. When 
dangers threatened them, they still run to their God, they still made their 
retreat to the Holy One of Israel. A man that hath God for his por- 
tion, when he is at worst can never be houseless nor harbourless. As 
long as God lives, he can never want an house, a mansion-house to hide 
his head in. All the powers on earth and all the powers of hell can 
never unhouse, nor never unharbour, nor never unshelter that man that 
hath God for his portion. It was,a witty saying of that learned man 
Picus Mirandula, ' God created the earth for beasts to inhabit, the sea 
for fishes, the air for fowls, and heaven for angels and stars, so that 
man hath no place to dwell and abide in but God alone.' And certainly 
he that by faith dwells in God, dwells in the best, the noblest, the 
safest, and the strongest house that ever was dwelt in. And so Ps. xci. 
1,2,' He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide 
under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my 
refuge, and my fortress : my God ; in him will I trust.' In this whole 
psalm the safety of a saint is set forth to the life ; to abide under the 
shadow of the Almighty, notes the defence and protection of God. 
Those words, ' shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty,' are a 
metaphor taken from a bird or an hen, that hides her young ones under 
her wings, and so secures them from the kite, or any other birds of prey. 
God never wants a wing to hide his children under ; and look, as little 
chickens run under the wings of the hen when danger is near, so the 
people of God do commonly run under the wings of God when danger 
is near. And certainly, that Christian may well bid defiance to all 
dangers, and easily and sweetly sing away all cares and fears, who can 
by faith shelter himself and lodge himself under the shadow of Shaddai. 
Look, as the worldling in all his straits, troubles, trials, dangers, and 
wants, still runs to his bags, to his earthly portion for succour, for com- 
fort, for support, for relief, for shelter, for protection,^ Prov. xviii. 11 ; 
Mat. xix. 24 ; 1 Tim. vl 17. So a Christian in all his troubles, trials, 
and distresses, still runs to his God for shelter, comfort, and support : 
Ps. xxxi. 1-3, ' In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust ; let me never be 
ashamed : deliver me in thy righteousness. Bow down thine ear to 

^ I have read of a wretched worldling, who being sick to death, called for one of his 
bags of gold, and laid it to his heart, and then cried out. Oh it will not do, it will not do ; 
and then called for another, and still cried out, Oh it will not do, it will not do. 



Lam. III. 24.] an akk for all god's noahs. 87 

me ; deliver me speedily : be thou my strong rock, for an house of 
defence to save me. For thou art my rock and my fortress : therefore, 
for thy name's sake, lead me, and guide me.' Ps. Ixi. 2, 3, ' From the 
end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed ; 
lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter 
for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.' Ps. xciv. 21, 22, * They 
gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and con- 
demn the innocent. But the Lord is my defence ; and my God is the 
rock of my refuge.' Ps. Ivii. 2, ' I will cry unto God most High ; unto 
God that performeth all things for me.' Isa. xxv. 9, ' And it shall be 
said in that day, Lo, this is our God ; we have waited ibr him, and he 
will save us : this is the Lord ; we have waited for him, we will be glad 
and rejoice in his salvation.' Micah vii. 7, ' Therefore I will look unto 
the Lord ; I will wait for the God of my salvation : my God will hear.' 
Thus you see that the saints in all their straits and trials do still run 
to God. They know that that God that is their portion is an all-suffi- 
cient God, and that he is a sun and a shield to them that walk uprightly ; 
and therefore they delight to be still a running under his shadow. A 
man that hath God for his portion, may truly say in his greatest dis- 
tresses and troubles. Well, though I have no riches to fly to, nor no 
friends to shelter me, nor no relations to stand by me, nor no visible 
power on earth to protect me, yet I have a God for my portion that is 
always willing to supply me, and able to secure me : Ps. xviii. 1, 2, 
' 1 will love thee, O Lord, my strength,' or as the Hebrew hath it, * I 
will dearly love the Lord,' or ' I will love him with inmost bowels of 
affections,' as a tender-hearted mother loves her dearest babe with the 
inmost bowels of affections. ' The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, 
and my deliverer ; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust ; my 
buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.' In this 
verse you have nine several expressions to discover what an all-sufficient 
refuge God is to his people in their greatest distresses. When a Chris- 
tian is at worst, yet he hath bread celestial, bread to eat that the world 
knows not of The grand policy of a Christian to secure himself against 
all dangers is to run to God. But, 

[3.] Thirdly, If God be thy portion, then thou wUt holdfast thy 
portion, and rather part with anything than part with thy portion. 
Naboth would not upon any terms part with his inheritance ; he would 
rather let all go, yea, his very life go, than let his inheritance go, his 
portion go : 1 Kings xxi. 3, ' And Naboth said to Ahab, The Lord forbid 
it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee ;' or, 
as the Hebrew hath it. This be abomination to me from the Lord ; that 
is. The Lord keep me from this as from an abominable thing. To alter 
or alienate the property of inheritances was expressly forbidden by God 
in his law, Lev. xxv. 23 ; Num. xxxvi. 7 ; Ezek. xlvi. 18 ; and therefore 
Naboth looks upon Ahab's offer and motion as a detestable and an 
abominable thing, and resolves to hold fast his inheritance, whatever it 
cost him. So a Christian will hold fast his God, whatever comes on it ; 
he will let anything go, rather- than let his God go or his Christ go : 
Cant. iii. 4, ' It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found 
him whom my soul loveth ; I held him, and would not let him go, until 
I Jiad brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of 



88 AN AEK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LaM. III. 24. 

her that conceived me/* The Hebrew word that is here rendered Jield 
is from aehaz, which signifies to hold, as a man would hold his posses- 
sion, his inheritance. The word signifies to hold with both hands, to 
hold with all one's might and with all one's strength ; and thus the 
spouse held the Lord Jesus ; she held him with both hands ; she held 
him with all her might and with all her strength ; she held him with 
a holy violence, with an holy force ; she held him as a man would hold 
his prisoner that had a mind to escape, or as a man would hold his 
sword or buckler when his life is in danger. So Jacob, Gen. xxxii. 26, 
* And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will 
not let thee go, •except thou bless me.' When Jacob was all alone, and 
in a dark night, and upon one leg, and when his joints were out of 
joint, and he very much over-matched, yet then he holds God fast, he 
wrestles and weeps, and weeps and wrestles, he tugs and sweats, and 
sweats and tugs, and will not let go his hold, till, like a prince, he had 
prevailed with God, Hosea xii. 4. Ruth, you know, was so glued to her 
mother Naomi, that no arguments could prevail with her to leave her 
mother. She was fully resolved in this, that whither her mother went 
she would go, and where her mother lodged she would lodge, and that 
her mother's people should be her people, and her mother's God her 
God, and that where her mother died there she would die, and there 
would she be buried, Ruth i. 14-19. So a man that hath God for his 
portion is so glued to his God, that nothing can take him off from fol- 
lowing of God and from cleaving to God. When David was in his 
■ wilderness condition, yet then his soul followed hard after God, then 
his soul stuck close to God : Ps. Ixiii. 1, 2, ' O God, thou art my God ; 
early will I seek thee : my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for 
thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.' Ver. 8, ' My soul 
followeth hard after thee ;' or, as the words may be read, ' My soul 
cleaveth after thee.' David's enemies did not follow harder after him 
than he followed hard after God. The wife in a man's bosom could not 
cleave so close to him as David's soul did cleave close to God when he 
was in a wilderness estate, when he was in an afflicted condition. It 
is nothing to follow God in a paradise, but it is rare to follow God in a 
wilderness ; it is nothing to follow God when the way is strewed with 
rose-buds, but it is the glory of a Christian to follow God when the 
way is strewed with thorns and briars ; it is nothing to follow God in a 
crowd, or with the crowd, but it is the excellency of a Christian to follow 
God in a wilderness, where few or none follows after him ; it is nothing 
to follow God in the midst of all encouragements, but it is wonderful 
to follow God in the midst of all discouragements. Oh the integrity ! 
oh the ingenuity ! oh the strong intention ! oh the deep affection ! oh 
the noble resolution, of that Christian that hangs upon God in a wilder- 
ness, and that cleaves to God in a wilderness, and that follows hard 
after God in a wilderness ! Look, as Shechem's soul did cleave to 
Dinah, and as Jacob's soul did cleave to Rachel, and as Jonathan's soul 
did cleave to David in the very face of all hazards, dangers, difficulties, 
troubles, trials, and distresses, so the very soul of a man that hath God 
for his portion will cleave to God in the very face of all hazards, dangers, 

' The motto of a Christian, whilst he is in the wilderness of this world, is self-diffi- 
dence and Christ-depeudence, Cant. viii. 5. 






Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 89 

difficulties, troubles, trials, and distresses that he meets withal, Ps. xliv. 
8-23. It is neither the frowns of men, nor the reproaches of men, nor 
the scorns of men, nor the contempts of men, nor the oppositions of 
men, nor the treacheries of men, nor the combinations of men, that will 
work him to let go his hold of God. A man that hath God for his por- 
tion knows that, whilst he holds his God, he holds his life ; and that, 
whilst he holds his God, he holds his comfort, his crown, his heaven, his 
all ; and therefore he will rather let all go, than let his God go. And 
so much the several leave nots that are scattered up and down in the 
blessed Scripture doth clearly evidence ; as that in 1 Kings viii. 57, 
* The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers : let him not 
leave us, nor forsake us ;' and that Ps. xxvii. 9, ' Hide not thy face far 
from me ; put not thy servant away in anger ; thou hast been my help ; 
leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.' And so Ps. 
cxix. 121, ' I iiave done judgment and justice ; leave me not to mine 
oppressors.' And so Ps. cxli. 8, ' But mine eyes are unto thee, O God 
the Lord : in thee is my trust ; leave not my soul destitute,' or leave 
not m}'^ soul naked, as the Hebrew word signifies. And so in that Jer. 
xiv. 9, ' Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man 
that cannot save ? yet thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us, and we are 
called by thy name ; leave us not,' Now in these five scriptures you 
have five leave ^ls nots, and what do they import ? Certainly nothing 
less than a marvellous unwillingness in the people of God to part with 
God, or to let go their hold of God. » 

I have read of Cynaegii-us,' an Athenian captain, who, in the Persian 
wars, pursuing his enemy's ship, which was laden with the rich spoils 
of his country, and ready to set sail, how he first held it with his right 
hand till that was cut off, and then with his left hand till that was cut 
off, and then with his stumps till his arms were cut off, and then he 
held it with his teeth tiU his head was cut off; as long as he had any 
life or strength left in him, he would not let go his hold. So a man 
that hath God for his portion will rather die at the foot of God than he 
will let go his hold of God : Job xiii. 15, ' Though he slay me, yet will 
I trust in him.' But, 

[4.] Fourthly, If God be thy portion, then thou livest upon God as 
upon thy portion. Look, as the men of the world do live upon their 
earthly portions, so a man that hath God for his portion lives upon his 
God, as you may plainly see by comparing the scriptures in the margin 
together.^ Look, how the poor man lives upon his labours, the covetous 
man upon his bags, the ambitious man upon his honours, the voluptuous 
man upon his pleasures, &c., so doth a Christian live upon his God. In 
all his duties he lives upon God, and in all his mercies he lives upon 
God, and in all his wants he lives upon God, and in all his straits and 
trials he lives upon God, and in all his contentments and enjoyments 
he still lives upon God for his justification : Rom. viii. 33, ' It is God 
that justifieth,' and he still lives upon God for the perfecting of his 
sanctification ; Philip, i. 6, * Being confident of this very thing, that he 
which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of 

1 Rather Cynsegeirus. Brooks here translates Justin ii. 9. — G. 

» 1 §am. XXX. tJ ; Hab. iii. 17, 18 ; Ps. Ixxiii. 26 ; Rom. xiv. 7, 8 ; Gal. ii. 20 ; Phil, i, 
21. 



90 AN ARK FOR ALL QOD'S NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

Jesus Christ ;' and he lives upon God for the maintaining and increas- 
ing of his consolation, 2 Cor. i. 3-5. When he is under the frowns of 
the world, then he lives upon the smiles of God ; when he is under the 
hatred of the world, then he lives upon the loves of God ; and when he 
is under the reproaches of the world, then he lives \ipon his credit with 
God ; when he is under the threatenings of the world, then he lives 
upon the protection of God ; and when he is under the designs and 
plottings of the world, then he lives upon the wisdom and counsel of 
God ; when he is under the sligh tings and neglects of the world, then 
he lives upon the care of God; and when he is under the crosses and 
losses of the world, then he lives upon the fulness and goodness of God, 
&c. Alexander told his soldiers, I wake that ye may sleep. Most sure 
I am, that he that is the saint's portion never slumbers nor sleeps, Ps. 
cxxi. 3, 4. God is always watchful and wakeful to do his people good ; 
he never wants skill or will to help them, he never wants a purse, a 
hand, or a heart to supply them, &c. 

O sirs ! Every man singles out something to live upon. Some single 
out one thing, some another. Saith the wife, I must live upon my 
husband ; says the child, I must live upon my father ; says the servant, 
I must live upon my master; says the old, We must live upon the 
labours of the young; says the poor. We must live upon the charity of 
the rich ; and why then shall not a Christian live upon his God ? A. 
Christian that hath God for his portion may say, when he is at worst, 
^Well, though I have not this nor that nor the other outward comfort to 
live upon, yet I have the power of a God to live on, and I have the pro- 
vidence of a God to live on, and I have the promise of a God to live on, 
and I have the oath of a God to live on, and I have the love of a God 
to live on, and I have the bounty of a God to live on, and I have the 
fulness of a God to live on, and I have the care of a God to live on ; 
and what can I desire more? John of Alexandria, surnamed the 
Almoner, did use yearly to make even his revenues, and when he had 
distributed all to the poor, he thanked God that he had now nothing 
left him to live upon but his Lord and Master Jesus Christ.^ When 
all is gone, yet a Christian hath his God to live upon as his portion, 
and that is enough to answer to all other things, and to make up the 
want of all other things. Look, as he hath nothing that hath not God 
for his portion, so he wants nothing that hath God for his portion. It 
was a weighty saying of one [Cajetan], 'The spiritual good of a man 
consists in this, that a man hath friendship with God, and consequently 
that he lives for him, to him, with him, in him; that he lives for him 
by consent, to him by conversation, with him by cohabitation, and in 
him by contentation. Old godly Similes said, that he had been in the 
•world sixty years, but had lived but seven, counting his life not from 
his first birth, but from his new birth. A man lives no longer than he 
lives upon God as his portion : when a man begins to live upon God as 
his portion, then he begins to live indeed, and not till then. But, 

[5.] Fifthly, If God be thy portion, then he carries thy heart from 
all other things, Ps. xlil 12. The portion always carries the heart with it* 
Mat vi. 20, 21, * But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where 

^ Surius de vitis. 8S. 

^ Bernard well observes, that a wise man's heart is with the Lord* 



Lam. III. 24.] AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. 91 

neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break 
through nor steal : for where your treasure is, there will your hearts be 
also.' Ps. Ixiii. 1, ' O God, thou art my God, early will I seek thee ' (or, 
I will diligently seek thee, as merchants do precious stones that are of 
greatest value), * my soul thirsteth for thee.' He doth not say, my soul 
thirsteth for water, but my soul thirsteth for thee; nor he doth not say, 
my soul thirsteth for the blood of my enemies, but my soul thirsteth 
for thee ; nor he doth not say, my soul thirsteth for deliverance out of 
this dry and barren wilderness, but my soul thirsteth for thee in a dry 
and thirsty land, where no water is ; nor he doth not say, my soul 
thirsteth for a crown, a kingdom, but my soul thirsteth for thee, ' my 
flesh longeth for thee.' These words are a notable metaphor, taken 
from women with child, to note his earnest, ardent, and strong affections 
towards God. And so Ps. Ixxxiv. 2, 'My heart and my flesh crieth out 
for the living God.' The word that is here rendered crieth, is from 
Ranan, that signifies to shout, shrill, or cry out, as soldiers do at the 
beginning of a battle, when they cry out, Fall on, fall on, fall on, or 
when they cry out after a victory, Victory, victory, victory ! The 
Hebrew word notes a strong cry, or to cry as a child cries when it is 
sadly hungry, for now every whit of the child cries, hands cry, and face 
cries, and feet cries ; and so Ps. cxix. 20, ' My soul breaketh for the 
longings it hath unto thy judgments at all times.' Look, as the stone 
will stiJl be rolling towards its centre, its place, though it break itself 
into a thousand pieces; so a soul that hath God for his portion cannot 
rest till he comes to God, till he comes to his centre. It is very ob- 
servable, that when the God of glory appeared to Abraham, he made 
nothing of leaving his father's house, his kindred, and his country, Acts 
vii, 1-5, Gen. xii. 1. A glimpse of that glory works him to give up all 
easily, readily, and quietly. A man that can look upon the God of 
glory to be his portion, he cannot but look upon the greatest, the 
nearest, and the dearest enjoyments of the world, as nothing; he cannot 
but look upon honour as a bubble, and worldly pomp as a fancy, and 
great men as a lie, and poor men as vanity. He cannot but look upon 
his nearest and his dearest relations, his highest and his noblest friends, 
his choicest and his sweetest comforts, but as a dream and a shadow 
that soon vanisheth away. 

It is observable in the courts of kings and princes, that children and 
the ruder sort of people are much taken with pictures and rich shows, 
and feed their fancies with the sight of rich hangings and fine gay 
things ; whereas such as are great favourites at court, pass by all those 
things as things that are below them, and as things that are not worthy 
of their notice, who have business with the king, and who have the eye, 
the ear, the hand, and the heart of the king to take pleasure and 
delight in ; so most men admire the poor low things of the world, and 
are much taken with them as things that have a great deal of worth 
and excellency in them ; but a man that hath God for his portion, the 
King of kings for his portion, and all that he hath, he passeth b)'^ all 
the gay and gallant things of the world, as things below him, as things 
not worthy of him. His business is with his God, and his thoughts, his 
heart, and affections are taken up with his God. 

Naturalists tell us that the loadstone will not draw in the presence of 



92 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LaM. III. 24. 

the diamond. O sirs ! whilst a man can eye God as his portion, all the 
pride, pomp, bravery, glory, and gallantry in the world will never be 
able to draw him from God, Heb. xi. 2-4-27, 35. It is reported that 
when the tyrant Trajan^ commanded Ignatius to be ripped up and un- 
bowelled, they found Jesus Christ written upon his heart in characters 
of gold. Here was an heart worth gold indeed ; Christ carried away 
his heart from all other things. So if God be thy portion, he will cer- 
tainly carry thy heart away from all earthly things. Look, as earthly 
portions carry away worldly hearts from God, Ezek. xxxiii. 31, 32 ; Luke 
xii. 16-21 ; so when God once comes to be a man's portion, he carries 
his heart away from the world, the flesh, and the devil. All the world 
cannot keep a man's interest and his heart asunder. If a man make 
sin his interest, all the world cannot keep sin and his heart asunder. 
If a man make the world his interest, all the power on earth cannot keep 
the world and his heart asunder. And so if a man make God his interest, 
all the world cannot keep God and his heart asunder : no sword, no prison, 
no racks, no flames can keep a man's interest and his heart asunder. A 
man's heart will be working towards his interest, even through the very 
fire, as you may see in the three children, Dan. iii. 17, 18. Look, as the 
needle's point in the seaman's compass never stands still, but quivers and 
shakes till it come right against the north pole ; and as the wise men of 
the east never stood still till they were right against the star which ap- 
peared to them; and as the star itself never stood still till it came right 
against that other star, which shined more brightly in the manger than the 
sun did in the firmament ; and as Noah's dove could find no rest for the 
sole of her foot all the while she was fluttering over the flood, till she 
returned to the ark with an olive branch in her mouth : so the heart of 
a Christian that hath God for his portion can never rest, can never be 
at quiet, but in God. But, 

[6.] Sixthly, If God be thy portion, then thovu wiU own thy God, and 
stand up courageously and resolutely for thy God} Every man will 
own his portion, and stand up stoutly and resolutely for his portion, 
and so will every Christian do for his God : Ps. cxix. 46, ' I will speak 
of thy testimonies before kings, and will not be ashamed.' David was 
resolved upon a noble and resolute owning of God and his testimonies 
before the greatest and the highest of men ; and this he would do and 
not blush, this he would do and not be ashamed, this he would do and 
not be daunted.^ It was neither the majesty or authority of princes, 
it was neither the power or dread of princes, that could hinder David 
from giving in his testimony on God's side, or on truth's side. Joshua 
xxiv. 18, 'We will serve the Lord, for he is our God :' vers. 21, 22, 
* And the people said unto Joshua, Nay, but we will serve the Lord ; 
and Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves, 
that ye have chosen you the Lord to serve him ; and they said. We are 
witnesses.' Ver. 24, ' And the people said unto Joshua, The Lord our 
God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.' They had chosen God 
to be their God, as God had chosen them to be his peculiar people above 

' Spelled ' Tragine.' — G. ' Hietories abound with instances of this nature, 

•* A man of no resolution, or of a weak resolution, will be won with a nul, and lost with 
an apple ; but a man of a noble resolution will own God in the face of the greatest ina> 
esty on earth. 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 93 

all the nations of the earth ; and therefore, notwithstanding all that 
Joshua had objected, they were fully resolved to own the Lord, and to 
cleave to the Lord, and to obey the Lord, and wholly to devote them- 
selves to the service of the Lord, Having taken the Lord to be their 
God, they were firmly resolved to own the Lord really,and to own him fully, 
and to own him primarily, and to own him only, and to own him everlast- 
ingly. And so Deut. xxvi. 17, ' Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to 
be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his 
commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice.' They 
had avouched God to be their God, and therefore they were resolved 
upon all those holy ways and means whereby they might evidence to 
the world their owning of God to be their God. And so in that 
2 Chron. xxx. 8, ' They yield themselves unto the Lord,' or, as the 
Hebrew hath it, ' They give the hand unto the Lord.' You know when 
men make covenants or agreements to own one another, or to stand by 
one another, they commonly strike hands, or take one another by the 
hand. Certainly all those that have the Lord for their portion, have 
given their hands to the Lord, that they will own him, and stand by 
him, and cleave to him, as Jonathan did to David, or as Kuth did to 
Naomi. How stoutly and courageously did the three children own the 
Lord, and stand by the Lord in the face of the fiery furnace, Dan. iii. 
17, 18 ; and Daniel will, upon choice, be rather cast into the den of 
lions than that the honour of God should in the least be clouded, or his 
glory darkened by any neglects or omissions of his, chap. vi. And so 
did all those worthies, ' of whom this world was not worthy,' Heb. xi. 
34. Oh, how did they own God, and stand up for God, notwithstand- 
ing the edge of the sword, the violence of fire, the cruel mockings and 
scourgings, the bonds and imprisonments, the stoning and sawing 
asunder, the temptings and wanderings about in sheep-skins and goat- 
skins, and all other trials and torments that did attend them. Basil, 
affirms that the primitive Christians did so courageously and resolutely 
own God, and stand up for God in the face of the most dreadful suffer- 
ings, that many of the heathens, seeing their heroic zeal, courage, mag- 
nanimity, and constancy, turned Christians. Domitian raised the second 
persecution against the Christians because they would not give the title 
of Lord to any but Christ, nor worship any but God alone. Among the 
many thousand instances that might be given, let me only give you a 
few of a later date, whereby you may see how courageously and reso- 
lutely the saints have stood up for God, and owned God, in the face of 
the greatest dangers that hath attended them. 

Luther owned God and stood up resolutely for God against the world.' 
And when the emperor sent for him to Worms, and his friends dis- 
suaded him from going, as sometimes Paul's did him, Go, said he, I will 
surely go since I am sent for in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ ; 
yea, though I knew that there were as many devils in Worms to resist 
me as there be tiles to cover the houses, yet I would go : and when he 
and his associates were threatened with many dangers from opposers on 
all hands, he lets fall this heroic and magnanimous speech, ' Come,.let 
us sing the six-and -fortieth Psalm, and then let them do their w^orst.' 
And jindeed it was a brave courageous speech of -the same author, who, 
1 [Foxe] Acts et Mon. 776. [Sub Worms in Foxe, by Townsend.— G.] 



94 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

when one demanded where he would be when the emperor should, with 
all his forces, fall upon the elector of Saxony, who was the chief pro- 
tector of the Protestants, answered, Aut in coelo aut sub ccelo, either in 
heaven or under heaven. 

WilHam Flower, the martyr, said that the heavens should as soon fall 
as he would forsa.ke his profession, or budge in the least degree from it' 

ApoUonius, as Philostratus reports, being asked, if he did not tremble 
at the sight of the tyrant, made this answer, God, which hath given him 
a terrible countenance, hath given also unto me an undaunted heart. 

When the persecutors by their dreadful threatenings did labour to 
terrify one of the martyrs, he replied, that there was nothing of things 
visible, nor nothing of things invisible, that he was afraid of I will, 
saith he, stand to my profession of the name of Christ, and ' contend 
earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.' 

When Bishop Gardiner asked Rowland Taylor if he did not know 
him, (fee, he answered, Yea, I know you, and all your greatness, yet you 
are but a mortal man ; and if I should be afraid of your lordly looks, 
why fear you not God, the Lord of us all ?' 

The executioner kindling the fire behind Jerome of Prague, he bade 
him kindle it before his face, for, said he, if I had been afraid of it, I 
had not come to this place, having had so many opportunities offered 
me to escape it ; and at the giving up of the ghost, he said. This soul 
of mine in flames of fire, O Christ, I offer thee.' 

The German knight, in his apologetical letter for Luther against the 
pontifical clergy, saith, I will go through what I have undertaken 
against you, and will stir up men to seek their freedom ; I neither care 
nor fear what may befall me, being prepared for either event, either to 
ruin you, to the great benefit of my oountry, or else to fall with a good 
conscience. 

When Dionysius was given up to the executioner to be beheaded, he 
remained resolute, courageous, and constant, saying, ' Come life, come 
death, I will worship none but the God of heaven and earth.'' Thus 
you see by these instances that men that have God for their portion 
will courageously own God, and bravely and resolutely stand up for 
God, whatever comes on it. 

The blood that hath been shed in most nations under heaven doth 
clearly evidence this, that men will own their earthly portions, and that 
they will stand up stoutly, resolutely, and courageously in the defence 
of them ; and so certainly will all those own God, and stand up in the 
defence of God, his glory, and truth, who have God for their portion. 
Take a true bred Christian, when he is himself, take a Christian in his 
ordinary course, and he cannot but own his God, and stand up stoutly 
and courageously for his God in the face of all difficulties and dangers. 
But, 

[7.] Seventhly, If God be thy portion, then thou wilt look upon all 
things below thy God as poor, low, mean, and contemptible things, 
Ps. Ixxiii. 24, 25. A worldly man looks upon all things below his 
earthly portion as contemptible ; and so doth a Christian look upon all 
things" below his God as contemptible : Philip, iii. 7, 8, 'But what things 
were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and 

> Clarke, as before. — G. 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 95 

I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ 
Jesus my Lord : for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do 
count them but dung' (The Greek word (rxOSaXa properly signifies such 
sordid, coarse, and contemptible things, which are either cast forth by 
dogs, or cast before dogs),^ ' that I may win Christ.' And it is very 
obsei-vable, that after this great apostle had been in the third heaven, 
and had been blessed with a glorious sight of God, he looked upon the 
world as a poor, mean, low, contemptible thing, 2 Cor. xii. 1-3 : Gal. vi. 
14, ' God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.' 
Paul scorned, despised, and rejected the world, and the world scorned, 
despised, and rejected him. Paul cast off the world, and the world cast 
off him ; he disregarded the world, and the world disregarded him ; he 
was dead to the world, and the world was dead to him. The world 
and Paul were well agreed ; the world cared not a pin for Paul, and 
Paul cared not a straw for the world. And so when Moses had seen 
him that was invisible, when he had taken a full prospect of that other 
world, and when he had beheld God as his portion, oh, how doth he 
slight, scorn, and trample upon all the honours, preferments; profits, 
pleasures, dehghts, and contentments of Egypt, as things below him, 
and as things that in no respects were worthy of him, Heb. xi. 24-27. 
It is a Eabbinical conceit,^ that Moses being a child had Pharaoh's 
crown given him to play withal, and he made no better than a foot-ball 
of it, and cast it down to the ground, and kicked it about, as if it 
were a sign of his future vilifying and contemning of temporal things. 
I shall not much trouble my head about what Moses did when he was 
a child ; but of this I am sure, having the word of God for it, ' That 
when he was come to years,' Heb. xi. 24, or as the Greek hath it, /isyag 
yivotJ^ivog, being grown big, or being grown a great one, and so sufiiciently 
understood himself, and knew very well what he did,' he did little less 
than make a foot-ball of Pharaoh's crown. Witness his refusing with 
an holy scorn and disdain to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 
and so to succeed Pharaoh in the throne. And so in that Rev. xii. 1, 2, 
' And there appeared a great wonder in heaven ; a woman clothed with 
the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of 
twelve stars.' The church here is compared to a woman for her weak- 
ness, fruitfulness, and loveliness ; and it is observable, that she is 
clothed with the sun, that is, with Christ's own comeliness and righteous- 
ness, which resembles the sun in its several properties and effects, not 
now to be insisted on. Now this woman, the church, is said to have 
the moon under her feet. By the moon we are to understand all tem- 
porary and transitory things. Now the church treads upon all these 
things as trash and trumpery that were much below her, and 
despised by her. Look, as the great men of the world do commonly 
look upon all portions that are below their own with an eye of scorn, 
disdain, and contempt, as Haman did, Esther v. 9-14 ; and as those 
bold daring sinners did, Ps. Ixxiii. 4-14. So do those that have God 
for their portion look upon all things below their God with an eye of 

• Dogs' dung, some interpret the word. 
< * Joh. Plantavit. Florileg. Rahbinicxim. 

3 Some conclude he was forty years old now from that, Acts vii. 23. 



96 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

scorn and disdain. I have read of Lazarus, that after his resurrection 
from the dead he was never seen to laugh ; his thoughts, his heart, his 
affections were so fixed upon God, and so taken up with God, with his 
portion, that he was as a dead man to all the gay and gallant things 
of the world, he saw nothing in them worthy of a smile. 

And so when once Galeacius, that famous Italian marquis, came to 
understand that God was his portion, in the face of the highest offers 
imaginable, of honour, favour, profit, and preferment, he cried out. 
Cursed be he that prefers all the glory of the world to one day's com- 
munion with God. 

The old Grecians, who had altogether fed on acorns before, when 
bread came in among them, they made no reckoning of their mast, but 
reserved it only for their swine.^ And the Lacedaemonians despised their 
iron and leathern money, when gold and silver came in use among them.^ 
So when a man comes once to experience God to be his portion, ah, at 
what a low rate will he value the swelling honours, the deceitful riches, 
and the vanishing pleasures of this beggarly world, John iv. 14. Chris- 
tians are compared to eagles,^ Mat. xxiv. 28. Now the eagle is a kingly, 
a princely bird ; it is a bird of a sharp piercing sight, and of a swift and 
lofty flight ; it flies high and sets light by things below, except it be 
when necessity compels her: and so it is with those that have God for 
their portion ; they fly high and they live high, in God, and therefore 
they cannot but set light by the toys and trifles of the world. But, 

[8.] Eighthly, If God be thy portion, then thy God is most 'pn^ecious 
to thee, then thou settest the highest price and value vmaginahle wpon 
thy God. Every man sets the highest price upon his portion. Though 
a man may set a good price upon his delightful gardens, his pleasant 
walks, his delicate fish-ponds, his fruitful trees, his sweet flowers, &c., 
yet it is no price to that which he sets upon his portion. Well, says 
a man, though here be an hundred things to delight my eye, and to 
please my fancy, and to satiate my appetite, yet I infinitely value my 
portion above them all. And who but a fool in folio will value a 
thousand a year above a few accommodations that are only for pleasure 
and delio-htl So thoiigh a Christian may set a considerable value upon 
all his outward comforts and contentments, yet it is no value to that 
he sets upon his God, upon his portion. This and that is precious to 
me, saith a Christian, but my God is infinitely more precious than all, 
Ps. xxiii. 24, 25, iv. 6, 7. A Christian sets up God above his goods, 
Heb. X. 34 ; and above his lusts. Gal. v. 24 ; and above his relations, 
1 Sara. XXX. 1-7 ; yea, and above his very life : Rev. xii. 11, ' And they 
overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their tes- 
timony, and they loved not their Hves unto the death: Ps. Ixiii. 3, 'Thy 
loving-kindness is better than life.' The Hebrew is chaiim, lives. 
Put many lives together, yet there is more excellency and glory in the 
least beam, in the least discovery of divine love, than there is in them 
all. A man may be weary of life, but never of divine love. Histories 
tell us of many that have been weary of their lives, but no histories can 
furnish us with an instance of any one that was ever weary of divine 
love. Look, as the people prized David above themselves, saying, 
• Thou art worth ten thousand of us,' 2 Sara, xviii, 3, so they that have 
> Euitalh. in Homer. * Seneca, de Benefic. ^ Query ? — G. 



Lam. IIT. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 97 

indeed God for their portion, oh how do they prize God above them- 
selves, and above everything below themselves ! and doubtless they that 
in a course do not lift up God above all, they have no interest in God 
at alL Whatever a man eyes as his greatest interest, that he sets up 
above all, and before all other things in the world. Now if a man eyes 
God as his greatest interest, he cannot but set God a-top of all. I 
have not faith enough to believe that ever such did truly love God who 
love anything more than God, or who set up anything above God, Luke 
xiv. 26. Look, as Darius set up Daniel over all, and as Pharaoh set up 
Joseph above all, so a man that hath God for his portion, he sets up 
God over all, and he sets up God above all. One [Augustine] set so 
high a price upon Christ, that he hath long since told us that he would 
willingly go through hell to Christ ; and saith another [Bernard], I had 
rather be in my chimney-corner with Christ, than in heaven without 
him. When one of the martyrs was offered riches and honours if he 
would recant, he made this excellent answer. Do but offer me somewhat 
that is better than my Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall see what I will 
say to you.^ And I have read of another, that set so high a price upon 
the Lord Jesus, that whensoever he did but mention the name of 
Jesus, his eyes dropped tears. Were every star in the firmament a 
sun, yet a man that hath God for his portion would prize him above 
them all; 

Do you ask me where be my jewels ? My jewels are my husband, 
said Phocion's wife.'' Do you ask me where be my ornaments? My 
ornaments are my two sons, brought up in virtue and learning, said the 
mother of the Gracchi.^ Do you ask me where be my treasures ? My 
treasures are my friends, said Constantius, the father of Constantine. 
So if you ask a Christian that hath God for his portion where his jewels, 
his ornaments, his treasures, his comforts, and the delights of his soul 
are, he will answer you that they are all in God, he will tell you that 
God is his portion, and that God is his great all, and that he enjoys all 
in God, and God in all, and therefore he cannot but prize God above 
all. But to prevent mistakes in this weighty case, let me give you a 
few brief hints ; as, 

[1.] First, If God be truly precious, to thee, then all of God is pre- 
cious to thee; his name is precious to thee, his honour is precious to 
thee, his ordinances are precious to thee, his Sabbaths are precious to 
thee, his promises are precious to thee, his precepts are precious to 
thee, his threatenings are precious to thee, his rebukes are precious to 
thee, his people are precious to thee, and all his concernments are pre- 
cious to thee. Look, as every sparkling stone that is set round about 
a rich 'diamond is precious in the eyes of the jeweller, so is every spark- 
ling excellency in God precious in his eyes that sets an high value upon 
God. Look, as all of the new-bom babe is precious in the eyes of the 
tender mother,* as head, face, hands, arms, body, feet, &c., so all of God 
is very precious in his eyes that hath any tender regard of God ; and 
look, as all of an husband is precious in the eyes of a loving wife, viz,, 

1 Johannes Mollius. [Clarke, as before — G] 
« Plutarch, Phocion. s Ibid.— G 

\ It was an harlot that would have the child divided, 1 Kings iii. 25, 26. 
VOL, II. G 



98 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

his person, name, credit, honour, estate, liberty, life, &c., so all of God 
is very precious in his eyes that loves God with a real love, with a 
superlative love. But, 

[2.] Secondly, If God be most precious to thee, then all the dis- 
honours that are done to Ood, his truth, his uorshi'p, his ways, his 
ordin/inces, his institutions, his government, his people, are most 
grievous and burdensome to thee. * The reproaches of them that 
reproached thee are fallen upon me,' Ps. Ixix. 9 ; * I beheld the trans- 
gressors, and was grieved, because they kept not thy word,' Ps. cxix. 
158. The word that is here translated grieved is from katat, that 
signifies to loathe, abhor, and contend : I beheld the transgressors, and 
I loathed them ; I beheld the transgressors, and I abhorred them ; I 
beheld the transgressors, and I contended with them ; but not so much 
because they were mine enemies, as because they were thine. It is 
just between God and all those that have a precious esteem of him, 
as it is between two lute-strings that are tuned one to another ; no 
sooner one is struck but the other trembles. A saint cannot see God 
struck but his heart will tremble, Jer. ix. 1-4. A father, lying upon 
his death-bed,' called three children to him which he kept, and told 
them that one only of them was his natural son, and that the other 
two were only brought up by him ; therefore unto him only he gave 
all his goods ; but which of those three was his own son he would not 
in any wise declare. When he was dead, every one pleaded his birth- 
right, and the matter being brought to trial, the judge, for the making, 
if possible, a true discovery, took this course. He caused the dead 
corpse of the father to be set up against a tree, and commanded the 
three sons to take bows and arrows to shoot at their father, to see who 
could come nearest to his heart. The first and second did shoot and 
hit him, but the third was very much angry and displeased with them 
both, and through the natural affection of a child to a father, threw 
away his bow and arrows, and would not shoot at all. This being 
done, the judge gave this sentence, viz., that the two first that shot at 
their supposed father's heart were no sons, but that the third son, that 
would not shoot at all, and that was very much displeased with those 
that did shoot, was the true son, and that he should have the goods. 
O sirs ! every bitter word is an arrow shot at the heart of God, and 
every bloody oath is an arrow shot at the heart of God, and every heavy 
curse is an arrow shot at the heart of God, and every superstitious cus- 
tom is an arrow shot at the heart of God, and every snare that is laid 
for the righteous is an an-ow shot at the heart of God, and every yoke 
that is laid upon the people of God is an arrow shot at the heart of 
God, and every affront that by debauched persons is given to God is an 
arrow shot at the heart of God, &c. And what true bred sons, what 
ingenuous sons, can see such arrows every hour in the day shot at the 
heart of God, and hear of such arrows that are shot a thousand thousand 
times in a day at the heart of God, and not grieve and mourn, and not 
be afflicted, troubled, displeased, and astonished to see men and to hear 
of men that were once made in the image of God to be turned into such 
incarnate devils, as thus to deal with God, yea, with such a Grod as can 
speak them into hell at his pleasure. But, 

' Mr Perkins's ' Government of the Tongue.' 



Lam. III. 24.] AN AUK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. 99 

[3.] Thirdly, If God be most precious to you, then you will 'part with 
anything for God, then you will let go anything, that you may hold 
your God, and enjoy your God, Philip, iii. 7, 8, Mat. xiii. 46 ; then 
your Isaac shall be made a sacrifice, if God will have it so. Gen. xxii., 
and your Benjamin shall be sent into Egypt, if God will have it so, 
Gen. xliii. ; then your Jonah shall be cast overboard, if God will have it 
so, Jonah i. ; then out goes the right eye, and off goes the right hand, 
upon a divine command ; then you will never cry out. Oh ! this mercy 
is too near to me to part with for God, and that comfort is too dear to 
me to part with for God, &c. Oh no ; but then you will say, as 
the king of Sodom said to Abraham, ' Give me the persons, and take 
the goods to thyself,' Gen. xiv. 21. So you will say, ' Give us God, oh give 
us God, and let who will take the goods, let who will take the honours, 
and the profits, and the pleasures of this world ; it is enough that Joseph 
is alive ; it is enough if we may but enjoy our God. A prince will part 
with anything rather than he will part with his crown-jewels ; and so will 
a Christian rather part with anything, than, upon choice, to part with 
his God, whom he values above all the crown-jewels in the world. But, 

[4.] Fourthly, If God be most precious to thee, then thou canst never 
have enough of God; thou canst never have enough of communion with 
God ; thou canst never have enough of the presence of God ; thou canst 
never have enough of the Spirit of God ; thou canst never have enough 
of the discoveries of God ; thou canst never have enough of the assist- 
ance of God ; thou canst never have enough of the secret influences and 
incomes of God ; thou canst never have enough of the comforts and 
strong consolations of God, &c.^ The grave, the barren womb, the mam- 
monist, the pope, the Turk, the devil, and hell, will be as soon satisfied 
as thou canst be satisfied without clearer, further, and fuller enjoyments 
of God. ' No man,' saith God to Moses, * can see my face, and live,' 
Exod. xxxiii. 20 ; upon which words Austin makes this short but sweet 
reply, ' Then, Lord, let me die, that I may see thy face.' It is impossible 
that ever a man's heart should rest satisfied till he comes to a full and 
perfect enjoyment of that which he hath set up as his grand interest, as 
his great all. But, 

[5.] Fifthly and lastly. If God be most precious to thee, then thou 
wilt give up thyself wholly to God without any reservation. Whatever 
a man sets up as his great interest, to that he devotes himself, to the 
service of that he wholly gives up himself ; so when a man eyes God as 
his most precious interest, and sets up God as his most precious interest, 
he cannot but devote himself wholly to God, he cannot but give up him- 
self whoUy to God -? Ps. cxix. 94, ' I am thine, save me.' I am not my 
own, nor sin's, nor Satan's, nor the world's, nor friends', nor relations', 
, but * I am thine,' I am really thine, 1 am wholly thine, I am only thine, 
I am always thine, I am thine to be sanctified, and I am thine to be 
saved ; I am thine to be commanded, and I am thine to be ruled. Lord, 
I am thine own, and therefore do with thine own as thou pleasest, and 
dispose of thine own as thou pleasest. I am at thy foot, willing in 
some measure to be anything or nothing, as shall seem best in thine 
own eyes. When the keys of the whole house, and of every room in 

• Ps^xxvii. 4 ; Ixxxiv. 1-12 ; xlii. 1, 2 ; Ixiii. 1-8 ; Caut. viii. 14 ; Eev. xxii. 20. 
2 Cant. ii. 16 ; Acts vii. 2-4 ; xiii. 22 ; Luke v. 6, 7. 



100 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24<. 

the house, are given up to the king to be at his dispose, at his service, 
then he is entertained as a king, and honoured as a king, and valued 
and prized as a king; and so when all the keys of the soul, and every 
room in the soul, and every faculty of the soul, are given up to God to 
be at his dispose, at his service, then God is entertained as a God, and 
honoured as a God, and valued and prized as a God, but not till then. 
And by these five hints, if you will not put a cheat upon your own souls, 
you may know whether God sits in the uppermost room of your hearts 
or no, and whether God be set up in your hearts above all, and whether 
he be indeed your great all, or your all in all. But, 

(9.) Ninthly, If God be thy portion, then there is no loss in all the 
world that lies so hard and so heavy upon thee as the loss of thy God. 
There is no loss under heaven that doth so affect and afflict a man that 
hath God for his portion as the loss of his God. David met with many 
a loss, but no loss made so sad and so great a breach upon his spirit as 
the loss of the face of God, the loss of the favour of God : Ps. xxx. 6, 7, 
* In my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. Lord, by thy favour 
thou hast made my mountain to stand strong : thou didst hide thy face, 
and I was troubled.' The Hebrew word bahal signifies to be greatly 
troubled, to be sorely terrified, as you may see in that 1 Sam. xxviii. 21, 
' And the woman came unto Saul, and saw that he was sore troubled.' 
Here is the same Hebrew word bahal} Saul was so terrified, affrighted, 
and disanimated with that dreadful news that the devil in Samuel's 
likeness told him, that his very vital spirits so failed him that he fell 
into a deadly swoon. And it was even so with David upon God's hid- 
ing of his face. David was like a withered flower that had lost all itp sap, 
life, and vigour, when God had wrapped up himself in a cloud. The life 
of some creatures lieth in the light and warmth of the sun ; and so doth 
the life of the saints lie in the light and warmth of God's countenance. 
And as in an eclipse of the sun there is a drooping in the whole frame 
of nature, so when God hides his face, gracious souls cannot but droop 
and languish, and bow down themselves before him. Many insensible 
creatures, some by opening and shutting, as marigolds and tulips, others 
by bowing and inclining the head, as the solsequy'* and mallow-flowers 
are so sensible of the presence and absence of the sun, that'there seems 
to be such a sympathy between the sun and them, that if the sun be 
gone or clouded, they wrap up themselves, or hang down their heads, as 
being unwilling to be seen by any eye but his that fills them ; and just 
thus it was with David when God had hid his face in a cloud. And it 
is very observable that Job did bear up very sweetly, bravely, patiently, 
and nobly under all his great losses of children, estate, &c. ; but when 
the arrows of the Almighty were got within him, then he complains that 
his grief was heavier than the sands of the sea. Job vi. 1-5 ; and when 
the face of God was hidden from him, how sadly doth he lament and 
bewail the withdrawings of God : * Behold, I go forward, but he is not 
there ; and backward, but I cannot perceive him ; on the left hand, where 
he doth work, but I cannot behold him ; he hideth himself on the right 



' And 80 this Hebrew word bahal you have again in that Dan. v. 9, to express the great 
nesa of Belshazzar's trouble and terror when ho saw the handwriting upon the wall, and 
wlien none of his wise men could read the writing, &c. 

2 The early name of the ' aun-flower.' The solsequium of Linuseus.— G. 



J 



Lam. III. 24<.] AN ARK FOK ALL GOD'S NOAHS. 101 

hand, but I cannot see him,' Job xxiii, 8, 9. You know there is no pain 
more grievous and tormenting than that of breaking the bones. Now 
David again and again pitches upon this, to hint unto you that dreadful 
smart and pain that his soul was under when he had lost his communion 
with God, and when his God was withdrawn from him, and had hid his 
face from him, Ps. xxxviii. 8, li. 8. And so the church sadly laments the 
loss of her beloved in that Solomon's Song, v. 6, ' I opened to my 
beloved, but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone. My soul 
failed when he spake,' or, ' he was gone, he was gone.' Now this pas 
sionate duplication speaks out her very great grief and trouble. Like 
a sad widow, she sits down and wrings her hands, and cries out, ' He is 
gone, he is gone ;' ' My soul failed me ;' or, as the Hebrew hath it, 
Naphshi jatsa, ' my soul went out of me.' I was even as an astonished 
creature,! was even as a dead creature, to note how greatly and how deeply 
she was troubled and perplexed upon the account of his withdrawing 
from her. Oh ! the fear, the terror, the horror, the dread, the grief, the 
sorrow that fell upon the spouse's heart when her beloved had turned his 
back upon her. And so it was with Mary: John xx. ] 1-13, ' But Mary 
stood without at the sepulchre weeping ; and as she wept,she stooped down 
and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the 
one at the head, and the other at thefeet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 
And they said unto her. Woman, why weepest thou ? She saith unto 
them. Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where 
they have laid him.' Of all losses, Mary was least able to bear the loss 
of her Lord. The loss was so great, and so heavy the loss, that she was 
not able to stand under it with dry eyes. Mary's mourning for the loss 
of her Lord was like that of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon, 
Zech. xii. 11. There is no loss that comes so near to a Christian's heart 
as the loss of his Lord. A Christian can a thousand times better bear 
the loss of his name, which next to his soul and his grace is the best 
jewel that he hath in all the world, the loss of his estate, the loss of his 
liberty, the loss of his nearest and dearest relations, yea, the very loss of 
his life, than he can bear the loss of his God. 

You see how sadly Micah takes on for the loss of his wooden gods, 
in that Judges xviii. 23, 24, 'And they cried unto the children of l)an: 
and they turned their faces, and said unto Micah, What aileth thee, 
that thou comest with such a company ? And he^ SE^id, Ye have taken 
away my gods which I made, and the priest, and ye are gone away ; 
and what have I more ? and what is that ye say unto me, What aileth 
thee ?' Now if Micah was so affected and afflicted upon the\loss of his 
idol gods, his wooden gods, what cause theii|iave Chrisfci^n^ to'be deeply 
affected and afflicted when they come to vioso^ tjieir God, which is the 
true God, the living God, the only God, apd the God of gods ! You 
know that when Samson's locks were cut off, his streng,t|i Was gone, 
Judges xvi. 19-21; and therefore, though he thp).i^h|, ^ t<> go out, and 
do as great things as he had formerly done, yet he fouiad by woful ex- 
perience that he could not; for now he was become as another man. 
And it is just so with the choicest saints: when their God is gone, their 
locks are cut, and their strength is gone, their doing strength, and their 
suffering strength, and their bearing strength, and their wrestling 
strength, and their prevailing strength, &c., is gone when their God is 



102 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

gone ; yea, when God goes, all goes. When the king removes, all his 
train follows ; when God goes, comforts go ; when God goes, joys go ; 
when God goes, peace goes ; when God goes, prosperity goes ; when God 
goes, friends go ; when God goes, all content and satisfaction goes ; and 
therefore it is no wonder to see a Christian better bear any loss than 
the loss of his God, for in losing of him he loses all at a clap.^ A 
Christian counts it his only happiness to enjoy his God, and his only 
unhappiness to be deprived of him. The constant language of a Chris- 
tian is, * None but God, none but God ;' as it was once the language of 
the martyr, ' None but Christ, none but Christ.'^ 

Outward losses to some men have been unsufferably afflictive. One 
being turned out of his estate runs out of his wits, another hangs him- 
self with the same hands with which he had formerly told his portion. 
Menippus of Phoenicia having lost his goods, strangled himself^ Dinar- 
cus Phidon, at a certain great loss, cut his own throat, to save the charge 
of a cord.* When Henry the Second heard that his city Mentz was 
taken, he let fall this blasphemous speech : I shall never, said he, love 
God any more, that hath suffered a city so dear to me to be taken away 
from me. And Augustus Caesar [Suetonius], in whose time Christ was 
born, was so troubled and astonished at the loss and overthrow that Varus 
gave him, that for certain months together he let the hair of his head 
and beard grow without cutting, and sometimes he would run his head 
against the very doors, and cry out, Quintilius Varus, deliver up my 
legions again ; Quintilius Varus, deliver up my legions again, &c.^ I might 
give you many sad instances nearer home, but that I love not to harp 
upon so sad a string. But certainly no outward losses can lie so heavy 
upon the spirit of a worldling, as the loss of God lies upon the spirit of 
a saint.® I have read of a religious woman, that having brought forth 
nine children, professed that she had rather endure all the pains of 
those nine travails at once than endure the misery of the loss of God's 
presence. A man can better bear any loss than the loss of his box of 
jewels, and tlian the loss of his writings and evidences that he hath to 
shew for his estate; and therefore, when his house is on fire, he doth 
not cry out. Oh save that bed, or that chest, or that dish, or that stool, 
&c. ; but he cries out. Oh save my box of jewels ! oh save my writings ! 
I care not though aU be consumed, so my box of jewels and my evidences 
be but saved. Dfow God is a Christian's box of jewels, he is a Chris- 
tian's grand evidence that' » ^he hath to shew for another world; and 
therefore his greatest fear is 'of losing his God, and his greatest care is 
of keeping has God. If his b<>x of jewels be safe, then all is safe ; but 
if they are lost, all is lost; sdad how then is it possible for a Chris- 
tian to bear up bravely under the loss of all ? A man may bear up 
bravely under the loss of &is lumber, and under the loss of his house- 
hold goods, so long as his jewels are safe and his writings are safe ; but 
if his box of ^}e"rela should be lost, and his writings should be burnt, 
why, then, he wiinga his hands, and cries out. Oh, I am undone ! I am 
undone ! I am undone ! So a Christian can bear up bravely under this 
worldly loss, and that worldly loss, and the other worldly loss, so long 

• Qui tenon habet, Domine Deut, totum perdidit. — Bernard. 

* Sanders, also Hudson, as before. — G. ^ Oehler, Varro. — G. * Pheidon : Dut ? — G. 
^ Qu. Atrus Varus? -but ?— G- « Compare the 77th and the 88th Psalms together. 



Lam. III. 24.] AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. ] 03 

as he enjoys his God ; but when he hath lost his God, oh then, he cannot 
but wring his hands, and cry out, I am undone ! I am undone ! I am 
undone ! I have lost my God, and in losing of him, I have lost my life, 
I have lost my love, I have lost my joy, I have lost my crown, 1 have 
lost my heaven, I have lost my happiness, I have lost my alL O Chris- 
tians ! if God be your portion, it will be thus with you upon the loss of 
your God. But, 

(10.) Tenthly, If God be thy portion, then thou wilt set the highest 
price, value, and esteem upcni those that have God for their portion, 
Ps. xvi. 3, Prov. xii. 26, and chap, xxviii. 6. A man that hath God for 
his portion, never values men for their arts, parts, gifts, gay clothes, 
gold chains ; no, nor by their birth, breeding, high offices, or great 
places; no, nor by their outward dignities, honours, or riches, &c., but 
by their interest and propriety in God. A man that hath God for his 
portion, prizes a poor ragged Lazarus that hath God for his portion, 
before a rich Dives that hath only gold for his portion. If thou hast 
God for thy portion, then there is no man in court, city, or country, to 
that man that hath God for his portion ; then there is no man in a 
parish, a country, a kingdom, to him that hath God for his portion. A 
man that hath God for his portion, hath an higher esteem and a greater 
respect for a Job, though stripped of all, and sitting upon a dunghill, 
than he hath for a wicked Ahab, though sitting od his royal throne. 
Paul set a higher price upon Onesimus, though but a servant, a slave, 
because he had God for his portion, than he did upon Nero, though he 
was a great and mighty emperor, Philem. 10, 12, 17; 2 Tim. iv. 17. And 
king Ingo valued poor ragged Christians that had God for their portion, 
above all his glittering pagan nobles that had only the world for their 
portion, saying, that when all his pagan nobles should, in all their pomp 
and glory, be turned into hell, those poor Christians, that had God for 
their portion, should be his consorts and fellow-princes in heaven. 
Look, as men that have their portion in this world do value men ac- 
cording to their worldly portions, so that they that have most gold and 
silver, and they that have most lordships and lands, they are the best 
men, the happiest men, the only men in their eyes ; so a Christian 
that hath God for his portion, he sets the highest value upon those that 
have God for their portion, and there are no men in all the world that 
are so high in his books as they are. A man that hath an interest in 
God loves none, nor likes none, nor honours none, nor delights in none, 
nor exalts none, nor values none, to those that have God for their por- 
tion. Though the men, the great men of this world may sit in the 
uppermost seats at his table, yet they that have God for their portion, 
sit in the uppermost rooms of his heart. The Jews say, that those 
seventy souls that went with Jacob into Egypt, were as much worth as 
all the seventy nations in the world. And I may say, that one soul 
that hath God for his portion, is more worth than all the souls in the 
world that have only the world for their portion. A man that hath 
God for his portion, cannot but set a very high value upon all those 
that have God for their portion, though in disputable things they may 
differ from him. A man that hath God for his portion, had rather live 
wit|i those that have God for their portion in a prison, in a dungeon, 
thaii live with those that have only the world for their portion in a 



104; AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

royal palace ; as Algerius/ an Italian martyr, was wont to say, that he 

had rather live in prison with Cato than with Caesar in the senate 

house. And Doctor Taylor, the martyr, rejoiced exceedingly that ever 

he came into prison, because he came there to have acquaintance with 

that angel of God, John Bradford, as he calls him.^ When Joseph was 

in Egypt, the Scripture saith, according to the Hebrew phrase, that 

* he tied the princes of Pharaoh's court about his heart,' Ps. cv. 22 ; so 

a man that hath God for his portion, he doth as it were tie those that 

have God for their portion about his heart. Oh, he is always best when 

they are most in his eye, and nearest to his heart. It is his happiness 

on this side happiness to enjoy communion with them, and it is the 

greatest unhappiness in this world to be separated from them, Ps. cxx. 

5-7. A man that hath God for his portion, values the company of such 

that have God for their portion above all other company in the world, 

and he values the favour of such above all other men's favour in the 

world, and he values the prayers of such above all other men's prayers 

in the world, and he values the counsels of such above all other men's 

counsel in the world, and he values the experiences of such above all 

other men's experiences in the world, and he values the interest of such 

above all other men's interest in the world, and he values the hopes 

and expectations of such above all other men's hopes and expectations 

in the world, and he values the examples of such above the examples 

of all other men in the world, and he values the displeasure and anger 

of such above all other men's displeasure and anger in the world. But, 

[11.] Eleventhly, If God be your portion, then you are his portion. 

If you have an interest in God, then God hath an interest in you ; if 

you have a propriety in God, then God hath a propriety in you ; if God 

be truly yours, then you are really his : Cant. ii. 16, ' My beloved is mine, 

and I am his ;' Ps. cxix. 94, ' I am thine, save me ;' I am not mine own, 

I am not sin's, I am not Satan's, I am not the world's, I am not friends', 

I am not relations', but I am thine, save me ; I am really thine, I am 

totally thine, I am solely thine, I am everlastingly thine, save me : 

Ezek. xvi. 8, ' I entered into covenant with thee, and thou becamest 

mine ;' Deut. xxxii. 9, 'For the Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is 

the lot of his inheritance.'^ Though God's people are despised of the 

world, yet they are dear to God, for they are his portion. In these 

words, 'Jacob is the lot of his inheritance,' he alludes to the division of the 

land of Canaan, as if the sons of Jacob had fallen to him by lot. The 

Lord's people are as dear to God, and as near to God, and in as great 

account with God, as earthly portions and inheritances are or can be 

among the sons of men : Jer. xii. 10, ' Many pastors have destroyed my 

vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my 

pleasant portion (or as the Hebrew hath it, my portion of desire or of 

delight) a desolate wildernes.' God's people are not only his portion, 

but they are his pleasant portion, yea, they are his desirable portion, 

his delightful portion. If the Lord be your portion, then you are his 

nheritance, Isa. xix. 25 ; and his peculiar treasure. Exod. xix. 5 ; and 

' Clarke, as before, p. 187.— G. * Clarke, as before. — 6, 

3 There are none that have that \&rp,6 interest and propriety in the saints that God 

hath: Zech. ii. 12, 'And the Lord shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and 

shall choose Jerusalem again.' 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 105 

his glory, Isa. xlvi. 13 ; and his ornament, Ezek. vii. 20 ; and his throne, 
Jer. xvii. 12 ; and his diadem, Isa. Ixii. 3 ; and his jewels, Mai. iii. 17. 
These scriptures speak out plainly and clearly that great propriety and 
interest that God hath in all those that have a propriety and interest 
in him. O sirs ! look, that as in all God hath you have an interest, 
so in all that you have God hath an interest ; and look, as what God is, 
he is for you, so what you are, you are for God ; and look, as God is 
sincerely for you, so you are sincerely for God ; and as God is wholly for 
you, so you are wholly for God ; and as God is only for you, so you are 
only for God ; and as God is in all things for you, so you are in all things 
for God ; and as God is at all times for you, so you are at all times for 
God. sirs !• There are none under heaven that have that interest 
in you as God hath, if indeed he be your portion. Look what interest 
the head hath in the members, the husband in the wife, the father in 
the child, the lord in his servant, the general in his soldier, and the 
prince in his subject, that, all that, and more than that, hath God in all 
those that have an interest in him. There is no man in the world that 
hath such an interest in himself, as God hath in him, if indeed God be 
his portion. Sin cannot say to a man that hath God for his portion. Thou 
art mine ; nor Satan cannot say to a man that hath God for his portion. 
Thou art mine ; nor the world cannot say to a man that hath God for 
his portion. Thou art mine ; nor the creature cannot say to a man that 
bath God for his portion, Thou art mine. It is only God that can say 
to such a man, Thoa art mine. As in marriage, none can say. This 
woman is mine, but the husband ; so none can say to a man that hath 
God for his portion. Thou art mine, but God alone. Look, as no man 
can truly say, that God is my Lord, and my God, and my father, and 
my friend, and my wisdom, and my counsel, and my righteousness, and 
my consolation, and my salvation, and my portion, and my light, and 
my life, and my love, and my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, 
and my strength, and my buckler, and my high tower, and my help, and 
my happiness, and my blessedness, and my all in all, but he that hath 
God for his portion ; so none but God can look upon a gracious person, 
and say. This gracious person is mine ; he is my bride, my child, my 
friend, my favourite, my beloved, my darling, my joy, my crown ; his 
heart is set upon me, and his love is inflamed towards me, and his trust 
and confidence is fixed on me, and his desires and longings are running 
out after me, and all his joys and delights are terminated in me. But, 
[J 2.] Twelfthly, If God be your portion, then certainly the least of 
God is very dear and precious to you. Oh then the least truth of God 
will be very precious to you, and the least command of God will be very 
precious to you, and the least child of God will be very precious^o you, 
and the least concernment of God will be very precious to you. Look, 
as the least beam of light is precious, and as the least drop of honey is 
precious, and as the least dust of gold is precious, and as the least degree 
of health and strength is precious, and as the least measure of liberty is 
precious ; so the very least of God is very precious to that man that hath God 
for his portion. Look, as every little piece and parcel of a worldly man's 
portion is very dear and precious to him, so every little piece and parcel 
of God, if I may so speak, is very dear and precious to him that hath 
God for his portion. The least glimpse and manifestations of the love 



106 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

and favour of God, the least taste of the mercies of God, the least anoint- 
ings of the Spirit of God, the least comunications of the grace of God, 
and the least drops of the consolations of God, are exceedingly sweet 
and precious to him that hath God for his portion. The least good look 
that a man hath from God, and the least good word that a man hears 
from God, and the least love letter and love token that a man receives 
from God, is exceedingly precious to that man that hath God for his 
portion, ' One day in thy courts is better than a thousand elsewhere,' 
Ps. Ixxxiv. 10. He doth not say, One year in thy courts is better than 
a thousand elsewhere, but One day in thy courts is better than a 
thousand elsewhere ; nor doth he not say, One quarter of a year in thy 
courts is better than a thousand elsewhere, but ' One day in thy courts 
is better than a thousand elsewhere ;' nor he doth not say, One month 
in thy courts is better than a thousand elsewhere, but ' One day in thy 
courts is better than a thousand elsewhere ;' to shew that the very least 
of God is exceeding precious to a gracious soul that hath God for his 
portion. 

Now by these twelve particulars you may all know whether God be 
your portion or no, except you are resolved beforehand to put a cheat 
upon your own immortal souls, and so to make yourselves miserable in 
both worlds. And let thus much suffice for this use of trial and ex- 
amination. 

Now if, upon trial and examination, any of you shall come to some 
comfortable satisfaction in your own spirits, that God is your portion, 
and that you have an undoubted interest and propriety in God, oh then 
I would upon the knee of my soul entreat and beseech you, I might 
say, charge and command you, to evidence and declare to all the world 
your interest and propriety in God. 

But you will say. How should ive evidence and declare to the world 
our interest and propriety in God ? we are willing to do it, if we did but 
know how we should do it. Why then, thus: 

[1.] First, Evidence and declare your interest and propriety in God, 
hy your labouring and endeavouring with all your might to draw 
on others to get an interest and 'propriety in God} O sirs ! have 
you been convinced of the necessity and excellency of interest and pro- 
priety in God ? have you experienced the profit, the sweet, the comfort, 
and the happiness of propriety and interest in God ? and how then can 
you but strive, as for life, to persuade others to look after their interest 
and propriety in Christ, as ihe one thing necessary ? When Samson 
had tasted honey, he gg.ve his father and mother some with him. Judges 
xiv. 8, 9. O my brethren, propriety and interest in God is so sweet a 
mors^l^ that I cannot see how it is possible for a man to taste of it and 
not to commend it to others. They that have tasted that the Lord is 
gracious, cannot but cry out with the psalmist, ' Oh taste and see that 
the Lord is good,' Ps. xxxiv. 8. Propriety and interest in God will 
never make a man a churl, it will never work a man to make a mono- 
poly of so rare a jewel as that is. Oh the fervent prayers ! Oh the 
burning desires ! Oh the vehement wishes ! Oh the strong endeavours 
of such that have an interest and propriety in God, to draw on others 

' Num. x. 29 : John i. 39-49, iv. 28-30 ; Acts x. 24-27. 



J 



Lam. hi. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 1 07 

to seek after an interest and propriety in God ! All true propriety and 
interest in God is of a diffusive nature ; it is like light, that will spread 
itself over all ; it is like leaven, that will run through all ; it is like 
Mary's box of sweet ointment, that filled all the house with the sweet 
scent thereof If thou art a minister, evidence thy propriety in God 
in doing all thou canst to provoke those that are under thy charge to 
secure their propriety in God; other things cannot be secured, but 
propriety in God may be secured, Acts xxvi. 29. If thou art a magis- 
trate that hast a propriety in God, evidence it by doing all thou canst, 
by thy commands, and by thy counsel, and by thy example, and by 
thy prayers, to persuade and win others over to be restless till they 
have secured their interest and propriety in God, Joshua xxiv. 15. If 
thou art a father that hast interest and propriety in God, oh, then, let 
thy soul be still in travail for thy children, till Christ be formed in 
them, till they are new born, and till they have experienced the power 
and sweet of propriety and interest in God. But, 

[2. J Secondly, Evidence your propriety and interest in God, hy keep- 
ing far off from all such sinful courses, practices, and compliances, 
that may any ways put yourselves or others to question the ti^th of 
your propi^ety and interest in God. Thus did those worthies, * of 
whom this world was not worthy,' in that Heb. xi. It is very ob- 
servable that when the holy things belonging to the sanctuary were to 
be removed, God commanded Aaron and his sons that there should be 
a special care had to cover them all over, lest in journeying dust should 
any ways soil them. Num. iv. 5-13. O beloved ! it highly concerns you 
that have an interest and propriety in God, to look narrowly to your 
hearts, words, works, and ways, and to see that there be such a cover- 
ing of grace and holiness, such a covering of care, fear, wisdom, watch- 
fulness, and circumspection over your whole man, that no scandalous 
sins, pollutions, or defilements be found upon you ; according to that 
exhortation of the apostle, in that Philip, ii. 15, ' That ye may be blame- 
less and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a 
crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine (or shine ye) as 
lights in the world.' Rev. x;iv. 3-5, chap. iii. 4. I have read of the 
dove, that there is such a native dread of the hawk implanted in her, 
that she is afraid of every feather that hath grown upon a hawk, and 
that she so detests and abhors the very sight of any such feather that 
she will fly from it, and keep at the greatest distance imaginable from 
it. And shall not that divine fear, O Christians ! that is planted by 
the hand of the Spirit in your hearts, be of as great force and preva- 
lency to keep your souls from all those enormities and wicked com- 
pliances that may in the least occasion you or others to question your 
propriety and interest ? Remember Francis Spira, and tremble ! You 
know a scrivener may by one great blot at last spoil all that he hath 
done for many days before upon a large patent or lease ; so a man may 
by one foul blot, by one enormous crime, by one wretched act of com- 
pliance, dash and obliterate the fairest copy of a virtuous life, and raze 
out all the visible golden characters of divine graces that once seemed 
to be printed upon the soul. Look, as one drop of ink coloureth a 
whoLe glass of water, so one gross sin, one shameful action, one hour's 
compliance with anything of antichrist, will colour and stain all the great 



108 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. Ill 24. 

things that ever you have suffered, and all the good things that ever 
you have performed ; it will stain and colour all the good prayers that 
ever you have made, and all the good sermons that ever you have 
heard, and all the good books that ever you have read, and all the 
good words that ever you have spoke, and all the good works that ever 
you have done. And therefore, whatever you do, keep off from sin, 
and keep off from all sinful compliances, as you would keep off from 
hell itself But, 

[3.] Thirdly, Declare and evidence your propriety and interest in 
God, hy maintaining and keeping up the sense of your interest and 
propi^ty in God, in opposition to all other interest whatsoever. 
Maintain your interest in God in opposition to sin's interest, and in op- 
position to Satan's interest, and in opposition to the world's interest, 
and in opposition to antichrist's interest, and in opposition to all carnal 
and superstitious interests, Ps. Ixiii. 1, Rev. xiv. 1-4 : as Moses did, and 
as Joshua and Caleb did, and as Mordecai and Nehemiah did, and as 
Daniel and the three children did, and as the apostles and the primi- 
tive Christians did. Certainly the heart of a gracious man cannot but 
rise, and his anger and indignation cannot but swell, against every thing 
and every interest that threatens to make a breach upon his inte- 
rest and propriety in God, Ps. Ixix. 9. A man that hath an interest 
and propriety in God, in the midst of all oppositions, is like a man 
made up all of fire, walking in stubble and straw : he overcomes and 
consumes all oppositions, and all difficulties are but whetstones to his 
fortitude. He encourages his soul in the face of all oppositions and 
dangers, as Hezekiah once did his soldiers in that 2 Chron. xxxii. 7, 8, 
' Be strong and courageous, be not dismayed for the king of Assyria, 
nor for all the multitude that is with him : for there be more with us 
than with him. With him is an arm of flesh ; but with us is the Lord 
our God, to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested 
themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.' He is a fool, 
we say, that will be laughed out of his coat ; but certainly he is a fool, 
in folio that will be laughed out of his skin, nay, out of his soul, out of 
his profession, out of his eternal salvation ; but doubtless such fools as 
these have never experienced the sweet of propriety and interest in 
God. Without all peradventure, there were many broad jests and many 
bitter scoffs broken upon Noah, whilst he was a-building of his ark. The 
people laughed at him, and derided him, and thought the poor old man 
doated and dreamed, not, as we say, of a dry summer, but of a wet win- 
ter ; but yet Noah's propriety and interest in God being clear, Noah 
begins his work, and goes on his work, and never ceases till he had 
finished that work that God had set him about. 

Alciat observes in one of his Emblems,' that a dog then barketh most 
when the moon is at fullest ; but whether it be by some special in- 
fluence that it then worketh on the dog, or whether it be occasioned by 
the spots in the moon represented unto him in the form and shape of an- 
other dog, I shall not conclude ; but yet let the dog bark never so much, 
the moon will run her course. She will walk her station securely through 
the heavens, though all the dogs in the town bark never so fiercely at 
her ; so a man that hath an interest and propriety in God, and knows it, 
* Alciati, Emblemata, 1535, &c — G. 



I 



Lam. III. 24).] an aek for all god's noahs. 109 

he is like the moon, he will hold on his course heavenwards and holi- 
nesswards, though all the lewd and debauched wicked wretches in city 
and country should bark at him, and deride him, and oppose him, and 
speak all manner of evil against him. Propriety and interest in God 
will make a man set light by all such paper-shot, yea, it will carry him 
through the pikes, not only of evil tongues, but it will also carry him 
through the most fierce and eager opposition that either Satan himself, 
or any of his instruments, can possibly raise against him. But, 

[4.] Fourthly, Declare and evidence your propriety and interest in 
God, hy your sweet and noble carriage and deportment towards those 
that have an interest and propriety in God. Look, as a child carries 
it in a different way to his father to what he doth to others, so you 
must carry it in a different way towards those that have an interest and 
propriety in God, to what you do towards those that have no interest 
nor propriety at all in God, Though a wife be very kind and courteous 
to all comers and goers, yet she carries it in a very different way to her 
husband from what she doth to all others ; she carries it with a great 
deal more kindness, and sweetness, and tenderness, and familiarness, 
and nobleness, &c., towards her husband, than she doth towards others, 
whether they be friends or strangers ; and just thus should you carry 
it towards those that have a propriety and interest in God. I have not 
faith enough to believe that such men have any interest and propriety 
in God, who carry it very strangely, and proudly, and churlishly, and 
scornfully, and deridingly, and tyrannically, and disdainfully, and en- 
viously, and maliciously, and rigorously, and sourly, and bitterly, &c., 
towards those that have an interest and propriety in God, and yet carry 
it at the same time very fairly, and sweetly, and courteously, &c., towards 
such wretches that have no interest or propriety in God at all, yea, to 
such that blaspheme his name, and that profane his Sabbaths, and that 
pollute his ordinances, and that trample upon his mercies, and that de- 
spise his warnings, and that are given up to their own hearts' lusts, 
and that live as if there were neither God, nor heaven, nor hell. But, 

[5.] Fifthly, Evidence your interest and propriety in God, by doing 
such things for God, which such as have no interest in God cannot 
do, nor wilt not do, nor have no heart nor mind to do. Evidence 
your interest in God, by doing singular things for God, Mat. v. 44-48; 
by doing such things for God that are above their reach that have no 
interest nor propriety in God at all; as by denying yourselves, your 
sinful selves, your natural selves, and your religious selves; and by 
keeping a singular guard upon your own hearts, words, and ways; and 
by stepping over the world's crown to take up Christ's cross, as Moses 
did, Heb. xi. 24; and by lessening yourselves to greaten Christ, as John 
did, John iii, 30-Ji2 ; and by lifting up of Christ above your lusts, above 
yourselves, above the world, above outward privileges, above your per- 
formances, above your arts, parts, and gifts, as Paul did, Philip, iii. 7-9 ; 
and by blessing a taking God as well as a giving God, as Job did, Job 
i.; and by rejoicing and glorying in all the afflictions and sufferings 
that befall you for Christ's sake and the gospel's sake, as the apostles 
and primitive Christians did; and by choosing to suffer rather than 
to sin, as those worthies did ' of whom this world was not worthy ;' and 
by keeping of yourselves from the defilements, pollutions, and abomina- 



110 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

tions of the times, as some in Sardis did, Rev. iii. 4 ; and by following 
of the Lamb wheresoever he goes, as those hundred, forty and four 
thousand did, who had their Father's name written in their foreheads, 
chap. xiv. 1-5. sirs ! it is infinitely better not to challenge any in- 
terest or propriety in God at all, than to pretend high as to interest and 
propriety in God, and yet to do no more for God, nay, it may be not so 
much, than they that have no interest nor propriety in God at all. But, 

[6.] Sixthly and lastly. Evidence your interest and propriety in God, 
by falling roundly inwith the interest of God, in opposition to all 
carnal interests in the world. sirs ! the interest of God will by 
degrees eat out and swallow up all other interests in the world. Look, 
as Pharaoh's lean kine ate up the fat, Gen, xli. 4, and as Aaron's rod 
swallowed up the Egyptians' rods, Exod. vii. 11, 12, so the interest of God 
will in time eat up and swallow up all that superstitious carnal worldly 
antichristian and Satanical interest that men labour now to uphold, vdth 
all their might, Isa. viii. 9, 10. Dan. ii. 35, * Then was the iron, the 
clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold broken to pieces together, and 
became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind 
carried them away, that no place was found for them : and the stone 
that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole 
earth.' Verse 44, ' And in the days of these kings shall the God of 
heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed : and the 
kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces, 
and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.' And so 
chap. vii. 27, ' And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the 
kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the 
saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, 
and all dominions shall serve and obey him.' Rev. xvii. 12-14, ' And 
the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no 
kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. 
These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the 
beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall over- 
come them : for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings ; and they that 
are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.' If these scriptures 
do not clearly evidence, that the interest of Christ shall swallow up all 
other interests, I understand nothing. Now mark, the people of God 
are the interest of God, and the gospel of God is the interest of God, 
and the ordinances of God are the interest of God, and the institutions 
and pure worship of God are the interest of God, &c. And therefore, 
all you that have an interest and propriety in God, evidence it by your 
ready and resolute falling in with the interest of God. Believe it, they 
that fall in with the interest of God, shall fall in with the strongest side, 
and will be sure to carry it against ten thousand worlds. What is the 
stubble to the flames ? what is weakness to strength ? what is impo- 
tency to omnipotency ? what is folly to wisdom ? what is emptiness to 
fulness ? No more are all the carnal interests in the world to the 
interest of God; and therefore thrice happy is that man that falls timely 
and cordially in with the interest of God. 

But now, if upon trial and examination any of you shall find that yet 
the Lord is not your portion, and this I believe will be the case of 
many of you, I would exhort all such persons to labour with all their 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all go»'s noahs. 11 1 

might, yea, to labour as for life, to get the Lord to be their portion. 
O sirs I this is the one thing necessary, this is the sun among the 
stars, this is the work of works that lies upon your hands; when this 
is done, all is done; till this be done, there is nothing done that will do 
you good in another world. O sirs ! your lives lie upon it, your souls 
lie upon it, eternity lies upon it, your all lies upon it; and therefore 
you had need be restless till you have gained the Lord to be your 
portion. 

Now, that I may the more effectually provoke you, and stir you up 
to this great and glorious, this necessary and weighty work, give me 
leave to propose these following considerations. 

[1.] First, Consider that thy p^'esent portion, thy present condition, 
is but miserable and cursed, Lev. xxvi. 14-39, Deut. xxviii. 15-68. 
All the earth was cursed upon man's fall, and till fallen man comes to 
be interested in God, all his earthly enjoyments are cursed unto him ; 
his honours are cursed, and his riches are cursed, and his preferments 
are cursed, and his pleasures are cursed ; the whole portion of his cup 
is nothing but a little cursed vanity : Job xx. 23-29, ' When he is about 
to fill his belly, God shall cast the fury of his wrath upon him, and shall 
rain it upon him while he is eating. He shall flee from the iron 
weapon, and the bow of steel shall strike him through. It is drawn, 
and Cometh out of the body ; yea, the glistering sword cometh out of 
his gall: terrors are upon him. The increase of his house shall depart, 
and his goods shall flow away in the day of his wrath. This is the 
portion of a wicked man from God, and the heritage appointed unto 
him by God.' And so chap. xxiv. 18, 'He is swift as the waters; their 
portion is cursed in the earth: he beholdeth not the way of the vine- 
yards.' Prov. iii. 33, 'The curse of the Lord is in the house of the 
wicked.' Mai. ii. 2, ' If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to 
heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even 
send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings; yea, I have 
cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.' There is a 
real curse and a secret curse, an invisible curse and an insensible curse, 
that lies upon all their souls that have not God for their portion: Gal. 
iii. 10, ' Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which 
are written in the book of the law to do them.' And as there is a curse 
upon all their souls, so there is a curse upon all their comforts, content- 
ments, and enjoyments, that enjoy not God for their portion. Till a 
man comes to enjoy God for his portion, all his earthly portions are 
cursed unto him ; but when a man comes to enjoy God for his portion, 
then all his earthly portions are blessed unto him. O sirs ! there is 
no mitigating of the curse, there is no reversing of the curse, there is 
no altering of the curse, nor there is no taking of the curse from off 
your souls, nor from off your earthly portions, but by gaining God to 
be your portion. O sirs ! you will live accursed, and you will die accursed, 
and you will appear before God accursed, and you will be judged and 
sentenced by God accursed, and you will be sent to hell accursed, and 
you will remain to all eternity accursed, if God be not your portion : and 
therefore oh how should this consideration awaken every sinner to give 
God, no rest till he hath given himself as a portion to him. But, 

[2.] Secondly, Consider this, tJuit there is yet a possibility of attain- 



112 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

ing God to he thy portion, Luke xviii. 27. All the angels in heaven, 
and all the men on earth, do not know to the contrary but that God 
may be thy portion, even thine. If thou art but heartily willing to be 
divorced from that wicked trinity, the world, the flesh, and the devil, 
there is no doubt but that God will be thy portion. O sirs ! why hath 
God laid open so clearly and so fully the nature and incomparable ex- 
cellency of this portion above all other portions before you, but to per- 
suade your hearts, and to draw out your souls to look after this portion, and 
to make sure this portion, as that wherein all your happiness and bless- 
edness lies ? Oh that you were wise to consider that now a prize, an 
opportunity, is put into your hands, that may make you for ever ! You 
have all the ways, and all the means, and all the helps, and all the ad- 
vantages imaginable for the obtaining of God to be your portion ; so 
that, if God be not your portion, I shall be so bold to tell you that your 
destruction is from yourselves, Hosea xiii. 9. sirs ! though God be a 
golden mine, yet he is such a mine that may be come at if you will but 
dig, and sweat, and take pains to purpose, Prov. ii. 2-7 ; though he be 
a pearl of infinite price, yet Christ can purchase this pearl for you ; 
though he be a matchless and incomparable portion, yet he is such a 
portion as may be yours, as will be yours, if you are not wanting to 
your own souls. Why hath God sent his ambassadors early and late ? 
2 Cor. V. 18-20 ; and why hath he, even to a miracle, continued them 
amongst you to this very day, but that they should acquaint you with 
his wonderful readiness and willingness to bestow himself as a portion 
upon you? O sirs ! God is said to be a God of great mercy, and to be 
rich and plenteous in mercy, and to be abundant in mercy, and to be 
transcendent and incomparable in mercy ; yea, all the mercies of God 
are sure mercies, they are royal mercies, they are innumerable mercies, 
they are bottomless mercies, they are unchangeable mercies, and they 
are everlasting mercies ; and therefore there is no reason for any man 
to despair of obtaining of God for his portion.^ But, 

[3.] Thirdly, Consider that God is a portion-sweetening portion. 
God is such a portion as will sweeten all other portions ; he is a por- 
tion that will make every pleasant portion more pleasant, and that will 
make every bitter portion sweet. Poverty is one man's portion, and 
sorrow is another man's portion, and crosses and losses are a third man's 
portion, and reproaches and sufferings are a fourth man's portion, and 
sickness and diseases are a fifth man's portion, &c. But now God is a 
portion that will sweeten all these portions. You know the tree that 
Moses cast into the bitter waters of Marah made them sweet, Exod. xv. 
23-25. Now this tree was a type of Christ, who will certainly sweeten 
all our bitterest potions. The church complained in that Lament, iii. 
15, 'that God had filled her with bitterness' (or, as the Hebrew hath 
it, * with bitternesses'), ' and that he had made her drunken with worm- 
wood :' and yet this very consideration, that ' the Lord was her portion,' 
ver. 24, sweetened all. If God be thy portion, there is no condition 
that can make thee miserable ; if God be not thy portiori, there is no 
condition that can make thee happy. If God be not thy portion, in the 
midst of thy sufficiency thou wilt be in straits ; if God be thy portion, 
in the midst of all thy straits thou shalt enjoy an all-sufficiency in an 
' Ps. cv. 8 ; Eph. ii. 4 ; Ps. Ixxxvi. 15 ; 1 Peter i. 1,3; Ps. ciii. 11. 



Lam. III. 24<.] an aek for all god's noahs. US 

all-sufficient God, Job xx. 22. Till God be thy portion, O sinner, thou 
wilt never taste anything but death and bitterness in all thy comforts, 
and in all thy contentments, and in all thy enjoyments. But, 

[4.] Fourthly, Consider that all earthly portions are not of that in- 
finite consequence and concernment to you as this portion is. All 
earthly portions are but the meat that perisheth, John vi. 27 ; they are 
but moth-eaten and canker-eaten treasures, Mat. vi. 19, James v. 3 ; 
they are full of uncertainty, yea, they are all over vanity, Eccles. i. 2 ; 
they reach not beyond the line of this mortal life ; they can neither 
suit the soul, nor fill the soul, nor satisfy the soul, nor save the soul ; 
they can neither change the heart, nor reform the heart, nor in the 
least better the heart ; they can neither arm a man against temptations, 
nor lead a man out of temptations, nor make a man victorious over 
temptations ; they can neither direct the conscience when it is in straits, 
nor relieve the conscience when it is under distress, nor support the 
conscience when it is under guilt, nor heal the conscience when it is 
under wounds ; they can neither make our peace with God, nor keep 
our peace with God, nor augment our peace with God ; they can neither 
bring us to Christ, nor unite us to Christ, nor keep us with Christy 
nor transform us into the similitude or likeness of Christ ; they can 
neither bring us to heaven, nor fit us for heaven, nor assure us of 
heaven. In a word, no earthly portion can free us from death, nor in 
the least avail us in the day of wrath. By all which it is most evident 
that all earthly portions are of very little Consequence and concernment 
to the sons of men, to the souls of men. Oh, but now God is a portion 
of infinite consequence and concernment to all the sons and souls of men. 
No man can hear as he should, nor pray as he should, nor live as he 
should, nor die as he should, till God be his portion ; no man is secure 
from temporal, spiritual, or eternal judgments, till God be his portion. 
No man can be happy in this world, or blessed in another world, till 
God be his portion. O sirs ! it is not absolutely necessary that you 
should have this or that earthly portion, but it is absolutely necessary 
that you should have God for your portion ; for if God be not your por- 
tion, all the angels in heaven, nor all the men on earth, cannot prevent 
your being miserable to all eternity. 

[5.] Fifthly, Consider, that till a man comes to have God for his 
poirtion, he never comes to be temptation-proof A man that hath God 
for his portion is temptation-proof; he will say when tempted, as 
Themistocles did. Give those bracelets to slaves ; and as Basil did, who, 
when he was offered temporary honour, glory, and wealth, &c., answered, 
Give me glory which abides for ever, and give me riches which will 
endure for ever ; and as he did, who, being tempted with offers of money 
to desert his religion, gave this excellent answer, Let not any think 
that he will embrace other men's goods to forsake Christ, who hath for- 
saken his own proper goods to follow Christ ;' and as that martyr did, 
who, when he had riches and honours offered him, if he would recant, 

> When Pyrrhns tempted Fabricius the first day with an elephant, so huge and mon- 
strons a beast, as before he had not seen, and the next day with money and promises of 
honour, he answered, 1 fear not thy force, and I am too wise for thy fraud. If nature? 
could do this, grace can do more. [Plutarch, Pyrrhus. — G.] 

vol! il h 



114 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

answered, Do but offer me somewhat that is better than my Lord Jesus 
Christ, and you shall see what I will say to you ; and as Hormisda, a noble- 
man in the king of Persia's court, did,^ who, because he would not deny 
Christ, he was put into ragged clothes, deprived of his honours, and set 
to keep the camels ; after a long time, the king seeing him in that base 
condition, and remembering his former fortunes, he pitied him, and 
caused him to be brought into the palace, and to be clothed again like 
a nobleman, and then persuades and tempts him afresh to deny Christ, 
whereupon this noble spirit presently rended his silken clothes, saying, 
If for these you think to have me deny my faith, take them again ; and 
so he was cast out with scorn a second time. And what was that that 
made the apostles temptation-proof, and that made those worthies 
temptation-proof, Heb. xi., and that made the primitive Christians 
temptation-proof, and that made the martyrs in queen Mary's days 
temptation-proof? Certainly, nothing more than this very considera- 
tion, that God was their portion. Ah ! sinners, sinners, you will cer- 
tainly fall, you will readily fall, you will easily fall, you will frequently 
fall, you will dreadfully fall before temptations, till you come to enjoy 
God for your portion. Every blast and every wind of temptation will 
overset and overturn that man that hath not God for his portion. Such 
a man may pray a thousand times over and over, * Lord, lead me not 
into temptation,' and yet eveiy day fall before tlie least temptation, as 
common experience doth abundantly evidence ; whereas a man that 
hath God for his portion will stand fast like a rock in all storms, yea, 
in the face of all temptations he will be like mount Zion, that cannot be 
removed. Luther counsels every Christian to answer all temptations 
with this short saying, ' Ghristianus sum,' I am a Christian ;" and I 
would counsel every Christian to answer all temptations with this short 
saying, ' The Lord is my portion.' Christian, when Satan or the 
world shall tempt thee with honours, answer, ' The Lord is my portion' ; 
when they shall tempt thee with riches, answer, ' The Lord is my por- 
tion ;' when they shall tempt thee with preferments, answer, ' The Lord 
is ray portion ;' and when they shall tempt thee with the favours of 
great ones, answer, ' The Lord is my portion ;' yea, and when this per- 
secuting world shall threaten thee with the loss of thy estate, answer, 
* The Lord is my portion ;' and when they shall threaten thee with the 
loss of thy liberty, answer, ' The Lord is my portion ;' and when they 
shall threaten thee with the loss of friends, answer, ' The Lord is my 
portion ;' and when they shall threaten thee with the loss of life, 
answer, ' The Lord is my portion.' O sirs ! if Satan should come to 
you with an apple, as once he did to Eve, tell him that ' The Lord is 
your portion ;' or with a grape, as once he did to Noah, tell him that 
' The Lord is your portion ;' or with a change of raiment, as once he did 
to Gehazi, tell him that ' The Lord is your portion ;' or with a wedge 
of gold, as once he did to Achan, tell him that * The Lord is your por- 
tion ;' or with a bag of money, as once he did to Judas, tell him that 
' The Lord is your portion ;' or with a crown, a kingdom, as once he 
did to Moses, tell him that ' The Lord is your portion.' But, 

[6.] Sixthly and lastly. If God be not your fortion, you will he 
miserable to all eternity. If God be not your portion, wrath must be 
• Clarke, as before, p. 60. — G. * Luther in Genesim. 



JjAM. III. 24.] AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. 115 

your portion, hell must be your portion, everlasting burnings must be 
your portion, a devouring fire must be your portion, and a separation for 
ever from the glorious presence of God, Christ, angels, and ' the spirits 
of just men made perfect,' must be your portion ; as you may clearly 
see by comparing the Scriptures in the margin together.' If God be 
not your portion in this life, you shall never have him for your portion 
in another life ; if God be not your portion here, he will never be your 
portion hereafter. O sirs ! if death should surprise you before God is 
your portion, you will as certainly go to hell, as God is in heaven ; and 
therefore it infinitely concerns you to get God for your portion. There 
is no way in the world to make the king of terrors to be a king of 
desires to thy soul, O man, but by gaining God for thy portion. Of all 
terribles, death will be most terrible and formidable to that man that 
hath not God for his portion. If thou shouldst live and die, O man, 
without having God for thy portion, it had been good for thee that thou 
hadst never been born ; and if the day of thy birth had been the day 
of thy death, thy hell would not have been so hot as now thou wilt 
certainly find it. 

But now, methinks, I hear some crying out, O sirs ! what shall we 
do that we may have God for our portion ? Oh, had we as many worlds 
at our dispose as there be stars in heaven, ^e would give them all that 
we might have God for our portion. Oh we now see that we can never 
be happy except God be our portion, yea, we now see that we shall be 
miserable to all eternity, except God be our portion ; and therefore 
what shall we do that we may have God for our portion ? 

Well then, if you would indeed have God for your portion, let me thus 
advise you ; — 

[1.] First, Labour to he very sensible, that by nature you are with- 
ovi God, yea, at enmity with God, and alienated from the life and 
love of God, and that by nature you are children of wrath and dis- 
obedience, and in actual arms and rebellion against the great God} 
O sirs, never talk of having of God for your portion, till you come to see 
yourselves without God, aud till you come to judge yourselves unworthy 
of God. Every man in his natural estate is afar off from God three 
manner of ways. Acts ii. 39. 

First, In point of opinion and apprehension. 

Secondly, In point of fellowship and communion. 

Thirdly, In point of grace and conversion. 

And till a man comes to be sensible of this, he will never desire God 
to be his portion. But, 

[2.] Secondly, If you would have God for your portion, then you must 
trample upon all other portions in comparison of God? Luther pro- 
tested that God should not put him off with the poor things of this world. 
Oh, go to God, and say, Lord, thou hast given me a portion in money, 
but this money is not thyself ; thou hast given me a portion in lands, 
but these lands are not thyself; thou hast given me a portion in 
goods, but these goods are not thyself; thou hast given me a portion 

» Ps. xi. 6, ix. 17 ; Tsa. xxxiii. 14 ; Mat. xxiv. 51 ; 2 Tlie3. i. 7-10; Heb, xii. 22-24. 
* Eph. ii. 12; Rom. viii. 7 ; Eph. ii. I, 2, iv. 18. 

3 Artetin prays, Lord, saitli he, whatever thou hast given, take it all away, only give 
me thyself. 



116 AN ABK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

in jewels, but these jewels are not thyself; and therefore give me thyself, 
and I shall say I have enough. Lord, had I all the world for my por- 
tion, yet I should be miserable for ever in that other world, except thou 
bestowest thyself as a portion upon my soul. O Lord, give me but 
thyself, and take away what thou pleasest. Oh give me but thyself, 
and take away all, strip me of all, and I shall with Job sit down and 
bless a taking God as well as a giving God. Oh go to God, and tell him, 
with an humble boldness, that though he hath given thee many good 
things, yet all those good things will do thee no good except he bestow 
himself upon thee as the only good. Oh tell him that he is the first 
good ; tell him that he is the original of all good ; tell him that he is the 
greatest good, the noblest good; tell him that he is a superlative good; 
tell him that he is an universal good ; tell him that he is an unchange- 
able good ; tell him that he is an eternal good ; and tell him that he is 
the most soul-suitable and soul-satisfying good. And therefore tell him 
that thou canst not tell how to live one day without him ; yea, that thou 
knowest not how to be happy one hour without him. But, 

[3.] Thirdly, If you would have God for your portion, then of all 
precious promises, of all golden promises, plead that most, Zech. xiii. 9, 
' They shall call upon my name, and I will hear them ; I will say, It is 
my people ; and they shall say. The Lord is my God.' O sirs ! as ever you 
would have the great and glorious God for your portion, plead out this 
noble promise cordially with God; plead it out affectionately, plead it 
out fervently, plead it out frequently, plead it out believingly, plead it 
out resolutely, plead it out incessantly. O sirs ! this choice promise is an 
hive full of heavenly honey, it is a paradise full of sweet flowers, it is a 
breast that is full of the milk of consolation ; and therefore be still a- 
su eking at this breast, be still a-pleading of this promise ; follow God 
with this promise early and late, follow him with this promise day and 
night, follow him with this promise as the importunate widow followed 
the unjust judge, Luke xviii. 1, and give him no rest till he hath made 
it good to your souls that he is your God, and that he is your portion, 
and that he is your salvation, and that he is your all in all. Oh tell 
him that above all things in this world your hearts are set on this, to 
have God to be your God, to have God to be your portion. Oh tell 
him that you cannot, tell him that you dare not, tell him that you may 
not, and tell him that you shall not, be satisfied with anything without 
God, with anything below God, with anything on this side God, with 
anything but God ; and therefore humbly entreat him, and earnestly 
beseech him, to be your God, and to be your portion. But, 

[4.] Fourthly, If you would have God for your portion, then you must 
he willing to he his pmi,ion} God is resolved upon this, that he will 
be no man's portion that is not willing to be his. You must make a 
resignation of yourselves to God, if ever you would enjoy an interest in 
God ; you must be as willing to be his people, as you are willing to have 
him to be your God ; you must be as much at God's dispose as earthly 
portions are at your dispose, or else there will be no enjoying of God to 
be your God. God will engage himself to none that are not willing to 
engage themselves to him. He that will not give his hand and his 
heart to God, shall never have any part or portion in God. sirs ! as 
' Deut. zzzii. 9 ; Jer. xii. 10 ; Zech. ii. 12. 



liAil. III. 24.] AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. 117 

ever you would have God for your portion, it highly concerns you to 
give up yourselves to God with highest estimations, and with most 
vigorous affections, and with utmost endeavours, according to that pre- 
cious promise, Isa. xliv. 5, ' One shall say, I am the Lord's ; and another 
shall call himself by the name of Jacob ; and another shall subscribe 
with his hand to the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel.' 
God stands upon nothing so much as the giving up of yourselves to him, 
nor is he taken with nothing so much as the giving up of yourselves to 
him. I have read of ^schines, who, seeing his fellow-scholars give great 
gifts, viz. gold, silver, and jewels, to his master Socrates, and he being 
poor, and having nothing else to bestow, he gave himself, which the 
philosopher most kindly accepted, esteeming this present above all those 
rich and costly presents that his scholars had presented to him, and 
accordingly in love and sweetness he carried it toward him.^ So there is 
nothing that God accepts, loves, likes, and esteems, like the giving up of 
a man's self unto him. This is a present that God prefers above all the 
gold, silver, and sparkling jewels in the world. Well, sirs, remember 
this, such as are not as willing to say, Lord, we are thine, as they are to 
say. Lord, thou art ours, such shall never have God for their portion. But, 
[5.] Fifthly, If you would have God for your portions, then you must 
take up Christ in your arms, and treat with God upon the credit of 
Christ. There is no acquaintance with God, there is no reconciliation 
to God, there is no union nor communion with God, there is no re- 
admission into the presence and favour of God, without a mediator.'' 
God out of Christ is incomprehensible, God out of Christ is exceeding 
terrible, an absolute God is a consuming fire, Heb. xii. 9 ; and therefore 
says Luther, Nolo Deum ahsolutum, let me have nothing to do with 
God himself. The blood of Christ, the blood of the covenant, is that, 
and only that, that can cement, reunite, and knit God and man together. 
Themistocles, understanding that king Admetus was highly displeased 
with him, took up his young son into his arms, and treated with the 
father, holding that his darling in his bosom, and thereby appeased the 
king's wrath.^ O sirs ! the King of kings is offended with you, and 
upon the account of your sins he hath a very great controversy with 
you. Now, there is no way under heaven to pacify his wrath, and turn 
away his displeasure from you, but by taking up Christ in your arms, 
and by presenting all your suits in his name. There is no angel in 
heaven, nor no saint on earth, that can, or that dares, to interpose be- 
tween an angry God and poor sinners. It is only Christ, the prince of 
peace, that can make up a sinner's peace with God, Isa.ix. 6. John xiv. 6, 
* Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life ; no man 
Cometh unto the Father but by me.' There is no way to the Father 
but by the meritorious blood of the Son ; there are none that can stand 
between everlasting burnings and us but Christ, Isa. xxxiii. 14. ' You 
shall not see my face except you bring your brother Benjamin with you,* 
said Joseph to his brethren, Gen. xliii. 3, 5. So says God, Sinners, 
sinners, you shall not see my face except you bring Jesus with you, 
except you bring Christ in your arms ; you shall never see my face with 
joy. you shall never see my face and live. There is a writ of vengeance 

' Seneca, de Benefic. lib. i. » Plutarch in Themistocles. 

> Eph. ii. 16 ; Heb. ii. 17 ; Col. i. 20; Eph. i. 6, 7. 



118 AN AUK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LaM. III. 24. 

that is issued out of the court of heaven against poor sinners, and except 
Christ steps in, they will certainly fall under an eternal arrest, and be 
thrown into everlasting perdition and destruction. But, 

[6.J Sixthly, If you would have God for your portion, then you must 
break your league with sin. You must fall out with sin, if ever you 
fall in with God. Sin and you must be two, or God and you can never 
be one. There is no propriety to be had in God, except your hearts 
rise against that which first disunited and disjointed you from God. 
Sin and you must part, or God and you can never meet. You shall as 
soon make an accommodation between light and darkness, heaven and 
hell, noon and midnight, 2 Cor. vi. 14-1 8, as ever you shall be able to 
make an accommodation between God and sin. So long as sin remains 
ours, God will be none of ours. No prince will be one with that sub- 
ject that lives in the practice of treason and rebellion against him,* No 
prince will be one with him that hath killed his only son and heir, and 
that daringly continues to hold up those bloody weapons in his hands 
wherewith he hath committed that horrid fact. There is no adulteress 
that can be so shamelessly impudent, or so vainly confident, as to de- 
sire pardon of her jealous husband, or to expect an oneness and a sweet- 
ness with him, whilst she continues to hold her wanton lovers still in 
her arms, and is fully resolved to hold on in her wanton dalliances as 
in times past. O sirs ! God is that prince that will never admit of 
peace or union with you till you cease practising of treason against him, 
and till you come to lay down your weapons of rebellion at his feet ; he 
is that jealous husband that will never take you into an oneness, into a 
nearness and deamess with himself, till you come to abandon all your 
wanton lovers, and thoroughly to resolve against all wanton dalliances 
for time to come. If ever you would have God for your portion, you 
must say to all your wanton lovers, and to all those idols of jealousy 
that you have set up in your souls, as Ephraim once said to his, ' Get you 
hence, for what have I any more to do with you V Hosea xiv. 8. But, 

[7.] Seventhly and lastly. If you would have God for your portion, 
then you must wait upon him in the use of all holy means? In the 
use of holy means, God makes the clearest, the fullest, and the choicest 
discoveries of himself ; in the use of holy means, poor sinners come to 
be acquainted with the excellency of God, and with the necessity of 
having God for their portion ; in the use of holy means, poor sinners 
come to understand the fulness of God, the goodness of God, the gra- 
ciousness of God, the sweetness of God, and the wonderful freeness, 
readiness, and willingness of God to give himself as a portion to all such 
as see their need of him, and that are heartily willing to receive him as 
their God and portion ; and in the use of holy means God works in poor 
sinners a readiness, a forwardness, and a blessed wilUngness to choose 
God for their portion, to close with God for their portion, to embrace 

' Pharnaces sent a crown to Csesar at the same time that he rebelled against him, but 
he returned the crown and this message back : Faceret imperata priua, let him return to 
his obedience first. [Plutarch, Ccesar ; Suetonius, Jul. See our Index under Fharnacea 
for other references. — G.] 

* In my former treatise I have spoken very largely about the use of holy means, 
especially in my last on ' Holiness,' and therefore a touch here must suffice. [The refer- ' 
ence is to his ' Crown of Holiness,' Brooks's largest work, which forms Vol. iv. of our 
edition. — G.] 



Lam. III. 24] an aek for all god's noahs. 119 

God for their portion, to accept of God for their portion, and to own 
God for their portion. If this question should be put to all the saints 
in heaven, viz.. How God came to be their portion ? they would all 
answer. By waiting upon him in the use of all those holy ways and 
means that he had appointed for that purpose ; and if the same ques- 
tion were put to all the saints on earth that have God for their portion, 
they would all give the same answer. sirs ! as ever you would have 
God for your portion, it highly concerns you to wait patiently upon him 
in the use of all holy means. He that is in the use of holy means is in 
the way of obtaining God for his portion. But he that casts off the 
use of the means, he says in effect, I wiU not have God for my portion, 
J care not to have God for my portion ; let me but have the world for 
my portion, and let who will take God for their portion. 

To prevent mistakes, before I close up this direction, remember that 
by the use of holy means, I only mean such means that God himself 
hath appointed, commanded, instituted, and ordained. As for those 
means that are of men's inventing, devising, prescribing, commanding, 
and ordaining, a man may wait till doomsday in the use of them, before 
ever he will gain God for his portion ; and therefore they are rather to 
be declined, yea, detested and abhorred, than any way to be owned, 
minded, or used by any that would have God for their portion. Look, 
as all the worshippers of Baal got nothing by all their wailing and cry- 
ing out from morning to night, ' Baal, hear us ! Baal, hear us !' 
1 Kings xviii., so they that wait upon God in invented and devised 
worship will never get anything by aU their waiting ; no, though they 
should wait from morning to evening, and from evening to morning, and 
cut and lance themselves till the blood gush out, as those foolish wor- 
shippers of Baal did. And therefore, as ever you would have God for 
your portion, be sure that you wait upon him only in his own ways, and 
in the use of his own means. And thus I have done with the use and 
application of the point. 

So that I have now nothing to do but these two things : 

First, To answer a few objections that poor sinners are apt to make 
against their own souls, and against their enjoying of God for their 
portion ; and, 

Secondly, To lay down a few positions that may be of singular 
use to all such that have God for their portion. I shall begin with the 
objections. 

Obj. 1. Methinks I hear some poor sinners ready to object and say, 
sir ! you have pressed us by many motives to get God for our por- 
tion, and we stand convinced in some measure by whM you have said, 
that God is a most excellent, transcendent, glorious portion ; but we 
very much question whether ever God will bestow himself as a por- 
tion upon such great, such grievous^ such notoHovs, and such m-^ 
famous sinners as we are. 

Now to this objection, I shall return these answers. 

[1.] First, God is a free agent, and therefore he may give himself 
as a poHion to whom he pleases. Men may do with their own as they 
please, and so may God do with himself as he pleases. Look, as men 
may give earthly portions to whom they please, so God may give him- 
self as a portion to what sinners he pleases. God is as free to bestow. 



120 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

himself upon the greatest of sinners, as he is to bestow himself upon the 
least of sinners. But, 

[2.] Secondly, I answer, That the Lord hath bestowed himself as a 
portion upon as great and as grievous sinners as you are, Pa. 
Ixviii. 18. Adam, you know, fell from the highest pinnacle of glory 
into the greatest gulf of misery, and yet God bestowed himself as a 
portion upon him. Gen. iii. 15. And Manasseh was a sinner of the 
greatest magnitude, 2 Kings xxi., his sins were of a scarlet dye, they 
reached as high as heaven, and they made his soul as black as hell ; 
for witchcraft, sorcery, cruelty, idolatry, and blood, he was a nonsuch, 
2 Chron. xxxiii. ; he sold himself to work all manner of wickedness 
with greediness ; he did more wickedly than the very heathen, whom 
the Lord abhorred ; in all his actings he seemed to be the first-born of 
Satan's strength ; and yet the Lord freely bestowed himself as a portion 
upon him : and so, Ezek. xvi. 6, 8, 'When I passed by thee, and saw 
thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee, when thou wast in 
thy blood. Live ; yea, I said unto thee, when thou wast in thy blood, 
Live. Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy 
time was a time of love ; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered 
thy nakedness : yea, I swore unto thee, and entered into a covenant 
with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becaraest mine.' And so, Isa. 
xlvi. 12, 13, 'Hearken unto me, ye stout-hearted, that are far from 
righteousness : I bring near my righteousness ; it shall not be far off, 
and my salvation shall not tarry : and I will place salvation in Zion for 
Israel my gloiy.' Solomon, Mary Magdalene, Matthew, Zaccheus, the 
jailor, and the murderers of Christ, were all very great and grievous 
sinners, and yet the Lord bestowed himself as a portion upon them ; 
and so God bestowed himself as a portion upon those monstrous and 
prodigious sinners that are mentioned in 1 Cor. vi. 9-11, whose souls 
were red with guilt, and as black as hell with filth. God hath been 
very good to those that have been very bad ; and therefore do not de- 
spair, O sinner, though thy sins are very great. 

I have read a story concerning a great rebel,^ that had made a great 
party against one of the Roman emperors, and proclamation being sent 
abroad, that whosoever could bring in the rebel, dead or alive, he should 
have a great sum of money for his reward ; the rebel hearing of it, 
comes, and presenting himself before the emperor, demands the sum of 
money proposed : the emperor, bethinking himself, concludes, that if 
he should put him to death, all the world would be ready to say that 
he did it to save his money ; and so he freely pardoned the rebel, and 
gave him the money. Here now was light in a dark lantern, here 
was rare mercy and pity in a very heathen. And shall an heathen do 
thus, and shall not the great God, who is made up of all loves, of all 
mercies, of all compassions, of all goodnesses, and of all sweetnesses, do 
much more ? Certainly he will. If the greatest rebels, if the greatest 
sinners will but come in whilst the white flag of grace and mercy is 
held forth, they shall find a marvellous readiness and forwardness in 
God, not only to pardon them, but also to bestow, not only money, but 
himself as a portion upon them. The greatest sinners should do well 

' Job. Bodin. Com. weal, [that 18, in his ' Livrea de la Kepubliquo,' 1577, and after- 
warda in Latin ' De Republica.' — G. 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 121 

to make that great Scripture their greatest companion : Ps. Ixviii. 18, 
' Thou hast ascended on high,' speaking of Christ, * thou hast led cap- 
tivity captive ; thou hast received gifts for men ; yea, for the rebellious 
also.' But to what purpose hath Christ received gifts, spiritual gifts, 
gracious gifts, glorious gifts for men, for the rebellious ? Why, it is 
' that the Lord God may dwell amongst them.' But, 

[3.] Thirdly, I answer. That God hath given out an express 'promise, 
that he will make such to he his people which were not his people. 
Hosea ii. 23, ' I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy ; 
and I will say to them which were not my people. Thou art my people; 
and they shall say. Thou art my God.' In this precious promise God hath 
engaged himself to have a most sweet harmony, and a most intimate 
conjunction and communion with such a people as were not his people. 
But, 

[4.] Fourthly, I answer. That God gains the greatest glory by bestow- 
ing of himself as a portion upon the greatest sinners. There is 
nothing that makes so much for the glory of free grace, and for the 
exaltation of rich mercy, and for the praise of divine goodness, and for 
the honour of infinite fulness, as God's bestowing himself upon the 
greatest of sinners. O sirs ! grace appears never so rich, nor never so 
excellent, nor never so glorious, as when it triumphs over the greatest 
sins, and when it falls upon the greatest sinners. Grace never shines, 
nor never sparkles, nor never becomes so exceeding glorious, as it doth 
when it lights upon the hearts of the greatest sinners. The greatest 
sins do most and best set off the freeness and the riches of God's grace. 
There is nothing that makes heaven and earth to ring and to sound 
out his praises, so much as the fixing of his love upon those that are 
most unlovely and uncomely, and as the bestowing of himself upon 
them that have given away themselves from him. 

And it is further observable, that the greatest sinners, when once 
they are converted, do commonly prove the choicest saints, and the 
rarest instruments of promoting the honour and glory of God in the 
world. The Canaanites were a wicked and a cursed generation ; they 
were of the race of cursed Ham ; they were given over to all whoredom, 
witchcraft, and cruelty ; they offered their sons and daughters to 
devils; they were the very worst of sinners; they were without God and 
without the covenant, and counted dogs among the Israelites ; and 
such an one was the Canaanite woman, that you read of in that Mat. 
XV. 21-29, till the Lord made it the day of his power upon her soul ; 
but when the Lord had brought her in to himself, ah, what a rare 
Christian did she prove, for wisdom, zeal, humility, self-denial, love, 
courage, patience, faith, &c. And so Mary Magdalene was a notorious 
strumpet, a common whore, among all the harlots none to Mary Mag- 
dalene,' and she was one out of whom Christ cast seven devils, Mark 
xvi. 9 ; and yet when she was changed and converted, oh, with what 
an inflamed love did she love the Lord Jesus Christ ! and with what a 
burning zeal did she follow after the Lord Jesus ! and how abundant 
was she in her lamenting and mourning after the Lord Jesus Christ ! 
Some report, that after our Saviour's resurrection, she spent thirty years 

' On 3 cannot pass so very strong statements without remarking that there is not the 
slightest ground for them. — G. 



122 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LaM. III. 24. 

in weeping for her sins in Galba. And Paul, you know, was a very 
grievous sinner, but after his conversion, oh what a rare, what an 
eminent, what a glorious instrument was he in bringing of souls to 
Christ, and of building up of souls in Christ ! Oh what a noble drudge 
was he for Christ ! Oh how frequent ! Oh how fervent ! Oh how 
abundant was he in the work of the Lord, &c. And indeed, in all ages, 
the greatest sinners, when once they have been converted, they have 
commonly proved the choicest saints, and the rarest instruments in the 
"hand of God for the advancement of his glory, and the carrying on of 
his work in the world. I might instance in Luther, and divers others, 
but that I hasten to a close. And therefore, 

[5.] Fifthly, I answer, that of all sinners the greatest sinners do 
undoubtedly stand in the greatest need of having of God for their 
portion. 

Look, as they that are most wounded stand in most need of a surgeon, 
and as they that are most sick stand in most need of a physician, and 
as they that are in most danger of robbing stand in most need of assist- 
ance, and as they that are in most peril of drowning stand in most need 
of a boat, and as they that are most impoverished stand in most need 
of relief, so they that are the greatest sinners stand in most need of 
having God for their portion ; for no tongue can express, nor no heart 
can conceive the greatness of that wrath, of that indignation, of that 
desolation, of that destruction, and of that damnation that attends and 
waits upon those great sinners that have not God for their portion, 
2 Thes. ii. 7-9 ; and therefore the greater sinner thou art, the greater 
obligation lies upon thee to get God to be thy God and portion ; for till 
that be done, all thy sins, in their full number, weight, guilt, and aggra- 
vating circumstances, will abide upon thy soul. But, 

[6.J Sixthly and lastly, I answer, that God is a great God, and he 
loves to do like himself Now, there are no works, no actions that are 
so suitable to God, and so pleasing to God, and so delightful to God, as 
those that ate great ; and what greater work, what greater action can 
the great God do, than to bestow himself as a portion upon the greatest 
pf sinners ? It was a great work for God to create the world, and it is 
a great work for God to govern the world, and it will be a great work 
for God to dissolve the world, and to raise the dead ; and yet doubtless 
it is a greater work for the great God freely to bestow himself upon 
the greatest sinners. The love of God is a great love, and the mercies 
pf God are great mercies, and the compassions of God are great com- 
passions, and accordingly God loves to act ; and therefore there is 
ground for the greatest sinners to hope that the Lord may bestow him- 
self as a portion upon them. But, 

Ohj. 2. Secondly, Others may object and say, Hereafter we will look 
after this portion ; for the present we are f&r living in the world, we 
are for a portion in hand, we are for laying up portions for ourselves, 
and providing portions for our posterity. We are first for laying up of 
earthly treasures, and when we have done that work to purpose, then 
we will do what we can to obtain this excellent and glorious portion 
that you have been so long a-discoursing on, &c. Now, to this objec- 
tion I shall thus answer, 

[1.] First, Thus to act is to run counter-cross to Christ's express 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. ] 23 

commands: Mat. vi. 33, 'But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and 
his righteousness ; and all these things shall be added unto you' ;^ and 
so ver. 19, 20, ' Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where 
moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal ; 
but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor 
rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.' 
And so in that John vi. 27, ' Labour not for the meat that perisheth, 
but for the meat which endureth for everlasting life.' O sirs ! to act or 
run cross to God's express commands, though under pretence of revela- 
tion from God, is as much as a man's life is worth, as you may see in 
that sad story, 1 Kings xiii. 24. O sirs! it is a dangerous thing to 
neglect one of his commands, who by another is able to command 
your bodies into the grave, and your souls into hell at his pleasure. 
Shall the wife make conscience of obeying the commands of her 
husband ? and shall a child make conscience of obeying the commands 
of his father? and shall the servant make conscience of obeying 
the commands of his Lord ? and shall the soldier make conscience of 
obeying the commands of his general ? and shall the subject make con- 
science of obeying the commands of his prince, though he be none of 
his council? and will not you make conscience of obeying his commands 
that is the prince of the kings of the earth ? Rev. i. 5. But, 

[2.] Secondly, Who hut children, madmen, and fools in folio, wiU 
pitch upon a less good, when a greater good is offered to them, ? What 
madness and folly is it for men to pitch upon bags of counters, when 
bags of gold are laid before them ! or for men to choose an hundred 
pounds per annum for Ufe, when rich inheritances and great lordships 
are freely offered to be made over to them for ever V What were this 
but, Esau-like, to prefer a mess of pottage before the birthright ? and 
yet this is the present case of these objectors. God is that rich, that 
great, that glorious, and thafe matchless portion that is held out, and 
freely offered and tendered in the gospel to poor sinners, and they ne- 
glect, slight, and reject this blessed offer, and fix their choice, their love, 
their hearts, their affections, upon the perishing vanities of this worlds 
Oh the foUy of such, that at a feast feed upon kickshaws, and never taste 
of those substantial dishes that are for nourishment ! Oh the madness 
of such that prefer the flesh-pots of Egypt before the dainties of Canaan ! 
Would not such a merchant, such a tradesman be pointed at, as he goes 
along the streets, for a fool or a madman, that should neglect such a 
season, such an opportunity, such an advantage, wherein he may be 
made for ever, as to the world, and all because he is resolved first to 
secure such a bargain of rags, or such a bargain of old shoes, which will 
turn out but little to his advantage when he hath bought them ? Surely 
yes. Now this is the very case of the objectors, for they neglect the 
present seasons, the present opportunities of grace and mercy, and of 
being made happy for ever,, by enjoying of God for their portion, and all 
because they are resolved first to secure the treasures, the rags of this 
world. Certainly, in the great day of account, these will be found the 
greatest fools that have fooled away such golden opportunities, that 

* The Greek word ir^airriiwTut eignifies a casting in as an overplus, as some over-' 
weight, njeasure, or number. 
2 Children, madmen, and fools, will part with a pearl for a pippin. 



1 24 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

were more worth than all the world, and all to secure the rags of the 
world. But, 

[3.] Thirdly and lastly, How many thousands are now in hell ! 
How many thousands have now their part and their portion in that 
burning lake, which bums withjire and bHmstone for ever and ever ! 
Who thought vjhen they were on earth, that after they had laid up 
goods for many years ivith the fool in the Gospel, that then they would 
look after heavenly treasures, and secure God for their portion ; but 
before they could find time or hearts to set about so noble a work, 
divine vengeance hath overtaken them, and justice hath cut the thread 
of their lives, and given them their portion among hypocrites. Mat. 
vii. 22, 26, 27, Rev. xxi. 8. Ah ! how many be there that have 
died in the time of their earthly projects and designs, before ever they 
have set about that great work of securing God for their portion, Luke 
xii. 15, 22 ; and how many thousands be there, that God in his just 
judgment hath given up to insatiable desires of earthly things, PhiUp. 
iii. 18, 19, and to a cursed endless covetousness all their days ! Some 
write of the crocodile, that it always grows, that it hath never done grow- 
ing ; and just so it is with the desires of worldly men, they always grow, 
they have never done growing. Now they are for one thousand, then 
for ten, then for twenty, then for forty, then for an hundred thou- 
sand ; now they are for this lordship, and then they are for that ; now 
they are for this good bargain, and then they are for that ; their hearts 
grow every day fuller and fuller with new desires of further and greater 
measures of earthly things ; they please themselves with golden dreams, 
till they awake with everlasting flames about their ears, and then they 
fall a-cursing themselves that they have made gold their confidence, 
and that they have neglected those golden seasons and opportunities 
wherein they might have secured God for their portion. But, 

Obj. 3. Thirdly, Others may object and say. We would fain have 
God for our portion, and we would willingly apply ourselves to all 
those ways and means whereby we might obtain the Lord to be our por- 
tion ; but we are poor unworthy luretches. Surely the Lord will never 
bgstow himself as a portion upon such miserable unworthy ones as we 
are ! We are worthy of death, we are worthy of wrath, we are worthy 
of hell, we are worthy of damnation, but we are no ways worthy of 
having God for our portion. Did ever the Lord cast an eye of love 
upon such unlovely and such unworthy sinners, lepers as we are ? &c. 

Now to this objection I shall return these answers : 

[1.] First, Though you have no merits, yet God is rich and abun- 
dant in mercy} Your sins, your unworthiness can but reach as high 
as heaven, but the mercies of God reach above the heavens : Ps. ciii. 11, 
* For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy to- 
ward them that fear him.' Ps. cviii. 4, ' For thy mercy is great above 
the heavens, and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.' The highest 
comparisons which the world will afford are not sufficient to express 
the greatness of God's mercy to poor sinners. Though the heavens are 
exceeding high above the earth, yet the mercies of God to his poor 
people are above the heavens. But, 

[2.] Secondly, I answer, that the Lord hath never bestowed himself 
1 2 Cor. iv. 15 ; 1 Tim. i. 14 ; 1 Peter i. 8. 



Lam. Ill 24.] AN AUK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. 125 

as a portion upon any yet hut unworthy ones. David was as un- 
worthy as Saul, and Job as Joab, and Peter as Judas, and Paul as 
Simon Magus ; and the publicans and harlots that entered into the 
kingdom of heaven were as unworthy as the publicans and harlots that 
were shut out of the kingdom of heaven, Mat. xxi. 31, 32 ; and the 
thief that went to paradise was as unworthy as the thief that went to 
hell. All the saints in heaven, and all the saints on earth, are ready 
with one joint consent to declare that they were as unworthy as the 
most unworthiest, when God first bestowed himself as a portion upon 
them. This objection, I am unworthy, is a very unworthy objection, 
and therefore away with it. But, 

[3.] Thirdly, I answer, That God hath nowhere in all the Scripture 
required any personal worthiness to be in the creature, before he will 
bestow himself upon the creature. O sirs ! it never came into the 
thoughts of God, it never entered into the heart of God, to require of 
men that they should be first worthy of his love before they should 
enjoy his love, and that they should be first worthy of his mercy before 
they should taste of his mercy, and that they should be first worthy of 
his goodness before they should be partakers of his goodness, and that 
they should be first worthy of himself, before he would bestow himself 
as a portion upon them. If we should never enjoy God for our por- 
tion till we are worthy to enjoy him for our portion, we should never 
enjoy him. If a man had as many eyes as Argus to search into the 
Scripture, and as many hands as Briareus to turn over the leaves of 
Scripture, yet he would never be able to find out one text, one line, 
yea, one word, wherein God requires a personal worthiness in the crea- 
ture before he gives away himself to the creature. Should God stand 
upon a personal worthiness to be in the creature before he would look 
upon the creature, or before he would let out his love to the creature, 
or before he would extend mercy or pity to the creature, or before he 
would, in a covenant of free grace, give himself to the creature, no 
sinner could be saved ; man would be for ever undone, and it had been 
good for him that he had never been bom. But, 

[4.] Fourthly, I answer, it is not nuns unworthiness, but Tnen's 
unwillingness, that hinders them from having God to be their por- 
tion. Though most men pretend their unworthiness, yet there is in 
them a secret unwillingness to have God for their God. When they 
look upon God as a gracious God, then they are willing to have him to 
be their God ; but when they look upon God as an holy God, then their 
hearts fly back. When they look upon God as a merciful God, and as 
a bountiful God, oh then they wish that he were their God ; but when 
they look upon God as a commanding God, and as a ruling and an 
overruling God, oh then their hearts do secretly rise against God. 
There is a real unwillingness in the hearts of sinners in all respects to 
close with God, and to have God to be their God : ' Who hath believed 
our report ? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed V Isa. liii. 1 ; 
' I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, 
which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts. 
A people that provoke me to anger continually to my face,' Isa. Ixv. 
2, 3 ; ', How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity ? and the 
scomers delight in scorning, and fools hate knowledge ? Turn you at 



126 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

my reproof : behold, I will pour out my Spirit upon you, I will make 
known my words unto you. Because I have called, and ye refused; I 
have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded : but ye have set at 
nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof I also will 
laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh,' &c. Prov. 
i. 22-26 ; ' For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, In 
returning and rest shall ye be saved, in quietness and in confidence 
shall be your strength, and ye would not,' Isa. xxx. 15. O sirs ! men 
shall be damned at last, not for cannots, but for will nots, Mat. xxiii. 
37. No man shall be damned because he could not do better, but be- 
cause he would not do better, Luke xiii. 34. If there were no will, there 
would be no hell. At last sinners will find this to be their greatest hell, 
that they have wilfully destroyed themselves. This is that which will 
damn with a witness, and this will be that never-dying worm : I might 
have had Christ and grace, but I would not ; I might have been 
sanctified and saved, but I would not ; I might have been holy and 
happy, but I would not ; life and death hath been often set before 
me, and I have chosen death rather than life. Dent. xxx. 15, 19 ; 
heaven and hell hath been often set before me, and I have chosen 
hell rather than heaven ; glory and misery hath been often set before 
me, and I have chosen misery rather than glory ; and therefore it is 
but just that I should be miserable to all eternity. No man, no devil, 
can undo thee, O sinner, without thyself ; no man can be undone in 
both worlds but by himself ; no man shall be damned for his unwor- 
thiness, but for his unwillingness ; and therefore never plead this ob- 
jection more. But, 

[5.] Fifthly and lastly, I answer, that if you will not seek after the 
Lord to he your poiiion till you are worthy to enjoy him as your 
portion, then you will never seek after him, then you will n^ever enjoy 
him for your God and portion. Personal worthiness is no flower that 
grows in nature's garden. No man is born with a worthiness in his 
heart, as he is bom with a tongue in his mouth, It is not the full, but 
the empty ; it is not the rich, but the poor in spirit ; it is not the right- 
eous, but the sinner ; it is not the worthy, but the unworthy soul, that 
is the proper object of mercy and pity. The poor publican that cried 
out, 'Lord, be merciful to me a sinner,' Luke xviiL 10-15, went home 
justified, when the thank-God pharisee returned as proud as he came. 
The centurion, when he came to Christ, sped well, notwithstanding his 
personal. un worthiness. Mat. viii. 5-13. And the prodigal son sped well 
when he returned to his father, notwithstanding his personal unworthi- 
ness ; for he was readily accepted, greatly pitied, sweetly embraced, 
courteously received, and very joyfully and nobly entertained. Witness 
the best robe that was put upon his back, and the gold ring that was 
put on his finger, and the shoes that were put on his feet, and the fatted 
calf that was killed to make the company merry, Luke xv. 1 1-32. O sirs ! 
if in the face of all your unworthiness you will go to God, and tell him 
that you are sinners, that you are vile sinners, that you are wretched 
sinners, that you are very great sinners, yea, that you are the greatest 
of sinners, and that you have deserved a thousand deaths, a thousand 
hells, a thousand destructions, and a thousand damnations, and earnestly 
beseech him to look upon you, and to bestow himself upon you, though 



Lam. III. 24.] AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. 127 

not for your worthiness's sake, yet for his name's sake, for his mercy's 
sake, for his promise's sake, for his covenant's sake, for his oath's sake, 
and for his Son's sake. Certainly if you shall thus plead with God, all 
the angels in heaven, and all the men on earth, cannot tell to the con- 
trary, but that you may speed as well as ever the centurion or the pro- 
digal did. I have taken the more pains to answer this objection, that 
so it may never have a resurrection more in any of your hearts into 
whose hands this treatise may fall. 

I know other objections might be raised, but because I have spoken 
laro-ely so much in my former writings, I shall pass on to the last thing 
proposed, and that is, to lay down some positions that may, by the 
blessino- of God, be of singular use to the Christian reader. 

First Position. As, first, That it is one thing for a man to have God 
for his pm^tion, and it is another thing for a man to have an assur- 
ance in his own soul that God is his portion.^ There are many that 
have God for their portion who yet are full of fears and doubts that i 
God is not their portion. Thus it was with Asaph in that 77th psalm, 
and thus it was with Heman in that 88th psalm, and thus it is with 
very many Christians in these days. Sometimes God exercises his 
children with such changeable and such terrible dispensations, as raises 
many fears and doubts in them about their interest and propriety in 
God. And sometimes their secret indulging of some bosom idol, their 
entertainment of some predominant lust, raises strange fears and 
jealousies in their souls about their interest in God. And sometimes 
their not closing with the Lord so closely, so fully, so faithfully, so uni- 
versally, and so sincerely as they should, without any secret reservation, 
raises many doubts and questions in them whether God be their por- 
tion or no. The graces of many Christians are so weak, and their 
corruptions are so strong, and Satan is so busy with them, and their 
duties and performances are so weak, so flat, so dull, so sapless, so life- 
less, so fruitless, and so inconstant, that they are ready at every turn 
to say. If God be our God, why is it thus with us ? If God be our por- 
tion, why are our hearts in no better a frame ? why have our duties 
no more spirit, life, and fire in them ? Look, as the sun may shine, 
and yet I not see it ; and as the husband may be in the house, and yet 
the wife not know it ; and as the child may have a very great portion, 
a very fair estate settled upon him, and yet he not understand it ; so a 
Christian may have God for his portion, and yet for the present he may 
tiot see it, nor know it, nor understand it : 1 John v. 13, ' These things 
have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, 
that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe 
on the name of the Son of God.* These precious souls had God and 
Christ for their portion, and they did believe, and they had eternal 
life in the seeds and beginnings of it, and in the promise, and in 
Christ their head, who, as a public person, had taken possession of it 
in their steads, and yet they had not the assurance of these things 
in their own souls, Eph. ii. 6. Look, as the babe that hath passed 
i the pangs of the first birth doth not presently cry out. My father, my 
[father, so the babe of grace, the new-bom Christian, doth not pre- 
sently cry out. My God, my God. It is one mercy for God to be my 
^ Mose3 hia face did sLine, and yet he did not see it. 



128 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD's NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

Grod, and it is another mercy for God to tell me that he ia my God ; 
it is one act of grace for God to be my portion, and it is another act of 
grace for God to . tell me that he is my portion. Look, as fire may be 
hid under ashes for a time, and as bits of gold may be hid in an heap 
of dust for a time, and as stars may be hid in a dark night for a time, 
and as a pearl may be hid in a puddle for a time, so God may be a 
man's portion, and yet this may be hid from him for a time. 

Second Position. The second position is this, That it is one thing 
for a man to have Oodfor his portion, and another thing for a man 
clearly and convincingly to make it out to him^self or others, that God 
is his portio7i. Doubtless there are many thousands that have God 
for their portion, who yet, if you would give them a thousand worlds, 
are not able to make it out to their own or others' satisfaction, that 
God is their portion.* Most Christians attain to but small measures 
of grace. Now small things, little things are hardly discerned^ they 
s are hardly made out. A little faith is next to no faith, and a little 
love is next to no love, and a little repentance is next to no repentance, 
and a little zeal is next to no zeal, and a little hope is next to no hope, 
and a little holiness is next to no holiness, and a little communion with 
God is next to no communion with God, and a little conformity to God 
is next to no conformity to God. Now where there is but a little grace, 
there it is very difficult for a man to make out the truth of his grace, 
and so by consequence to make out the truth of his interest and pro- 
priety in the God of grace. It is not grace in truth, but grace in 
strength that will enable a man to make it out to himself, and to 
make it out to others, that God is his portion. It is not grace in its 
sincerity, but grace in its sublimary, in its high and eminent actings, 
that will enable a man ta make it out to himself and others, that God 
is indeed his God. Besides, many precious hearts have such weak 
heads, and such bad logic, and such shallow natural parts, that they 
are not able rationally nor divinely to argue the case with their own 
souls, nor to make an improvement of those rules, helps, ways, and 
means, whereby they might be enabled to make it out to themselves 
and others, that God is their portion. Look, as many persons have 
often a good title to such and such lands, and to such and such estates 
and inheritances, though they are not able for the present to clear up 
their title either to themselves or others ; so many of the dear children 
of God have a good title to God, and a real interest and propriety in 
God, and yet for the present they are not able to clear up their title to 
God, nor to clear up their interest and propriety in God, either to them- 
selves or others. And this is so great a truth, that all the faithful 
ministers of Jesus Christ that deal with poor souLs, and that are con- 
versant about souls, are ready from their daily experience to avouch it 
before all the world. He that shall say, that such have not God for 
their portion, will certainly condemn the generation of the just. 

Third Position. The third position is this, That where there is an 
hearty willingness in any man to accept of God to be his God^ to own 

' God Bometimes lays such a law of restraint upon the noble faculties of men and 
women, that they cannot use them at some times as they do at others, as you may clearly 
see by comparing of these scriptures together, Luke xxiv. 14-16, &c.; Acts xxii. 9 ; Gen. 
xxi. 16, 19; John xx. 14, 15, &c. 



Lam. III. 24.] an abk for all god's noahs. 129 

Ood for his God, and to close with God as his God, there God is cer- 
tainly that man's God, Isa. Iv. 1, 2, John vii. 37, 38. If there be a 
cordial willingness in you to take God to be your God, then without all 
peradventure God is your God. A sincere willingness to accept of God 
to be your God is accepted of God, and is sufficient to enter into a 
gracious covenant with God. O sirs ! a sincere willingness to accept 
of God to be your God, flows from nothing below the good will and 
pleasure of God. No power below that glorious power that made the 
world, and that raised Christ from the grave, is able to raise a sincere, 
an hearty willingness in man to accept of God to be his God, and to 
take God for his God: Ps. ex. 3, 'Thy people shall be willing,' or will- 
ingnesses, in the abstract and in the plural number, ' in the day of thy '^ 
power, in the beauties of holiness.' There is no power below the 
power of the Lord of hosts, that can raise up a willingness in the 
hearts of sinners. It is not in the power of all the angels in heaven, 
nor of all the men on earth, to beget a sincere willingness in the heart 
of man to accept of God to be his God. This is work that can only be 
effected by an omnipotent hand. Though an emperor may force a 
woman to marry him that is his slave, because she is his purchase, yet 
he cannot by all his power force her will ; he may force her body to 
the action, but he cannot force her will to the action. The will is 
always free, and cannot be forced. But God is that great emperor 
that hath not only a power to marry the soul,, which he hath redeemed 
from being Satan's bond-slave^ but also a power to make the soul that 
is unready ready, and that is unwilling willing, to marry him, and to 
bestow itself freely upon him. If there be in thee, O man, O woman, 
a sincere willingness to take God upon his own terms to be thy God, 
that is, to take him as an holy God, and as a ruling God, and as a 
commanding God, in one thing as well as another,, then he is. certainly 
thy God: Rev. xxii. 17, 'And the Spirit and the bride say. Come; and 
let him that heareth say. Come ; and let him that is. athirst, come ; and 
whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.' 

Fourth Position. The fourth position is this, That it may so fall 
out, that such a Christian that hath God for his portion, that hath an 
interest and a propriety in God, may lose the sight, the sense, the 
feeling and the evidence of his interest and propriety in God; and 
this is evident by comparing the scriptures in the margin together.' 
Doubtless it is very rare to find a Christian that hath had the know- 
ledge, and experience, and evidence of his interest and propriety in 
God, but that Christian also hath experienced what it is to have his 
interest and propriety in God clouded and darkened. Such Christians 
that have experienced what the warm beams of the Sun of righteous- 
ness means, have likewise experienced what it is to have their sun set 
in a cloud; and this truth I might make good, by producing of a cloud 
of witnesses, both from among the martjnrs and from among the saints of 
all ages. But what do I talk of a cloud of witnesses, when the tears 
that daily drop from many of your eyes, and the sad complaints, and 
sighs, and groans of many of your souls, do sufficiently evidence this 

' Ps. XXX. 6, 7 ; Ps. li. 13 ; Job xvi. 9. xix. 10 ; and 2 Chron. xxx. 20 ; Ps. Ixxvii. 6 
Pe. Ixxxviii. 6; Isa. viii. 17 ; Lam. iii. 18. 

VOL. XL I 



1 30 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LaM. III. 24. 

sad truth. And therefore let no man conclude that God is not his 
God, because he hath lost the sight and sense of his interest and pro- 
priety in God ; let no man say, that God is not his portion, because he 
hath lost those evidences, at the present, by which he halh formerly 
proved God to be his portion. Though a man should lose his writings 
and evidences that he hath to shew for such or such an estate, yet his 
writings and evidences being enrolled in a court of record, his estate 
remains good, and his title is still good in law ; and therefore there is 
no reason why such a man should sit down, and wring his hands, and 
cry out, I am undone, I am undone ; so though a Christian should lose 
his writings, his evidences that once he had to shew, that once he had to 
prove God to be his God and portion, and that he had a real interest 
and propriety in God, yet his writings, his evidences being enrolled in 
the court of heaven, his title to God, his interest in God remains good ; 
and therefore there is no reason why such a person should sit down 
dejected, and wring his hands, and cry out, Oh I am undone, I am for 
ever undone. 

Fifth Position. The fifth position is this. That such that have 
not, for the present, Ood for their portion, ought not peremptorily 
to conclude that they shall never have God for their portion. Such a 
person that cannot yet truly say that the Lord is his portion, ought 
not to despair of ever having of God for his portion. The time of a 
man's life is but a day, and God may bestow himself as a portion upon 
man in what hour of that day he pleases. In the parable, he bestowed 
himself as a portion upon some at the first hour, upon others at the 
third hour, upon others at the sixth hour, upon others at the ninth 
hour, and upon others at the eleventh hour, Mat. xx. 1-17. God is a 
free agent, and may bestow himself upon whom he pleases, and as he 
pleases, and when he pleases. There is no sinner, no, not the greatest 
sinner living under the gospel, that can infallibly determine that God 
will never be his God.* No sinner can conclude that God hath per- 
emptorily and absolutely excluded him from mercy, and shut him out 
among those that he is resolved never to bestow himself upon. For, 

1. God never made any sinner one of his privy council. 

2. In the gospel of grace God hath revealed no such thing. 

3. Secret things belong only to the Lord, Deut. xxix, 29. 

4. God hath bestowed himself as a portion upon as great sinners as 
any they are that yet have not God for their portion. 

5. All the angels in heaven, and all the men on earth, cannot tell to 
the contrary, but that God may have thoughts of mercy towards thee, and 
that thy lot may fall within the purpose of his grace, and that he may 
bestow himself as a portion upon thee before thou art cut off from the 
land of the living. Although a sinner may certainly know at the pre- 
sent that God is not his God, that God is not his portion, yet he doth 
not certainly know that God will never be his God, that God will never 
be his portion ; and therefore no sinner may peremptorily conclude that 
God will never be his God, because for the present he cannot, he dares 
not say he is his God. 

God gave himself as a portion to Abraham when he was old, when 
he was a white-headed sinner, Gen. xii. 4. And Manasseh was old 
^ We except such that hath committed the sin against the Holy Ghost. 



Lam. III. 24] an ark for all god's noahs. 131 

when he was converted and changed, and when God bestowed himself 
upon him, 2 Chron. xxxiii 1, 12-14. And Zaccheus and Nicodemus 
were called and converted in their old age. When there were but a 
few steps between them and the grave, between them and eternity, 
between them ahd everlasting burnings, then the Lord graciously re- 
vealed himself, and bestowed himself as a portion upon them. And if 
we believe Tertullian,^ Paul wanted not a prediction of the Holy Ghost 
in that prophetic blessing of dying Jacob to his youngest son: Gen. 
xlix. 27, ' Benjamin shall raven as a wolf : in the morning he shall 
devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil' Paul was of 
the tribe of Benjamin, in the morning, the fore part of his age, woiTying 
and devouring the flock of Christ, persecuting of the church ; and in 
the evening, the declension of his life, dividing the word, a doctor of 
the nations.* And Dionysius tells us that Mary Magdalene, that was 
so loose and dissolute in her youth, being converted in her old age, she 
sequestered herself from all worldly pleasures, and lived a most solitary 
life in the mountains of Gallia, where she spent full thirty years in 
meditation, fasting, and prayer. And old godly Similes said that he 
had been in the world sixty years, but had lived but seven, counting 
his life, not from his first birth, but from his new birth. And Augus- 
tine repented that he had begun to seek, serve, and love God no sooner.' 
By all these instances it is most evident that God may bestow himself 
as a portion upon sinners, upon very great sinners, yea, upon the 
greatest of sinners, and that at last cast, when they are stricken in 
years, and when they are even ready to go out of this world ; and 
therefore let no man despair of having of God for his portion, though 
for the present his soul cannot say. The Lord is my portion. 

O sirs ! despair is a sin, a very heinous sin, yea, it is that sin that 
damns with a witness. Despairing Judas perished and was damned, 
whenas the very murderers of Christ, believing on Christ, were saved.* 
Acts ii. Despair thrusts God from his mercy-seat ; it throws disgrace 
upon the throne of grace ; it gives the lie to all the precious promises ; 
it casts reproach upon the nature of God ; it tramples under feet the 
blood of the covenant ; it cuts the throat of faith, hope, and repentance ; 
it renders all the means of grace useless and fniitless ; it embitters all 
a man's comforts ; it gives a sting to all a man's troubles ; it proclaims 
Satan a conqueror ; it raises a hell in the conscience ; it makes a man 
a Magor-misaabib, a terror to himself and an astonishment to others. 
In that seventh of Daniel there is mention made of four beasts : the 
first a lion, the second a bear, the third a leopard, but the fourth, with- 
out distinction either of kind, or sex, or name, is said to be very fearful, 
and terrible, and strong ; and such a thing as this fourth beast was is 
desperation, as all have found that ever have been under it. Despera- 
tion is a complicated sin ; it is a mother sin ; it is a breeding sin ; it is 
the complement of all sins ; and therefore above all take heed of this 
sin. O sirs 1 as you love your souls, and as you would be happy to all 
eternity, do not despair, nor do not be peremptory in your conclusions, 

1 Adv. Marcion. lib. v. 

' See my ' Apples of Gold,' pp. 852-354, two more famous stories of such that were 
converted in their old age. [See Vol. 1. — G.] * Soliloq. cap. xxxiii. 

* Roger bishop of Salisbury in King Stephen's days was so troubled that he could not 
live, and durst not die, &c. 



132 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LaM. III. 24. 

that God will never be your portion, because for the present he is not 
your portion. Remember the gracious invitations of God, and remem- 
ber the glorious riches of mercy, and remember the overflowings of in- 
finite grace, and then despond and despair if thou canst. 

Sixth Position. The sixth and last position is this, That such is the 
love, care, goodness, and kindness of God to his people, that few or 
none of them die without some assurance that God is their portion, 
and that they have an interest and prop^nety in him. That here and 
there a particular Christian, in cases not ordinary, may die doubting, 
and ascend to heaven in a cloud, as Christ did. Acts i. 9, will, I sup- 
pose, be readily granted ; and that the generality of Christians shall, 
first or last, more or less, mediately or immediately, have sonie comfort- 
able assurance, that God is their God, and that he is their portion, and 
that they have a real interest and propriety in him, may I suppose be 
thus evinced. 

[1.] First, Several precious promises that are scattered up and 
down the Scripture seems to speak out such a thing as this is. Take 
these for a taste : Ps. ix. 18, ' For the needy shall not always be forgot- 
ten : the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.^ Ps. xxii. 26, 
' The meek shall eat and be satisfied ; they shall praise the Lord that 
seek him : your heart shall live for ever.' Ps. Ixxxiv. 1 1 , 'For the Lord God 
is a sun and a shield ; the Lord will give grace and glory : and no good thing 
will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.' Hosea ii. 23, ' And I 
will have mercy upon her that hath not obtained mercy ; and I will 
say to them which were not my people. Thou art my people ; and they 
shaU say, Thou art my God.' Ps. v. 12, * For thou. Lord, wilt bless the 
righteous ; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.* John 
xiv. 21, 23, ' He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he 
it is that loveth me ; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, 
and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. If any man love 
me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we vidll 
come unto him, and make our abode with him.'^ 

[2.] Secondly, The common experiences of the saints, both in the 
Old and New Testaments, doth evidence as much. Solomon's Song 
iL 16, * My beloved is mine, and I am his ;' chap, vi 3, 'I am my be- 
loved's, and my beloved is mine ;' and chap. vii. 10, ' I am my beloved's, 
and his desire is towards me.' Isa. Ixiii. 16, ' Doubtless thou art our 
Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us 
not : thou, Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer ; thy name is from 
everlasting.' Isa. Ixiv. 8, 9, ' But now, Lord, thou art our Father : 
behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people.' Jer. iii. 22, 23, 
* Behold, we come unto thee : for thou art the Lord our God. Truly 
in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel.' Isa. xxv. 9, ' And it 
shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God ; we have waited for him, 
and he will save us.' I might produce a cloud of witnesses from among 
the patriarchs and prophets, further to evince this truth ; but enough 
is as good as a feast. 

And as the church of God in the Old Testament, so the church of 
God in the New Testament attained to the same assurance. The be- 
lievers in Corinth were sealed, and had the earnest of the Spirit in 
^ Fonder upon that of Ezek. xxxiv. 30, 31. 



Lam. III. 24.] an ark for all god's noahs. 133 

their hearts : 2 Cor. i. 22, ' Who hath also sealed us, and given the 
earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.' And chap. v. 1, 5, ' For we know, 
that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a 
building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 
Now he that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God, who also 
hath given us the earnest of the Spirit.' And so the believing Ephe- 
sians had the like : Eph. i. 13, ' In whom, after ye believed, ye were 
sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our in- 
heritance.' And so chap. iv. 30, * And grieve not the Holy Spirit of 
God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.' And the 
believing Thessalonians had the same : 1 Thes. i. 4, 5, ' Knowing, 
brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto 
you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in 
much assurance.' I might give you many particular instances out of 
the New Testament to confirm this truth, but these general instances 
are more convincing and satisfying. 

[3.] Thirdly, If God should not, first or last, sooner or later, me- 
diately or immediately, give his people some comfortable assurance 
that he is their portion, and that they have a real interest and pro- 
priety in him, the spirits, the souls of his people would certainly faint 
and fail; but this God will never suffer, this God by promise hath 
engaged himself to prevent, as you may see in that Isa. Ivii. 16, 18, 19, 
* For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth : for 
the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. I 
have seen his ways, and will heal him ; I will lead him also, and restore 
comforts unto him, and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips ; 
Peace, peace to him that is afar ofif, and to him that is near, saith the 
Lord, and I will heal him.' Now, seeing that God hath so graciously 
undertaken for his people, that their spirits shall not faint nor fail, 
there is no doubt but that, sooner or later, more or less, God will assure 
his people that he is their portion, and that they have a real interest 
and propriety in him. 

[4.] Fourthly, The Lord's supper is a sealing ordinance, and was 
ordained, instituted, and appointed for that very purpose and to that 
very end, viz., to seal up the believer's propriety in God, and to assure 
him of his interest in God, in Christ, in the everlasting covenant, and 
in all the benefits of Christ's death, to wit, the favour of God, reconci- 
liation, redemption, and the remission of sins.^ Now, how can it pos- 
sibly be imagined, that so glorious an ordinance should be instituted to 
so great and so glorious an end as to assure believers of their interest 
and propriety in God, and yet this end should never be effected in them 
all their days, for whose sake the ordinance was instituted and appointed? 
Certainly God never appointed any ordinance to accomplish any end, 
but first or last that ordinance did accomplish that end for which it was 
appointed and instituted, Isa. Iv. 10, 11, and xlv. 23. Cyprian shews 
how the martyrs in the primitive church, when they were to appear 
before the cruel persecuting tyrants, were wont to receive the Lord's 
supper, and thereby they were so assured of their interest and pro- 
priety in God, and so fired with zeal and fervour, and filled with faith 
and fortitude, &c., that they made nothing of the greatest torments 
» Mat. xxvi. 26-28 ; 1 Cor. xi. 23, 24 : Rom. iv. 11. 



134j an aek for all god's noahs. [Lam. III. 24. 

that those bloody tyrants could inflict upon them.^ And saith Chry- 
sostom, by the sacrament of the Lord's supper we are so armed against 
Satan's temptations, that he fleeth from us, as if we were so many lions 
that spat fire. 

The Jews in the celebration of the passover did sing the 113th Psalm, 
with the five following Psalms, which they called the great Hallelujah, 
and it was always after that cup of wine, which they called the cup of 
praise ; and thus it should be with the saints. At all times, upon all 
occasions, in all places, they should sing Hallelujahs to God. Oh, but 
when they are at the Lord's supper, then they should sing the great 
Hallelujah ; but how they will be ever able to sing this great Hallelujah, 
except first or last, more or less, God gives them some assurance of 
their interest and propriety in himself, I cannot for my life discern. 
But, 

[5.] Fifthly, There is in all believers the choice and precious springs 
of assurance^ as 

(1.) Union and communion with the FatJier and Son : 1 John i. 3, 
* That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also 
may have fellowship with us : and truly our fellowship is with the 
Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.' Now, that union that is be- 
tween the foundation and the building, the head and the members, the 
husband and the wife, the father and the child, the subject and the 
prince, the body and the soul, is nothing so near an union as that 
which is between a believer and God. Besides, that union that a 
Christian hath with God is an honourable union, and it is an insepar- 
able union, it is an invincible union, and it is an everlasting union, 
1 Cor. vi. 16, 17. Now, how is it possible for a man to have such a 
near and such a glorious union and fellowship with God from the day 
of his conversion to the day of his dissolution, and yet never come to 
any assurance of his interest and propriety in God, is a thing not easily 
imaginable. 

(2.) Precious faith is another spring of assurance: 1 Peter i. 8, 'Whom 
having not seen, ye love ; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet 
believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.' Now, 
this spring is in all the saints, 2 Peter i. 1. The faith of expectance 
will in time rise up into a faith of reliance, and the faith of reliance 
will in time advance itself into a faith of assurance. 

(3.) Hope is another spring. of assurance : Col. i. 27, ' Christ in you, 
the hope of glory ;' Heb. vi. 1 9, ' Which hope we have as an anchor of 
the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within 
the veil.' 

(4.) A good conscience is another spring of assurance, 2 Cor. i. 12. 

(5.) Real love to the saints is another spring of assurance, 1 John iii. 
14. 

(6.) And lastly, the Spirit of God is another spring of assurance, 
Rom. chap. 8th. Now, that a Christian should have all these choice 
springs of assurance in his soul, from his new birth to the day of his 
death, and yet in all that time never come to assurance of his interest 
and propriety in God, is a thing, I had almost said, beyond all belief. 
But, 

^ Cyprian, lib. iv. £p. vi. The same Augustine reports. — At^. in John tract 27. 



Lam. III. 24] an ark for all god's noahs. 135 

[6.] Sixthly, There is nothing in all the world that the hearts of 
the saints are more frequently, more fervently, and more abundantly 
cari'ied out after, in all their prayers and supplications, than this, 
that God would tell them that he is their portion, and that he would 
clear up their interest and propriety in himself, Ps. iv. 6, 7. The con- 
stant language of their souls is this : Lord, do but tell us that thou art 
our portion, and then bestow earthly portions upon whom thou pleasest ; 
do but clear up our interest and propriety in thyself, and then we shall 
say, ' Our lot is fallen in a pleasant place, and verily we have a goodly 
heritage,' Ps. xvi. 5, 6. Believers know that assurance that God is their 
portion, and that they have an interest and propriety in him, will ease 
them of all their sinful cares, fears, terrors, horrors, jealousies, suspicions, 
and sad apprehensions, which makes their lives a very hell. They 
know that assurance of their interest and propriety in God will make 
ever bitter sweet, and every sweet more sweet; it will turn a wilderness 
into a paradise, an Egypt into a Canaan. They know that assurance 
that God is theirs will raise the truest comforts, the purest comforts, 
the greatest comforts, the surest comforts, the strongest comforts, the 
rarest comforts, the sweetest comforts, and the most lasting comforts in 
their souls, Isa. xl. 1, 2. They know that assurance of their interest in 
God will fit them for the highest duties in Christianity, and for the 
hardest duties in Christianity, and for the costliest duties in Christianity, 
and for the most neglected, scorned, and despised duties in Christianity. 
They know that assurance of their propriety in God will most quicken 
their graces, and act their graces, and raise their graces, and strengthen 
their graces, and brighten their graces, and put a lustre and a beauty 
upon their graces. They know that assurance of their interest in God 
will wonderfully weaken sin, and effectually crucify their hearts to the 
world, and sweetly moderate their affections to their nearest and dearest 
relations, and powerfully arm them both against the world's oppositions 
and Satan's temptations. 

To conclude ; they know that assurance of their propriety in God will 
make death more desirable than terrible, yea, it will make the thoughts 
of death sweet, and the approaches of death easy, and all the warnings 
of death pleasant to their souls, and therefore they follow God hard 
day and night, with strong cries, prayers, tears, sighs, and groans, that 
he would make it evident to them that he is their portion, and that he 
would clear up their interest and propriety in him. Now, how can any 
man that is in his wits imagine that God should always turn a deaf ear 
to the prayers of his people in this thing especially, considering that 
their prayers, cries, tears, sighs, and groans are but the products of his 
own Spirit in them, Tlom, viii. 26, 27 ; and considering likewise the 
several promises, whereby he hath engaged himself to answer to the 
prayers of his people ? I might tire both you and myself in turning to 
those particular promises, but that I am resolved against, and therefore 
take that for all : John xvi. 23, 24, * Verily, verily, I say unto you. 
Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. 
Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.' This double 
asseveration, ' Verily, verily,' is never used but in matters of greatest 
weight and importance ; and this gemination, ' Verily, verily,' is a 
vehement confirmation of the truth of what Christ speaks. Now, from 



136 AN ARK FOR ALL GOD'S NOAHS. [LAM. III. 24. 

this gracious promise I may safely and clearly infer, that if God the 
Father will give to believers whatsoever they ask in the name of Christ, 
then certainly, at first or last, sooner or later, he will give them assur- 
ance that he is their portion, and that they have an undoubted interest 
and propriety in him ; for this is one of the great requests that they 
are still a-putting up in the name of Christ, and upon the grant of this 
request depends the fulness of a Christian's joy. But, 

[7.] Seventhly and lastly, If Ood should not sooner or later, more 
or less, assure his people that he is their portion, and that they have 
an interest and a propriety in him ; then he would he a very great 
loser, if I may so speak ; he would lose many praises, and many thanks- 
givings ; he would lose much of that love, of that honour, and of that 
delight, and of that admiration, which otherwise he might have from 
among his children. And it is very observable, that of all the duties of 
religion there are none that are pressed so closely, so frequently, and so 
strongly upon Christians, as those of praising of God, and rejoicing in 
God, &c., as all know that know anjrthing of the Scriptures.^ Now, how 
it will stand with the holiness of God, and with the wisdom of God, 
and with the care of God, to be so great a loser in the very things which 
he hath so roundly and earnestly pressed upon his people, whenas by 
one sweet word of his mouth he might so easily and so happily prevent 
it, I cannot easily discern. All believers know that there is no such 
ready, no such effectual way under heaven to draw out their love, their 
joy, their delight, their praises, and their thanksgiving to God, as God's 
assuring of them that he is their portion, and that they have an un- 
questionable interest and propriety in him. Certainly that God that 
loves the praises of his people, and that delights in the rejoicings of his 
people, and that is so infinitely pleased with the thanksgivings of his 
people, that God will not always hide himself from his people, that God 
will sooner or later so manifest himself to his people, that they shall 
be able to see their interest and propriety in God, and rejoicing to say, 
' The Lord is our portion.' 

Now, oh you that are the people of the Lord, and that to this very 
day do lie under many fears and doubts about your interest and pro- 
priety in God, be not discouraged, do not hang down the head, do not 
despond, do not despair, for certainly sooner or later God will assure 
you that he is your portion, and that you have an interest and a pro- 
priety in him. 

* I might prodace above a hundred scriptures to evidence this. 



THE PRIVY EEY OF HEAVEN. 



NOTE. 

The ' Privy Key of Heaven,' published during the awful Plague of London in • 1665,' 
seems to have been less known than any of Brooks's writings. I have not been able to 
trace a reprint until a modem date. The original title-page is given below.* — G. 

* THE 

PRIVIE KEY 

OF 

HEAVEN; 

OK, 

Twenty Arguments for 
CLOSET-PRATER: 

IK 

A Select Discourse on that Subject : With 
the resolution of several considerable Questions ; 
the main Objections also against Closet-Prayer, 
are here answered ; Cautions propounded, and 
the Point improved ; with several other things 
of no small importance, in respect of the inter- 
nal and external welfare of the Christian Reader. 



Twenty special Lessons (in the Epistle De- 
dicatory to some afflicted Friends) that we are 
to learn by that severe rod, the PESTILENCE, 
that now rageth in the midst of us. 

By Thomas Brooks, Minister of 
the Gospel. 

my Dove that art in the clefts of the Rock, in the se- 
cret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, 
let me hear thy voice, for sweet is thy voyce, and 
thy countenance is lovely, Cant. 2. 14. 

LONDON, Printed for, and are to be sold by John 

Hancock, at the first shop in Popes-head 

Alley, next to Cornhil. 1666. 



EPISTLE DEDICATORY. 



To my worthy and esteemed ^friends, Mrs Elizabeth Drinkwater, Mrs 
Susan Bell, Mrs Hannah Bourne, Mrs Mary Taylor, Mrs Anne 
White, Mrs Elizabeth Juxon, Mrs Rebeccah Juxon, Mrs Mary 
Baxter, Mrs Deborah Shepherd, Mrs Anne Clemens, Mrs Mary 
Stonior, Mrs Anne Snell, Mrs Anne Ellis, Mrs Margaret Cutler, 
Mrs Patience Cartwright, Mrs Mary Shaw, Mrs Philip Garret, Mrs 
Margaret Winfield, Mrs Hannah Pippet, Mrs Mary Chanlor, Mrs 
Mary Scot, Mrs Katherine Usher, with their husbands, &c., all 
happiness both here and hereafter. 

HONOUfiED AND BELOVED IN OUR DEAR LORD JeSUS, 

I have crowded your names together in one epistle, not from any 
want of respect unto you, for I owe to each of you more than an epistle, 
nor because you are in one particular fellowship, for so you are not ; 
but partly because the Lord hath made you one with himself, in the 
Son of his love ; and partly because the Lord at several times, and in 
several ways, hath exercised you all in the furnace of aflBiction ; and 
partly because this epistle may reach you all, and speak to you all, when 
I cannot, or when I may not, or which is more, when I am not. 

Dear friends, many and great have been the breaches that the Lord 
hath made upon your persons, upon your near and dear relations, and 
upon your sweetest comforts and contentments. There is not one of 
you but may truly say with Job, ' He breaketh me with breach upon 
breach,' Job xvi. 1 4. God hath chastised you all round with various 
rods ; and oh that the Lord would help you all to ' hear the rod, and 
him who hath appointed it,' Micah vi. 9. 

Now that you may give me leave a little to open and apply to your 
particulars, that 

Micah vi. 9, ' The Lord's voice crieth unto the city, and the man of 
wisdom shall hear thy nxime : hear ye the rod, and who hath ap- 
pointed it* 

The matter that I shall offer to your consideration from this scrip- 
ture, will be not only of special concernment to yourselves, but also of 
high concernment to all sorts and ranks of men and women, in this sad 
day, when the sword devours on the one hand, and the pestilence rageth 
on the other hand. 

' The Lord's voice crieth unto the city.' Tremellius turns it thus. 



140 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. 

* The voice of the Lord doth preach unto this city, for what the matter 
is, thy name seeth : hear ye the rod,' &c. This city, viz., Jerusalem, 
and so consequently to all the Israelites ; for in this city all offices and 
duties of godliness and humanity were more religiously performed, or to 
be performed, than in any other place, because of the presence and 
majesty of God that was amongst them. * But thy Majesty seeth what 
wickedness is practised amongst them,' as is evident in the verses fol- 
lowing. 

' Crieth.' The word is from hara, which signifies, 
First, ' To cry aloud,' or ' to make a noise,' Isa. Iviii. 1 ; * cry aloud ' 
there is hara. The word signifies, to cry so loud as that all may hear 
that have ears to hear. 

Secondly, The word signifies, ' openly to proclaim, preach, or publish 
a thing." Exod. xxxiii. 19, * I will proclaim the name of the Lord before 
thee.' Here is the word hara. 

Thirdly, The word signifies, 'to cry out.' Gen. xxxix. 15, 'I lifted 
up my voice and cried,' Here is kara. The Hebrew word ^T hath 
nine other significations in Scripture, but because they are not pertinent 
to what is in my eye, I shall pass them by at this time. 

' And the man of wisdom shall see thy name.' Vethushiia properly 
signifies essence ; and, therefore, according to the Hebrew, the words 
should be read thus, ' And the man of essence shall see thy name,' &c., 
that is, he that is a man indeed, he that is not a sot, a stock, a stone. 
Most men are men of folly, and so not worthy of the name of men ; 
but as for such as are truly wise, they ' shall see thy name.' There is a 
great measure of spiritual art, of holy and heavenly wisdom required, 
both to enable a man to hear the voice of the rod and to understand 
the language of the rod. This wisdom is too high for a fool, Prov. xxiv. 7. 
' Shall see thy name.' Now the Hebrew word here used '^^"'\ may 
be better derived from jare, which signifies to fear, than from raah, 
that signifies to see, and so the words will run smoothly thus, ' The 
man of wisdom, or of essence, shall fear thy name,' considering that, it 
is majesty itself that crieth, and that he is immediately to deal with 
God himself, and not with a poor, weak, mortal worm. 

' Hear ye the rodv' The word hear is from W^'*' shamang, which 
signifies. 

First, ' To mark, observe, and attend to what is said.' Gen. xxix. 33, 
* The Lord hath heard that I was hated ;' that is, * he hath marked it, 
he hath observed it.' So here. Oh mark the rod ! Oh observe the rod ! 
Oh attend to what is spoken by the rod ! 

Secondly, The word signifies, ' to understand what is spoken ;' so 
Gen. xlii. 23, ' They knew not that Joseph understood them.' In the 
Hebrew it is, ' that Joseph heard them.' Now to hear the rod, is to 
understand what is spoken to us by the rod. 

Thirdly, The word signifies, * to believe a thing reported to be true ;' 
so Exod. vi. 9, * They hearkened not unto Moses,' that is, ' they did not 
believe the report that Moses made.' ' Hear the rod,' that is, * believe 
the report the rod makes.' The rod reports, that of all evils sin is the 
greatest evil ; and that of all bitters, sin is the greatest bitter. Oh 
believe the report of the rod ! The rod reports, that God is angry, that 
God is displeased. Oh believe its report ! The rod reports the crea- 



EPISTLE DEDICATORY. 141 

tures to be mere vanity and vexation of spirit. Oh believe its report ! 
The rod reports our nearest and dearest comforts, contentments, and 
enjoyments to be mixed, mutable, and momentary. Oh believe its 
report ! The rod reports sin to be vile, and the world to be vain, and 
heaven to be glorious, and Christ to be most precious. Oh believe its 
report ! The Hebrew word hath three other significations, but being^ 
that they are not proper to our purpose, I shall pass them by. 

' The rod.' The Hebrew word moMe, that is here rendered rod, hath 
three significations : 

First, It denotes ' power and strength :' Ps. il 9, ' a rod of iron.' 

Secondly, It denotes ' rigid and harsh government :' Isa. xiv. 5, ' The 
Lord hath broken the staff,' or rod, 'of the wicked;' that is, 'their 
rigorous and cruel government.^ Nebuchadnezzar had sorely afflicted 
the children of Judah ; he was a rod, that brake them in pieces, and 
ruled over them with much rigour in Babylon. 

Thirdly, It denotes ' sore afflictions and heavy judgments :' Ps. 
Ixxxix. 32, ' I will visit your transgressions with a rod.' And thus you 
are to understand the word rod in the text. 

* And him that hath appointed it' It is God that appoints the rod, 
and ordains it for the revenge of the quarrel of his covenant. The 
Hebrew word Jegnadah signifies properly ' to appoint' or ' constitute.' 
It is God who appoints the rod, and who constitutes it to do what ser- 
vice he pleaseth. It is God that hath not only a permissive, but also 
an active, hand, in all the afflictions that come upon his people. 

And let thus much suffice for the opening of the words. 

Now, though this choice garden affords many sweet flowers, yet I 
shall only present you with one, which is this, viz. 

That all the affiidions, troubles, trials, Sc, that God lays upon his 
people, are his rod; and that it is their highest and greatest concern- 
ment to hear the voice of the rod, and to take out those lessons that God 
would have them learn hy the rod. 

For the opening and clearing up of this important point, I shall en- 
deavour these two things : 

First, To shew you in what respects afflictions are like unto a rod. 

Secondly, To shew you what those special lessons are that you are to 
learn by the rod. 

I. For the first, in what respects are afflictions like unto a rod ? 

I answer. In these seven respects afflictions are hke unto a rod. 

(1.) First The rod is never made use of hut when no fair means will 
prevail with the child. It is so here ; God never takes up the rod, he 
never afflicts his people, till he hath tried all fair ways and means to 
humble them and reform them, 2 Chron. xxxvi 15, seq.. Mat. xxiii.37, 38. 
And when none of the offers of grace, the tenders of mercy, the wooings 
of Christ, the strivings of the Spirit, nor the smart debates of conscience, 
will awaken them, nor work upon them, then God takes up the rod, 
and sometimes whips them till the blood comes. But, 

(2.) Secondly, Parents choose what rods they please to correct their 
children with. The child shall not choose what rod he pleaseth to be 
corrected with. Oh, no ! It is the prerogative of the father to choose 

' The contemporary use of the word, common in Bishop Pearson G. 



142 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. 

the rod. The father may choose and use either a great rod or a little 
rod, a long rod or a short rod, a rod made of rosemary branches or a rod 
made up of a green birch. It is so here ; God chooseth what rod, what 
affliction he pleaseth, to exercise his people with, Lev. xxvi., Deut. xxviii., 
Lam. iii. 9-18. You read in the Scriptures of very many rods, but they 
are all of God's choosing: Amos iii. 6, ' Is there any evil in the city, and 
hath not the Lord done it V Though there be many rods to be found in 
the city, yet there is not one of them but is of God's choosing: Ruth 
i. 13, ' It grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is 
gone out against me.' Ver. 21, * I went out full, and the Lord hath 
brought me home again empty; why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the 
Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me V 
Isa. xlv. 7, ' I form the light, and create darkness : I make peace, and 
create evil: I, the Lord, do all these things.' Micah i. 12, * For the in- 
habitants of Maroth waited carefully for good, but evil came down from 
the Lord unto the gates of Jerusalem.' David was whipped with many 
rods, but they were all of God's own choosing, Ps. xxxix. 9 ; and Job 
was whipped with many rods, but they were all of God's own choosing, 
chap. i. But, 

(3.) Thirdly, Parents take no pleasure, they take no delight, to use 
the rod. Every lash the father gives the child, fetches blood from his 
own heart. The father corrects the child, and sighs over the child ; he 
whips the child, and at the same time weeps over the child. Nothing 
goes more against the parents' heart, nor against their hair, than the 
bringing of their children under the rod of correction. It is so here. 
Lam. iii. 33, ' For he doth not afflict willingly,' or, as the Hebrew 
runs, * he doth not afflict,' Tnillihbo, * from his heart, nor grieve the 
children of men.' You often read that he delights in mercy, Micah vii. 
15 ; but where do you once read that he delights in severity, or in 
dealing roughly with his people ? God very rarely takes up the rod 
but when our sins have put a force upon him, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 16, Jer. 
V. 19. It is grievous to God to be a-grieving his people ; it is a pain 
unto him to be a-punishing of them : Hosea xi. 8, ' How shall I give 
thee up, Ephraim ? how shall I deliver thee, Israel ? how shall I make 
thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned 
within me, my repentings are kindled together.* My justice, saith God, 
calls upon me to rain hell out of heaven upon thee, as once I did upon 
Sodom and Gomorrah ; but then mercy interposeth her four several 
hows : how ? how ? how ? how ? how shall I give thee up ? God puts 
these four pathetical interrogations to himself, because none else in 
heaven or earth could answer them. The prophet brings in God speak- 
ing after the manner of men, who, being provoked a thousand thousand 
ways by the vanities and follies of their children, think to give them 
up to take their own coui*ses, and to look no more after them ; but 
then their bowels begin to work, and their hearts begin to melt, and 
they begin to interrogate themselves thus : ' How shall we give up 
these children ? for though they be disobedient children, yet they are 
children ; how can we turn them out of doors ? how can we disown 
them ? how can we disinherit them ? for though they are rebellious 
children, yet they are children, &c. Afflictions are called God's work, 
yea» his ' strange work ;' his act, yea> 'his strange act ;' as if God were 



EPISTLE DEDICATORY. 143 

out of his element "when he is afflicting or chastising his people, Isa. 
xxviii. 21. But, 

(4.) Fourthly, The rod is smarting, grievous, and troublesome; 
and so are afflictions to our natures : Heb. xii. 11, * Now, no chasten- 
ing for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous/ Flesh and 
blood startles and is troubled at the least trouble. Affliction is a sort 
of physic that makes most sick. Some write that tigers will grow mad, 
and tear their own flesh, and rend themselves in pieces, if they do but 
hear drums or tabors sound about them.^ Were not Job and Jeremiah 
such tigers, who, in the day of their afflictions, did more than curse the 
day of their birth ? Job iii., Jer. xx. Oh what a bitter cup, what a 
heavy burden was affliction to them ! Job x. 1, 'My soul is weary of 
my life.' Job vii. 15, ' My soul chooseth strangling and death rather 
than life.' Ps. vi. 6, ' I am weary with my groaning.' Ps. Ixix. 1-3, 
' Save me, O God, for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in 
deep mire, where there is no standing. I am come into deep waters, 
where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying, my throat is 
dried : mine eyes fail, while I wait for my God.' Doubtless many good 
men have sat under Elijah his juniper, 1 Kings xix. 4, wishing them- 
selves out of the world, if it might stand with divine pleasure, that they 
might rest from their sins and sorrows, and be rid of their many bur- 
dens and bondages, looking upon life [as] little better than a hell, were 
it not for the hopes of a heaven hereafter. But, 

(5.) Fifthly, When parents take up the rod into their hands, they 
will not lay it down till they have subdued the spirits of their chil- 
dren, and brought them to submit and to kiss the rod, and to sit still 
and quiet before them? It is so here : when God takes up the rod, he 
will not lay it down till he hath brought us to lie quietly at his feet : 
Lev. xxvl 40-42, * If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity 
of their fathers, with their trespass which they have trespassed against 
me, and that also they have walked contrary to me ; and that I also 
have walked contrary unto them, and brought them into the land of 
their enemies ; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they 
then accept of the punishment of their iniquity, then will I remember 
my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my 
covenant with Abraham will I remember ; and I will remember the 
land.' When God takes up the rod, his children must either bow or 
break ; they must say, the Lord is righteous ; they must kiss the rod 
of correction, or else destruction will come like a whirlwind upon them, 
Isa. v, 3, 6. 

It is reported of the lion, that he spares those creatures that fall down 
before him, and submit unto him ; but as for those that endeavour to 
run from him, or to contend with him, those he tears in pieces. It is 
iust so with the Lion of the tribe of Judah, as you may see in that 
iHosea v. 14, 15. 

King Edward riding furiously after a servant of his' that had highly 
[displeased him, with a drawn sword in his band as purposing to kill 

* Plutarch, lib, de tuperstitione. 

• Eodolphua the emperor's motto was, Omnia ex voluntaU Dei, all must be as God will 
[have it. And this should be every Christian's motto under the rod. 

» [?oxe] Acts and Mon. in Edward I. [Sub nomine : Foxe, by Townsend, vol. ii. 577, 



144 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. 

him, seeing him submit, and on bended knee sueing for his life, did not 
only put up his sword, but also spared him, and received him into his 
favour. The King of kings will never put up his sword when once he 
hath drawn it, till his people fall on their knees, and submit unto him. 
God never left chastising of Ephraim till he had brought him to his bow, 
till he had made him submit, and kiss the rod, Jer. xxxi. 18-20. But, 

(6.) Sixthly, AjffiictioTis are called a rod, in respect of the hand that 
lays them on. Though affliction be a rod, it is a rod in a Father's hand, 
The sword is in the judge's hand, John xviii. 11, and the cudgel is in 
the master's hand ; but the rod is in the father's hand, Heb. xii, 6-9. 
When Balaam's ass offended him, he wished for a sword to slay him^ 
Num. xxii. 29 ; but so doth not God. When we do most highly pro- 
voke him, he doth not take up a sword to slay us, but only a rod to 
scourge us and chastise us, as indulgent fathers do their dearest children. 
But, 

(7.) Seventhly and lastly. Afflictions are called a rod, in regard of 
the ends to which they serve. A rod is not to kill, but to cure ; it is 
not for destruction, but for correction. When David gave a full com- 
mission to his soldiers against Absalom, it was not to slay him, but to 
restrain him ; it was not to ruin him, but to reduce him to his former 
obedience. The application is easy. We can as well live without our 
daily bread as without our daily rod. Now, the end of taking up the 
rod are these : 

[1.1 First and naore generally. It is for the good of the child, and not 
for his hurt. It is so here. God takes up the rod, but it is for the good 
of his people : Gen. 1. 20, * But as for you, ye thought evil against 
me ; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to 
save much people alive.' Divine goodness did so over-master the plotted 
malignity of Joseph's brethren as that it made a blessed medicine of a 
most deadly poison : Jer. xxiv. 5, ' Thus saith the Lord, the God of 
Israel, Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried 
away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land 
of the Chaldeans for their good.' When Israel was dismissed out of 
Egypt, Exod. xl., it was with gold and ear-rings ; and when Judah was 
dismissed out of Babylon, it was with great gifts, jewels, and all neces- 
sary utensils, Ezra i. So Rom. viii. 28, ' And we know that all things 
work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called 
according to his purpose.' This text, like Moses's tree cast into the 
bitter waters of affliction, may make them sweet and wholesome to 
drink of But, 

[2.] Secondly, and more particularly. The rod is to make the child 
sensible of his folly and vanity : Pro v. x, 13, ' In the lips of him that 
hath understanding, wisdom is found ; but the rod is for the back of 
him that is void of understanding.' So it is here : God takes up the 
rod, but it is to make his people sensible of their folly and vanity ; it is 
to make them look up to him, and to look into conscience, and to look 
out to their conversations. Schola crucis is schoJa lucis. God's house 
of correction is his school of instruction. His lashers are our lessons, 
his scourges are our schoolmasters, and his chastisements are our adver- 
tisements. Hence both the Hebrews and Greeks express chastening 
and teaching by one and the same word, musar, paideia, because the 



EPISTLE DEDICATORY. 145 

latter is the true end of the former, according to that in the proverb, 
' Smart makes wit, and vexation gives understanding.'^ Afflictions are 
a Christian's looking-glass,* by which he may see how to dress his own 
soul, and to mend whatsoever is amiss. They are pills made up by a 
heavenly hand on purpose to clear our eyesight : 1 Kings xvii. 18, 'And 
she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God f 
Art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my 
son ?' If God had not taken away her son, her sin had not been brought 
to remembrance. It was the speech of an holy man in his sickness : 
' In this disease,' said he, ' I have learned how great God is, and what 
the evil of sin is. I never knew to purpose what God was before, nor 
what sin was before.' The cross opens men's eyes, as the tasting of 
honey did Jonathan's. ' Here,' as that martyr phrased it, ' we are still 
a-leaming our A, B, C, and our lesson is never past Christ's cross, and 
our walking is still home by weeping-cross.' But, 

[3.] Thirdly, The rod is used to "prevent further folly, mischief, and 
ftiisery: Prov. xxiii. 13, 14, 'Withhold not correction from the child, 
for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat 
him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.' It is said of 
the ape, that she huggeth her young ones to death ; so many fond 
parents, by not correcting their children, they come to slay their chil- 
dren. The best way to prevent their being scourged with scorpions 
in hell, is to chastise them with the rod here. So God takes up the 
rod ; he afflicts and chastiseth his dearest children, but it is to prevent 
soul-mischief and misery ; it is to prevent pride, self-love, worldliness, 
&c. Paul was one of the holiest men that ever lived on earth ; he was 
called by some an earthly angel, and yet he needed the rod, he needed 
a thorn in the flesh, to prevent pride ; witness the doubling of those 
words in one verse, ' lest I should be exalted above measure, lest I 
should be exalted above measure,' 2 Cor. xii. 7-9. If Paul had not been 
buffeted, who knows how highly he might have been exalted in his own 
conceit ? Prudent physicians do often give their patients physic, to 
prevent diseases ; and so doth the physician of souls by his dearest 
servants, Job xl. 4, 5, Hos. ii. 6, 7 : Job xxxiii. 17, 19, 'He is chas- 
tened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with 
strong pain, that he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide 
pride from man.' Afflictions are the Lord's drawing-plasters, by which 
he draws out the core of pride, earthliness, self-love, covetousness, &c. 
Pride was one of man's first sins, and is still the root and source of 
all other sins. Now, to prevent it, God many times chastens man with 
pain, yea, with strong pain, upon his bed : Job xxxiv. 31, 32, ' Surely 
it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not 
offend any more. That which I see not, teach thou me ; if I have 
done iniquity, I wiU do no more.' The burnt child dreads the fire. 
Sin is but a bitter sweet ; it is an evil worse than hell itself. Look, as 
salt brine preserves things from putrefying, and as salt marshes keep 
' the sheep from rotting, so sanctified rods, sanctified afflictions, pre- 
serves and keeps the people of God from sinning. But, 

' Isa. xxvi. 9 ; Pa. xciv. 12 ; Prov. iii. 12, 13 ; Job xxxvi. 8-10. 
* Oeul/jg quoi peeeatum claudit, poena aperit. The eye that sin shuts, afflictions open. 
— Gregory. 

VOL. IL ' E 



146 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. 

[4.] Fourthly, The rod is to purge out that vanity and folly that is 
bound up in the heart of the child: Pro v. xxii. 15, ' Foolishness is 
bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it 
far from him.' The rod is an ordinance, as well as the word ; and such 
parents that use it as an ordinance, praying and weeping over it, shall 
find it effectual for the chasing away of evil out of their children's 
heart. Eli and David were two very choice men, and yet, by their 
fondness on one hand, and neglect of this ordinance on the other hand, 
they ruined their sons ; and whether they did not undo their souls, I 
shall not at this time stand to inquire. When Moses cast away his 
rod, it became a serpent, Exod. iv. 3 ; and so, when parents cast away 
the rod of correction, it is ten to one but that their children become 
the brood of the serpent : Prov. xiii. 24, ' He that spareth his rod hateth 
his son ; but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.' Not only 
the care, but also the cure of the child, so far as the rod will reach, 
lies upon the hands of the parent. 

Now afflictions are like a rod in this respect also, for, as they are 
sanctified, they cleanse and purge away the dross, the filth, and the 
scum^ of the daughter of Zion : Isa. i. 25, 'And I will turn my hand 
upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and -take away all thy 
tin ;' Isa. xxvii. 9, ' By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be 
purged, and this is all the fruit, to take away his sin ;' Dan, xi. 35, 
' And some of them of understanding shall fall ' (that is, ' into great 
afflictions'), ' to try them, and to purge them, and to make them white, 
even to the time of the end.' All the harm the fire did the three 
children, or rather the three champions, was to burn off their cords, 
Dan. iii. 23, 24. Our lusts are cords of vanity, but the fire of afflic- 
tion shall burn them up : Zech. xiii. 9, ' And I will bring the third part 
through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try 
them as gold is tried : they shall call on my name, and I will hear 
them : I will say, It is my people, and they shall say. The Lord is my 
God.' Sharp afflictions are a fire to purge out our dross, and to make 
our graces shine ; they are a potion, to carry away ill humours ; they 
are cold frosts, to destroy the vermin ; they are a tempestuous sea, 
to purge the wine from its lees ; they are like the north wind, that 
drieth up the vapours, that purgeth the blood, and quickens the 
spirits ; they are a sharp corrosive, to eat out the dead flesh. Afflic- 
tions are compared to baptizing and washing, that takes away the 
filth of the soul, as water doth the filth of the body. Mat. x. 38, 39. 
God would not rub so hard, were it not to fetch out the dirt and spots 
that be in his people's hearts. 

[5.] Fifthly, The rod serves to improve that good that is in the 
child : Prov. xxix. 15, ' The rod and reproof giveth wisdom, but a 
child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.' So afflictions they 
serve to improve our graces : Heb. xii. 10, ' For they verily for a few 
days chastened us after their own pleasure, but he for our profit, that 
we might be partakers of his holiness ' ; that is, that we might more 
and more be partakers of his holiness. Ver. 11, 'Now no chastening 
for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous : nevertheless, after- 
ward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them that are 

' Spelled ' scumb.' — G. 



EPISTLE DEDICATOEY. 147 

exercised thereby.' Hence it is that the saints glory in tribulation : 
Rom. V. 3, 4, ' And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also, know- 
ing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and 
experience hope.' Grace always thrives most when saints are under 
the rod. When Christians are under the rod, then their graces do not 
only bud, but blossom and bring forth fruit, as Aaron's rod did, Num. 
xvii. 8. The snuffing of the candle makes it burn the brighter. God 
beats a,nd bruises his links,' to make them burn the brighter ; he 
bruises his spices, to make them send forth the greater aromatical 
savour. 

Bernard compares afflictions to the teasle, which, though it be sharp 
and scratching, is to make the cloth more pure and fine. The Jews 
were always best when they were in an afflicted condition. Well waters 
arising from deep springs are hotter in the winter than they are in the 
summer. Stars shine brightest in the darkest nights. Vines grow the 
better for bleeding, and gold looks the better for scouring. Juniper 
smells sweetest when in the fire ; camomile, the more you tread it, the 
more you spread it. O sirs ! this is a real and a rare truth, but seldom 
thought on, viz. that God will sometimes more carry on the growth and 
improvement of grace by a cross, by an affliction, than by an ordinance, 
James i. 3, 4, iv. 8, 9. Afflictions ripen the saint's graces, 2 Cor. i. 5. 
First or last, God will make every rod, yea, every twig in every rod, to 
be an ordinance to every afflicted saint. By afflictions, God many 
times revives, quickens, and recovers the decayed graces of his people. 
By afflictions, God many times inflames that love that is cold, and he 
strengthens that faith that is failing, and he puts life into those hopes 
that are languishing, and new spirits into those joys and comforts that 
are withering and dying. Musk, say some, when it hath lost its sweet- 
ness, if it be put into the sink amongst filth, it recovers its sweetness 
again. So doth smart afflictions recover and revive our decayed graces. 

I have read a story of a sexton, that went into the church at night 
to rob a woman who had been buried the day before with a gold ring 
upon her finger, according to her desire. Now, when he had opened 
the grave and coffin, and loosed the sheet, he fell a-rubbing and chafing 
her finger to get off the gold ring ; and with rubbing and chafing of it, 
her spiiits returned, she having been but in a swoon before, and she 
revived, and lived many years after.^ Smart afflictions are but the 
rubbing and chafing of our graces. The smarting rod abaseth the love- 
liness of the world, that might entice us ; it abates the lustiness of the 
flesh within, that might incite us to vanity and folly ; and it abets the 
spirit in his quarrel to the two former : all which tend much to the 
recovering and reviving of decayed graces. But, 

[6.] The sixth end to which the rod serves, and that is. To try the 
child, to make a discovery of the spirit of the child. Some parents 
never see so much of the badness of the spirits of their children as they 
do when they bring them under the rod ; and other parents never see 
so much of the goodness of the spirits of their children as they do when 

• 'Torches:' which recalls the aiiom, 'Truth, like a torch, the more it's shook it 
shines.' — G. 

' Tjhis actually occurred with Mrs Henrj^ Erskine, who afterwards gave birth to the 
Erskines, so famous in Scotch ecclesiastical 'Lifetory. See Lives, by Fraser, of Ebenezer 
and Ralph Erskine, 2 vols. — G. 



1 48 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. 

they chastise them with the rod. It is so here. When God afflicts 
some, oh the pride ! the stoutness ! the crossness ! the hardness ! the 
peevishness and stubbornness of spirit, that they discover ! Isa. i. 5 ; 
Jer. V. 3; Exod. v. 2 ; Jer. xliv. 15-19. When he afflicts others, oh 
the murmuring ! the roaring ! the complaining ! the howling ! the 
fretting ! the vexing ! and the quarrelling spirit that they discover ! 
Amos iv. 6-13 ; Num. xiv. 27, 29, 36 ; Deut. i. 27 ; Isa. Iviii. 3, 4, lix. 
11 ; Hosea vii. 14, 15 ; Jonah iv. 1-5, 8, 9. Sometimes when God 
afflicts his dearest people, oh what a spirit of faith ! what a spirit of 
prayer ! what a spirit of love ! what a spirit of patience ! what a spirit 
of meekness ! what a spirit of humbleness ! what a spirit of submissive- 
ness do they discover ! Job xiii. J5 ; 2 Chron. 1-6, 12 ; Isa. xxvi. 16, 
17 ; Hosea v. 14, 15 ; Job i. 20-22 ; Lev. x. 1-3 ; 1 Sam. iii. 18 ; 2 
Kings XX. 16-19. And at other times, when God afflicts his poor 
people, oh what a spirit of unbelief ! what a spirit of slavish fear ! what 
a spirit of impatiency ! what a spirit of displeasedness, &c., do they 
discover ! Gen. xv. 2, 3 ; xii. 13, 19 ; xx. 2, 5 ; xxvi. 7-11 ; Ps. xxxi. 
22 ; cxvi. 11 ; 1 Sam. xxi. 10-15 ; Job iii. 3-13 ; Jer. xx. 14-18. By 
smart afflictions, God tries the graces of his people, and discovers what 
is in the spirits of his people, Deut. viii. 2 ; Ps. Ixvi. 10, 1 1 ; Rev. iii. 
18 ; 1 Peter i. 6, 7. The fire tries the gold as well as the touchstone. 
Diseases try the art of the physician, and tempests try the skill of the 
pilot. Every smarting rod is a touchstone, both to try our graces and 
to discover our spirits. Prudent fathers will sometimes cross their 
children, to try to discover the dispositions of their children, Heb. xii. 
5-21. And so doth the Father of spirits deal sometimes with his 
children. 

The manner of the Psylli, which are a kind of people of that temper 
and constitution that no venom will hurt them, is this/ if they suspect 
any child to be none of their own, they set an adder upon it to sting 
it ; and if it cry, and the flesh swell, they cast it away as a spurious 
issue ; but if it do not quatch* nor cry, nor is never the worse for it, 
then they account it for their own, and make very much of it. The 
application is easy. But, 

[7.] The seventh and last end of the rod, Is to prepare and fit the 
chastised for greater services, favours, and mercies. Many a child 
and many a servant had never been so fit for eminent services as they 
are, had they not been under a smarting rod. It is very usual with 
God to cast them into very great afflictions, and to lay them under 
grievous smarting rods, that so he may prepare and fit them for some 
high and eminent services in this world. Joseph had never been so fit 
to be governor of Egypt, and to preserve the visible church of God 
alive in the world, if he had not been sold into Egypt, Gen. xii. 40-44 ; 
if his feet had not been hurt in the stocks, and if the irons had not 
entered into his soul. Gen. xlv. 7, 8. Nor Moses had never been so fit 
to be a leader and a deliverer of Israel as he was, if he had not been 
banished forty years in the wilderness before, Exod. ii. 15. Nor David's 
crown had never sat so well, nor so close, nor so long on his head as it 
did, had he not for some years before been hunted as a partridge in the 
wilderness, 1 Sam. xxvi. 20. Nor the three children, or rather the 
^ Pliny, lib. xxviii. [Rather lib. vii. c. 2. — G.] * ' Shrink ;' see Vol. I. as above. — G. 



EPISTLE DEDICATORY. 149 

three champions, would never have been fit for so high a rule, had they 
not been first cast into the fiery furnace, Dan. iii. 29, 30. Nor Daniel, 
for that exceeding high honour, and glory, and greatness to which he 
was exalted, had he not been first cast among the lions, Dan. vi. 25, 
et seq. And so had Esther never been a poor captive maid, she had 
never been a queen, and so had never been instrumental in the pre- 
servation of the church of God in her day. Heman was one of the 
best and wisest men in the world in his day, 1 Kings iv. 31 ; and this 
God brought him to by training of him up in the school of affliction, 
as you may evidently see in that 88th psalm. That of the apostle in 
2 Cor. i. 4, deserves to be written in letters of gold, * Who comforteth 
us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which 
are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves ai-e com- 
forted of God.' Mark that word oitle. Oh, it is one of the hardest and 
noblest works in all Christianity to be able divinely to comfort others 
that are in troubles ; and yet by sufferings God fits and prepares his 
people for this noble and difficult service. 

Luther was of opinion that to comfort a distressed conscience was a 
greater work than to raise the dead to life. And yet by inward and 
outward sufferings, God fits his people for this great work. 

And thus you see in what respects afflictions are compared to a rod. 

II. The second thing I am to do is to shew you those special lessons 
that you are to learn by the rod, or if you please, by the raging pesti- 
lence. 

Now they are these • 

(1.) The first lesson that you are to learn by the rod or by the raging 
pestilence, is, to know what the particular message or errand is which 
the rod hath to deliver to you in the day of your distress and trouble. 
Your first work is to do as David did, in that 2 Sam. xxi. 1. He 
humbly inquires of the Lord to know the particular reason why he sent 
a famine amongst them. You must do as Job doth : Job x. 2, ' Shew 
me, O Lord, wherefore thou contendest with me.' Job would fain 
know the reason of the controversy between God and him. One well 
observes on the text, * that Job was very desirous to know whether 
God did afflict him for sin or for trial, not to satisfy his curiosity, but 
his conscience.'^ Elihu's counsel to Job must here take place : Job, 
xxxiv. 31, 32, ' Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne 
chastisement, I will not offend any more. That which I see not teach 
thou me ; if I have done iniquity, I wiU do no more.' Job it seems 
was yet in the dark as to the particular cause or reason why the Lord 
had so grievously afflicted him ; and therefore he is very importunate 
with God that he would graciously point out the sin for which he had 
so sorely smitten him. Thy proceedings, saith Job, to my understand- 
ing seem to be very strange and severe. I am more afflicted than 
others, and yet I do not know wherein I have sinned more than others ; 
why I should be condemned and cast without a trial ; why thou art so 
hot against me, and why thou hast multiplied so many unheard of 
miseries against me ; and why thou hast so greatly subjected me to 
the saddest and sourest censures of others, as if I were the worst of 
siniiers and the basest of hypocrites, I know not ; and therefore, O 
* Trapp in loco makes the observation from another. — G. 



150 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. 

Lord ! I humbly desire that thou wouldst not deal with me according to 
thy absolute power, but let me know the true grounds and causes of all 
my heavy sorrows and miseries. And so he is at it again, in that Job xiii. 
23, ' How many are mine iniquities and sins ! make me to know my 
transgression and my sin.' My plagues, Lord ! are unparalleled ; if 
my sins are such, let me know it, saith Job. My calamities transcend 
the calamities of all others ; if my sins do so, let them not be hid from 
mine eyes, Lord ! My load, O Lord ! is heavier than others ; and 
therefore if my sins are greater than others, let me see them, let me 
understand them. Infirmities and weaknesses, I confess, do hang upon 
me ; they are inherent in me, and they do too often issue and flow from 
me ; but as for enormities or wickednesses, neither my censorious 
friends, nor yet my worst enemies, no, nor yet my own conscience, will 
ever be able to make any just or clear proof against me. O Lord ! I 
have many spots upon me, but if there be any upon me that are not 
the spots of thy people, let me see them, let me know them, that I may 
abhor myself, and justify thee, and that I may say my friends are 
righteous in their censures, and I have done wickedly before the Lord. 
Sometimes afflictions are sent only for trial and instruction, and not 
at all for sin. This is evident in the case of Job, and in the case of the 
blind man, whose afflictions, though they were very great and grievous, 
yet were they not for sin but for trial, John ix. 1, et seq. 

Now, though this be true, yet it must be granted that commonly sin 
is the meritorious cause, the procuring cause, of all afflictions, Micah i. 
5-10, Amos ii. 4-6. Sin ordinarily is the original foundation of all our 
troubles and chastisements : Ps. Ixxxix. 30-32, * If his children forsake 
my law, and walk not in my judgments ; if they break my statutes, and 
keep not my commandments, then will I visit their transgression with 
the rod, and their iniquity with stripes ;' Jer. ii. 19, ' Thine own wicked- 
ness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee. Know, 
therefore, and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast for- 
saken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord 
God of hosts ;' Amos iii. 2, ' You only have I known of all the famihes 
of the earth ; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.' 

Quest. But what course must we take ? what means inust we use, to 
find out that 'particular sin, for which God corrects us, or which 
hath brought the rod upon us ? 

Ans. 1. Observe what that sin is, that thy conscience doth most 
upbraid thee with, and check thee for. Conscience is God's preacher 
in the bosom, Gen. xlii. 21, 1. 15-17. Now, observe what that particular 
sin is, that conscience doth most smartly and roundly correct and chas- 
tise thee for ; for it is ten to one but that is the sin that hath brought 
the rod upon thee. The voice of conscience, and the voice of the rod, 
do usually echo one to another. It is very rare to find a difference 
between the language of conscience and the language of the rod. 
Conscience is God's deputy, God's spy, God's notary, God's viceroy ; 
and therefore do not despise the voice of conscience, do not turn off con- 
science, as Felix turned off" Paul, Acts xxiv. 25. If the secret cry of 
conscience be, Oh, this is for thy pride, or this is for thy passion, or 
this is for thy self-love, or this is for thy earthliness, or this is for thy 
carnalness, or this is for thy hypocrisy, or this is for thy formality. 



EPISTLE DEDICATORY. ISl 

&c., it will be thy wisdom to subscribe to the secret cry of conscience. 
But, 

Ans. 2. Secondly, Seriously observe what that sin is that thy soul 
would have spared above all, that thy soud is most unwilling to leave, 
and bid an everlasting farewell to. Observe what thy right hand sin, 
thy bosom sin, thy constitution sin, thy complexion sin, is, for it is a 
hundred to one but that God hath sent the rod for the subduing of that 
very sin, Micah vi. 6, 7, Esther v. 13. Commonly by the rod God points 
at the mortifjring of that particular sin to which the heart stands most 
strongly inchned. But, 

Ans. 3. Thirdly, Observe what that sin is, that dothmost maim and 
mxir thy confidence and boldness in all thy addresses and apjyroaches 
to God, 1 John iii. 20, 21 ; for doubtless that is the sin that God would 
subdue and bring under by the rod. But, 

Ans. 4. Fourthly, Observe what the afliction, what the pain, what 
the disease, ivhat the punishment is, that you are under, for sometimes 
a person may run and read his sin in his very punishment : Judges i. 7, 
' Threescore and ten kings having their thumbs and their great toes cut 
off, gathered their meat under my table : as I have done, so God hath 
requited me.' Now shall Adonibezek, a heathen prince, run and read 
his sin in his punishment ; and shall not a Christian much more ? Shall 
not grace do as much as blind nature ? Look, as a man may sometimes 
guess at the disease of the patient by the prudent observing of the 
physician's bill ; so may he sometimes guess at the particular sin that 
God would have destroyed by the punishment that is inflicted. God 
usually, first or last, meets with men, and pays them home in their own 
coin. Is the judgment shame ? Then the sin was pride, Hosea ii. 8, 9. 
Is the judgment want, famine ? Then the sin was abuse of abundance. 
Is the judgment oppression ? Then the sin was unmercifulness. Is the 
judgment loss of children ? Then the sin was inordinate love to them. 
Eli and David were too indulgent to their children ; and therefore 
they were punished in them and by them. Is the judgment sickness 
or want of health ? Then the sin was either the abuse of health, or the 
non-improvement of health. Is the judgment a famine of the word ? 
Then the sin was slighting and loathing of the word. Is the judgment 
war ? Then the sin was abuse of peace. Is the judgment a blind, car- 
nal, profane, formal, drunken, superstitious clergy ? Then the sin hath 
been slighting, neglecting, undervaluing, and despising an able, knowing, 
zealous, spiritual, and powerful ministry. Is the judgment a worship- 
ping of God in a lazy, dry, dull, dead, formal, customary way, according 
to the inventions and traditions of the elders ? Then the sin hath been 
men's not worshipping of God in spirit and in truth, and with that zeal, 
spirit, life, warmth, and fervency as he requires, John iv. 23, 24, Rom. 
xii. 11. Is the judgment the breaking of the communion of God's 
people, and scattering of them into holes and comers, as it was in 
Ahab's, and Jezebel's, and Gideon's days ? Judges vi. 1-5. Then doubt- 
less the sin hath been a slighting, undervaluing, neglecting, or forsaking 
of Christian communion, or else a non-improvement of Christian com- 
munion. But, 

Ans. 5. Fifthly, Observe whether you have not been very faulty towards 
others in the very things you now suffer yourselves. Do others wrong 



152 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. 

you in your names, estates, relations, callings, dealings, &c. ? Lay your 
hands upon your hearts, and ask them whether you have never wronged 
others as others now wrong you, Isa. xxxiii. 1, Rev. xiii, 10, James ii. 10, 
Gen. 1. 15-17. Do others rashly judge you, and bitterly censure you, 
and falsely accuse you, and unjustly condemn you ? If they do, reflect 
upon your former carriages towards others ; and if you must plead guilty, 
throw the first stone at yourselves, and say with Adonibezek, ' As I have 
done, so God hath requited me.' Let every lash of God upon you put 
you in mind of your deportment towards others, when God hath given 
them gall and wonnwood to drink, Mat. vii. 1, 2. But, 

Ans. 6. Sixthly, Observe xvhat that sin is that thou canst not endure 
should be touched, or reproved, or spoken against. Pro v. i. 25, 30, xii. 1, 
xvii. 10, ix. 8, XV. 12. Ah ! how proud, how impatient, how passionate, 
how mad are many, when you come to touch their right-eye sin. When 
you come to touch them in the tender part, oh ! then they fume, and 
swell, and rage, and take on like men and women out of their wits, as 
you may see in the scribes and pharisees, who were so angry and mad 
with Christ that they sought his death ; and all because he was still a- 
pointing at the toads in their bosoms, viz. pride, vain-glory, hypocrisy, 
and self-righteousness. Oh ! they could not endure that the sharp 
razor of reproof should come near their sorest part. Certainly that 
Christian must be under a very high distemper, that cannot but smite 
a righteous man with reproach for smiting him with a reproof Though 
gracious reproofs are choice physic, yet few stomachs can tell how to 
bear them. Most Christians are for lenitives, few are for corrosives. 
David was glad of a healing reproof, but there are but few Davids alive, 
Ps. cxli. 5. Who is angry with the physician for prescribing a bitter 
potion ? And yet, ah ! how angry are many Christians when they come 
to fall under holy reproofs, especially if there be any of that sharpness 
and cuttingness in them that the apostle exhorts to in that Titus i. 13. 
Now, doubtless, the voice of the rod is this, Soul ! take heed of that sin 
that thou canst not endure should be touched. Labour mightily with 
God to get that particular sin mortified that thou canst not endure 
should be reproved. But, 

Ans. 7. Seventhly, Observe what sin that is that doth most hinder 
thee from closing with the precious promises, and from living upon 
precious promises, and from improving of precious promises, and 
from treasuring up of 'precious promises, and from appropriating of 
precious proTnises to thine own soul, Ps. L 1 6, 17. And it is very pro- 
bable that, for the subduing of that sin, the Lord hath visited thee with 
his fatherly rod. But, 

A ns. 8. Eighthly, Observe what sin thai is that did most sting and 
terrify thee in an evil day, as when thou hast been under some loath- 
some disease or tormenting pain, Gen. xlii, 21 ; be it stone, gout, or 
burning fever, or when thou hast been in some imminent danger, or when 
thou hast had a sentence of death upon thee, and there hath been but 
a short step between thee and eternity. Doubtless that sin, which hath 
lain as a heavy load upon thy conscience in the days of thy former dis- 
tress, that is the sin that Goji would have conquered and brought under 
by his present rod. But, 

Ans. 9. Ninthly, Observe what particular sin that is that doth most 



EPISTLE DEDICATORY. 153 

hinder thee in holy duties and services, and that doth most interrupt 
thee in thy communion ivith God. Inquire what particular sin that 
is that thy heart is most apt to run after when thou art on the mount 
of holy duties, Ezek. xxxiii. 31. Whilst the disciples were healing dis- 
eases and casting devils out of other men's bodies, the proud white devil 
was stirring in their own souls, as is evident by that gentle rebuke 
that our Saviour gives them in Luke x. 20, ' In this rejoice not, that the 
spirits are subject unto you ; but rather rejoice because your names are 
written in heaven.' There is no duty that a Christian performs but one 
white devil or another, one lust or another, will be still dogging and 
following of him to that duty. There is no public duty, there is no 
family duty, there is no private duty that a Christian performs, but either 
that white devil pride, or that white devil hypocrisy, or that white devil 
vainglory, or else some one or another white devil will follow the soul, 
hard at heel to it. Now, mark what that particular sin is that most 
haunts thy soul when thou art in religious duties and services ; and it 
may be that is the very sin that God would have subdued by the rod. But, 

Ans. 10. Tenthly, Observe what sin that is that the rest of your cor- 
ruptions are most serviceable to, and that they most attend upon. 
Mark what sin that is that all other sins do most bow the knee to. 
Mark that sin that hath a commanding power over all other sins, that 
saith to one Go and he goeth, and to another Come and he cometh. 
Mark what sin that is that is still uppermost, and that all other sins do 
most minister to. You know when a man hath a great wound in his 
body, all the ill humours will run thither. Observe what sin that is 
that all the ill humours of the soul do most run after ; for it is very likely 
that that is the very sin that God would have brought under by the 
rod. But, 

Ans. 1 1. Eleventhly, Observe what that sin is that your hearts are 
Ttiost apt to hide and cloak, and cover over with the most specious and 
fair pretenA^es. Saul had a covetous desire, and he covers it over with 
fair pretences, as that the people would have it so, and that what was 
spared was for sacrifice, 1 Sam. xv. 20, 21. Caesar's favour was the 
great darling in Pilate's eyes, but he covers all over with washing his 
hands. Mat. xxvii. 24. The scribes and pharisees were exceeding cove- 
tous, but their long prayers, as a cloak, must cover all. Mat. xxiii. 
Judas also was a man of the same mind and mettle with them : 'What 
need this waste ? Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred 
pence, and given to the poor ? This he said, not that he cared for the 
poor ; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was 
put therein,' Mat. xxvi. 8, 9 ; John xii. 5, 6. Judas, as Tertullian 
thinks, was pretty honest till he carried the bag ; but no sooner was he 
,in office, but he puts conscience out of office, but all must be covered 
over with a cloak of charity.* Observe what sin that is that you are 
most apt to cast the silk or the satin mantle over ; and it is ten to one 
; but that is the sin that God would have brought under by the rod. 
But, 

Alls. 12. Twelfthly and lastly, Observe what that sin is that thou 
art most ea^ly overcome by. DeHlah could easily overcome Samson, 
[ whefe all the world besides could make no conquest upon him. The 
' Tertullian : Opera, tub nomine Judas. — G. 



154 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. 

apostle bids us ' lay aside the sin that doth so easily beset us,' Heb. 
xii. 1, There are some sins that find more easy approaches to us, and 
more easy acceptance with us, and accordingly they do more easily 
captivate us. Observe what that sin is that you do most readily and 
easily open the door to ; and doubtless that is the sin that God would 
have mortified and subdued by the rod. 

(2.) The second lesson that you are to learn by the rod or by the 
raging pestilence, is, deeply to judge yourselves and greatly to humble 
your souls, for that sin or sins tJiat hath brought the rod upon you. 
Thus David did in that 2 Sam. xxiv. 10, J 7.^ When you have found 
out the Achan that hath brought the rod upon you, stone him to death ; 
and lie humble and low under the rod, and then the Almighty will be 
graciously pacified and sweetly reconciled unto you. 

(3.) The third lesson that you are to learn by the rod or by the 
raging pestilence, is, to vieiv the rod on every side. If there be briars 
on one side of the rod, there is rosemary on the other side of the rod ; 
if there be wormwood and gall at one end of the rod, there is sweet 
honey at the other end of the rod, as there was at the top of Jonathan's 
rod, 1 Sam. xiv. 43. 

If we should come into a painter's or a limner's shop, and see a 
picture half drawn, it might trouble us and startle us, if it did not fright 
us and amaze us ; but yet, when the picture is perfected, completed, 
and finished, it may prove a very beauteous, lovely, taking piece. The 
application is easy. Look, as every judgment, every affliction, every 
rod, hath its black, dark side, so every judgment, every affliction, hath 
its bright side too. Now, it is the wisdom of a Christian to look on 
the bright side of the rod, the cloud, as well as it is his work to look 
on the dark side of the rod, the cloud. When a Christian looks upon 
the dark side of the cloud, he should be humbled and abased ; but when 
he looks upon the bright side of the cloud, he should be comforted and 
cheered, James v. 11. He that is still a-looking on the briary side of 
the rod, will be very apt to fret and faint under the rod ; but he that 
looks on the rosemary side of the rod, as well as the briary side of the 
rod, he will bear up patiently, gallantly, and cheerfully under the rod. 
The voice of the rod is. Look on both sides, look on both sides. But, 

(4.) The fourth lesson that you are to learn by the rod or by the 
raging pestilence, is, to look on the rod, not abstractly frora the /land. 
thai holds it, but conjunctively with the hand that holds it. Thus 
Hezekiah did, 2 Kings xx. 16-19; thus Aaron did. Lev. x. ]-3 ; thus 
Eli did, 1 Sam. iii. 11-19 ; thus David did, Ps. xxxix. 9 ; thus Job did. 
Job i. 20-22; yea, and thus Jesus did, John xviii. 11, 'Shall I not 
drink the cup that my Father hath given me to drink ?' Though the 
cup was a bitter cup, a bloody cup, yet seeing it was put into his hand 
by his Father, he drinks it off, with a ' Father, I thank thee.' The 
rod in itself sounds nothing but smart and blood to the child ; but the 
rod in the hand of a Father sounds nothing but love, kindness, and 
sweetness: Rev. iii. 19, 'Whom he loves, he chastens.' You should 
never look upon the rod but as it is in the hand of your heavenly 
Father, and then you will rather kiss it than murmur under it. But, 

(5.) The fifth lesson that you are to learn by the rod, or by the 

' Pray turn to these scriptures: 2 Chron. xxviii, 10 ; Jer. viii 6 ; Ezek. vii. 15, 16. 



EPISTLE DEDICATORY. 155 

raging pestilence, is to cleave and cling close to God under the rod. 
Oh how doth the child cling and hang upon his father when he takes up 
the rod. Let such a child-like spirit be found in you, when the Father 
of spirits takes up the rod. When the rod was upon David's back, oh 
how doth he cleave to God, even as the wife cleaves to her husband ; 
for so much the Hebrew word dabak in that Psalm Ixiii. 8 imports. 
So when Job was under the rod, oh how doth he cling about God ! Job^ 
xiii. 15, ' Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.' Job will hang 
upon a killing God ; so the church in that Psalm Ixxx. 15-18, &c. ; so 
those hundred forty and four thousand that had their fathers' names 
written in their foreheads. Rev. xiv. 1-6. O friends ! you never shew 
so much child-like love, nor so much child-like ingenuity,^ nor so much 
child-like integrity, as you do. shew when, under tlie smarting rod, you 
are found clinging about the Lord, and hanging upon the Lord by an 
exercise of grace. When Antisthenes held up his staff, as if he intended 
to beat one of his scholars out of his school, the scholar told him ' that 
he might strike him if he pleased, but he should never find a staff of 
so hard wood as should ever be able to beat him from him.'^ When 
no staff, no rod, no afEiction, can drive us from Christ, it is a sure argu- 
ment that we have profited much in the school of Christ. But, 

(6.) The sixth lesson that you are to learn by the rod, or by the 
raging pestilence, is, to prepare to meet the Lord whilst the rod is in 
his hand : Amos iv. ] 2, ' Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel : 
and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.' 
Now there is a twofold preparation. 

[1.] The first is a negative preparation : and this lies in taking heed 
of sinning against light and conscience ; for those sins that are against 
a clear light and an awakened conscience are most wounding, wasting, 
terrifying, and damning. 

[2.] Secondly, There is a positive preparation : and that consists in 
repentance and returning to the Lord, and in abasing and humbling 
yourselves before the Almighty, 2 Chron. vii. 14. As there is no run- 
ning from God, so there is no contending with God ; for what is the 
chaff to the whirlwind, or the stubble to a consuming fire ? and there- 
fore the voice of the rod is. Prepare to meet the Lord in a way of faith 
and repentance; prepare to meet the Lord in an exercise of grace ; pre- 
pare to meet the Lord with prayers, and tears, and strong cries. But, 

(7.) The seventh lesson that you are to learn by the rod, or by the 
raging pestilence, is, to acknowledge God's sovereign 'power and autho- 
rity over the rod, to how it, or break it, or hum it, or take it off, or lay 
it more or less on as he pleaseth, Micah vi. 13, Deut. xxviii. 58-61. 
All diseases and sicknesses are under the command of God ; they are 
all his sergeants, his servants, to execute his pleasure. That Mat. viii. 5 
is an observable text. Christ tells the centurion that he would come 
and heal his servant ; the centurion tells him that he was not worthy 
fcthat he should come under his roof; only, if he would but speak the 
word, his servant should be healed: ' For,' saith he, ver, 9, ' I am a man 
under authority, having soldiers under me : and I say to this man. Go, 
and he goeth ; and to another. Come, and he cometh ; and to my ser- 

^ • Ingenuousness,' — G. 

* The ' scholar' was Diogenes. Cf. Antisthenes' Frac/menta, by "Winckelmann — G. 



156 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. 

vant, Do this, and he doth it. Now when Jesus heard this, he mar- 
velled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have 
not found so great faith, no, not in Israel,' ver. 10. But wherein did 
the greatness of the centurion's faith appear ? Why, in this very ac- 
knowledgment, that all diseases were to Christ as servants, and that 
they were as much under the command of Jesus Christ, as any servant 
iinder heaven is under the command of his master. When Christ bids 
them go and afflict such a man, they go ; and torment such a man, they 
go ; and kill such a man, they go ; and so, when he calls them off, 
they come off at his call. Dear friends, it is a very great point of faith 
to believe these five things. 

[1.] First, That God is the author of all the diseases, maladies, and 
sicknesses that be in the world, and that he sets them on and calls 
them off at his own good will and pleasure: Amos iii. 6, ' Is there any 
evil in the city, and hath not the Lord done it V He speaks of the 
evil of punishment, and not of the evil of sin. It was a mad principle 
among the Manichees, who referred all calamities to the devil for their 
author, as if there could be evil in the city, and the Lord have no hand 
in it. 

[2.] Secondly, It is a great point of faith to believe that all diseases 
and sicknesses are limited by God in respect of places. God sent 
diseases of all sorts into Egypt, but he forbade them Goshen, Exod. viii. 
20-23, ix. 23-26. Ponder seriously upon these scriptures. God's 
shooting his arrows into one town and not into another, into one city 
and not into another, into one kingdom and not into another, into one 
family and not into another, doth sufficiently evidence that all diseases 
and sicknesses are limited by the Holy One of Israel in respect of 
places. 

[3.] Thirdly, It is a very great point of faith to believe that all sick- 
nesses and diseases are limited by God in respect of persons. That 
they are so, is evident in that Psalm xci. 3-8, Isa. Ixv. 12. But who 
lives in the faith of this truth ? Sometimes in the same house one is 
infected, and the other is not ; sometimes in the same bed the one is 
smitten, and the other is not ; sometimes at the same table the one is 
taken away, and the other is left, &c. ; and this doth roundly evidence 
and witness that all sicknesses and diseases are limited by God in respect 
of persons as well as in respect of places. But, 

[4.] Fourthly, It is a great point of faith to believe that all diseases 
and sicknesses are limited by God in respect of the degrees to which 
they shall arise. That God that sets bounds to the raging sea, and that 
saith unto it, ' Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther,' that God sets 
bounds to all raging diseases and sicknesses, and saith unto them. Thus 
far you shall go, and no farther. He sets bounds to the fever ; he saith 
to it, Go and scorch and burn up such a body so much, and no more ; 
and to the dropsy. Go and drown such a body so much, and no more ; 
and to the raging pestilence, Go and weaken such a body so much, and • 
no more ; and to the stone, Go and torment such a body so much, and 
no more. But, 

[5.] Fifthly, It is a very great point of faith to believe that all diseases 
and sicknesses are limited by God as to tJieir continvxince. God saith 
to one disease, Go, hang upon such a man so many years ; to another, 



EPISTLE DEDICATORY. 157 

Go, hang upon such a man but a few years ; and to another, Go, hang 
upon such a man but a year ; and to another, Go, hang upon such a 
man but a few months ; and to another. Go, hang upon such a man 
but a few weeks ; and to another, go, hang upon such a man but a few 
days ; and to another, go, hang upon such a man but a few hours, &c. ; 
and accordingly it cometh to pass. But, 

(8.) The eighth lesson that you are to learn by the rod or by the 
raging pestilence, is, to get more weaned and more' mortified affections 
to all worldly comj'orts, contentments, and enjoyments.^ A man never 
comes to experience so much of the emptiness, the nothingness, the 
uselessness, the vanity, the mutability, the impotency, the insufficiency, 
and the uncertainty of all worldly comforts and enjoyments, as when 
he comes to fall under the rod. The constant cry of the rod is. Be dead 
to the profits, pleasures, honours, and applauses of the world ; be dead 
to relations, be dead to friends, be dead to everything below a living 
Jesus. But, 

(9.) The ninth lesson that you are to learn by the rod or by the raging 
pestilence is, to get assurance of greater and better things than any 
this world doth afford, Heb. x. 33, 34. That saying is as true as it is 
old, viz., that the assurance of an eternal life is the life of this temporal 
life. But having spoke so much of this particular in my treatise on 
•assurance, which is now in your hands, I shall satisfy myself with this 
hint at present.'^ But, 

(10.) The tenth lesson that you are to learn by the rod, or by the 
raging pestilence, is, not to despise the rod : Heb. xii. 5, ' My son, de- 
spise not thou the chastening of the Lord.' The Greek word ' OXiyu^n 
that is translated despise, signifies the littling of a thing. Oh ! do not 
little the rod, do not lessen it, do not slight it, do not make a tush at it, 
do not set light by it, do not say, I will not regard it. He that doth, 
shews himself rather to be a Roman than a Christian. Now, because 
there is such a desperate aptness and proneness in many to make light 
of the rod, it will be your wisdom seriously to lay to heart these four 
particulars : 

[1.] First, That it is an immediate hand of God, Amos iil 6, Deut. 
xxviii. 58-61, and therefore not to be despised. It is a sad and sinful 
thing to despise the mediate hand of God ; but it is more sad and sinful 
to despise the immediate hand of God. But, 

[2.] Secondly, It is a mighty hand of God : 1 Peter v. 6, * Humble 
yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in 
due time.' Certainly that heart must be mightily wicked that dares 
despise the mighty hand of God, Amos iv. 10, Ezra xxxviii. 22, 23. 

[3.] Thirdly, It is an angry hand of God, and therefore do not de- 
spise it : Ps. xc. 7, ' For we are consumed by thy anger, and by thy wrath 
•are we troubled;' ver. 11, 'Whoknoweth the power of thine anger? even 
according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.' Shall devils tremble under his 
angry hand ? yea, shall they roar as the sea under his wrathful hand, as 
that Greek word (p^iesoven in that James ii. 19, and will you presume to 
despise his angry hand ? The Lord forbid, Num. xvi. 46, Ezra xxxiii 
27-29, Deut. xxix. 22-25. But, 

1 Gal. V. 24 ; 1 Cor. vii. 29-31 ; Eccles. i. 2 ; Prov. xxiii. 5 ; Jer. xlv. 4. 6. 
* ' Heaven on Earth,' included in the present volume. — G. 



158 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. 

[4.] Fourthly and lastly, Consider that it is a holy hand, it is a just 
and righteous hand, it is a faithful hand of Ood; and therefore do not 
despise it; Jer. xxix. 17-19, Lev. xxvi. 25, Jer. xiv. 12-lG: Ps. cxix. 
75, 'I know, Lord, that thy judgments are right, or righteousness, 
and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.' Ver. 137, ' Righteous 
art thou, O Lord, and upright are thy judgments.' Certainly none but 
unholy persons will be so impudent as to despise God's holy hand. 
Well, 

(11.) The eleventh lesson that you are to learn by the rod, or by the 
raging pestilence, is, not to be discouraged under the rod, Jer xxvli. 13, 
2 Sam. xxiv. 10, 17 : Heb. xii. 6, ' Nor faint when thou art rebuked of 
him.' 

First, It is a rod in a Father's hand ? and therefore do not faint under it. 

Secondly, God will do much good by the rod, and therefore do not 
faint under the rod. 

Thirdly, You could not have been without the rod ; and therefore do 
not faint under the rod. 

Fourthly, The rod that is now upon [you] is not according to the great- 
ness of God's anger, nor according to the gi*eatness of his power, nor accord- 
ing to the strictness of his justice, nor according to the demerits of your 
sins, nor according to the malicious desires of Satan, nor according to 
the designs, plots, and contrivances of wicked and unreasonable men, nor 
according to the extensiveness of your fears, — for you have feared worse 
things than you feel, — nor according to that rod that hath been upon the 
primitive saints, nor according to that rod that many thousands of the 
precious sons and daughters of Sion are under in other parts of the 
world ; and therefore do not faint under the rod, do not be discouraged 
under the rod. 

Fifthly, by fainting under the rod, you will gratify Satan, reproach 
religion, reader yourselves unserviceable, and make work for future 
repentance ; and therefore do not faint under the rod. But, 

(12.) The twelfth lesson that you are to learn under the rod, or by 
the raging pestilence, is, humbly to kiss the rod, and patiently 
und quietly to lie under the rod, till the Lord shall either give you^ 
a gracious or a glorious deliverance from it} What is the rod, and 
what is the raging pestilence, to the horrors of conscience, and to the 
flames of hell, or to an everlasting separation from the presence of the 
Lord, and from the glory of his power ? 2 Thes. i. 8, 9. And therefore 
put your niouths in the dust, and be silent before the Lord. He that 
hath deserved a hanging, if he escape with a whipping, hath no cause 
to murmur or complain ; and we that have deserved a damning, have 
little cause to murmur or complain of a whipping, yea, though it should 
be with a pestilential rod. But, 

(13.) The thirteenth lesson that you are to leam by the rod, or by 
the raging pestilence, is, highly, fully, freely, and signally to justify 
the Lord, and to think well of the Lord, and to speak tvell of the 
Lord under the rod. To that purpose, consult these scriptures, Ps. 
cxix. 75, 137; Neh. ix. 33 ; Ezra ix. 13 ; Lam. i. 3, 5, 7, 8, 10 ; iv. 
15, 18 ; Dan. ix. 12, 14 ; 2 Kings xx. 16-19 ; Jer. xii. 1, 2 ; Ps. cxix. 
17-22 ; xxil 1-3 ; xcvii. 2. But, 

> 2 Chron. xxxii. 25, 26 ; Lev. xxvi. 40-42 ; Micah vii. 9 ; Lam. iii. 30. 



EPISTLE DEDICATORY. 159 

(14.) The fourteenth lesson that you are to learn by the rod, or by 
the raging pestilence, is, personal refoi'Tnation. When the rod smarts, 
and the pestilence rageth, God expects that every man should smite " 
upon his thigh, and turn from the evil of his doings : 2 Chron. vii. 

13, 14, ' If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command 
the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; 
if my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, 
and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways ; then 
will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their 
land ;' that is, ' I will remove the judgments that are upon the land, 
and I will confer upon my reforming people all those favours and bless- 
ings that they stand in need of.' Consult these scriptures, Ezra x. 

14, 19 ; 2 Chron. xxx. 8, 9 ; and chap. xxix. 8, 10, 15, 16. But, 

(15.) The fifteenth lesson that you are to learn by the rod, or by 
the raging pestUence, is, to make God your habitation, your shelter, 
your refuge. Ponder seriously upon those scriptures, Ps. xci. 2, 9, 10; 
xc. 1 ; Ixxi. 3 ; Ivii. 1. They dwell most safely, most securely, most 
nobly, who dwell in God, who live under the shadow of the Almighty, 
and who every day lodge their souls in the bosom of eternal loves. 
But, 

(16.) The sixteenth lesson that you are to learn by the rod, or the 
raging pestilence, is, to set up God as the great object of your fear : 
Ps. cxix. 119, 120 ; Isa. viii. 7, 8, 13, 14, compared. When the judg- 
ments of God are either threatened or executed, feared or felt, it highly 
concerns us to lift up God as the main object of our fear. We should 
fear the hand that lays on the rod, more than the rod itself. Job. 
xiii. 11, Jer. xxxvi. 24. When God takes up the rod, when he draws 
his sword, and when he shoots his pestilential arrows amongst us, oh 
how highly doth it concern us to fear before him with a child-like fear, 
with a reverential fear, with a fear that fortifies the heart against sin, 
and with a fear that fits the soul for duty, and that draws, yea, drives 
the soul to duty. But. 

(17.) The seventeenth lesson that you are to learn by the rod, or by 
the raging pestilence, is, to expect God's singular presence with you, 
and his admirable protection over you. Consult these scriptures, Isa. 
xliii. 2 ; Dan. iii. 24, 25 ; Gen. xxxix. 39, 40 ; Ps. xxiii. 4, 5 ; Ps. xci. ; 
Isa. Ixiii. 9 ; Isa. xxvi. 20, 21 ; Ezek. ix. 4, 6. God is above his people 
and beneath them, Deut. xxxiii. 25-27. He is under them and over 
them. Cant. ii. 6. He is before them and behind them, Isa. Iii. 12, and 
chap. Iviii. 8, He is on the right hand of his people, and he is on the 
left hand of his people, Ps. xvi. 8, cxxi. 5, cxviii. 15, 16 ; Exod. xiv. 22, 
29. God is round about his people, Ps. xxxiv. 7, cxxv. 2. And God is 
in the midst of his people, Zech. ii. 5 ; Ps. xlvi. 5, xii. 6. Oh ! the safety, 
the security of the poor people of God ! for God is above his people and 
beneath them, he is under them and over them, he is before them and 
behind them, he is in the front and in the rear, and he is round about 
them and in the midst of them. But, 

(18.) The eighteenth lesson that you are to learn by the rod, or by the 
raging pestilence, is, to live every day in a fresh, choice, and frequent 
exe^xise of grace. Consult these scriptures, Ps. xci. 2-4 ; Jer. xxxix. 
17, 18; Micah vii. 7-9 ; Ps. xl. 1, 2 ; Hab. ii. 1-4 ; Jer. xxx. 21. That 



160 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. 

man that lives daily in an exercise of grace, that man lives every day 
in heaven on this side heaven, whatever affliction or judgment he is 
under. 

(19.) The nineteenth lesson that you are to learn by the rod, or by the 
raging pestilence, is, to quicken up your hearts to seek the Lord by ex- 
tram-dinary ways and means, viz., by fasting and prayer. Consult 
these scriptures. Num. xvi. 46, seq. ; Ps. cvi. 23, 29, 30 ; Isa. xxil 2—5, 
12, 13 ; Jonah iil 5, seq.; 2 Chron. xii. 2-7 ; 1 Kings xxi. 21, seq.; 
Joel ii. 12-17. But, 

(20.) The twentieth, and so the last, lesson that you are to learn by 
the rod, or by the raging pestilence, is, to jyt^epare for death ; it is to he 
in actual readiness to die. Ah, friends ! every ache, every pain, every 
disease, is one of death's warning pieces. There is not a headache, not 
a toothache, not a gripe, not a grief, not a fall, not a wrench, not a 
plague-sore, but is a divine warning to man to prepare to die. It is a 
solemn work to die ; and therefore we had need prepare to die. It is a 
work that is to be done but once ; and therefore we had need prepare to do 
that work well that is to be done but once. In this world we hear often, 
and pray often, and read often, and meditate often, and eat often, and 
drink often, and that which is worst, we sin often ; but we must die but 
once. Job xiv. 14, Heb. ix. 27. Death will try all our graces, and all 
our experiences, and all our evidences, and all our comforts, and all our 
attainments, and all our enjoyments ; and therefore we had need to pre- 
pare to die.^ Though there is nothing more certain than death, yet there 
is nothing more uncertain than, (1.) the time when we shall die; (2.) the 
place where we shall die ; and, (3.) the manner how we shall die : as 
whether we shall die a sudden death, or a lingering death, or a violent 
death ; or whether we shall fall by the sword abroad, or by famine or 
pestilence at home, or whether we shall fall by this disease or that ; and 
therefore we had need be always in an actual readiness to die. No man 
shall die the sooner, but much the easier and the better, for preparing 
to die ; and therefore let us always have our loins girt and our lamps 
burning. As death leaves us, so judgment wiU find us ; and therefore 
we have very great cause to secure our interest in Christ, a changed 
nature, and a pardon in our bosoms, that so we might have nothing to 
do but to die. Except we prepare to die, all other preparations will do 
us no good. In a word, death is a change, a great change ; it is the 
last change till the resurrection ; it is lasting, yea, an everlasting change ; 
for it puts a man into an eternal condition of happiness or misery ; it 
is an universal change ; all persons must pass under this flaming sword. 
That statute law, ' Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return,' will 
sooner or later take hold on all mortals, Gen. iii. 18 ; and therefore it 
highly concerns us to prepare for death.^ 

And thus I have shewn you these lessons that you are to learn by 
the rod. The Lord grant that your souls may fall under those fresh, 
those choice, those full, and those constant influences and communica- 

* He that would see more of this, may read my ' String of Pearls,' and the funeral ser- 
mon that is at the end of my book of Assurance. [The former, ' String of Pearls,' is giyen 
in Vol. I. ; the latter, * The Believer's Last Day his Best Day," is given in Vol. VI. 
-G.] 

» Cf. commencement of Brooks's "Will, as given in our Memoir, VoL I. page Izsxi. 



EPISTLE DEDICATORY. 161 

tions of his Holy Spirit, as may enable you to take out those twenty 
lessons that I have laid open before you. I confess the epistle is large, 
but do but consider your own conditions, and the present dispensations 
under which we are cast, and then I suppose you will not call it by the 
name of a tedious epistle. 

Dear friends, the following discourse on closet prayer I heartily re- 
commend to your serious perusal. I have many reasons to hope, that 
when you have once read it over, you will be more in love with closet 
prayer than ever, and that you "svill set a higher price upon closet prayer 
than ever, and that you will make a better and fuller improvement of 
closet prayer than ever yet you have done. Consider what I say in 
my epistle to the reader, and labour so to manage this little treatise, 
that now I put into your hands, that God may be glorified, your own 
souls edified, comforted, and encouraged in the ways of the Lord, and 
that you may be ' my crown and joy, in the great day of our Lord 
Jesus,' 1 Thes. ii. 19, 20. So wishing that 'the good will of Him that 
dwelt in the bush' may abide upon you and yours for ever, I take leave 
and rest, dear friend, your soul's servant in our dear Lord Jesus, 

Thomas Brooks. 



VOL. n. 



TO THE READER. 



ChristiaJ^ Reader, — The epistle dedicatory being occasionally* so large, 
I shall do little more than give thee the grounds and reasons of sending 
forth this little piece into the world, especially in such a day as this is. 
Now, my reasons are these : 

1. First, Because God by his present dispensations calls more loudly 
for closet prayer now, than he hath done in those last twenty years that 
are now passed over our heads. See more of this in the 16th argument 
for closet prayer. 

2. Secondly, Because I have several reasons to fear that many Chris- 
tians do not clearly nor fully understand the necessity, excellency, and 
usefulness of this subject, and that many, oh that I could not say any, 
live in too great a neglect of this indispensable duty, and that more than 
a few, for want of light, err in the very ^practice of it. 

3. Thirdly, For the refreshing, support, and encouragement of all 
those churches of Christ that walk in the fear of the Lord, and in the 
comforts of the Holy Ghost, &c., especially that particular church to 
whom I stand related. 

4. Fourthly, To preserve and keep up the power of religion and 
godliness both in men's houses, hearts, and lives. The power of re- 
ligion and godliness lives, thrives, or dies, as closet prayer lives, thrives, 
or dies. Godliness never rises to a higher pitch than when men keep 
closest to their closets, &c. 

5. Fifthly, Because closet prayer is a most sovereign remedy, a most 
precious antidote of God's own prescribing, against the plague that now 
rageth in the midst of us, 1 Kings viii. 37-39, &c. 

6. Sixthly, Because every man is that really which he is secretly. 
Never tell me, how handsomely, how neatly,^ how bravely, this or that 
man acts his part before others ; but tell me, if thou canst, how he acts 
his part before God in his closet ; for the man is that certainly, that he 
is secretly. There are many that sweat upon the stage that are key- 
cold' in their closets. 

7. Seventhly, Though many worthies have done worthily upon all 
other parts of prayer, yet there are none either of a former or later date, 
that have fallen under my eye, that have written any treatise on this 
subject. I have not a little wondered that so many eminent writers 

* = ' Suitably to the occasion.' — G. * ' Purely.' Cf. Sibbes' Glossary. — G. 

' Another Shakespearian word ; ' poor key-cold figure,' Richard III., i. 2. — G. 



TO THE READER. . 163 

should pass over this great and princely duty of closet-prayer, either 
with a few brief touches, or else in a very great silence. If several 
Bodies of Divinity are consulted, you will find that all they say clearly 
and distinctly as to closet-prayer, may be brought into a very narrow 
compass, if not into a nut-shell. I have also inquired of several old dis- 
ciples, whether among all the thousand sermons that they have heard 
in their days, that ever they have heard one sermon on closet-prayer? 
and they have answered. No. I have also inquired of them, whether 
ever they had read any treatise on that subject ? and they have an- 
swered, No. And truly this hath been no small encouragement to me, 
to make an offer of my mite ; and if this small attempt of mine shall 
be so blessed, as to provoke others that have better heads, and hearts, 
and hands, than any I have, to do Christ and his people more service, 
in the handling of this choice point in a more copious way than what I 
have been able to reach unto, I shall therein rejoice. 

8. Eighthly, and lastly. That favour, that good acceptance and fair 
quarter that my other poor labours have found, not only in this nation, 
but in other countries also, hath put me upon putting pen to paper 
once more ; and I hope that the good will of him that ' dwelt in the bush,' 
will rest upon this, as it hath to the glory of free grace rested upon my 
former endeavours. I could add other reasons, but let these suffice. 

Good reader, when thou art in thy closet, pray hard for a poor, weak, 
worthless worm, that I may be found faithful and fruitful to the death, 
that so at last I may receive a crown of life. So wishing thee all hap- 
piness both in this lower and in that upper world, I rest. 

Thine in our dear Lord Jesus, 

Thomas Brooks. 



THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN; 

OK, A DISCOURSE OF CLOSET PRAYER. . 



But thou, when thou pray est, enter into thy closet ; and when thou 
hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret ; and 
thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall retuard thee openly. — Mat. 
VI. 6. 

These words of our Saviour are plain, and to be taken literally, and 
not allegorieally, for he speaketh of shutting the door of the chamber. 
In this chapter there is a manifest opposition between the Pharisees 
praying in the synagogues and corners of the streets, and others praying 
in secret. 

In the text you have a positive precept for every Christian to pray 
alone : ' But thou, when thou prayest.' He saith not, when you pray, 
but thou, ' when thou prayest, enter into thy closet,' &c., as speaking not 
so much of a joint duty of many praying together, as of a duty which 
each person is to do alone. The command in the text sends us as well 
to the closet as to the church ; and he is a hypocrite in grain that 
chooses the one and neglects the other; for thereby he tells the world 
he cares for neither, he makes conscience of neither. He that puts on 
a religious habit abroad to gain himself a great name among men, and 
at the same time lives like an atheist at home, shall at the last be 
uncased by God, and presented before all the world for a most egregious 
hypocrite. 

Bellarmine' and some others turn the text into an allegory. They 
say that in these words there are two allegories. First, the chamber 
door is the sense, ' shut the door,' that is, say they, thy sense, lest vain 
imaginations and worldly thoughts distract thy mind in praying. 
Secondly, the door, say they, is our mouth, ' shut thy door,' that is, thy 
lips, say they, and let thy prayer be like the prayer of Hannah, con- 
ceived in thy mind, but not uttered with thy mouth. It is usual with 
papists and other monkish men that lie in wait to deceive, to turn the 
blessed Scriptures into a nose of wax, under pretence of allegories and 
mysteries. Origen was a great admirer of allegories.^ By the strength 

' Bellarm. de Sanct. lib. iii. cap. iv , &c. 
> Euseb. Ecd. Hist. lib. vi. cap. viii. 



I 



Mat. VL 6.] the privy key of heaven. 165 

of his parts and wanton wit, he turned most of the Scriptures into alle- 
gories ; and by the just judgment of God upon him, he foolishly under- 
stood and absurdly applied that Mat. xix. 12 literally, 'Some have made 
themselves chaste for the kingdom of heaven,' and sogelded himself And 
indeed he might as well have plucked out one of his eyes upon the 
same account, because Christ saith, ' It is better to go to heaven with 
one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire,' Mat. xviii. 9. In 
all ages heretics have commonly defended their heresies by translating 
of scriptures into allegories. The apostle speaks of such as, denying the 
resurrection of the body, turn all the testimonies of the resurrection into 
an allegory, meaning thereby only the spiritual resurrection of the soul 
from sin, of which sort was Hymeneus and Philetus, who destroyed the 
faith of some, saying 'the resurrection was past already,' 2 Tim. ii. 17, 
18. And are there not many among us that turn the whole history of 
the Bible into an allegory, and that turn Christ, and sin, and death, 
and the soul, and hell, and heaven, and all into an allegory ? Many 
have and many do miserably pervert the Scriptures by turning them 
into vain and groundless allegories. Some wanton wits' have expounded 
paradise to be the soul, man to be the mind, the woman to be the sense, 
the serpent to be delight, the tree of knowledge of good and evil to be 
wisdom, and the rest of the trees to be the virtues and endowments of the 
mind. O friends ! it is dangerous to bring in allegories where the 
Scripture doth not clearly and plainly warrant them, and to take those 
words figuratively which should be taken properly. 

The word ra.a/sroy that is in the text rendered closet, hath only three 
most usual significations amongst Greek authors. First, it may be 
taken for a secret chamber, or close and locked parlour ; secondly, for a 
safe or cupboard to lay victuals in ; thirdly, for a locked chest or cup- 
board wherein treasure usually is reserved. 

The best and most judicious interpreters that I have cast mine eye 
upon, both of a former and later date, do all expound my text of private 
prayer in retired places ; and with them I close ; and so the main doc- 
trine that I shall gather from the words is this : 

Doct. That closet prayer or private prayer is an indispensable duty, 
that Christ himself hath laid upon all that are not willing to lie 
under the ivoful brand of being hypocrites. 

I beseech you seriously to lay to heart these five things : 

1. First, If any prayer be a duty, then secret prayer muit needs be 
a duty ; for secret prayer is as much prayer as any other prayer is 
prayer ; and secret prayer prepares and fits the soul for family prayer, 
and for public prayer. Secret prayer sweetly inclines and strongly dis- 
poses a Christian to all other religious duties and services. Ergo, — But, 

2. Secondly, If secret prayer be not an indispensable duty that lies 
upon thee, by ivhat authority doth conscience so upbraid thee, and so 
accuse thee, and so condemn thee, and so terrify thee, as it often doth 
for the neglect of this duty ? But, 

3. Thirdly, TTos it ever the way or method of God to promise again 
and again a reward, an open reward for that work or service which 
himself never commanded ? Surely no. Now, to this duty of secret 
prayer, the Lord hath again and again promised an open reward, Mat. 

• Philo Judaeus, and others of a later date. 



166 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VI. 6. 

vi. 6, 18. And therefore without all peradventure this is a duty in- 
cumbent upon all Christians, 

4. Fourthly, Our Saviour in the text takes it /o7' granted that every 
child of Ood will be frequent in praying to his heavenly Father; and 
therefore he encourages them so much the more in the work of secret 
prayer. 'When you pray;' as if he had said, I know you can as well 
hear without ears, and live without food, and fight without hands, and 
walk without feet, as you are able to live without prayer. And there- 
fore when you go to wait on God, or to give your heavenly Father a 
visit, * Enter into your closet, and shut your doors,' &c. 

5. Fifthly, If closet prayer be not an indispensable duty that Christ 
hath laid upon all his people, why doth Satan so much oppose it ? why 
doth he so industriously and so unweanedly labour to discourage 
Christians in it, and to take off Christians from it ? Certainly, Satan 
would never make such a fierce and constant war as he doth upon 
private prayer, were it not a necessary duty, a real duty, and a soul- 
enriching duty. But more of this you will find in the following dis- 
course; and therefore let this touch suffice for the present, &c. 

Now, these five things do very clearly and evidently demonstrate 
that secretly and solitarily to hold intercourse with God is the undoubted 
duty of every Christian. But for a more full opening and confirmation 
of this great and important point. I shall lay down these twenty argu- 
ments or considerations, &c. 

[] .] First, The most eminent saints, both in the Old and New Testa- 
ment, have applied themselves to private prayer. Moses was alone in 
the mount with God forty days and forty nights, Exod. xxxiv. 28. So 
Abraham fills his mouth with arguments, and reasons the case out alone 
with God in prayer, to prevent Sodom's desolation and destruction, and 
never leaves oiBf pleading and praying till he had brought God down 
from fifty to ten, Gen. xviii. 22-32 ; and in Gen. xxi. 33, you have 
Abraham again at his private prayers : ' And Abraham planted a grove 
in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting 
God.' "Why did Abraham plant a grove, but that he might have a 
most private place to pray and pour out his soul before the Lord in ? 
So Isaac : Gen. xxiv, 63, * And Isaac went out to meditate in the field 
at even-tide.' The Hebrew word lasuach, that is here rendered meditate, 
signifies to pray as well as to meditate, and so it is often used. It is a 
comprehensive word, that takes in both prayer and meditation. So 
you shall find Jacob at his private prayer: Gen. xxxii. 24-28, 'And 
Jacob was left alone ; and there wrestled a man with him until the 
breaking of the day.' When Jacob was all alone, and in a dark night, 
and when his joints were out of joint, he so wrestles and weeps, and 
weeps and wrestles in private prayer, that as a prince at last he prevails 
with God, Hosea xii. 3, 4. So David, Ps. Iv. 16, 17, 'As for me, I will 
call upon God ; and the Lord shall save me. Evening, and morning, 
and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud ; and he shall hear my voice.' 
So Daniel was three times a-day in private prayer : Dan. vi, 10, ' Now 
when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house ; 
and, his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he 
kneeled upon his knees three times a-day, and prayed, and gave thanks 
before his God, as he did aforetime.' Daniel had accustomed himself 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 167 

to private prayer ; he went to his clbset before he went to his public 
employment and state affairs ; and at his return to dinner, he turned 
first into his chamber to serve his God and refresh his soul before he 
sat down to feast his body ; and at the end of the day, when he had 
despatched his business with men, he made it his business to wait upon 
God in his chamber. So Jonah keeps up private prayer when he was 
in the fish's belly, yea, when he was in the belly of hell, Jonah ii. 1, 2, 
&;c. So we have Elijah at prayer under the juniper tree, 1 Kings xix. 
4 ; so Hannah, 1 Sam. i. 13. Now, Hannah she speaks in her heart ; 
only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. The very soul of 
prayer lies in the pouring out of the soul before God, as Hannah did, 
ver. 15. Neither was Rebekah a stranger to this duty, who, upon 
the babe's struggling in her womb, went to inquire of the Lord, Gen. 
XXV. 22 ; that is, she went to some secret place to pray, saith Calvin, 
Musculus, Mercerus, and others. So Saul is no sooner converted, but 
presently he falls upon private prayer: Acts ix. 11, 'And the Lord said 
unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and 
inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus: for, behold, 
he prayeth.' Though he was a strict Pharisee, yet he never prayed to 
purpose before, nor never prayed in private before. The Pharisees used 
to pray in the corners of the streets, and not in the corners of their 
houses. And after his conversion he was frequently in private prayer, 
as you may see by comparing of these scriptures together, Rom. i. 9 ; 
Eph. i. 15, 16 ; Philip, i. 3, 4 ; 2 Tim. i. 3. So Epaphras was a warm 
man in closet prayer, Philip, iv. 12, 13 ; so Cornelius had devoted him- 
self to private prayer, Acts x. 2, 4 ; and so Peter gets up to the house- 
top to pray: ver. 9, ' On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and 
drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the house top to pray, 
about the sixth hour.' Peter got up upon the leads, not only to avoid 
distraction, but that he might be the more secret in his private devo- 
tion. Eusebius tells us of James called Justus, that his knees were 
grown hard and brawny with kneeling so much in private prayer.* 
And Nazianzen reports of his sister Gorgonia, that her knees seemed 
to cleave to the earth by her often praying in private. And Gregory 
saith of his aunt Trucilla, that her elbows was as hard as horn by often 
leaning upon her desk at private prayer. I have read of a devout per- 
son, who, when the set time for his private devotion was come, what- 
ever company he was in, he would break from them with this neat and 
handsome come off, 'I have. a friend that stays for me; farewell.' 
And there was once a great lady of this land, who would frequently 
withdraw from the company of lords and ladies of great quality, who 
came to visit her, rather than she would lose her set times of waiting 
upon God in her closet ; she would, as they called it, rudely take her 
leave of them, that so she might in private attend the Lord of lords. 
She would spare what time she could to express her favours, civilities, 
and courtesies among her relations and friends ; but she would never 
suffer them to rob God of his time, nor her soul of that comfort and 
communion which she used to enjoy when she was with God in her 
closet^ And indeed, one hour's communion with God in one's closet, 

> H.E., ii.— G. 

^ Lady Brooke, the friead of Sibbes. Cf. Parkburst's ' Sermon' on her death. — G. 



1 68 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

is to be preferred before the greatest and best company in the 
world. And there was a child of a Christian gentlewoman, that was 
so given to prayer from its infancy, that before it could well speak, 
it would use to get alone and go to prayer ; and as it grew, it was 
more frequent in prayer and retiring of itself from company ; and he 
would ask his mother very strange questions, far above the capacity 
of one of his years ; but at last, when this child was but five years 
old, and whipping of his top, on a sudden he flung away his scourge- 
stick and top, and ran to his mother, and with great joy said 
unto her, ' Mother, I must go to God ; will you go with me ?' She 
answered, ' My dear child, how dost thou know thou shalt go to God T 
He answered, ' God hath told me so, for I love God, and God loves me.' 
She answered, ' Dear child, I must go when God pleaseth. But why 
wilt thou not stay with me V The child answered, ' I will not stay ; I 
must go to God.' And the child did not live above a month after, but 
never cared for play more ; but falling sick, he would always be saying 
that he must go to God, he must go to God ; and thus sometimes ' out 
of the mouths of babes and sucklings God hath perfected praise,' Mat. 
xxi. 16. Certainly such persons will be ripe for heaven betimes who 
begin betimes to seek God " in a closet, in a comer. And Eusebius 
reports of Constantino the emperor, that every day he used to shut up 
himself in some secret place in his palace, and there, on bended knees, 
did make his devout prayers and soliloquies to God. * My God and I 
are good company,' said famous Dr Sibbes.^ A man whose soul is con- 
versant with God in a closet, in a hole, behind the door, or in a desert, 
a den, a dungeon, shall find more real pleasure, more choice delight, 
and more full content, than in the palace of a prince. By all these 
famous instances, you see that the people of God in all ages have 
addicted themselves to private prayer. O friends ! these pious examples 
should be very awakening, very convincing, and very encouraging to 
you. Certainly it is as much your duty as it is your glory to follow 
these pious patterns that are now set before you. Witness these fol- 
lowing scriptures : Prov. ii. 20, • That thou mayest walk in the way 
of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous ;' 1 Cor. xi. 1, ' Be 
ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ;' Philip, iii. 17, 'Brethren, 
be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so, as ye have 
us for an ensample' ; Philip, iv. 9, ' Those things which ye have both 
learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do ; and the God of 
peace shall be with you' ; 1 Thes. i. 6, 'And ye became followers of us, 
and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction ;' Heb. 
vi. 12, 'That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through 
faith and patience inherit the promises.' So 2 Tim. iii. 10-12, 1 4, Titus 
ii. 7. It was an excellent law that the Ephesians made, "viz., that men 
should propound to themselves the best patterns, and ever bear in 
mind some eminent man.^ Bad men are wonderful in love with bad 
examples, Jer. xliv. 16, 17. The Indian, hearing that his ancestors were 
gone to hell, said that then he would go thither too. Some men have 
a mind to go to hell for company's sake. Oh that we were as much in 

' One of a number of tender and pleasant memories of the heavenly Sibbes, found in 
contemporary writings. Brooks uses it in his ' Ark for all God's Noahs' also. See page 
80 ante. — G. • Prajcepta decent, exempla movent. [As before. — G.] 



Mat. VI. 6.] the peivy key of heaven. 169 

love with the examples of good men as others are in love with the 
examples of bad men ; and then we should be oftener in our closets 
than now we are ! Oh that our eyes were more fixed on the pious 
examples of all that have in them cdiquid Chinsti, anything of Christ, 
as Bucer spake ! Shall we love to look upon the pictures of our friends ; 
and shall we not love to look upon the pious examples of those that are 
the lively and lovely picture of Christ ? The pious examples of others 
should be the looking-glasses by which we should dress ourselves. He 
is the best and wisest Christian that writes after the fairest Scripture 
copy, that imitates those Christians that are most eminent in grace, and 
that have been most exercised in closet prayer, and in the most secret 
duties of religion. 

Jerome having read the life and death of Hilarion, one that lived 
most Christianly, and died most comfortably, folded up the book, saying. 
Well, Hilarion shall be the champion that I will follow ; his good life 
shall be my example, and his godly death my president.^ It is brave 
to live and die by the examples of the most eminent saints. But, 

[2.] Secondly. Consider, when Christ was on earth, he did much 
exercise himself in secret prayer; he was often with God alone, as you 
may see in these famous scriptures : Mat. xiv. 23, ' And when he had 
sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray ; 
and when the evening was come, he was there alone.' Christ's choos- 
ing solitudes for private prayer, doth not only hint to us the danger 
of distraction and deviation of thoughts in prayer, but how necessary 
it is for us to choose the most convenient places we can for private 
prayers. Our own fickleness and Satan's restlessness calls upon us to 
get into such corners, where we may most freely pour out our souls into 
the bosom of God : Mark i. 3o, ' And in the morning, rising up a great 
while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and 
there prayed.' As the morning time is the fittest time for prayer, so 
solitary places are the fittest places for prayer : Mark vi. 46, ' And 
when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.' 
He that would pray to purpose, had need be quiet when he is alone : 
Luke V. 16, ' And he withdrew himself into the wilderness and prayed.' 
(Greek, He was departing and praying) to give us to understand that 
he did thus often. When Christ was neither exercised in teaching nor 
in working of miracles, he was then very intent on private prayer : 
Luke vi. ] 2, ' And it came to pass in those days that he went out into 
a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.' Did 
Christ spend whole nights in private prayer to save our souls ; and shall 
we think it much to spend an hour or two in the day for the further- 
ance of the internal and eternal welfare of our souls ? Luke xxi. 37, 
' And in the day-time he was teaching in the temple, and at night he 
went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives.' 
Christ frequently joins praying and preaching together, and those whom 
Christ hath joined together, let no man presume to put asunder : Luke 
xxii. 39, 41, 44, 45, ' And he came out, and went as he was wont to 
the mount of Olives, and his disciples also followed him. And he was 
withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down and prayed. 
An4 being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was as 

^ 'Precedent.'— G. 



170 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

it were great drops of blood' (clotted or congealed blood) * falling down 
to the ground ' (never was garden watered before or since with blood as 
this was). ' And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his 
disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow.' Ah ! what sad pieces of 
vanity are the best of men in an hour of trial and temptation ! These 
very men, that a little before did stoutly profess and promise that they 
would never leave him nor forsake him, and that they would to prison 
for Christ, and die for Christ, yet when the day of trial came, they could 
not so much as watch with him one hour ; they had neither eyes to see 
nor hands to wipe off Christ's bloody sweat ; so John vi. 15-17. Thus 
you see, by all these famous instances, that Christ was frequent in 
private prayer. Oh that we would daily propound to ourselves this 
noble pattern for our imitation, and make it our business, our work, our 
heaven, to write after this blessed copy that Christ hath set us, viz., to 
be much with God alone. Certainly Christianity is nothing else but 
an imitation of the divine nature, a reducing of a man's self to the 
image of God, in which he was created ' in righteousness and true ho- 
liness.' A Christian's whole life should be nothing but a visible repre- 
sentation of Christ. The heathens had this notion amongst them, as 
Lactantius reports, that the way to honour their gods was to be like 
them. Sure I am that the highest way of honouring Christ is to be 
like to Christ : 1 John ii. 6, ' He that saith he abideth in him, ought 
himself also to walk even as he walked.' Oh that this blessed Scrip- 
ture might always lie warm upon our hearts. Christ is the sun, and 
all the watches of our lives should be set by the dial of his motion. 
Christ is a pattern of patterns ; his example should be to us instead of 
a thousand examples. It is not only oun' liberty, but our duty and glory, 
to follow Christ in all his moral virtues absolutely. Other patterns be 
imperfect and defective, but Christ is a perfect pattern ; and of all his 
children, they are the happiest that come nearest to this perfect pattern. 
Heliogabalus loved his children the better for resembling him in sin. 
But Christ loves his children the more for resembling him in sanctity. 
I have read of some springs that change the colour of the cattle that 
drink of them into the colour of their own waters, as Du Bartas sings : 

• Cerona, Xanth, and Cephisus do make 
The thirsty flocks, that of their waters take, 
Black, red, and white ; and near the crimson deep, 
The Arabian fountain maketh crimson sheep." 

Certainly, Jesus Christ is such a fountain, in which whosoever bathes, 
and of which whosoever drinks, shall be changed into the same like- 
ness, 2 Cor. iii. 18. 

Quest. But why ivas our Lord Jesus so much in private prayer ? 
Why vjos he so often with Ood alone ? 

Ans. 1. First, It was to put a very high honour and value upon 
private prayer ; it was to enhance and raise the price of this duty. 
Men naturally are very apt and prone to have low and undervaluing 
thoughts of secret prayer. But Christ, by exercising himself so fre- 
quently in it, hath put an everlasting honour and an inestimable value 
upon it. But, 

Ans. 2. Secondly, He was much in private prayer, he was often with 
God alone, that fte raight not he seen of men, and that he might avoid 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 171 

all shows and appearances of ostentation and popular applause. He 
that hath commanded us to abstain from all appearances of evil, 1 Thes. 
V. 22, would not himself, when he was in this world, venture upon the 
least appearance of evil. Christ was very shy of every thing that did 
but look like sin ; he was very shy of the very show and shadow of pride 
or vain-glory. 

Ans. 3. Thirdly, To avoid interruptions in the duty. Secresy is 
no small advantage to the serious and lively carrying on of a private 
duty. Interruptions and disturbances from without are oftentimes 
quench-coals to private prayer. The best Christians do but bungle 
when they meet with interruptions in their privaie devotions. 

Ans. 4. Fourthly, To set us such a blessed pattern and gracious 
example, that we should never please nor content ourselves uith public 
prayers only, nor with family prayers only, but that we should also 
apply ourselves to secret prayer, to closet prayer. Christ was not al- 
ways in public, nor always in his family, but he was often in private 
with God alone, that by his own example he might encourage us to be 
often with God in secret ; and happy are they that tread in his steps, 
and that write after his copy. 

Ans. 5. Fifthly, That he might approve himself to our understand- 
vngs and consciences to be a most just and faithful High Priest, 
Heb. ii. 17, John xvii. Christ was wonderful faithful and careful in 
both parts of his priestly office, viz., satisfaction and intercession ; he 
was his people's only spokesman. Ah ! how earnest, how frequent was 
he in pouring out prayers, and tears, and sighs, and gi-oans for his 
people in secret, when he was in this world, Heb. v. 7. And now he is 
in heaven, be is still a-making intercession for them, Heb. vii. 25. 

Ans. 6. Sixthly, To convince us that his Father hears and observes 
our pi'ivate prayers, and bottles up all our secret tears, and that he is 
not a stranger to our closet desires, wrestlings, breathings, hungerings, 
and thirstings. 

[3.] Thirdly, Consider that the ordinary exercising of yourselves in 
secret prayer, is that which will distinguish you from hypocrites, who 
do all they do to be seen of men .-* Mat. vi. 1, 2, ' Take heed that you 
do not your alms before men, to be seen of them ; otherwise ye have no 
reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore, when thou doest 
thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in 
the synagogues, and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. 
Verily, I say unto you, they have their reward.' Self is the only oil 
that makes the chariot-wheels of the hypocrite move in all religious 
concernments. Ver. 5, ' And when thou pray est, thou shalt not be as 
the hypocrites are ; for they love to stand praying in the synagogues, 
and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily, 
I say unto you, they have their reward.' Ver. 16, ' Moreover, when ye 
fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance : for they disfigure 
their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily, I say unto 
you, they have their reward.' Thus you see that these hypocrites look 
more at men than at God in all their duties. When they give alms, 

*,They say of the nightingale, that when she is solitary in the woods, she is careless 
of her notes, but composes herself more quaintly and elegantly, if she conceives there be 
any auditors, or if she be near houses. Just so it is with hypocrites in religious duties. 



172 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

the trumpet must sound ; when they pray, it must be in the syna- 
gogues and in the corners of the streets ; and when they fasted, they 
disfigured their faces that they might appear unto men to fast. Hypo- 
crites live upon the praises and applauses of men. Naturalists report 
of the Chelydonian stone/ that it will retain its virtue no longer than it 
is enclosed in gold. So hypocrites will keep up their duties no longer 
than they are fed, and encouraged, and enclosed with the golden praises 
and applauses of men. Hypocrites are like blazing stars, which, so 
long as they are fed with vapours, shine as if they were fixed stars ; but 
let the vapours dry up, and presently they vanish and disappear. 

Closet duty speaks out most sincerity. He prays with a witness that 
prays without a witness. The more sincere the soul is, the more in clo- 
set duty the soul will be. Job xxxi. 33. Where do you read in all the 
Scripture, that Pharaoh, or Saul, or Judas, or Demas, or Simon Magus, 
or the scribes and pharisees, did ever use to pour out their souls before 
the Lord in secret ? Secret prayer is not the hypocrite's ordinary walk, 
his ordinary work or trade. There is great cause to fear that his heart 
was never right with God, whose whole devotion is spent among men, 
or among many ; or else our Saviour, in drawing the hypocrite's pic- 
ture, would never have made this to be the very cast of his countenance, 
as he doth in Mat. vi. 5. It is very observable, that Christ commands his 
disciples, that they should not be as the hypocrites. It is one thing to 
be hypocrites, and it is another thing to be as the hypocrites. Christ 
would not have his people to look like hypocrites, nor to be like to hy- 
pocrites. It is only sincerity that will enable a man to make a trade of 
private prayer. In praying with many, there are many things that may 
bribe and provoke a carnal heart, as pride, vain-glory, love of applause, 
or to get a name. An hypocrite, in all his duties, trades more for a 
good name than for a good life, for a good report than for a good con- 
science ; like fiddlers, that are more careful in tuning their instruments, 
than in composing their lives. But in private prayer there is no such 
trade to be driven. But, 

[4.] Fourthly, Consider that in secret ive may more freely, and fully, 
and safely unbosom our souls to God than we can in the presence of 
many or a few. Hence the husband is to mourn apart, and the wife 
apart, Zech. xii. 12-14, not only to shew the soundness of their sorrow, 
but also to shew their sincerity by their secresy. They must mourn 
apart, that their sins may not be disclosed nor discovered one to another. 
Here they are severed to shew that they wept not fo? company's sake, 
but for their own particular sins, by which they had pierced and cruci- 
fied the Lord of glory. In secret, a Christian may descend into such 
particulars, as in public or before others he will not, he may not, he 
ought not, to mention. Ah ! how many Christians are there who would 
blush and be ashamed to walk in the streets, and to converse with 
sinners or saints, should but those infirmities, enormities, and wicked- 
nesses be written in their foreheads, or known to others, which they 
freely and fully lay open to God in secret. There are many sins which 
many men have fallen into before conversion and since conversion, 
which, should they be known to the world, would make themselves to 
stink, and religion to stink, and their profession to stink in the nostrils 
^ That is, from Chelidoniae Insulse — Plini/, v. 88. — G. 



Mat. VI. 6.] the prfv^y key of heaven. 173 

of all that know them. Yea, should those weaknesses and wickednesses 
be published upon the house-tops, which many are guilty of before 
grace received, or since grace received, how would weak Christians be 
staggered, young comers on in the ways of God discouraged, and many 
mouths of blasphemy opened, and many sinners' hearts hardened against 
the Lord, his ways, reproofs, and the things of their own peace; yea, 
how would Satan's banner be displayed, and his kingdom strengthened, 
and himself infinitely pleased and delighted ! It is an infinite mercy and 
condescension in God to lay a law of restraint upon Satan, who else would 
be the greatest blab in all the world. It would be mirth and music to 
him to be still a-laying open the follies and weaknesses of the saints. 

Ambrose brings in the devil boasting against Christ, and challeng- 
ing Judas as his own. ' He is not thine. Lord Jesus, he is mine: his 
thoughts beat for me ; he eats with thee, but is fed by me ; he .takes 
bread from thee, but money from me ; he drinks with thee, and sells 
thy blood to me.' There is not a sin that a saint commits, but Satan 
would trumpet it out to all the world, if God would but give him leave. 
No man that is in his right wits, will lay open to every one his bodily 
infirmities, weaknesses, diseases, ailments, griefs, &c., but to some near 
relation, or bosom friend, or able physician. So no man that is in his 
right wits will lay open to every one his soul-infirmities, weaknesses, 
diseases, ailments, griefs, &c., but to the Lord, or to some particular 
person that is wise, faithful, and able to contribute something to his 
soul's relief. Should a Christian but lay open or rip up all his follies 
and vanities to the world, how sadly would some deride him and scorn 
him ! and how severely and bitterly would others censure him and 
judge him ! &c. When David was alone in the cave, then he poured 
out his complaint to God, and shewed before him his trouble, Ps. 
cxlii. 2. And when Job was all alone, then his eyes poured out tears 
to God, Job xvi. 20. There is no hazard, no danger, in ripping up of 
aU before God in a comer, but there may be a great deal of hazard and 
danger in ripping up of all before men. 

[5.] Fifthly, Secret duties shall have open rewards.^ Mat. vi. 6, 
' And thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.' So, 
ver. 18, God will reward his people here in part, and hereafter in all 
perfection. He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him in a 
comer. They that sow in tears secretly, shall reap in joy openly. 
Private prayer shall be rewarded before men and angels publicly. How 
openly did God reward Daniel for his secret prayer ! Dan. vi. 10, 23-28. 
Mordecai privately discovered a plot of treason against the person of 
king Ahasuerus, and he is rewarded openly, Esther ii. 21-23, with chap. 
6th. Darius, before he came to the kingdom, received privately a gar- 
ment for a gift of one Syloson; and when he came to be a king, he 
rewarded him openly with the command of his country Samus.^ God, 
in the great day, will recompense his people before all the world, for 
every secret prayer, and secret tear, and secret sigh, and secret groan 
that hath come from his people. God, in the great day, will declare to 
men and angels, how often his people have been in pouring out their 

* Eccles. xii. 14 ; 2 Cor. v. 10 ; Rev. xxii. 12 ; Ps. cxxvi. 5 ; Luke xiv. 14 ; Mat.xxv 
&4, 37. 
» Samos. Told by Herodotus, iii. 89, 139-149, vi. 13 ; Strabo, xiv.— G. 



174; THE PEIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VI. 6. 

souls before him in such and such holes, corners, and secret places ; and 
accordingly he will reward them. 

Ah, Christians ! did you really believe this, and seriously dwell on 
this, you would, 

(1.) Walk more thankfully. 

(2.) Work more cheerfully. 

(3.) Suffer more patiently. 

(4.) Fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil, more courage- 
ously. 

(5.) Lay out yourselves for God, his interest and glory, more freely. 

(6.) Live with what providence hath cut out for your portion, more 
quietly and contentedly. And, 

(7.) You would be in private prayer more frequently, more abundantly. 

[6.] Sixthly, Consider thai God hath usually let out himself most to 
his people ivhen they have been in secret, when they have been alone ai 
the throne of grace} Oh the sweet meltings, the heavenly warmings, 
the blessed cheerings, the glorious manifestations, and the choice com- 
munion with God, that Christians have found when they have been 
alone with God in a corner, in a closet, behind the door ! When had 
Daniel that vision and comfortable message, that blessed news, by the 
angel, that he was 'greatly beloved,' but when he was all alone at 
prayer ? Dan. ix. 20-23, ' And while I was speaking, and praying, and 
confessing my sin, and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my 
supplication before the Lord my God, for the holy mountain of my God ; 
yea, while I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, wliom I had 
seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched 
me about the time of the evening oblation ; and he informed me, and 
talked with me, and said, Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee 
skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the 
commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art 
greatly beloved. Therefore understand the matter, and consider the 
vision.' Whilst Daniel was at private prayer, God, by the angel Gabriel, 
reveals to him the secret of his counsel, concerning the restoration of 
Jerusalem, and the duration thereof, even to the Messiah ; and whilst 
Daniel was at private prayer, the Lord appears to him, and in an extra- 
ordinaiy way assures him that he was ' a man greatly beloved,' or as 
the Hebrew chumudoth hath it, ' a man of desires,' that is, a man whom 
God's desires are towards, a man singularly beloved of God, and highly 
in favour with God, a man that art very pleasing and delightful to God. 
God loves to lade the wings of private prayer with the sweetest, choicest, 
and chiefest blessings. Ah ! how often hath God kissed a poor Christian 
at the beginning of private prayer, and spoke peace to him in the midst 
of private prayer, and filled him with light and joy and assurance upon 
the close of private prayer ? And so Cornelius is highly commended 
and graciously rewarded upon the account of his private prayer : Acts 
X. 1-4, ' There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a cen- 
turion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one that 
feared God with all his house ; which gave much alms to the people, 
and prayed to God always : he saw in a vision evidently, about the ninth 

' Lord, I never come to thee but by thee ; I never go from thee without thee. — 
Bernard. 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 175 

hour of the day, an angel of God coming in to him, and saying imto him, 
Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said. What 
is it, Lord ? and he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come 
up for a memorial before God.' Vers. 30, 31, * And Cornelius said. Four 
days ago I was fasting until this hour' (that is, until three o'clock in the 
afternoon, ver. 3), ' and at the ninth hour I prayed in my jiouse, and, 
behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said. Thy prayer 
is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.' 
Mark, as he was praying in his house, namely, by himself alone, a man 
in bright clothing — that was an angel in man's shape, ver. 3 — ap- 
peared to him, and said, ' Cornelius, thy prayer is heard.' He doth not 
mean only that prayer which he made when he fasted and humbled 
himself before the Lord, vers. 30, 31; but, as verses 2, 3, 4 shew, his 
prayers, his prayers which he made alone. For it seems none else were 
with him then, for he only saw that man in bright clothing; and to him 
alone the angel addressed his present speech, saying, ' Cornelius, Thy 
prayers are heard, vers. 4, 31. Here you see that Cornelius his private 
prayers are not only heard, but kindly remembered, and graciously 
accepted, and gloriously rewarded. Praying Cornelius is not only 
remembered by God, but he is also visited, sensibly and evidently, by 
an angel, and assured that his private prayers and good deeds are an 
odour, a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable and well pleasing to God. 
And so when had Peter his vision but when he was praying alone on 
the house-top ? Acts x. 9-13, 'On the morrow, as they went on their 
journey, and drew near unto the city, Peter went up unto the house- 
top to pray, about the sixth hour. And he became very hungry, and 
would have eaten; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, and 
saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had 
been a great sheet, knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth, 
wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild 
beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a 
voice to him. Rise, Peter ; kill, and eat.' When Peter was upon the 
house-top at prayer alone, then he fell into a trance, and he saw heaven 
opened ; and then he had his spirit raised, his mind elevated, and all 
the faculties of his soul filled with a divine revelation. And so when 
Paul was at prayer alone. Acts ix. 12, he saw in a vision a man named 
Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him that he might receive 
his sight. Paul had not been long at private prayer before it was re- 
vealed to him that he was a chosen vessel, and before he was filled with 
the gifts, graces, and comforts of the Holy Ghost. And when John was 
alone in the isle of Patmos, ' for the word of God, and for the testimony 
of Jesus Christ' — whither he was banished by Domitian, a most cruel 
emperor' — then he had a glorious sight of the Son of man, and then the 
Lord discovered to him most deep and profound mysteries, both con- 
cerning the present and future state of the church, to the end of the 
world. And when John was weeping, in private prayer doubtless, then 
the sealed book was opened to him. So when Daniel was at private 
prayer, God despatches a heavenly messenger to him, and his errand 
was to open more clearly and fully the blessed Scripture to him. Some 
comfortable and encouraging knowledge this holy man of God had 
1 Euseb. lib. iii. cap. xviii. Rev. i. 9, teq. ; v. 1-9. 



176 THE PRIVT KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

attained unto before by his frequent and constant study in the word, 
and this eggs him on to private prayer, and private prayer posts an 
angel from heaven to give him a clearer and fuller light.^ Private 
prayer is a golden key to unlock the mysteries of the word unto us. 
The knowledge of many choice and blessed truths are but the returns 
of private prayer. The word most dwells richly in their hearts who are 
most in pouring out their hearts before God in their closets. When 
Bonaventura, that seraphical doctor, as some call him, was asked by 
Aquinas from what books and helps he derived such holy and divine 
expressions and contemplations, he pointed to a crucifix, and said, 'Iste 
est liber, &c., Prostrate in prayer at the feet of this image, my soul re- 
ceiveth greater light from heaven than from all study and disputation.' 
Though this be a monkish tradition and superstitious fiction, yet some 
improvement may be made of it. Certainly that Christian or that 
minister that in private prayer lies most at the feet of Jesus Christ, he 
shall understand most of the mind of Christ in the gospel, and he shall 
have most of heaven and the things of his own peace brought down into 
his heart. 

There is no service wherein Christians have such a near, familiar, and 
friendly intercourse with God as in this of private prayer; neither is 
there any service wherein God doth more delight to make known his 
truth and faithfulness, his grace and goodness, his mercy and bounty, 
his beauty and glory to poor souls, than this of private prayer. Luther 
professeth, ' That he profited more in the knowledge of the Scripture by 
private prayer in a short space, than he did by study in a longer space,'* 
as John by weeping in a corner got the sealed book opened. Private 
prayer crowns God with the honour and glory that is due to his name ; 
and God crowns private prayer with a discovery of those blessed weighty 
truths to his servants, that are a sealed book to others. Certainly the 
soul usually enjoys most communion with God in secret. When a 
Christian is in a wilderness, which is a very solitary place, then God de- 
lights to speak friendly and comfortably to him : Hosea ii. 14, ' Behold, 
I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak friendly 
or comfortably to her,' or as the Hebrew hath it, 'I will speak to her 
heart.' When I have her alone, saith God, in a solitary wilderness, I 
will speak such things to her heart, as shall exceedingly cheer her, and 
comfort her, and even make her heart leap and dance within her.' A 
husband imparts his mind most freely and fully to his wife when she is 
alone ; and so doth Christ to the believing soul. Oh the secret kisses, 
the secret embraces, the secret visits, the secret whispers, the secret 
cheerings, the secret sealings, the secret discoveries, &c., that God gives 
to his people when alone, when in a hole, when under the stairs, when 
behind the door, when in a dungeon ! When Jeremiah was calling upon 
God alone in his dark dungeon, he had great and wonderful things 
shewed him that he knew not of, Jer. xxxiii. 1-3. 

Ambrose was wont to say, ' I am never less alone, than when I am 
alone ; for then I can enjoy the presence of my God most freely, fully, and 
sweetly, without interruption.' 

' Doctor [William] Ames got his learning by private prayer ; and so did Solomon his 
wisdom. ' Bene oraste, est bene sltiduiaae. — Luther. 

3 Nunquam minus solus, quam cum solus ; never less alone, than when alone, said the 
heathen. And may not a saint say so much more that hath communion with God ? 



Mat. VI. 6.] the pkivy key of heaven. 177 

And it was a most sweet and divine saying of Bernard, * O saint, 
knowest thou not,' saith he, 'that thy husband Christ is bashful, and will 
not be familiar in company ? Retire thyself therefore by prayer and medi- 
tation into thy closet or the fields, and there thou shalt have Christ's 
embraces.' 

A gentlewoman, being at private prayer and meditation in her parlour^ 
had such sweet, choice, and full enjoyments of God, that she cried out, 
'Oh that I might ever enjoy this sweet communion with God !' &c. 

Christ loves to embrace his spouse, not so much in the open street, 
as in a closet ; and certainly the gracious soul hath never sweeter views 
of glory, than when it is most out of the view of the world. Wise men 
give their best, their choicest, and their richest gifts in secret ; and so 
doth Christ give his the best of the best, when they are in a corner, 
when they are all alone. But as for such as cannot spare time to seek 
God in a closet, to serve him in secret, they sufficiently manifest that 
they have little fellowship or friendship with God, whom they so seldom 
come at. 

[7.] Seventhly, Consider the tmie of this life is the only time for 
private prayer. Heaven will admit of no secret prayer. In heaven 
there will be no secret sins to trouble us, nor no secret wants to pinch 
us, nor no secret temptations to betray us, nor no secret snares to en- 
tangle us, nor no secret enemies to supplant us. We had need live much 
in the practice of that duty here on earth, that we shall never be ex- 
ercised in after death. Some duties that are incumbent upon us now, 
as {^raising of God, admiring of God, exalting and lifting up of God, joy- 
ing and delighting in God, &c., will be for ever incumbent upon us in 
heaven ; but this duty of private prayer, we must take our leaves of 
when we come to lay our heads in the dust. 

[8.] Eighthly, Consider the great prevalency of secret prayer. Private 
prayer is porta codi, clavis paradisi, the gate of heaven, a key to let 
us into paradise. Oh the great things that private prayer hath done 
with God ! Ps. xxxi. 22. Oh the great mercies that have been obtained 
by private prayer! Ps. xxxviii. 8, 9. And oh the great threatenings that 
have been diverted by private prayer ! And oh the great judgments that 
have been removed by private prayer! And oh the great judgments 
that have been prevented by private prayer ! I have read of a malicious 
woman who gave herself to the devil, provided that he would do a mischief 
to such a neighbour, whom she mortally hated : the devil went again and 
again to do his errand, but at last he returns and tells her, that he could 
do no hurt to that man, for whenever he came, he found him either 
reading the Scriptures, or at private prayer. Private prayers pierces the 
heavens, and are commonly blessed and loaded with gracious and glorious 
returns from thence. Whilst Hezekiah was praying and weeping in 
private, God sent the prophet Isaiah to him, to assure him that his 
prayer was heard, and that his tears were seen, and that he would add 
unto his days fifteen years, Isaiah xxxvfti. 5. So when Isaac was all alone 
meditating and praying, and treating with God for a good wife in the 
fields, he meets Rebekah, Gen. xxiv. 63, 64. So Jacob: Gen. xxxii, 
24-28, 'And Jacob was left alone ; and there wrestled a man with iim 
until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not 

VOL. II. M 



178 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VI. 6. 

against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh ; and the hollow of 
Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said. 
Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, 
except thou bless me. And he said unto him. What is thy name ? and 
he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, 
but Israel ; for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and 
hast prevailed.' In this scripture we have an elegant description of a duel 
fought between the Almighty and Jacob ; and in it there are these things 
most observable : 

(] .) First, We have the combatants or duellists, Jacob and God, who 
appeared in the shape or appearance of a man. He that is here said 
to be a man was the Son of God in human shape, as it appeareth by 
the whole narration, and by Hosea xii. 3-5. Now, that this man that 
wrestled with Jacob was indeed God, and not really man, is most evident 
by these reasons : 

[1.] First, Jacob desires a blessing from him, ver. 26. Now, it is 
God's prerogative-royal to bless, and not angels' nor men's. Frgo, — 

[2.] Secondly, He calls him by the name of God ; * thou hast power 
with God,' ver. 28. And saith Jacob, ' I have seen God face to face,' 
ver. 30. Not that he saw the majesty and essence of God : for no man 
can see the essential glory of God and live, Exod. xxxiii. 20, 23 ; but 
he saw God more apparently, more manifestly, more gloriously than 
ever he had done before. Some created shape, some glimpse of glory, 
Jacob saw, whereby God was pleased for the present to testify his more 
immediate presence, but not himself 

[3.] Thirdly, The same person that here Jacob wrestles with is he 
whom Jacob remembereth in his benediction as his deliverer from, all 
evil. Gen. xlviii. 16. It was that God that appeared to him at Bethel 
when he fled from the face of his brother. Gen. xxxv. 7. Ergo, — 

[4.] Fourthly, Jacob is reproved for his curious inquiring or ashing 
after the angeV-s name, ver. 29, which is a clear argument or demon- 
stration of his majesty and glory, God being above all notion and name. 
God is a super-substantial substance, an understanding not to be under- 
stood, a word never to be spoken. One being asked what God was, 
answered, ' That he must be God himself, before he could know God 
fully.' ^ We are as well able to comprehend the sea in a cockle-shell, 
as we are able to comprehend the Almighty, or that nomen Majesta- 
tivum, as Tertullian phraseth it. *In searching after God,' saith 
Chrysostom, ' I am like a man digging in a deep spring : I stand here, 
and the water riseth upon me ; and I stand there, and still the water 
riseth upon me.' 

In this conflict you have not one man wrestling with another, nor 
one man wrestling with a created angel, but a poor, weak, mortal man 
wrestling with an immortal God; weakness wrestling with strength, 
and a finite being with an infinite being. Though Jacob had no 
second, though he was all alone, though he was wonderfully over- 
matched, yet he wrestles and keeps his hold, and all in the strength of 
him he wrestles with. 

(2.) Secondly, You have the place where they combated, and that 
w^as beside the ford Jabbok, ver. 22. This is the name of a brook or 
' Dionys. Areop. de Divin. Nom., cap. i. 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 179 

river springing by Rabba, the metropolis of the Ammonites, and issuing 
into Jordan beneath the Sea of Galilee, Num. xxi. 24 ; Deut. ii. 37 ; 
Judges xi. 13, 15 ; Deut. iii. 16. Jacob did never enjoy so much of 
the presence of God as when he had left the company of men. Oh ! the 
sweet communion that Jacob had with God when he was retired from 
his family, and was all alone with his God by the ford Jabbok ! Cer- 
tainly Jacob was never less alone than at this time, when he was so 
alone. Saints often meet with the best wine and with the strongest 
cordials when they are all alone with God. 

(3.) Thirdly, You have the time of the combat, and that was the 
night. At what time of the night this wrestling, this duel began, we 
nowhere read ; but it lasted till break of day, it lasted till Jacob had 
the better of the angel. How many hours of the night this conflict 
lasted, no mortal man can tell. God's design was that none should be 
spectators nor witnesses of this combat but Jacob only ; and therefore 
Jacob must be wrestling when others were sleeping. 

(4.) Fourthly, You have the ground of the quarrel, and that was 
Jacob's fear of Esau, and his importunate desire for a blessing. Jacob 
flies to God, that he might not fall before man ; he flies to God, that 
he might not fly before men. In a storm, there is no shelter like to 
the wing of God. He is safest, and happiest, and wisest, that lays him- 
self under divine protection. This Jacob knew, and therefore he runs 
to God, as to his only city of refuge. In this conflict God would have 
given out : * Let me go, for the day breaketh/ ver. 26 ; but Jacob 
keeps his hold, and tells him boldly to his very face that he would not 
let him go unless he would bless him. Oh the power of private prayer ! 
It hath a kind of omnipotency in it ; it takes God captive ; it holds 
him as a prisoner ; it binds the hands of the Almighty ; yea, it will 
wring a mercy, a blessing, out of the hand of heaven itself. Oh the 
power of that prayer that makes a man victorious over the greatest, the 
highest power ! Jacob, though a man, a single man, a travelling man, 
a tired man, yea, though a worm, that is easily crushed and trodden 
under foot, and no man, Isa. xli. 14, yet in private prayer he is so 
potent, that he overcomes the omnipotent God ; he is so mighty, that 
he overcomes the Almighty. 

(5.) Fifthly, You have the nature or manner of the combat, and that 
was both outward and inward, both corporal and spiritual. It was by 
might and flight ; it was as well by the strength of his body as it was 
by the force of his faith. He wrestled not only with spiritual strug- 
glings, tears, and prayers, Hosea xii. 4, but with corporal also, wherein 
God assailed him with one hand, and upheld him with the other. In 
this conflict, Jacob and the angel of the covenant did really lay arm on 
arm, and set shoulder to shoulder, and put foot to foot, and used all 
other sleights and ways as men do that wrestle one with another. 
The Hebrew word p2^*\ from p3X^ that is here rendered vrrestled, sig- 
nifies the raising of the dust ; because those whicli did wrestle of old 
did not only wrestle naked, as the manner then was, but did also use 
to cast dust one upon another, that so they might take more sure hold 
one of another. Some, from this word abak, do conclude that Jacob 
and the angel did tug, and strive, and turn each other, till they sweat 
again ; for so much the word imports. Jacob and the angel did not 



180 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VI. 6. 

wrestle in jest, but in good earnest ; they wrestled with their might, as 
it were, for the garland ; they strove for victory as for life. 

But as this wrestling was corporal, so it was spiritual also. Jacob's 
soul takes hold of God, and Jacob's faith takes hold of God, and Jacob's 
prayers takes hold of God, and Jacob's tears takes hold of God, Hosea xii. 
4, 5. Certainly Jacob's weapons in this warfare were mainly spiritual, 
and so ' mighty through God.' There is no overcoming of God but in 
his own strength. Jacob did more by his royal faith than he did by his 
noble hands, and more by weeping than he did by sweating, and more 
by praying than he did by all his bodily strivings. 

(6.) Sixthly and lastly. You have ilie issue of the combat, and that is, 
victory over the angel, ver. 28. Jacob wrestles in the angel's arms and 
armour, and so overcomes him. As a prince, he overpowers the angel 
by that very power he had from the angel. The angel was as freely 
and fully willing to be conquered by Jacob, as Jacob was willing to be 
conqueror. "When lovers wrestle, the strongest is willing enough to take 
a fall of the weakest ; and so it was here. The father, in wrestling with 
his child, is willing enough, for his child's comfort and encouragement, 
to take a fall now and then ; and so it was between the angel and Jacob 
in the present case. Now in this blessed story, as in a crystal glass, 
you may see the great power and prevalency of private prayer ; it 
conquers the great conqueror ; it is so omnipotent that it overcomes an 
omnipotent God. 

Now this you may see more fully and sweetly cleared up in Hosea 
xii. 3, 4, ' He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by 
his strength he had power with God : yea, he had power over the 
angel, and prevailed ; he wept, and made supplication unto him : he 
found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us.' When Jacob was 
all alone and in a dark night, and but on one leg, yet then he played 
the prince with God, as the Hebrew hath it. Jacob by prayers and 
tears did so prince it with God as that he carried the blessing. Jacob's 
wrestling was by weeping, and his prevailing by praying. Prayers and 
tears are not only very pleasing to God, but also very prevalent with God. 
And thus you see that this great instance of Jacob speaks out aloud the 
prevalency of private prayer. 

See another instance of this in David : Ps. Ixvi. 8, 9, 'I am weary 
with my groanings : all the night make I my bed to swim : I water my 
couch with my tears.' These are all excessive figurative speeches, to 
set forth the greatness of his sorrow, and the multitude of his tears. 
David in his retirement makes the place of his sin, viz. his bed, to be 
the place of his repentance. David sins privately upon his bed, and 
David mourns privately upon his bed. Every place which we have pol- 
luted by sin, we should sanctify and water with our tears : ver. 8, ' De- 
part from me, all ye workers of iniquity ; for the Lord hath heard the 
voice of my weeping.' As blood hath a voice, and as the rod hath a 
voice, so tears have a voice. Tears have tongues, and tears can speak. 
There is no noise to that that tears in secret make in the ears of God. 
A prudent and indulgent father can better pick out the wants and 
necessities of his children by their secret tears than by their loud com- 
plaints, by their weeping than by their words ; and do you think that 
God can't do as much ? Tears are not always mutes : Lam. ii. 18, * Cry 



Mat. YT. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 181 

aloud,' saith one, ' not with thy tongue, but with thy eyes ; not with 
thy words, but with thy tears ; for that is the prayer that maketh the 
most forcible entry into the ears of the great God of heaven.' Penitent 
tears are undeniable ambassadors that never return from the throne of 
grace without a gracious answer. Tears are a kind of silent prayers, 
which, though they say nothing, yet they obtain pardon ; and though 
they plead not a man's cause, yet they obtain mercy at the hands of 
God. As you see in that great instance of Peter, who, though he said 
nothing that we read of, yet weeping bitterly, he obtained mercy, Mat. 
xxvi. 75. I have read of Augustine, who, coming as a visitant to the 
house of a sick man, he saw the room full of friends and kindred, who 
were all silent, yet all weeping : the wife sobbing, the children sighing, 
the kinsfolk lamenting, all mourning ; whereupon Augustine uttered 
this short ejaculatory prayer, ' Lord, what prayer dost thou hear, if not 
these V Ver. 9, ' The Lord hath heard my supplication ; the Lord will 
receive my prayer.' God sometimes answers his people before they 
pray : Isa. Ixv. 24, ' And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I 
will answer.* And sometimes while they are praying ; so it follows in 
the same verse, ' And while they are yet speaking I will hear.' So Isa. 
XXX. 19, 'He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry : 
when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.' And sometimes after they 
have prayed, as the experiences of all Christians can testify. Sometimes 
God neither hears nor receives a prayer ; and this is the common case 
and lot of the wicked, Pro v. i. 28, Job xxvii. 9, Isa. i. 15. Sometimes 
God hears the prayers of his people, but doth not presently answer them, 
as in that case of Paul, 2 Cor. xii. 7-9 ; and sometimes God both hears 
and receives the prayers of his people, as here he did David's. Now in 
this instance of David, as in a glass, you may run and read the preva- 
lency of private prayer and of secret tears. 

You may take another instance of this in Jonah : chap. ii. 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 
* Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord hisGod out of thefish's belly,and said, 
I cried by reason of my affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me ; out 
of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst 
cast me into the deep, into the midst of the seas, and the floods com- 
passed me about : all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. The 
waters compassed me about, even to the soul : the depth closed me 
round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. When my 
soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord ; and my prayer came 
in unto thee, into thy holy temple. And the Lord spake unto the fish, 
and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.' When Jonah was all 
alone, and in the midst of many dangers and deaths, when he was in 
the whale's belly, yea, in the belly of hell, — so called because horrid and 
hideous, deep and dismal, — ^yet then private prayer fetches him from 
thence. Let a man's dangers be never so many, nor never so great, yet 
secret prayer hath a certain omnipotency in it that will deliver him out 
of them all In multiplied afflictions, private prayer is most prevalent 
with God, In the very midst of drowning, secret prayer will keep both 
head and heart above water. Upon Jonah's private prayer, God sends 
forth his mandamus, and the fish serves Jonah for a ship to sail safe to 
shore. When the case is even desperate, yet then private prayer can 
do much with God. Private prayer is of that power tliat it can open 



J 82 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

the doors of leviathan, as you see in this great instance, which yet is 
reckoned as a thing not feasible, Job xli. 14. 

Another instance of the prevalency of private prayer you have in 
that 2 Kings iv. 32-35, ' And when Elisha was come into the house, 
behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. He went in there- 
fore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the Lord.' 
Privacy is a good help to fervency in prayer. ' And he went up, and 
lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes 
upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands ; and he stretched himself 
upon the child, and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he re- 
turned, and walked in the house to and fro ; and went up, and stretched 
himself upon him : and the child sneezed seven times, and the child 
opened his eyes.' Oh the power, the prevalency, the oinnipotency of 
private prayer, that raises the dead to life ! And the same effect had 
the private praj^er of Elijah in raising the widow's son of Zarephath to 
life, 1 Kings xvii. 18, et seq. The great prevalency of Moses his private 
prayers you may read in the following scriptures : Num. xii. 1, 2, ' And 
when the people complained, it displeased the Lord : and the Lord 
heard it : and his anger was kindled : and the fire of the Lord burnt 
among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of 
the camp. And the people cried unto Moses ; and when Moses prayed 
unto the Lord, the fire was quenched.' Moses by private prayer rules 
and overrules with God ; he was so potent with God in private prayer 
that he could have what he would of God. So .Num. xxi, 7-9 ; Ps. 
cvi. 23; Exod. xxxii. 9-14; Exod. xiv. 15-17. The same you may 
see in Nehemiah, chap. i. 11, compared with chap. ii. 4-8. So Luther, 
perceiving the cause of God and the work of reformation to be greatly 
strained and in danger, he went into his closet, and never left wrestling 
with God till he had received a gracious answer from heaven ; upon 
which he comes out of his closet to his friends leaping and triumphing 
with ViciTnus, mciTnus, we have overcome, we have overcome, in his 
mouth. At which time it is observed that there came out a proclama- 
tion from Charles the Fifth, that none should be further molested for 
the profession of the gospel. At another time, Luther being in private 
prayer for a sick friend of his, who was very comfortable and useful to 
him, had a particular answer for his recovery ; whereupon he was so 
confident, that he sent word to his friend that he should certainly re- 
cover ; and so it fell out accordingly. And so Latimer prayed with 
great zeal for three things : , 

(1.) That Queen Elizabeth might come to the crown ; 

(2.) That he might seal the truth with his heart blood ; and 

(3.) That the gospel might be restored once again, once again, which 
he expressed with great vehemency of spirit : all which three God 
heard him in.' 

Constantino commanded that his effigies should be engraven, not as 
other emperors in their armour leaning, but as in a posture of prayer, 
kneeling, to manifest to the world that he won more by secret prayer 
tlian by open battles. 

Mr Dod reports, that when many good people had often sought the 
Lord in the behalf of a woman that was possessed with the devil, and 
' Foxe ; and cf. Sibbes sub nomine. — G. 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 183 

yet could not prevail, at last they appointed a day for fasting and 
prayer ; at which time there came a poor woman to the chamber door 
where the exercise was begun and craved entrance, but she being poor 
they would not admit her in ; upon that the poor woman kneeled down 
behind the door and sought God by prayer. But she had not prayed 
long before the evil spirit raged, roared, and cried out in the possessed 
woman, ' Take away the old woman behind the door, for I must be 
gone ; take away the old woman behind the door, for I must be gone.' 
And so by the old woman's prayers behind the door he was cast out. 
Oh the prevalency of prayer behind the door ! And thus you see by 
all these great instances the great prevalency of private prayer. 

Private prayer, like Saul's sword and Jonathan's bow, when duly 
qualified as to the person and act, never returns empty; it hits the 
mark, it carries the day with God ; it pierceth the walls of heaven, 
though, like those of Gaza, made of brass and iron,. Isa. xlv. 2. Oh, 
who can express the powerful oratory of private prayer ! &c, 

[9.] Ninthly, Consider, that secret duties are the most souL-enrieh- 
iing duties. Look, as secret meals make fat bodies, so secret duties 
make fat souls ; and as secret trades brings in great earthly riches, so 
secret prayers makes many rich in spiritual blessings and in heavenly 
riches. Private prayer is that privy key of heaven that unlocks all the 
treasures of glory to the soul. The best riches and the sweetest mercies 
God usually gives to his people when they are in their closets upon 
their knees. Look, as the warmth the chickens find by close sitting 
under the hen's wings cherisheth them, so are the graces of the saints 
enlivened, and cherished, and strengthened by the sweet secret in- 
fluences which their souls fall under when they are in their closet-com- 
munion with God. Private prayer conscientiously performed is the 
privy key of heaven, that hath unlocked such treasures and such secrets 
as hath passed the skill of the cunningest devil to find out. Private 
prayer midwifes the choicest mercies and the chiefest riches in upon us. 
Certainly there are none so rich in gracious experiences as those that 
are most exercised in closet duties : Ps. xxxiv. 6, ' This poor man cried,' 
saith David, ' and the Lord saved him out of all his troubles.' David, 
pointing to himself, tells us that he ' cried,' that is, silently and secretly, 
as Moses did at the Red Sea, and as Nehemiah did in the presence of 
the king of Persia ; ' and the Lord saved him out of all his troubles,' 
Exod. xiv. 1 5 ; Neh. i. ] 1 , and ii. 4. And, oh, what additions were 
these deliverances to his experiences ! O my friends, look, as the tender 
dew that falls in the silent night makes the grass and herbs and flowers 
to flourish and grow more abundantly than great showers of rain that 
fall in the day, so secret prayer will more abundantly cause the sweet 
herbs of grace and holiness to grow and flourish in the soul, than all 
those more open, public, and visible duties of religion, which too, too 
often are mingled and mixed with the sun and wind of pride and hypo- 
crisy. 

Beloved ! you know that many times a favourite at coiirt gets more 
by one secret motion, by one private request to his prince, than a 
tradesman or a merchant gets in twenty years' labour and pains, &c. 
8o a Christian many times gets more by one secret motion, by one 
private request to the King of kings, than many others do by trading 



184 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

long in the more public duties of religion. O sirs ! remember that in 
private prayer we have a far greater advantage as to the exercise of our 
own gifts and graces and parts, than we have in public ; for in public 
we only hear others exercise their parts and gifts, &c. ; in public duties 
we are more passive, but in private duties we are more active. Now, 
the more our gifts and parts and graces are exercised, the more they 
are strengthened and increased. All acts strengthen habits. The more 
sin is acted, the more it is strengthened. And so it is with our gifts and 
graces ; the more they are acted, the more they are strengthened. But, 
[10.] Tenthly, Take Tnany thhigs together. All Christians have 
their secret sins. Ps. xix. 12, 'Who can understand his errors ? cleanse 
thou me from secret faults.' Secret not only to other men, but him- 
self ; even such secret sins as grew from errors which he understood not. 
It is incident to every man to err, and then to be ignorant of his errors. 
Many sins I see in myself, saith he, and more there are which 1 cannot 
espy, which I cannot find out ; nay, I think, saith he, that everj'- man's 
sins do arise beyond his accounts. There is not the best, the wisest, 
nor the holiest man in the world, that can give a full and entire list of 
his sins. ' Who can understand his errors V This interrogation hath 
the force of an affirmation : ' Who can V No man ! no, not the most 
perfect and innocent man in the world. friends ! who can reckon up 
the secret sinful imaginations, the secret sinful inclinations, or the 
secret pride, the secret blasphemies, the secret hypocrisies, the secret 
atheistical risings, the secret murmurings, the secret repinings, the secret 
discontents, the secret insolencies, the secret filthinesses, the secret unbe- 
lievings, &c., that God might every day charge upon his soul ? Should 
the best and holiest man on earth have but his secret sins every day 
written in his forehead, it would not only put him to a crimson blush, 
but it would make him pull his hat over his eyes, or cover his face with 
a double scarf So 1 Kings viii. 38, ' What prayer and supplication 
soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall 
know every man the plague of his own heart,' &c. Sin is the greatest 
plague in the world, but never more dangerous than when it reaches 
the heart. Now, secret sins commonly lie nearest the heart, the foun- 
tain from whence they take a quick, immediate, and continual supply. 
Secret sins are as near to original sin as the first droppings are to the 
spring head. And as every secret sin lies nearest the heart, so every 
secret sin is the plague of the heart. Now, as secret diseases are not 
to be laid open to every one, but only* to the prudent physician, so our 
secret sins, which are the secret plagues, the secret diseases of our souls, 
are not to be laid open to every one, but only to the physician of souls, 
that is only able both to cure them and pardon them. And as all 
Christians have their secret sins, so all Christians have their secret 
temptations, 2 Cor. xii. 8, 9. And as they have their secret temptations, 
so they have their secret wants ; yea, many times they have such par- 
ticular and personal wants that there is not one in the congregation, 
nor one in the family, that hath the like. And as they have their 
secret wants, so they have their secret fears, and secret snares, and 
secret straits, and secret troubles, and secret doubts, and secret jealousies, 
&c. And how do all these things call aloud upon every Christian to be 
frequent and constant in secret prayer ! 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 185 

[11.] Eleventhly, Consider, Christ is very much affected and de- 
lighted in the secret prayers of his people. Cant. ii. 14, ' O my dove 
that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let 
me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice ; for sweet is thy voice, 
and thy countenance is comely.' Christ observes his spouse when she 
is in the clefts of the rock ; when she is gotten into a corner a-praying, 
he looks upon her with singular delight, and with special intimations 
of his love. Nothing is more sweet, delightful, and welcome to Christ 
than the secret services of his people. Their secret breathings are like 
lovely songs to him, Mai. iii. 4 ; their secret prayers in the clefts of the 
rock, or under the stairs, are as sweet incense to Jesus. The spouse re- 
tires to the secret places of the stairs not only for security, but also for 
secresy, that so she might the more freely, without suspicion of hypo- 
crisy, pour out her soul into the bosom of her beloved. The great delight 
that parents take in the secret lispings and whisperings of their children, 
is no delight to that which Christ takes in the secret prayers of his 
people. And therefore, as you would be friends and furtherers of 
Christ's delight, be much in secret prayer. 

[12.] Twelfthly, Consider you are the only persons in all the world 
that God hath made choice of to reveal his secrets to. John xv. 15, 
* Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what 
his lord doth ; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have 
heard of my Father I have made known unto you.' Everything that 
God the Father had communicated to Christ as mediator to be revealed 
to his servants, he did make known to his disciples as to his bosom- 
friends. Christ loves his people as friends, and he uses them as friends, 
and he opens his heart to them as friends. There is nothing in the 
heart of Christ that concerns the internal and eternal welfare of his 
friends, but he reveals it to them : he reveals himself, his love, his 
eternal good will, the mj^steries of faith, and the secrets of his covenant, 
to his friends.* Christ loves not to entertain his friends with things 
that are commonly and vulgarly known. Christ will reveal the secrets 
of his mind, the secrets of his love, the secrets of his thoughts, the 
secrets of his heart, and the secrets of his purposes, to all his bosom- 
friends. Samson could not hide his mind, his secrets, from Delilah, 
though it cost him his life, Judges xvi. 15-17 ; and do you think that 
Christ can hide his mind, his secrets, from them for whom he hath laid 
down his life ? Surely no. O sirs ! Christ is, 

(1.) A universal friend. 

(2.) An omnipotent friend, an almighty friend. He is no less than 
thirty times called Almighty in that book of Job ; he can do above all 
expressions and beyond all apprehensions. 

(3.) He is an omniscient friend. 

(4.) He is an omnipresent friend. 

(5.) He is an indeficient friend. 

(6.) He is an independent friend. 

(7.) He is an unchangeable friend. 

(8.) He is a watchful friend. 

(9.) He is a tender and compassionate friend. 

(10.) He is a close and faithful friend ; and therefore he cannot but 
> 1 Cor. ii. 10, 11 : John i. 9 ; Rom. xvi. 25 ; 1 Cor. ii. 7 ; Eph. iii. 8, 4, 9. 



186 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT, VI. 6. 

open and unbosom himself to all his bosom friends. To be reserved 
and close is against the very law of friendship. Faithful friends are 
very free in imparting their thoughts, their minds, their secrets, one to 
another. A real friend accounts nothing worth knowing unless he 
makes it known to his friends. He rips up his greatest and most in- 
ward secrets to his friends. Job calls his friends 'inward friends,' or 
the men of his secrets. Job xix. 19. All Christ's friends are inward 
friends ; they are the men of his secrets : Pro v. iii. 32, ' His secrets are 
with the righteous,' that is, his covenant and fatherly affection, which 
is hid and secret from the world. He that is righteous in secret, where 
no man sees him, he is the righteous man, to whom God will communi- 
cate his closest secrets, as to his dearest bosom-friend. It is only a 
bosom-friend to whom we will unbosom ourselves. So Ps. xxv. 14, 
* The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him ; and he will shew 
them his covenant.' 

Now, there are three sorts of divine secrets : 

(1.) First, There are secrets of providence, and these he reveals to 
the righteous, and to them that fear him, Ps. cvii. 43, Hosea xiv. 9. 
The prophet Amos speaks of these secrets of providence : Amos iii. 7, 
' Surely the Lord God ^vill do nothing, but he revealeth his secrets unto 
his servants and prophets.' Micah knew the secret of the Lord touch- 
ing Ahab, which neither Zedekiah nor any other of the false prophets 
knew. So Gen. xviil 17, 'And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham 
that thing which I do f The destruction of Sodom was a secret that 
lay in the bosom of God ; but Abraham being a bosom-friend, God 
communicates this secret to him, ver. 19-21. Abraham was a friend, 
a faithful friend, a friend by a specialty, James ii. 23; and therefore 
God makes him both of his court and counsel. Oh how greatly doth 
God condescend to his people. He speaks to them as a man would 
speak to his friend ; and there is no secrets of providence, which may 
be for their advantage, but he will reveal them to his faithful servants. 
As all faithful friends have the same friends and the same enemies, so 
they are mutual in the communication of their secrets one to another ; 
and so it was between God and Abraham. 

(2.) Secondly, There are the secrets of his kingdom; and these he 
reveals to his people: Mat. xiii. 11, ' Unto you it is given to know the 
mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but unto them it is not given.' 
So Mat. xi. 25, ' At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, 
O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things 
from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.' ' Let 
us not think,' saith Jerome,' 'that the gospel is in the words of Scrip- 
ture, but in the sense ; not in the outside, but in the marrow ; not in 
the leaves of words, but in the root of reason.' Augustine humbly 
begged of God, that if it were his pleasure, he would send Moses to him 
to interpret some more abstruse and intricate passages in his book of 
Genesis.* There are many choice, secret, hidden, and mysterious 
truths and doctrines in the gospel, which Christ reveals to his people, 
that this poor, blind, ignorant world are strangers to.^ There are many 
secrets wrapped up in the plainest truths and doctrines of the gospel, 

* Jerome ad Eph. lib. i. ' Augustine on Genesis. — G. 

^ Joel ii.28: 1 Tim. iii. 9, 16 ; Col. i. 26, 27; 1 Cor. ii. 9-12 : Eph. iv. 21. 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 187 

which none can effectually open and reveal but the Spirit of the Lord, 
that searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. There are many 
secrets and mysteries in the gospel, that all the learning and labour in 
the world can never give a man insight into. There are many that 
know the doctrine of the gospel, the history of the gospel, that are mere 
strangers to the secrets of the gospel. There is a secret power, a secret 
authority, a secret efficacy, a secret prevalency, a secret goodness, a 
secret sweetness in the gospel, that none experience but those to whom 
the Lord is pleased to impart gospel secrets to : Isa. xxix. 11, 12, ' Seal 
my law among my disciples.' The law of God to wicked men is a sealed 
book that they cannot understand, Dan. xii. 9, 10. It is as blotted paper 
that they cannot read. Look, as a private letter to a friend contains secret 
matter that no man else may read because it is sealed ; so the law of 
grace is sealed up under the privy-seal of heaven, so that no man can 
open it or read it, but Christ's faithful friends to whom it is sent. The 
whole Scripture, saith Gregory, is but one entire letter despatched from 
the Lord Christ to his beloved spouse on earth. The Rabbins say that 
there are four keys that God hath under his girdle : 1, the key of the 
clouds ; 2, the key of the womb ; 3, the key of the grave ; 4, the key 
of food ; and I may add a fifth key that is under his girdle, and that is 
the key of the word, the key of the Scripture ; which key none can turn 
but he that 'hath the key of David, that opens, and no man shuts; and 
that shuts, and no man opens,' Rev. iii. 7. sirs! God reveals himself, 
and his mind, and will, and truth, to his people, in a more friendly and 
familiar way than he doth to others : Mark iv. 11, 'And he said unto 
them. Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of 
God : but unto them that are without, all these things are done in 
parables :' Luke viii. 10, 'And he said. Unto you it is given to know 
the mystery of the kingdom of God : but to others in parables ; that 
seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.' 
Though great doctors, and profound clerks, and deep-studied but un- 
sanctified divines may know much of the doctrines of the gospel, and 
commend much the doctrines of the gospel, and dispute much for the 
doctrines of the gospel, and glory much in the doctrines of the gospel, 
and take a great deal of pains to dress and trim up the doctrines of the 
gospel, with the flowers of rhetoric or eloquence ; though it be much 
better to present truth in her native plainness, than to hang her ears 
with counterfeit pearls. . . , The word, without human adornments, is 
like the stone garamantides, that hath drops of gold in itself, sufficient 
to enrich the believing soul. . . , Yet the special, spiritual, powerful, 
and saving knowledge of the doctrines of the gospel, is a secret, a 
mystery, yea, a hidden mystery to them, Rom. xvi. 25, 1 Cor. ii. 7. 

Chrysostom compares the mysteries of Christ, in regard of the 
wicked, to a written book, that the ignorant can neither read nor spell; 
he sees the cover, the leaves, and the letters, but he understands not 
the meaning of what he sees. He compares the mystery of grace to an 
indited epistle, which an unskilful idiot' viewing, he cannot read it, he 
cannot understand it ; he knoweth it is paper and ink, but the sense, 
the matter, he knows not, he understands not. So unsanctified per- 
sons, though they are never so learned, and though they may perceive 
' Cf. Sibbes, vol. i. pages 186, 290.— Q. 



188 THE PRrV^' KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VI. 6. 

the bark of the mystery of Christ, yet they perceive not, they under- 
stand not, the mystery of grace, the inward sense of the Spirit, in the 
blessed Scriptures. Though the devil be the greatest scholar in the 
world, and though he have more learning than all the men in the world 
have, yet there are many thousand secrets and mysteries in the gospel 
of grace, that he knows not really, spiritually, feelingly, efficaciously, 
powerfully, thoroughly, savingly, &c. 

Oh, but now Christ makes known himself, his mind, his grace, his 
truth, to his people, in a more clear, full, familiar, and friendly way : 
2 Sam. vii. 27, ' For thou, O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, hast revealed 
to thy servant ;' so you read it in your books ; but in the Hebrew it is 
thus : * Lord, thou hast revealed this to the ear of thy servant.' Now, 
the emphasis lieth in that word, to the ear, which is left out in your 
books. When God makes known himself to his people, he revealeth 
things to their ears, as we use to do to a friend who is intimate with 
us : we speak a thing to his ear. There is many a secret which Jesus 
Christ speaks in the ears of his servants, which others never come to be 
acquainted with : 2 Cor. iv. 6, ' God, who commanded the light to 
shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the 
knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.' 

The six several gradations that are in this scripture are worthy of 
our most serious consideration. Here is. 

First, Knowledge ; and. 

Secondly, The knowledge of the glory of God ; and, 

Thirdly, The light of the knowledge of the glory of God ; and, 

Fourthly, Shining ; and. 

Fifthly, Shining into our hearts ; and. 

Sixthly, Shining into our hearts in the face of Jesus Christ. 

And thus you see that the Lord reveals the secrets of himself, his 
kingdom, his truth, his grace, his glory, to the saints. But, 

(3.) Thirdly, There are the secrets of his favour, tJie secrets of his 
special love, that he bears to them ; the secret purposes of his heart to 
save them ; and these are those great secrets, those ' deep things of 
God.' which none can reveal ' but the Spirit of God.' Now these great 
secrets, these deep things of God, God doth reveal to his people by his 
Spirit : 1 Cor. ii. 10-12, ' But God hath revealed them unto us by his 
Spirit : for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man 
which is in him ? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the 
Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but 
the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things" that are freely 
given to us of God.' Now what are the things that are freely given to 
us of God, but our election, vocation, justification, sanctification, and 
glorification ? And why hath God given us his Spirit, but that we should 
know ' the things that are freely given to us of God.' Some by secret 
in that 25th Psalm, do understand a particular assurance of God's 
favours, whereby happiness is secured to us, both for the present and 
for the future. They understand by secret, the sealing of the Spirit, 
the hidden manna, the white stone, and the new name in it, * which 
none knoweth but he that hath it.' And so much those words, ' He 
will shew them his covenant,' seems to import : for what greater secret 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 189 

can God impart to his people, than that of opening the covenant of 
grace to them in its freeness, fulness, sureness, sweetness, suitable- 
ness, everlastingness, and in sealing up his good pleasure, and all 
the spiritual and eternal blessings of the covenant to them ? Such 
as love and serve the Lord shall be of his cabinet-council, they 
shall know his soul-secrets, and be admitted into a very gracious fami- 
liarity and friendship with himself : John xiv. 21-23, ' He that hath 
my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me ; and 
he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and 
manifest myself unto him. Judas saith unto him (not Iscariot), Lord ! 
how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the 
world ? Jesus answered and said unto him, If any man love me, he 
will keep my words : and my Father will love him, and we will come 
unto him, and make our abode with him.' God and Christ will keep 
house with them, and manifest the secrets of their love to them that 
are observant of their commands. And thus you see that the saints 
are the only persons to whom God will reveal the secrets of his provi- 
dence, the secrets of his kingdom, and the secrets of his love unto. Christ 
came out of the bosom of his Father, and he opens all the secrets of his 
Father only to his bosom-friends. Now what an exceeding high honour 
is it for God to open the secrets of his love, the secrets of his promises, 
the secrets of his providences, the secrets of his counsels, and the secrets 
of his covenant, to his people ! 

Tiberius Caesar thought no man fit to know his secrets. And among 
the Persians none but noblemen, lords, and dukes, might be made par- 
takers of state secrets ; they esteeming secresy a godhead, a divine 
thing, as Ammianus Marcellinus affirms. But now such honour God 
hath put upon all his saints, as to make them lords and nobles, and the 
only privy statesmen in the court of heaven. The highest honour and 
glory that earthly princes can put upon their subjects is to communicate 
to them their greatest secrets. Now this high honour and glory the 
King of kings hath put upon his people ; ' For his secrets are with them 
that fear him, and he will shew them his covenant.' It was a high 
honour to Elisha, 2 Kings, vi. 12, that he could tell the secrets that 
were spoken in the king's bed-chamber. Oh ! what an honour must it 
then be for the saints to know the secrets that are spoken in the pre- 
sence-chamber of the King of kings ! 

Now I appeal to the very consciences of all that fear the Lord, whe- 
ther it be not a just, equal, righteous, and necessary thing, that the 
people of God should freely and fully lay open all the secrets of their 
hearts before the Lord, who hath thus highly honoured them, as to reveal 
the secrets of his providence, kingdom, and favour to them ? Yea, I 
appeal to all serious and ingenuous Christians, whether it be not against 
the light and law of nature, and against the law of love, and law of 
friendship, to be reserved and close, yea, to hide our secrets from him 
who reveals his greatest and our choicest secrets to us ? And if it be, 
why then do not you in secret lay open all your secret sins, and secret 
wants, and secret desires, secret fears, &c., to him that seeth in secret ? 
You know all secrets are to be communicated only in secret. None 
but fools in folio will communicate secrets upon a stage, or before 
many. But, 



190 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VI 6. 

[13.] Thirteenthly, Consider, that in times of great straits and trials, 
in times of great afflictions and persecutions, private 'prayer is the 
Christian's meat a7id drink; it is his chief city of refuge; it is his shel- 
ter and hiding-place in a stormy day. When the saints have been driven 
by violent persecutions into holes, and caves, and dens, and de.^erts, and 
howling wildernesses, private prayer hath been their meat and drink, and 
under Christ their only refuge.^ When Esau came forth with hostile 
intentions against Jacob, secret prayer was Jacob's refuge : Gen. xxxii. 
6-9, 11, 'And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to 
thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred 
men with him :' all cut-throats. ' Then Jacob was greatly afraid and 
distressed : and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, 
^ and herds, and the camels, into two bands ; and said. If Esau come to 
the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left 
shall escape.' When all is at stake, it is Christian prudence to save 
what we can, though we cannot save what we would. ' And Jacob said, 
O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord 
which saidst unto me. Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, 
and I will deal well with thee.' Promises in private must be prayed 
over. God loves to be sued upon his own bond, when he and his people 
are alone. ' Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, 
from the hand of Esau : for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, 
and the mother with the children ;' or upon the children, meaning he 
will put all to death. Some look upon the words to be a metaphor 
taken from fowlers, who kill and take away the young and the dams 
together, contrary to that old law, Deut. xxii. "6. Others say it is a 
phrase that doth most lively represent the tenderness of a mother, who, 
seeing her children in distress, spares not her own body nor life, to 
hazard the same for her children's preservation, by interposing herself, 
even to be massacred together with and upon them, Hosea x. 14. 
When Jacob, and all that was near and dear unto him, were in eminent 
danger of being cut off by Esau, and those men of blood that were with 
him, he betakes himself to private prayer as his only city of refuge 
against the rage and malice of the mighty. And so when Jeremiah 
was in a solitary and loathsome dungeon, private prayer was his meat 
and drink, it was his only city of refuge : Jer. xxxiii. 1-3, ' Moreover, 
the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he 
was yet shut up in the court of the prison, saying. Thus saith the Lord, 
the maker thereof, the Lord that formed it, to establish it ; The Lord is 
his name : call unto me, and I will answer thee, and I will shew thee 
great and mighty,' or hidden ' things, which thou knowest not.' 
When Jeremiah was in a lonesome, loathsome prison, God encourages 
him by private prayer, to seek for further discoveries and revelations 
of those choice and singular favours, which in future times he purposed 
to confer upon his people: so 2 Chron. xxxiii. 11-13, 'Wherefore the Lord 
brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which 
took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters,' or chains, 
' and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in affliction, he 
besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the 
God of his fathers, and prayed unto him : and he was entreated of him, 
« Heb. xi. 37, 38 ; Rev. xii. 6 ; Pa- cii. 6-14. 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 191 

and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his 
kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God.' When 
Manasseh was in fetters in his enemy's country, when he was stripped 
of all his princely glory, and led captive into Babylon, he betakes him- 
self to private prayer as his only city of refuge ; and by this means he 
prevails with God for his restoration to his crown and kingdom. Private 
prayer is a city of refuge that no power nor policy, no craft nor cruelty, 
no violence nor force, is ever able to surprise. Though the joint prayers 
of the people of God together were often obstructed and hindered in 
the times of the ten persecutions, yet they were never able to obstruct 
or hinder secret prayer, private prayer. When men and devils have 
done their worst, every Christian will be able to maintain his private 
trade with heaven. Private prayer will shelter a Christian against all 
the national, domestical, and personal storms and tempests that may 
threaten him. When a man is lying upon a sick-bed alone, or when a 
man is in prison alone, or when a man is with Job left upon the dung- 
hill alone, or when a man is with John banished for the testimony of 
Jesus into this or that island alone, oh then private prayer will be his 
meat and drink, his shelter, his hiding-place, his heaven. When all 
other trades fail, this trade of private prayer will hold good. But, 

[14.] Fourteenthly, Consider that God is OTnnipresent} We cannot 
get into any blind hole, or dark corner, or secret place, but the Lord 
hath an eye there, the Lord will keep us company there : Mat. vi. 6, 
' And thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.' So 
ver. J 8. There is not the darkest, dirtiest hole in the world into 
which a saint creeps, but God hath a favourable eye there. God never 
wants an eye to see our secret tears, nor an ear to hear our secret cries 
and groans, nor a heart to grant our secret requests, and therefore we 
ought to pour out our souls to him in secret : Ps.'xxxviii. 9, ' Lord ! all 
my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee.' 
Though our private desires are never so confused, though our private 
requests are never so broken, and though our private groanings are 
never so much hidden from men, yet God eyes them all, God records 
them all, and God puts them all upon thefile^ of heaven, and will one day 
crown them with glorious answers and returns. We cannot sigh out a 
prayer in secret, but he sees us; we cannot lift up our eyes to him at 
midnight, but he observes us. The eye that God hath upon his people 
when they are in secret, is such a special tender eye of love, as opens 
his ear, his heart, and his hand, for their good : 1 Peter iii. 12, ' For 
the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto 
their prayers ;' or, as the Greek hath it, ' his ears are unto their prayers.' 
If their prayers are so faint, that they cannot reach up as high as 
heaven, then God will bow the heavens and come down to their prayers.' 
God's eye is upon every secret sigh, and every secret groan, and every 
secret tear, and every secret desire, and every secret pant of love, and 
every secret breathing of soul, and every secret melting and working of 
heart ; all which should encourage us to be much in secret duties, in 
closet services. As a Christian is never out of the reach of God's hand, 
so he is never out of the view of God's eye. If a Christian cannot hide 

^ Jer. xvi. 17 : Job xxxiv. 21 ; ProT. t. 21 ; Jer. xxxii. 19 ; Rev. ii. 23 ; Lam. iii. 56. 
' Cf. Sibbes, vol. i. pages 168, 289. — G. » God is totua oeulut, all eye. 



192 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

himself from the sun, which is God's minister of Hght, how impossible 
will it be to hide himself from him whose eyes are ten thousand times 
brighter than the sun ? In every private duty, a Christian is still under 
the eye of God's omnisciency. When we are in the darkest hole, God 
hath windows into our breasts, and observes all the secret actings of 
our inward man, 1 Tim. ii. 8. The eye of God is not confined to this 
place or that, to this company or that; God hath an eye upon his people 
as well when they are alone, as when they are among a multitude ; as 
well when they are in a corner, as when they are in a crowd. Diana's 
temple was burnt down when she was busy at Alexander's birth, and 
could not be at two places together.^ But God is present both in para- 
dise and in the wilderness, both in the family aud in the closet, both in 
public and in private at the same time. God is an omnipresent God ; 
he is everywhere. Non est ubi, ubi non est Deus. As he is included 
in no place, so he is excluded from no place : Jer. xxiii. 24», ' Can any 
man hide himself in secret places, that I shall not see him, saith the 
Lord ?' Prov. xv. 3, ' The eyes of the Lord are in every place, behold- 
ing the evil and the good,' or, ' contemplating the evil and the good,' as 
the Hebrew may be read. Now, to contemplaie, is more than simply 
to behold ; for contemplation addeth to a simple apprehension a deeper 
degree of knowledge, entering into the very inside of a matter ; and so 
indeed doth God discern the very inward intentions of the heart, and 
the most secret motions of the spirit. God is an infinite and immense 
being, whose centre is everywhere, and whose circumference is nowhere. 
Now, if our God be omnipresent, then wheresoever we are, our God is 
present with us : if we are in prison alone with Joseph, our God is pre- 
sent with us there ; or if we are in exile alone with David, ovir God is 
present with us there ; or if we are alone in our closets, our God is 
present with us there.* God seeth us in secret ; and therefore let us seek 
his face in secret. Though heaven be God's palace, yet it is not his 
prison. But, 

[15.] Fifteenthly, He that willingly neglects private prayer shall 
certainly be neglected in his public prayer ; he that will not call upon 
God in secret shall find by sad experience that God will neither hear 
him nor regard him in public. Want of private duties is the great 
reason why the hearts of many are so dead and dull, so formal and 
carnal, so barren and unfruitful under public ordinances. Oh that 
Christians would seriously lay this to heart ! Certainly, that man or 
woman's heart is best in public who is most frequent in private. They 
make most yearnings in public ordinances that are most conscientiously 
exercised in closet duties. No man's graces rises so high, nor no man's 
experiences rises so high, nor no man's communion with God rises so 
high, nor no man's divine enjoyments rises so high, nor no man's 
springs of comfort rises so high, nor no man's hopes rises so high, nor 
no man's parts and gifts rises so high, &c., as theirs do, who conscien- 
tiously wait upon God in their closets before they wait upon him in 
the assembly of his people ; and who when they return from public or- 
dinances retire into their closets and look up to heaven for a blessing 
upon the public means. It is certain that private duties fit the soul 

^ A remark assigned to Hegesias the Magnesian ; by Cicero to Timseus of Tauro- 
menium. Plutarch : Alexander, 3. Cicero, de Nat. Deor, ii. 27. — G- 



I 



Mat. VL 6.] the privy key of heaven. 193 

for public ordinances. He that makes conscience to wait upon God in 
private, shall find by experience that God will wonderfully bless public 
ordinances to him, Micah ii, 7. My design is not to set up one ordi- 
nance of God above another, nor to cause one ordinance of God to clash 
with another, — the public with the private, or the private with the public, 
— but that every ordinance may have its proper place and right, the 
desires of my soul being to prize every ordinance, and to praise every 
ordinance, and to practise every ordinance, and to improve every ordi- 
nance, and to bless the Lord for every ordinance. But as ever you 
would see the beauty and glory of God in his sanctuary, as ever you 
would have public ordinances to be lovely and lively to your souls, as 
ever you would have your drooping spirits revived, and your languish- 
ing souls refreshed, and your weak graces strengthened, and your strong 
corruptions weakened under public ordinances, be more careful and 
conscientious in the performance of closet duties, Ps. Ixiii. 1-3. Oh 
how strong in grace ! Oh how victorious over sin ! Oh how dead to 
the world ! Oh how alive to Christ ! Oh how fit to live ! Oh how 
prepared to die ! might many a Christian have been, had they been but 
more frequent, serious, and conscientious in the discharge of closet- 
duties. Not but that I think there is a truth in that saying of Bede — 
the word church being rightly understood— viz.. That he that comes not 
willingly to church shall one day go unwillingly to helL But, 

[16.] Sixteenthly, Consider, the times wherein we live call aloud for 
secret prayenr. Hell seems to be broke loose, and men turned into in- 
carnate devils •} land-destroying and soul-damning wickednesses walk 
up and down the streets with a whore's forehead, without the least 
check or control : Jer. iii. 3, ' Thou hast a whore's forehead, thou re- 
fusest to be ashamed ;' chap. vi. 15, ' Were they ashamed when they 
committed abomination ? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither 
could they blush.' They had sinned away shame, instead of being 
ashamed of sin. Custom in sin had quite banished all sense of sin and 
all shame for sin, so that they would not suffer nature to draw her veil 
of blushing before their great abominations. They were like to 
Caligula, a wicked emperor, who used to say of himself, that he loved 
nothing better in himself than that he could not be ashamed. The 
same words are repeated in chap. viii. 12. How applicable these scrip- 
tures are to the present time I will leave the prudent reader to judge. 
But what doth the prophet do now they were as bold in sin and as 
shameless as so many harlots ? That you may see in Jer. xiii. 17 : * But 
if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places,' or secresies, 
' for your pride ; and mine eye shall weep sore ' (Hebrew, weeping weep, 
or shedding tears shed tears ; the doubling of the verb notes the bitter 
and grievous lamentation that he should make for them), 'and run 
down with tears.' Now they were grown up to that height of sin and 
wickedness, that they were above all shame and blushing ; now they 
were grown so proud, so hardened, so obstinate, so rebellious, so mad 
upon mischief, that no mercies could melt them or allure them, nor no 
threatenings nor judgments could any ways terrify them or stop them. 
The prophet goes into a corner, he retires himself into the most secret 

' Ourtiiis, an heathen, could say that he was an undone man that knoweth no ehame. 

VOL. IL N 



194 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VI. 6. 

places, and there he weeps bitterly, there he weeps as if he were re- 
solved to drown himself in his own tears. When the springs of sorrow 
rise high, a Christian turns his back upon company, and retires himself 
into places of greatest privacy, that so he may the more freely and the 
more fully vent his sorrow and grief before the Lord. Ah, England, 
England ! what pride, luxury, lasciviousness, licentiousness, wanton- 
ness, drunkenness, cruelties, injustice, oppressions, fornications, adul- 
teries, falsehoods, hypocrisy, bribery, atheism, horrid blasphemies, and 
hellish impieties, are now to be found rampant in the midst of thee ! 
Ah, England ! England ! how are the Lord's Sabbaths profaned, pure 
ordinances despised, Scriptures rejected, the Spirit resisted and derided, 
the righteous reviled, wickedness countenanced, and Christ many thou- 
sand times in a day by these cursed practices afresh crucified ! Ah, 
England 1 England ! were our forefathers alive, how sadly would they 
blush to see such a horrid degenerate posterity as is to be found in the 
midst of thee ! How is our forefathers' hospitality converted into riot 
and luxury, their frugality into pride and prodigality, their simplicity into 
subtilty, their sincerity into hypocrisy, their charity into cruelty, their 
chastity into chambering and wantonness, their sobriety into drunken- 
ness, their plain-dealing into dissembling, their works of compassion 
into works of oppression, and their love to the people of God into an 
utter enmity against the people of God I &c. And what is the voice of 
all these crying abominations, but every Christian to his closet, every 
Christian to his closet, and there weep, with weeping Jeremiah, bitterly, 
for all these great abominations whereby God is dishonoured openly. 
Oh weep in secret for their sins who openly glory in their sins, which 
should be their greatest shame. Oh blush in secret for them that are 
past all blushing for their sins ; for who knows but that the whole 
land may fare the better for the sakes of a few that are mourners in 
secret ? But however it goes with the nation, such as mourn in secret 
for the abominations of the times, may be confident that when sweep- 
ing judgments shall come upon the land, the Lord will hide them in 
the secret chambers of his providence, he will set a secret mark of de- 
liverance upon their foreheads that mourn in secret for the crying sins 
of the present day, as he did upon theirs in Ezek. ix. 4-6. 

[17.] Seventeenthly, Consider that the near and dear relations that 
you stand in to the Lord calls aloud for secret prayer, John xv. 14, 
1 5. You are his friends. Now, a true friend loves to visit his friend 
when he may find him alone, and enjoy privacy with him. A true 
friend loves to pour out his heart into the bosom of his friend when he 
hath him in a comer, or in the field, or under a hedge. You are his 
favourites ; and what favourite is there that hides his secret from his 
prince ? Do not all favourites open their hearts to their princes when 
they are alone ? You are his children ; and what ingenuous child is 
there that doth not delight to be much with his father when he is alone, 
■when nobody is by ? Oh, how free and open are children when they 
have their parents alone, beyond what they are when company is pre- 
sent. You are the spouse of Christ ; and what spou.se, what wife is 
there that doth not love to be much with her husband when he is alone? 
True lovers are always best when they are most alone : Cant, vii, 10-1 2, 
' I am my beloved's, and his desire is towards me. Come, my beloved, 



Mat. VI 6.] the privy key of heaven. 195 

let us go forth into the field ; let us lodge in the villages. Let us get 
up early to the vineyards ; let us see if the vines flourish, whether the 
tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth : there will I give 
thee my loves.' The spouse of Christ is very desirous to enjoy his com- 
pany in the fields, that so, having her beloved alone, she might the 
more freely and the more secretly open her heart to him. As wives, 
when they are walking alone with their husbands in the fields, are more 
free to open their minds and the secrets of their hearts, than they are 
when in their houses with their children and servants about them, so 
it was with the spouse. Without all perad venture, they have very 
great cause to question whether they are Christ's real friends, favourites, 
children, spouse, who seldom or never converse with Christ in their 
closets, who are shy of Christ when they are alone, who never accustom 
themselves to give Christ secret visits. What Delilah said to Samson, 
Judges xvi. 15, ' How canst thou say, I love thee, when thou hast not 
told me wherein thy great strength lieth' (the discovery of which secret 
at last cost him his life), that, Christ may say to very many in our days : 
How can you say you love me, when you never acquaint me with your 
secrets ? How can you say you love me, when you never bestow any 
private visits upon me ? How can you say that you are my friends, 
my faithful friends, my bosom-friends, when you never in private un- 
bosom yourselves to me ? How can you say that you are my favourites, 
when you can spend one month after another, and one quarter of a 
year after another, and yet not let me know one of all your secrets, 
when every day you might have my ear in secret if you pleased ? How 
can you say that you are my children, and yet be so close and reserved 
as you are ? How can you say you are my spouse, and that you lie in 
my bosom, and yet never take any delight to open your hearts, your 
secrets, to me when I am alone ? What Alexander said to one that 
was of his name, but a coward, * Either lay down the name of Alex- 
ander, or fight like Alexander,'^ that I say to you. Either be frequent in 
closet duties, as becomes a Christian, or else lay down the name of a 
Christian ; either unbosom yourselves in secret to Christ, as friends, 
favourites, children, spouses, or else lay down these names, &c. But, 

[18.] EigMeentMy, Consider that God hath set a special mark of 
favour, honour, a/rid observation, upon those that have prayed in 
secret. As you may see in Moses, Exod. xxxiv. 28 ; and in Abraham, 
Gen. xxi. 33 ; and in Isaac, Gen. xxiv. 63 ; and in Jacob, Gen. xxxii. 
24-29 ; and in David, Ps. Iv. 16, 17 ; and in Daniel, chap. vi. 10 ; and 
in Paul, Acts ix. 11 ; and in Cornelius, Acts x. 2, 4 ; and in Peter, 
Acts X. 9-12 ; and in Manasseh, 2 Chron. xxxiii. 18, 19. God hath put 
all these worthies that have exercised themselves in secret prayer upon 
record, to their everlasting fame and honour. The Persians seldom 
write their king's name but in characters of gold. God hath writ, as 
I may say, their names in characters of gold who have made conscience 
of exercising themselves in secret prayer. The precious names of those 
that have addicted themselves to closet-duties are as statues of gold, 
which the polluted breath of men can no ways stain ; they are like so 
many shining suns that no clouds can darken ; they are like so many 
sparkling diamonds that shine brightest in the darkest night. A Chris- 
' Plutarch, Alexander.— Qt. 



196 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VI 6. 

tian can never get into a hole, a corner, a closet, to pour out his soul 
before the Lord, but the Lord makes an honourable observation of him, 
.and sets a secret mark of favour upon him, Ezek. ix. 4-6. And how- 
should this provoke all Christians to be much with God alone ! The 
Romans were very ambitious of obtaining a great name, a great report, 
in this world ; and why should not Christians be as divinely ambitious 
of obtaining a good name, a good report, in the other world ? Heb. xi, 
39. A good name is always better than a great name, and a name in 
heaven is infinitely better than a thousand names on earth ; and the 
way to both these is to be much with God in secret. But, 

[19.] Nineteenthly, Consider that Satan is a very great enemy to 
secret prayer. Secret prayer is a scourge, a hell to Satan. Every 
secret prayer adds to the devil's torment, and every secret sigh adds to 
his torment, and every secret groan adds to his torment, and every 
secret tear adds to his torment. When a child of God is on his knees 
in his secret addresses to God, oh the strange thoughts, the earthly 
thoughts, the wandering thoughts, the distracted thoughts, the hideous 
thoughts, the blasphemous thoughts, that Satan often injects into his 
soul ! and all to wean him from secret prayer.^ Sometimes he tells the 
soul, that it is in vain to seek God in secret ; and at other times he 
tells the soul it is too late to seek God in secret ; for the door of mercy 
is shut, and there is no hope, no help for the soul. Sometimes he tells 
the soul that it is enough to seek God in public ; and at other times he 
tells the soul, that it is but a precise trick to seek the Lord in private. 
Sometimes he tells the soul, that it is not elected, and therefore all his 
secret prayers shall be rejected ; and at other times he tells the soul, 
that it is sealed up unto the day of wrath, and therefore a secret prayer 
can never reverse that seal ; and all this to dishearten and discourage a 
poor Christian in his secret retirements. Sometimes Satan will object 
to a poor Christian the greatness of his sins ; and at other times he will 
object against a Christian the greatness of his un worthiness. Some- 
times he will object against a Christian his want of grace ; and at other 
times he will object against a Christian his want of gifts to manage 
such a duty as it should be managed. Sometimes he will object against 
a Christian his former straitenedness in secret prayer ; and at other 
times he will object against a Christian the small yearnings that he 
makes of secret prayer ; and all to work the soul out of love with secret 
prayer, yea, to work the soul to loathe secret prayer ; so deadly an enemy 
is Satan to secret prayer. Oh, the strange fears, fancies, and conceits, 
that Satan often raises in the spirits of Christians, when they are alone 
with God in a comer ; and all to work them to cast off private prayer. 
It is none of Satan's least designs to interrupt a Christian in his private 
trade with God. Satan watches all a Christian's motions ; so that he 
cannot turn into his closet, nor creep into any hole to converse privately 
with his God, but he follows him hard at heels, and will be still inject- 
ing one thing or another into the soul, or else objecting one thing or 
another against the soul. A Christian is as well able to tell the stars 
' There is no one thing that many hundred Cliristians have more sadly lamented and 
bewailed, as many faithful ministers can witness, tlian the sad interruptions that they 
have met with from Satan, when they have been with God alone in a room, in a corner. 
Oh ! how often have they been scared, aflfrighted, and amazed by noises and strange 
apparitions, at least to their fancies, when they have been alone with God in a corner. 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 197 

of heaven, and to number the sands of the sea, as he is able to number 
up the several devices and sleights that Satan uses to obstruct the soul's 
private addresses to God. Now from that great opposition that Satan 
makes against private prayer, a Christian may safely conclude these five 
things : 

(1.) First, The ecccellency of private prayer. Certainly if it were 
not an excellent thing for a man to be in secret with God, Satan would 
never make such head against it. 

(2.) Secondly, The necessity of this duty. The more necessary any 
duty is to the internal and eternal welfare of a Christian, the more Satan 
will bestir himself to blunt a Christian's spirit in that duty. 

(3.) Thirdly, The utility or profit that attends a conscientious dis- 
charge of this duty. Where we are like to gain most, there Satan 
loves to oppose most. 

(4.) Fourthly, The prevalency of private prayer. If there were not 
a kind of omnipotency in it, if it were not able to do wonders in heaven, 
and wonders on earth, and wonders in the hearts and lives and ways 
of men, Satan would never have such an aching tooth against it as he 
hath. 

(5.) Fifthly, That God is highly honoured by this duty, or else 
Satan would never be so greatly enraged against it. This is certain. The 
more glory God hath from any service we do, the more Satan will strive 
by all his wiles and sleights to take us, either off from that service, or so 
to interrupt us in that service, that God may have no honour, nor we 
no good, nor himself no hurt, by our private retirements. But, in the 
[20.] Twentieth and last place, Consider, that you are only the Lord's 
secret ones, his hidden ones ; and therefore if you do not apply your- 
selves to private prayer, and to your secret retirements, that you may 
enjoy God in a comer, none will. It is only God's hidden ones, his 
secret ones, that are spirited, principled, and prepared to wait on God 
in secret : Exod. xix. 5, ' Then shall ye be a peculiar treasure unto me 
above all people.' The Hebrew word segullah signifieth God's special 
jewels, God's proper ones, or God's secret ones, that he keeps in store for 
himself, and for his own special service and use. Princes lock up with 
their own hands in secret their most precious and costly jewels ; and so 
doth God his : Ps. cxxxv. 4, ' For the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto him- 
self, and Israel for his peculiar treasure,' or for his secret gem : Ps. 
Ixxxiii. 3, ' They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and con- 
sulted against thy hidden ones,' or thy secret ones ; so called partly 
because God hides them in the secret of his tabernacle, Ps. xxxi. 20, and 
partly because God sets as high a value upon them as men do upon their 
hidden treasure, their secret treasure ; yea, he makes more reckoning 
of them than he doth of all the world besides. And so the world shall 
know when God shall arise to revenge the wrongs and injuries that hath 
been done to his secret ones. Neither are there any on earth that knows 
so much of the secrets of his love, of the secrets of his counsels, of the 
secrets of his purposes, of the secrets of his heart, as his secret ones do. 
Neither are there any in all the world that are under those secret in- 
fluences, those secret assistances, those secret incomes, those secret 
anointings of the Spirit, as his secret ones are under. And therefore, 
no wonder if God calls them again, and again, and again, his secret ones. 



198 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

Now, what can be more comely or more desirable than to see their 
natures and their practices to answer to their names ? They are the 
Lord's secret ones, his hidden ones ; and therefore how highly doth it 
concern them to be much with God in secret, and to hide themselves 
with God in a comer ! Shall Nabal's nature and practice answer to his 
name ? 1 Sam. xxv, 25, ' Let not my Lord, I pray thee, regard this man 
of Belial, even Nabal : for as his name is, so is he : Nabal is his name, 
and folly is with him.' Nabal signifies a fool, a sot, a churl ; it notes 
one that is void of wisdom and goodness ; it signifieth one whose mind, 
reason, judgment, and understanding is withered and decayed. Now, if 
you look into the story, you shall find that as face answers to face, so 
Nabal's nature and practice did echo and answer to his name. And 
why then, should not our natures and practices answer to our names 
also ? We are called the Lord's secret ones, his hidden ones ; and how 
highly therefore doth it concern us to be much with God in secret ! 
Why should there be any jarring or discord between oiu: names and our 
practices? It is observable that the practice and carriage of other 
saints have been answerable to their names. Isaac signifies laughter, 
and Isaac was a gracious son, a dutiful son, a son that kept clear of 
those abominations with which many of the patriarchs had defiled them- 
selves, a son that proved matter of laughter to his father and mother 
all their days. So Josiah signifies * the fire of the Lord ;' and his prac- 
tice did answer to his name. Witness the pulling down of Jeroboam's 
altar, and his burning of the vessels that were made for Baal, and his 
pulling down the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had set 
up, and his burning the grove at the brook Kedron, and his stamping 
it to powder, and his breaking down the houses of the Sodomites, 
and his defiling of the high places where the priests had burnt 
incense, and his breaking in pieces the images, and cutting down the 
groves, and filling their places with the bones of men, &c., 1 Kings xiii. 2, 
2 Kings xxiii. 4-21. So Joshua signifies 'a saviour;' and his practice 
was answerable to his name. Though he could not save his people from 
their sins, yet he often saved them from their sufferings. Great and 
many were the deliverances, the salvations, that were instiiimentally 
brought about by Joshua, as all know that have read the book of 
Joshua. So John signifies ' gracious,' and his practice was answerable 
to his name. He was so gracious in his teachings and in his walkings 
that he gained favour in the very eyes of his enemies. By all these 
instances, and by many more that might be given, you see that other 
saints' practices have answered to their names ; and, therefore, let every 
one of us look that our practices do also answer to our names, that as 
we are called the Lord's secret ones, so we may be much with God in 
secret, that so there may be a blessed harmony between our names and* 
our practices, and we may never repent another day that we have been 
called God's secret ones, his ' hidden ones,' but yet never made con- 
science of maintaining secret communion with God in our closets. And 
thus you see that there are no less than twenty arguments to persuade 
you to closet prayer, and to maintain private communion with God in 
a corner. 

The use and application of all follows. 

Is it 80 that closet prayer or private prayer is such an indispensable 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 1 99 

duty, tliat Christ himself hath laid upon all thai are not willing to lie 
under the woful brand of being hypocrites ? Then this truth looks very 
sourly and sadly upon these five sorts of persons. 

(1.) Fi7'st, It looks sourly and sadly upon all those that put off 
secret prayer, private prayer, till they are moved to it by the Spirit; 
for by this sad delusion many have been kept from secret prayer many 
weeks, many months ; oh that I might not say, many years ! Though 
it be a very fit season to pray when the Spirit moves us to. pray, yet it 
is not the only season to pray, Isa. Ixii. 1, Ps. cxxiii. 1, 2, Glal. iv. 6. He 
that makes religion his business, will pray as daily for daily grace as he 
doth pray daily for daily bread : Luke xviii. 1, ' And he spake a parable 
unto them to this end, that men oilght always to pray, and not to faint ;' 
1 Thes. v. 17, 'Pray without ceasing;' Eph. vi. 18, 'Praying always ^ 
with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, and watching thereunto 
with aU perseverance, and supplication for all saints ;' Rom. xii. 12, 
* Continuing instant in prayer.' The Greek is a metaphor taken from 
hunting dogs, that never give over the game till they have got their 
prey. A Christian must not only pray, but hold on in prayer, till he 
hath got the heavenly prize. We are wanting always ; and therefore we 
had need be praying always. The world is always alluring ; and there- 
fore we had need be always a-praying ; Satan is always a-tempting ; 
and therefore we had need be always a-praying ; and we are always 
a-sinning ; and therefore we had need be always a-praying ; and we are 
in dangers always ; and therefore we had need be prajring always ; and 
we are dying always, 1 Cor. xv. 31 ; and therefore we had need be pray- 
ing always. Man's whole life is but a lingering death ; man no sooner 
begins to live, but he begins to die. When one was asked why he 
prayed six times a day, he only gave this answer, * I must die, I must 
die, I must die.' Dying Christians had need be praying Christians, 
and they that are always a-dying had need be always a-praying. Cer- 
tainly prayerless families are graceless families, and prayerless persons 
are graceless persons, Jer. x. 25. It were better ten thousand times 
that we had never been bom iuto the Avorld, than that we should go 
still-bom out of the world. But, 

(2.) Secondly, This truth looks sourly and sadly upon those that pray 
not at all, neither in their families nor in their closets. Among all 
God's children, there is not one possessed with a dumb devil. Prayer- 
less persons are forsaken of God, blinded by Satan, hardened in sin, 
and every breath they draw liable to all temporal, spiritual, and eternal 
judgments. Prayer is that part of natural worship due to God, which 
none will deny but stark atheists, Ps. xiv. 1.^ 

It is observable that amongst the worst of men, Turks, and the worst 
of Turks, the Moors, it is a just exception against any witness, by their 
law, that he hath not prayed six times in every natural day, it being 
usual with them to pray six times a day. 

(1.) Before the daybreak they pray for day. 

(2.) When it is day, they give thanks for day. 

' (> !r«»T) Koi^a. In every season, as occasion and opportunity offers itself, we must 
pray. 

* That wicked men ought to pray, and the grand objection against their prayers an- 
swered at large in my treatise called ' The Crown and Glory of Christianity,' from page 
326 to page 337. [See tub voce. Vol. IV.— G.] 



200 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. YI. 6. 

(3.) At noon, they thank God for half the day past. 

(4.) After that, they pray for a good sunset. 

(5.) And after that, they thank God for the day past. 

And then, sixthly and lastly, they pray for a good night after their 
day. 

Certainly these very Moors will one day rise in judgment against 
them who cast off prayer, who live in a total neglect of prayer, who 
suffer so many suns and moons to rise and set upon their heads without 
any solemn calling upon God. I have read of a man who, being sick, 
and afraid of death, fell to his prayers ; and, to move God to hear him, 
told him ' that he was no common beggar, and that he had never 
troubled him with his prayers before; and if he would but hear him at 
that time, he would never trouble him again.'' This world is full of 
such profane, blasphemous, atheistical wretches. But, 

(3.) Thirdly, This truth looks very sourly and sadly upon such whx) 
are all for public prayer, but never regard private prayer; who are 
all for going up to the temple, but never care for going into their 
closets. This is most palpable hypocrisy, for a man to be very zealous 
for public prayer, but very cold and careless as to private prayer. He 
that pretends conscience in the one, and makes no conscience of the 
other, is an hypocrite in grain. Mat. xxiii. 5, and vi. 1, 2, 5 ; and the 
devil knows well enough how to make his markets of all such hypo- 
crites that are all for the prayers of the church, but perfect Gallios as 
to private prayer. Acts xviii. 17. Such as perform all their private 
devotion in the church, but not in the chamber, do put too great a 
slight upon the authority of Christ, who saith, ' When thou prayest, 
enter into thy chamber :' he doth not say, ' When thou prayest, go to 
the church,' but, ' When thou prayest, go into thy chamber.' But, 

(4.) Fourthly, This truth looks sadly and sourly upon such who in 
their closets pray with a loud clamorous voice. A Christian should 
shut both the door of his closet and the door of his lips so close, that 
none should hear without what he saith within. * Enter into thy closet,* 
saith Christ, ' and when thou hast shut thy door, pray.' But what 
need a man shut his closet door, if he may pray with a clamorous voice, 
if he make such a noise as all in the street or all in the house may hear 
him ? The hen, when she lays her eggs, gets into a hole, a corner ; but 
then she makes such a noise with her cackling, that she tells all in the 
house where she is, and about what she is. Such Christians that in 
their closets, do imitate the hen, do rather pray to be seen, heard, 
and observed by men, than out of any noble design to glorify God, 
or to pour out their souls before him that seeth in secret. Sometimes 
children, when they are vexed, or afraid of the rod, will run behind 
the door, or get into a dark hole, and there they will lie crying, and 
sighing, and sobbing, that all the house may know where they are. 
Oh it is a childish thing so to cry, and sigh, and sob in our closets, as to 
tell all in the house where we are, and about what work we are. Well ! 
Christians, for an effectual redress of this evil, frequently and seriously 
consider of these five things. 

[1.] First, That God seeth in secret. 

[2.] Secondly, That God hath a quick ear, and is taken more with 
» Heil. Mic. p. 876. 



Mat. VI. 6.] the peivy key of heaven. 201 

the voice of the heart, than lie is with the dainour of the mouth. God 
can easily hear the most secret breathings of thy soul. God is more 
curious in observing the messages delivered by the heart, than he is 
those that are only delivered by the mouth. He that prays aloud in 
private, seems to tell others, that God doth not understand the secret 
desires, and thoughts, and workings of his people's hearts. 

[3.] Thirdly, It is not meet, it is not convenient nor expedient, that 
any should he acquainted with our secret prayers, hut Ood and our 
own sovXs. Now it is as much our duty to look to what is expedient, 
as it is to look to what is lawful, 2 Cor. viii. 10 ; 1 Cor. vi. 12, ' All things 
are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient.' So chap. x. 23, 
' All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient : all things 
are lawful for me, but all things edify not.' Now it is so far from being 
expedient, that it is very high folly for men to lay open their secret in- 
firmities unto others, that will rather deride them, than lift up a prayer 
for them. 

[4.] Fouiihly, Loud prayers may he a hindrance and disturbance 
to others, that may he busied near us, in some religious or civil exer- 
cises. 

[5.] Fifthly and lastly, Hannah prayed and yet spoke never a word. 
Her heart was full, but her voice was not heard, 1 Sam. i. 11. Moses 
prays and cries, and yet lets fall never a word : Exod. xiv. 15, ' And 
the Lord said unto Moses, Wherfore criest thou unto me ? ' Moses did 
not cry with any audible voice, but with inward sighs, and secret breath- 
ings, and wrestlings of soul ; and these inward and secret cries, which 
made no noise, carried the day with God ; for Moses is heard and an- 
swered, and his people are delivered. Oh the prevalency of those prayers 
that make no noise in the ears of others ! 

[5.] Fifthly and lastly, This truth looks sourly and sadly upon those 
that do all they can to hinder and discourage others from this duty of 
duties, private prayer ; and that either by deriding or vilifying of the 
duty, or else by denying of it to be a duty, or else by their daily neglect 
of this duty, or else by denying them that are under them, time and 
opportunity for the discharge of this duty. In Mat. xxiii. 13, you have 
a woe pronounced against those that wiU neither go to heaven them- 
selves, nor suffer others to go that are willing to enter into an everlasting 
rest. And so I say, Woe to those parents, and woe to those husbands, 
and woe to those masters and mistresses, that will neither pray in their 
closets themselves, nor suffer their children, nor their wives, nor their 
servants, to pour out their souls before the Lord in a corner. O sirs ! 
how will you answer this to your consciences, when you shall lie upon 
a dying bed ! and how will you answer it to the Judge of all the world, 
when you shall stand before a judgment seat ? Certainly all their sins, 
and all their neglects, and all their spiritual losses, that might have been 
prevented by their secret prayers, by their closet communion with 
God, will one day be charged upon your accounts. And oh that you 
were all so wise as to lay these things so to heart, that you may never 
hinder any that are under your care or charge, from private prayer any 
more ! But, 

^. Secondly, This may serve to exhort us, to keep close to our closets, 
to be frequent and constant in private prayer, to be often with God in 



202 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VI. 6. 

a corner. The twenty considerations already laid down may serve as 
so many motives to provoke your hearts to this noble and necessary duty. 

Objection. But many will be ready to object and say, We have Triuch 
busiTiess upon our hands, anA we canTwt spare time for private prayer; 
we have so much to do in our slwps, and in our ivarehouses, and abroad 
with others, that we cannot spare time to wait upon the Loi^d in our 
closets. 

Now to this objection I shall give these eight answers, that this ob- 
jection may never have a resurrection more in any of your hearts. 

(1.) First, Wlud are all those busxTiesses that are upon your hands, 
to those businesses and weighty affairs, that did lie upon the hands of 
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Daniel, Elias, Nehemiah, Peter, 
Cornelius P and yet you find all these worthies exercising themselves 
in private prayers. And the king is commanded every day to read some 
part of God's word, notwithstanding all his great and weighty employ- 
ments, Deut. xvii. 18-20. Now certainly, sirs, your great businesses are 
little more than ciphers compared with theirs. And if there were any 
on earth that might have pleaded an exemption from private prayer, 
upon the account of business, of much business, of great business, these 
might have done it ; but they were more honest and more noble than 
to neglect so choice a duty, upon the account of much business. These 
brave hearts made all their public employments stoop to private prayer ; 
they would never suffer their public employments to tread private prayer 
under foot. But, 

(2.) Secondly, I answer, No men's outward affairs did ever rfim^e 
prosper than theirs did, who devoted themselves to private prayer, 
notwitlistanding their many and great worldly employments. Witness 
the prosperity and outward flourishing estates of Moses, Abraham, Isaac, 
Jacob, Nehemiah, David, Daniel, and Cornelius. These were much with 
God in their closets, and God blessed their blessings to them. Gen. xxii. 1 7. 
How did their cups overflow ! What signal favours did God heap upon 
them and theirs ! No families have been so prospered, protected, and 
graced, as theirs who have maintained secret communion with God in a 
corner, 1 Chron. xi. 9. Private prayer doth best expedite our temporal 
affairs. He that prays weU in his closet, shall be sure to speed well in his 
shop, or at his plough, or whatever else he turns his hand unto, 1 Tim. 
iv. 8. It is true, Abimelech was rich as well as Abraham, and so was 
Laban rich as well as Jacob, and Saul was a king as well as David, and 
Julian was an emperor as well as Constantino ; but it was only Abraham, 
Jacob, David, and Constantino, who had their blessings blessed unto them, 
all the rest had their blessings cursed unto them, Prov. iii. 33, Mai. ii. 2. 
They had many good things, but they had not ' the good will of him 
that dwelt in the bush' with what they had ; and therefore all their 
mercies were but bitter-sweets unto themu Though all the sons of Jacob 
returned laden from Egypt with corn and money in their sacks, yet 
Benjamin only had the silver cup in the mouth of his sack. So though 
the men of the world have their com and their money, &c., yet it is only 
God's Benjamins that have the silver cup, the grace cup, the cup of 
blessing, as the apostle calls it, for their portion, 1 Cor. x. 1 6. O sirs ! 
as ever you would prosper and flourish in the world ; as ever you would 
' Seo the first conaideratiou. [Pages 166-169 ante. — G.] 



Mat. VI. 6.J the privy key of heaven. 203 

have your water turned into Avine, your temporal mercies into spiritual 
benefits, be much with God in your closets. But, 

(3.) Thirdly, I answer, It is ten to one but that the objector evei^ 
day fools away, or trifles away, or idles away, or sins away, one hour 
i/n a day, and why then should he object the want of time? There 
are none that toil and moil and busy themselves most in their worldly 
employments, but do spend an hour .or more in a day to little or no 
purpose, either in gazing about, or in dallying, or toying, or courting, or 
in telling of stories, or in busying, themselves in other men's matters, 
or in idle visits, or in smoking the pipe, &c.^ And why then should 
not these men redeem an hour's time in a day for private prayer, out of 
that time which they usually spend so vainly and idly ? Can you, not- 
withstanding all your great worldly employments, find an hour in the 
day to catch flies in, as Domitian the emperor did ? and to play the fool 
in ? and cannot you find an hour in the day to wait on God in your 
closets ? 

There were three special faults whereof Cato professed himself to 
have seriously repented : one was, passing by water when he might 
have gone by land ; another was, trusting a secret in a woman's bosom ; 
but the main was, spending an hour unprofitably. This heathen will 
one day rise up in judgment against them who, notwithstanding their 
great employments, spend many hours in a week unprofitably, and yet 
cry out with the Duke of Alva, that they have so much to do on earth, 
that they have no time to look up to heaven. It was a base and sordid 
spirit in that King Sardanapalus, who spent much of his time amongst 
women in spinning and carding, which should have been spent in ruling 
and governing his kingdom. So it is a base sordid spirit in any, to 
spend any of their time in toying and trifling, and then to cry out, that 
they have so much business to do in the world, that they have no time 
for closet-prayer, they have no time to serve God, nor to save their own 
precious and immortal souls. But, 

(4.) Fourthly, I answer. No man dares plead this objection before 
the Lord Jesus in the great day of axicount, Eccles. xi. 9 ; Rom. xiv. 10 ; 
2 Cor. V. 10. And why then should any man be so childish and foolish, 
so ignorant and impudent to plead that before men, which is not plead- 
able before the judgment-seat of Christ. sirs I as you love your 
souls, and as you would be happy for ever, never put off your own con- 
sciences nor others' with any pleas, arguments, or objections now, that 
you dare not own and stand by, when you shall lie upon a dying bed, 
and when you shall appear before the whole court of heaven, &c. In 
the great day of account, when the secrets of all hearts shall be made 
manifest, and God shall call men to a reckoning before angels, men, and 
devils, for the neglect of private prayer, all guilty persons will be found 
speechless : there will not be a man or woman found, that shall dare to 
stand up and say, ' Lord, I would have waited upon thee in my closet, 
but that I had so much business to do in the world, that I had no time 
to enjoy secret communion with thee in a corner/ It is the greatest 

* Myrmecides, a famous artist, spent more time in making a bee, than an unskilful 
workman would do to build a house. — [Plutarch, o. v. Varro L. Ivii. ix. 62 ; Cicero, Acad. 
ii. 38.— G.] 



204 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

wisdom in the world, to plead nothing by way of excuse in this our day, 
that we dare not plead in the great day. But, 

(5.) FiftMy, I answer, That it is our duty to redeem time from all 
our secular businesses for private prayer.^ All sorts of Christians, 
whether bond or free, rich or poor, high or low, superiors or inferiors, 
are expressly charged by God to redeem time for prayer, for private 
prayer, as well as for other holy. exercises : Col. iv. 2, 3, ' Continue in 
prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving ; withal praying also 
for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the 
mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds.' 

But here some may object and say. We have so much business to do 
in the world that we have no time for prayer. The apostle answers 
this objection in verse 5, ' Walk in wisdom towards them that are with- 
. out, redeeming the time.' So Eph. v. 16, ' Redeeming the time, because 
the days are evil ;' B^ayopa^6//.£voi rhv xai^hv, or buying out, or gaining the 
time. The words are a metaphor taken from merchants, who prefer the 
least profit that may be gained, before their pleasures or delights, closely 
following their business whilst the markets are at best. A merchant 
when he comes to a mart or fair, takes the first season and opportunity 
of buying his commodities ; he puts it not off to the hazard of an even- 
ing, or to the next morning, in hopes to have a better bargain, but he 
improves the present season, and buys before the market is over. 

Others carry the words thus : ' Purchase at any rate all occasions and 
opportunities of doing good, that so ye may thereby, in some sort, 
redeem that precious jewel of time which you have formerly lost' As 
travellers that have loitered by the way, or stayed long at their inn, 
when they find night coming upon them, they mend their pace, and 
go as many miles in an hour as they did before in many. Though 
time let slip is physically irrecoverable, yet in a moral consideration, it 
is accounted as regained, when men double their care, diligence, and 
endeavours to redeem it. The best Christian is he that is the greatest 
monopoliser of time for private prayer. No Christian to him that 
redeems time from his worldly occasions and his lawful comforts and 
recreations, to be with God in his closet. David having tasted of the 
sweetness, goodness, and graciousness of God, cannot keep his bed, but 
will borrow some time from his sleep, that he might take some turns 
in paradise, and pour out his soul in prayer and praises, when no eye 
was open to see him, nor no ear open to hear him, but all were asleep 
round about him, Ps. Ixiii. 6. Ps. cxix. 62, ' At midnight will I arise 
to give thanks unto thee,' Verse 147, 'I have prevented the dawning 
* of the morning, and cried.' David was up and at private prayer before 
daybreak. David was no sluggish Christian, no slothful Christian, no 
lazy Christian : he used to be in his closet when others were sleeping 
in their beds. So ver. 148, ' Mine eyes prevent the night-watches, 
^that I might meditate in thy word.' So Ps. cxxx. 6, ' My soul waiteth 
for the Lord, more than they that watch for the morning ; I say, more 
than they that watch for the morning.' Look, as the weary sentinel 
in a dark, cold, wet night, waits and peeps, and peeps and waits for the 
appearance of the morning ; so David did wait and peep, and peep and 

^ It is said of blessed Hooper, that he was spare of diet, spare of words, and sparest of 
time. 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heavex. 205 

wait for the first and fittest season to pour out his soul before God in 
a comer. David would never suffer his worldly business to justle out 
holy exercises ; he would often borrow time from the world for private 
prayer, but he would never borrow time from private prayer to bestow 
it upon the world. 

Mr Bradford, the martyr, counted that hour lost wherein he did not 
some good, either with his pen, tongue, or purse. 

Ignatius, when he heard a clock strike, would use to say, ' Now I have 
one hour more to answer for.' 

So the primitive Christians would redeem some time from their 
sleep, that they might be with God in their closets, as Clemens observes. 

And I have read of Theodosius [Nicephorus] the emperor, that after 
the variety of worldly employments relating to his civil affairs in the 
day time were over, how he was wont to consecrate the greatest part of 
the night to the studying of the Scriptures and private prayer ; to which 
purpose he had a lamp so artificially made, that it supplied itself with 
oil, that so he might no way be interrupted in his private retire- 
ments. 

That time ought to be redeemed, is a lesson that hath been taught 
by the very heathens themselves. It was the saying of Pittacus, one of 
the seven wise men, ' Know time, lose not a minute.' And so Theo- 
phrastus used to say, that ' Time is of precious cost.' And so Seneca : 
'Time is the only thing,' saith he, 'that we can innocently be covetous of; 
and yet there is nothing of which many are more lavishly and profusely 
prodigal.' And Chrestus, a sophister of Byzantium in the time of 
Hadriauus the emperor, he was much given to wine ; yet he always 
counted time so precious, that when he had misspent his time all the 
day, he would redeem it at night. 

When Titus Vespasian, who revenged Christ's blood on Jerusalem, 
returned victor to Rome, remembering one night as he sat at supper 
with his friends, that he had done no good that day, he uttered this 
memorable and praiseworthy apophthegm, Amid, diem perdidi, 'My 
friends, I have lost a day.'' 

Chilo, one of the seven sages, being asked what was the hardest thing 
in the world to be done, answered, ' To use and employ a man's time 
well.' 

Cato held, that an account must be given, not only of our labour, but 
also of our leisure. And ^lian gives this testimony of the Lacedaemo- 
nians, ' that they were hugely covetous of their time, spending it all 
about necessary things, and suffering no citizen either to be idle or play.' 
And, saith another, * We trifle with that which is most precious, and 
throw away that which is our greatest interest to redeem.' 

Certainly, these heathens will rise in judgment, not only against 
Domitian the Roman emperor, who spent much of his time in killing 
of flies ; nor only against Archimedes, who spent his time in drawing 
lines on the ground when Syracuse was taken ; nor against Artaxerxes, 
who spent his time in making hafts for knives ; nor only against Soly- 
man the great Turk, who spent his time in making notches of horn for 
bows ; nor only against Eropas, a Macedonian king, who spent his time 
in; making of lanthoms ; nor only against Hyrcanus the king of Farthia 
* Suetonius, sub nomine — G. 



206 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VI. 6. 

who spent his time in catching of moles ;' but also against many pro- 
fessors who, instead of redeeming of precious time, do trifle and fool 
away much of their precious time at the glass, the comb, the lute, the 
viol, the pipe, or at vain sports, and foolish pastimes, or by idle jestings, 
immoderate sleeping, and superfluous feasting, &c. O sirs ! good hours, 
and blessed opportunities for closet prayer, are merchandise of the 
highest rate and price ; and therefore, whosoever hath a mind to be rich 
in grace, and to be high in glory, should buy up that merchandise, — they 
should be still a-redeeming precious time. sirs ! we should redeem 
time for private prayer out of our eating time, our drinking time, our 
sleeping time, our buying time, our selling time, our sinning time, our 
sporting time, rather than neglect our closet communion with God, 
&c. But, 

(6.) Sixthly, T answer, Closet prayer is either a duty or it is no duty. 
Now that it is a duty, I have so strongly proved, I suppose, that no man 
nor devil can fairly or honestly deny it to be a duty. And therefore, 
why do men cry out of their great business ? Alas \^ duty must be done 
whatever business is left undone ; duty must be done, or the man that 
neglects it will be undone for ever. It is a vain thing to object business, 
when a required duty is to be performed ; and, indeed, if the bare ob- 
jecting of business, of much business, were enough to excuse men from 
duty, I am afraid that there are but few duties of the gospel, but men 
would endeavour to evade under a pretence of business, of much busi- 
ness. He that pretends business to evade private prayer, will be as 
ready to pretend business to evade family prayer ; and he that 
pretends business to evade family prayer, will be as ready to pretend 
business to evade public prayer. Well, sirs ! remember what became 
of those that excused themselves out of heaven, by their carnal 
apologies, and secular businesses : Luke xiv. 16-24. 'I have bought a 
piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it ; I pray thee, have me 
excused,' saith one. 'I have bought,' saith another, ' five yoke of oxen, 
and I go to prove them ; I pray thee, have me excused.' And, ' I have 
married a wife,' saith another, ' and therefore I cannot come.' The true 
reason why they would not come to the supper that the King of kings 
had invited them to, was not because they had bought farms and oxen, 
but because their farms and oxen had bought them. The things of the 
world and their carnal relations had taken up so much room in their 
hearts and affections, that they had no stomach to heaven's dainties ; 
and therefore it is observable what Christ adds at the end of the 
parable, ' He that hateth not his father, and mother, and wife, and chil- 
dren, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also,' much more 
his farm and oxen, ' he cannot be my disciple,' verse 26. By these 
words, it is evident, that it was not simply the farm nor the oxen, nor the 
wife, but a foolish, inordinate, carnal love and esteem of these things, 
above better and greater blessings, that made them refuse the gracious 
invitation of Christ. They refused the grace and mercy of God offering 
in the gospel, under a pretence of worldly business ; and God peremp- 

* (1.) Domitian : SuetonivLS, sub nomine ; (2.) Archimedes: Tlut&Tch, sub nomine ; (3.) 
Artaxerxes : Thucydides, tub nomine ; (4.) Solyman : KnoUes, as before ; (5.) Eropus : 
rather, Eropon, Livy, xliv, 24, 27, 28 ; (6 ) Hyrcanus : spelled by Brooks, Harcanus.— G. 

■ See Glosaary sub voce for peculiar use of this interjection elsewhere. — G. 



Mat. VT. G.] the privy key of heaven. 207 

torily concludes, that not a man of them should taste of his supper. 
And indeed what can be more just and righteous, than that they should 
never so much as taste of spiritual and eternal blessings, who prefer 
their earthly business before heaven's dainties ; who, with the Reu- 
benites, prefer a country commodious for the feeding of their cattle, 
before an interest in the land of promise. Private prayer is a work of 
absolute necessity, both to the bringing of the heart into a good frame, 
and to the keeping of the heart in a good frame. It is of absolute neces- 
sity, both for the discovery of sin, and for the preventing of sin, and for 
the embittering of sin, and for the weakening of sin, and for the purging 
away of sin. It is of absolute necessity, both for the discovery of grace, 
and for a full exercise of grace, and for an eminent increase of grace. 
It is of absolute necessity to arm us, both against inward and outward 
temptations, afflictions, and sufferings. It is of absolute necessity to 
fit us for all other duties and services, &c. For a man to glorify God, 
to save his own soul, and to further his own everlasting happiness, is 
a work of the greatest necessity. Now private prayer is such a work ; 
and therefore why should any man plead business, great business, when 
a work of such absolute necessity is before him ? If a man's child 
or wife were dangerously sick, or wounded, or near to death, he would 
never plead, * I have business, I have a great deal of business to do, and 
therefore I cannot stay with my child, my wife; and I have no time to 
go or send to the physician/ &c. Oh no ! but he would rather argue 
thus : ' It is absolutely necessary that I should look after the preser- 
vation of the life of my child, my wife, and this I will attend whatever 
becomes of my business.' O sirs ! your souls are of greater concernment 
to you than the lives of all the wives and children in the world ; and 
therefore these must be attended, these must be saved, whatever busi- 
ness is neglected. But, 

(7.) Seventhly, I answer, Thxit God did Tiever appoint or design 
any man's ordinary, particular calling to thrust private prayer out 
of door} That it is a great sin for any professor to neglect his parti- 
cular calling under any religious pretence, is evident enough by these 
scriptures : Exod, xx. 9, ' Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy 
work ;' 1 Cor. vii. 20, * Let every man abide in the same calling wherein 
he was called ;' 2 Thes. iii. 10-12, 'For even when we were with you, 
this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he 
eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you dis- 
orderly, working not at all, but are busy-bodies. Now them that are 
such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with 
quietness they work, and eat their own bread;' 1 Thes. iv. 11, 12, 
' And that ye study to be qiuet, and to do your own business, and to 
work with your own hands, as we commanded you ; that ye may walk 
honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of 
nothing ;' Eph. iv. 28, ' But rather let him labour, working with his 
hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that 
needeth ;' 1 Tim. v. 8, * But if any provide not for his own, and spe- 
cially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse 
than an infidel.' Yea, our Lord Jesus Christ was a plain downright 

'■ Paradise was man's workhouse as well as his storehouse, Gen. ii. 15. Man should 
not have lived idly though he had not fallen from his innocency. 



208 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

carpenter, and was laborious in that particular calling till he entered 
upon the public ministry, as all the ancients do agree, Mark vi. 3 ; 
Mat. xiii. 55, 56. And we read also that all the patriarchs had their 
particular callings. Abel was a keeper of sheep. Gen. iv. 2 ; Noah was 
a husbandman, Gen. v. 29 ; the sons of Jacob were shepherds and 
keepers of cattle. Gen. xlvi. 34, &c. ; and all the apostles, before they 
were called to the work of the ministry, had their particular callings. 

By the law of Mahomet, the great Turk himself is bound to exercise 
some manual trade or occupation. 

Solon made a law,^ that the son should not be bound to relieve his 
father when old, unless he had set himself in his youth to some occupa- 
tion. And at Athens, every man gave a yearly account to the magis- 
trate by what trade or course of life he maintained himself, which, if 
he could not do, he was banished. And it is by all writers condemned 
as a very great vanity in Dionysius, that would needs be the best poet ; 
and Caligula, that would needs be the best orator ; and in Nero, that 
would needs be the best fiddler ; and so became the three worst princes, 
by minding more other men's business than their own particular calling. 
But for a man to evade or neglect private prayer under pretence of his 
particular calling, is agreeable to no scripture, yea, it is contrary to very 
many scriptures, as is evident by the many arguments formerly cited. 
Certainly no man's calling is a calling away from God or godliness. It 
never entered into the heart of God that our particular callings should 
ever drive out of doors our general calling of Christianity. Look, as 
our general calling must not eat up our particular calling, so our par- 
ticular calling must not eat up our general calling. Certainly our 
particular calling must give place to our general calling. Did not the 
woman of Samaria leave her water-pot, and run into the city, and say, 
* Come, see a man that told me all things that ever I did : is not this 
the Christ ?' John iv. 28, 29. Did not the shepherds leave their flocks 
in the field, and go to Bethlehem, and declare the good tidings of great 
joy that they had heard of the angel, viz. ' That there was born that 
day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which was Christ the Lord'? Luke 
ii. 8-21. And did not Christ commend Mary for that holy neglect of 
her particular calling, when she sat at his feet, and heard his word ? 
Luke X. 38, et seq. And what do all these instances shew, but that our 
particular callings must give the right hand to the general calling of 
Christianity ? Certainly the works of our general calling are far more 
great and glorious, more eminent and excellent, more high and noble, 
than the works of our particular callings are ; and therefore it is much 
more tolerable for our general calling to borrow time of our particular 
calling, than it is for our particular calling to borrow time of our general 
calling. Certainly those men are very ignorant or very profane, that 
either think themselves so closely tied up to follow their particular 
callings six days in the week, as that they must not intermeddle with 
any religious services, or that think their particular callings to be a 
gulf or a grave designed by God to swallow up private prayer in. God, 
who is the Lord of time, hath reserved some part of our time to him- 
self every day. Though the Jews were commanded to labour six days 
of the week, yet they were commanded also to offer up morning and 
1 Plutarch, in the Life of Solon. 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 209 

evening sacrifice daily, Deut. vi. 6-8 ; Exod. xxix. 38, 39 ; Num. 
xxviii. 3. 

The Jews divided the day into three parts : 

The first, to prayer; 

The second, for the reading of the law ; 

And the 'third, for the works of their lawful callings. 

As bad as the Jews were, yet they every day set a part of the day 
apart for religious exercises. Certainly they are worse than Jews that 
spend all their time about their particular callings, and shut closet- 
prayer quite out of doors. Certainly that man's soul is in a very ill 
case, who is so entangled with the incumbrances of the world, that he 
can spare no time for private prayer. If God be the Lord of thy 
mercies, the Lord of thy time, and the Lord of thy soul, how canst thou, 
with any equity or honour, put off his service under a pretence of much 
business ? That man is lost, that man is cursed, who can find time for 
an3rthing, but none to meet with God in his closet. That man is doubt- 
less upon the brink of ruin, whose worldly business eats up all thoughts 
of God, of Christ, of heaven, of eternity, of his soul, and of his soul con- 
cernments. But, 

(8.) Eighthly, and lastly, I answer, The more worldly business lies 
upon thy hand, the more need hast thou to keep dose to thy closet. 
Much business lays a man open to many sins, and to many snares, and 
to many temptations. Now, the more sins, snares, and temptations a 
man's business lays him open to, the more need that man hath to be 
much in private prayer, that his soul may be kept pure from sin, and 
that his foot may not be taken in the devil's trap, and that he may 
stand fast in the hour of temptation. Private prayer is so far from being 
a hindrance to a man's business, that it is the way of ways to bring 
down a blessing from heaven upon a man's business, Ps. i. 2, 3 ; cxxvii. 
1, 2; cxxviii. 1, 2; as the first-fruits that God's people gave to him 
brought down a blessing from heaven upon all the rest, Deut. xxvi. 
10, 11. Whet is no let ; prayer and provender never hinders a journey. 
Private prayer is like to Jacob, that brought down a blessing from 
heaven upon all that Laban had. Gen. xxx. 27, 30. Private prayer 
gives a man a sanctified use, both of all his earthly comforts, and of all 
his earthly business ; and this David and Daniel found by experience : 
and therefore it was not their great public employments that could take 
them off from their private duties. Time spent in heavenly employ- 
ments, is no time lost from worldly business, Deut. xxviii. 1-8. Private 
prayer makes all we take in hand successful. Closet-prayer hath made 
many rich, but it never made any man poor or beggarly in this world. 
No man on earth knows what may be the emergencies, or the occur- 
rences of a day : Prov. xxvii. 1, ' Boast not thyself of to-morrow, for 
thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.' Every day is as it were 
a great-bellied day ; every day is as it were with child of something, but 
what it will bring forth, whether a cross or a comfort, no man can tell; 
as whilst a woman is with child, no man can tell what kind of birth it 
will be. No man knows what mercies a day may bring forth, no man 
knows what miseries a day may bring forth ; no man knows what good 
a ^ay may bring forth, no man knows what evil a day may bring forth ; 

VOL. II. O 



210 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

no man knows what afflictions a day may bring forth, no man knows 
what temptations a day may bring forth ; no man knows what liberty 
a day may bring forth, no man knows what Vwnds a day may bring 
forth ; no man knows what good success a day may bring forth, no man 
knows what bad success a day may bring forth ; and therefore, a mnn 
had need be every day in his closet with God, that he may be prepared 
and fitted to entertain and improve all the occurrences, successes, and 
emergencies that may attend him in the course of his life. And let 
thus much suffice for answer to this first objection. But, 

Ohj. 2. Secondly, Others may object and say. Sir, we grant that 
private prayer is an indispensable duty that lies vpon the people of 
God; but %ve are servants, and we have no time that xve can call our 
ofivn, and our masters business is such as will not allow us any time 
for private prayer, and therefoi^e we hope we may be excused. 

Solution (1.) First, The text is indefinite, and not limited io any 
sort or rank of persons, whether high or low, rich or poor, bond or 
free, sonant or master. ' But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy 
closet ; and when thou hast shut the door, pray to thy Father which is 
in secret.'^ Here are three thous, thou, thou, thou, which are to be 
understood indefinitely : thou servant as well as thoii master, thou 
bondman as well as thou freeman, tliou poor man as well as thou rich 
man, thou maid as well as thou mistress, thou child as well as thou 
father, thou wife as well as thou husband. Private prayer is an indis- 
pensable duty that lies upon all sorts and ranks of persons. A man 
may as well say that that pronoun tu, thou, that runs through the ten 
commandments, — Exod. xx. 3-18, 'Thou shaft have no other gods before 
me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image. Thou shalt 
not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them. Thou shalt not take 
the name of the Lord thy God in vain. Six days shalt thou labour. 
Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not 
steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou 
shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neigh- 
bour's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid servant, nor his ox, nor 
his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour's,' &c., — relates to the rich, 
and not to the poor, to masters and not to servants, to the free and 
not to them that are in bonds, &c., as he may say, that the three thous 
in the text relates to the rich and not to the poor, to masters and not 
to servants, to those that are free but not to those that are bound ; 
but certainly there is no man in his wits that will say so, that will 
affirm such a thing. Doubtless this pronoun thou reacheth every man, 
of what rank or quality soever he be in this world. But, 

(2.) Secondly, I answer. That the first, the third, the fourth, the fifth, 
the sixth, the seventh, and the eighth ansivers that are given to the first 
objection, are here very applicable ; and oh that all masters and servants 
were so wise, so serious, and so ingenuous, as to lay all those answers 
warm on their own heartsl It might be a means to prevent miich sin, 
and to bespeak masters and mistresses to give their pious servants a little 
more time to lift up their hearts to Christ in a corner. But, 

(3.) Thirdly, I answer, // thou art a servant that hast liberty to 
choose a new master, thou wert better remove thy station than live 
* Private prayer is a duty, that lieth upon saints as saints. 



Mat. VI. 6] the privy key of heaven. 211 

under such a master's roof, who is such an enemy to God, to Christ, to 
religion, lo himself, and to the eternal welfare of thy "poor soul, as that 
he vjill not give thee half an hour's time in a day to spend in thy 
chamber, thy closet, though the glory of God, the goad of his own 
fami'y, and the everlasting happiness of thine own soul, is concerned 
i/iiit, Ps. Ixxxiv. 10, cxx. 5. It is better for thee to shift thy master, 
than to neglect thy duty: 1 Cor. vii. 21, 'Art thou called, being a 
servant ? care not for it ; but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.' 
We lost our liberty by sin, and we affect nothing more than liberty by 
nature.^ 

The Rabbins say of liberty, that 'if the heavens were parchment, the 
sea ink, and every pile of grass a pen, the praises of it could not be 
comprised nor expressed.' Laban's house was full of idols. Great houses 
are often so. Jacob's tent was little, but the true worship of God was 
in it. It is infinitely better to live in Jacob's tent, than in Laban's 
house. It is best being with such masters where we may have least of 
sin, and most of God ; where we may have the most helps, the best 
examples, and the choicest encouragements to be holy and happy. 

The religious servant should be as careful in'the choice of his master, 
as the religious master is careful in the choice of his servant. Gracious 
servants are great blessings to the families where they live ; and that 
master may well be called the uniiappy master, who will rather part 
with a gracious servant, than spare him a little time in a day to pour out 
his soul before the Lord in a corner. But, 

(■i.) Fourthlij, I answer. If thou aii a gracious servant, then thou 
art spirited and principled by God, to this very jpurpose, that titou 
mayest cry, Abba, Father, when thou art alone, when thou art in 
a corner, and no eye seeth thee, but his who seeth in secret, Rom. viii. 
15 ; Gal. iv. 6 ; 1 Cor. vi. J 9 ; 2 Tim. i. 14. If thou art a gracious 
servant, then thou hast received not the spirit of the world, but the 
Spirit which is of God, 1 Cor. ii. 12. Now, he that hath this tree of 
life, he hath also the fruit that grows upon this tree : Gal. v. 22, 23, 
•■But the fruit of the Spirit is iove, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, 
goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, &c. Now, grace is called, not 
the works of the Spirit, but the fruits of the Spirit. 

(1.) Because all grace is derived from the Spirit as the fruit is derived 
from the root. And, 

(2.) To note the pleasantness and delightfulness of grace, for what is 
more pleasant and delightful than sweet and wholesome fruits ? Cant, 
iv. 16, vi. 2. 

(3.) To note the profit and advantage that doth redound to them 
that have the Spirit ; for as many grow rich by the fruits of their gar- 
dens and orchards, so many grow rich in grace, in holiness, in comfort, 
in spiritual experiences, by the fruits of the Spirit. Now why hath 
God given thee his Spirit, and why hath he laid into thy soul a stock 
of supernatural graces, but that thou mayest be every way qualified, 
disposed, and fitted for private prayer, and to maintain secret com- 
munion with God in a corner ? 

Certainly God never gave any poor servant a talent of gifts, or a 

^ Justinus the second emperor's motto was, Liberttu ret inestmabilis. Liberty is in- 
valuable. 



212 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

talent of grace, but in order to his driving of a secret trade heaven- 
ward. 

(5.) Fifthly, I answer, Though king Darius had made a decree that 
none should ask any petition of any god or man, for thiHy days, 
upon the penalty of being cast into the den of lions, yet Daniel, who 
was both a subject and a servant to king Darius, and one upon wlwse 
hand^ tJie chiefest and greatest affairs of the kingdom, did lie, did 
keep up his private devotions. In the first and second verses of that 
sixth of Daniel, you will find that Daniel had abundance of great and 
weighty employments upon his hands ; he was set over the whole affairs 
of the whole empire of Persia, and he with two other presidents, of 
whom himself was chief, were to receive the accounts of the whole 
kingdom from all those hundred and twenty princes, which in the 
Persian monarchy were employed in all public businesses. And yet, 
notwithstanding such a multiplicity of business as lay upon his hands, 
and notwithstanding his servile condition, yet he was very careful to 
redeem time for private prayer ; yea, it is very observable that the 
heart of Daniel, in the midst of all his mighty businesses, was so much 
set upon private prayer, upon his secret retirements for religious exer- 
cises, that he runs the hazard of losing all his honours, profits, pleasures, 
yea, and life itself, rather than he would be deprived of convenient 
time and opportunities to wait upon God in his chamber. Certainly 
Daniel will one day rise in judgment against all those subjects and 
servants who think to evade private prayer by their pleas of much 
businass, and of their being servants, &c. But, 

(6.) Sixthly, I answer, If you who are gracious servants, notwith- 
standing your masters' businesses, cannot redeem a little time to 
wrestle with God in a corner, what singular thing do you ? What, 
do you more than others ? Do you hear ? So do others. Do you 
read ? So do others. Do you follow your masters to public prayers ? 
So do others. Do you join with your masters in family prayers ? So 
do others. Oh ! but now gracious servants should go beyond all other 
servants in the world, they should do singular things for God : Mat. 
v. 47, ' What do you more than others V ri 'jti^iaah '^onTn ? What ex- 
traordinary thing do you ? What more ordinary than to find servants 
follow their masters to pubhc prayers and to family prayers ? Oh ! 
but now to find poor servants to redeem a little time from their masters' 
business to pour out their souls before the Lord in a corner, this is not 
ordinary, yea, this is extraordinary, and this doth wonderfully well be- 
come gracious servants. Oh ! that all men's servants, who are servants 
to the most high God, would seriously consider, 

[l.J How singularly they are privileged by God above all other 
servants in the world. They are called, adopted, reconciled, pardoned, 
justified before the throne of God, which other servants are not, &c., 
1 Cor. iii. 22, 23. And why then should not such servants be singular 
in their services, who are so singular in their privileges ? 

[2 ] Secondly, Gracious servants are made partakers of a more 
excellent nature than other servants are. 2 Pet«r i. 4, ' Whereby 
are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises ; that by these 
you might be made partakers of the divine nature.' The apostle in 
this expression doth not aim at any essential change and conversion of 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 213 

our substance into the nature of God and Christ, but only at the eleva- 
tion and dignifying of our nature by Christ. Though that real, that 
near, that dear, that choice, that mysterious, that peculiar, that singular, 
union that Christians have with Christ, doth raise them up to a higher 
similitude and likeness of God and Christ than ever they had attained 
to in their primitive perfection ; yet it doth not introduce any real 
transmutation, either of our bodies or souls, into the divine nature. It is 
certain that our union and conjunction with Christ doth neither mingle 
persons nor unite substances, but it doth enjoin our affections, and 
brings our wills into a league of amity with Christ' To be made par- 
taker of the divine nature notes two things, say some. 
^First, A fellowship with God in his holiness ; 

Secondly, A fellowship with God in his blessedness, viz., in the beati- 
fical vision and brightness of glory. To be made 'partakers of the 
divine nature,' say others, is to be made partakers of those holy graces, 
those divine qualities, which sometimes are called, * the image of God, 
the likeness of God, the life of God,' &c., Eph. iv. 24, CoL iii. 10, whereby 
we resemble God, not only as a picture doth a man in outward linea- 
ments, but as a child doth his father in countenance and conditions. 
Now, take the words which way you will, how highly doth it concern 
those servants, that are made partakers of the divine nature, to do 
singular things for God, to do such things for God, that other servants, 
that are not partakers of the divine nature, have no mind, no heart, no 
spirit to do ! yea, that they refuse and scorn to do ! 

[3.] Thirdly, Gracious servants are worthily descended ; they have 
the most illustrious extraction and honourable original, 1 John v. 19 ; 
John iii. 8 ; James ii. 5. 

[4] FouHhly, Gracious servants are worthily attended, they are 
nobly guarded ; Ps. xxxiv. 15 ; Heb. i. 14 ; Deut. xxxiii. 26, 27 ; Zech. 
ii. 5. 

[5.] Fifthly, Gracious servants are worthily dignified; they are 
dignified with the highest and most honourable titles, 1 Peter i. 2, 9 ; 
Rev. i. 5, 6 ; v. 10. 

[6.] Sixthly, Take many things in one : gracious servants have 
•more eaxellent graces, experiences, comforts, communions, 'promises, 
assurances, discoveries, hopes, helps, principles, diet, raiment, portion, 
than all other sei^ants in the vjorld have; and therefore God may 
well expect better and greater things from them than from all other 
servants in the world. God may very well expect that they should do 
singular things for his glory, who hath done such singular things for 
their good. Certainly God expects that gracious servants should be 
a-blessing of him, when other servants are a-blaspheming of him ; that 
they should be a-magnifying of him, when other servants are a-debas- 
ing of him ; that they should be a-redeeming of precious time, when 
other servants are a-trifling, fooling, playing or sinning away of precious 
time ; that they should be a-weeping in a corner, when other servants 
are a-sporting and making themselves merry among their jovial com- 
panions ; that they should be a-mourning in secret, when other servants 

^ * None but Familists will say that we are made partakers of the substance of the God- 
head, for that is incommunicable to any creature. The essence of God cannot be im- 
parted to any created beings. 



214 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

are a-sinning in secret ; and that they should be at their private de- 
votion, when other servants are sleeping and snorting, &c. 

Solomon, that was the wisest prince that ever sat upon a throne, 
and who was guided by an infallible Spirit, hath delivered it for a stand- 
ing maxim above two thousand years ago, 'that the righteous is more 
excellent than his neighbour,' Prov. xii. 26. When Solomon dropped this 
aphorism from his royal pen, there was not a man in the world that was 
legally righteous ; Adam and all his posterity being fallen from all their 
honour, glory, dignity, and excellency, into a most woful gulf of sin and 
misery ; and therefore Solomon must be understood of him that is evan- 
gelically righteous, Ps. xiv. 1-3 ; Rom. iii. 9-12 ; Lam. v. 16. He that 
is evangelically righteous, be he master or servant, rich or poor, bond or 
free, high or low, is more excellent than his neighbour. And oh that 
all masters wouW seriously consider of this, that they may carry it no 
more so proudly, so loftily, so scornfully, so forwardly, so strangely, so 
sourly, so bitterly, so rigorously, towards their pious servants, as not to 
afford them a little time to pour out their souls before the Lord in a 
corner ! 

I have read of Ingo, an ancient king of the Braves^ and Veneds,^ who, 
making a stately feast, appointed all his pagan nobles to sit in the hall 
below ; and at the same time commanded certain poor Christians to be 
brought up into his presence-chamber, to sit with him at his table, that 
they might eat of his kingly cheer ; at which many wondering, he told 
them, that he accounted Christians, though never so poor, a greater orna- 
ment at his table, and more worthy of his company, than the greatest 
nobles that were not converted to the Christian faith ; for saith he, when 
these pagan nobles shall be thrust down to hell, these poor Christians 
shall be my consorts and fellow-princes in heaven.'' Certainly, this noble 
prince will one day rise in judgment against all sour, churlish Labans, 
who carry it so harshly and so severely towards their gracious servants, as 
that they will not allowthem a little time to wait upon God in a hole, Eph. 
vi. 9. \^ hy should not gracious musters give their gracious servants a 
little time for closet prayer now, considering that they are sharers with 
them in all the fundamental good that comes by Christ in this world ; and 
considering that they shall be partakers with them iji all the glory of 
another world ? The poorest servant in a family hath a soul more pre- 
cious than heaven and earth ; and the greatest work that lies upon his 
hand in this world, is to look to the eternal safety and security of that : 
for if that be .safe, all is safe; if that be well, all is well ; but if that be lost, 
all is lost * Every gracious servant, though he be never so poor and mean, 
yet hath he the image of God, the image of the King of kings stamped 
upon him ; and woe to him that shall wrong, or despise, or trample 
upon that image! Certainly, God himself is wronged by the injury that 
is done to his image. The contempt and despite that is done to the 
image or coin of a king, is done to the king himself; and accordingly he 
will revenge it. 

* Qu. Inliabltants of the territories on the Dravus? [Strabo, vii.] — G. 
' Toe Veuedae. [Tacitus, Germ 4G. I'liny, iv. 18, and 27.]— G. 

« .^iijeiis >yivins Ainialiuin. cf-p xx Eiuop Aven. lib. A. 

* Every man liath two tilings to look unto more than all the world beside, a body and & 
Boul : fi>r the one, every cue iu either a fool or a physician ; for the other, either a dcTil 
or a divine, suith one. 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 215 

If it was a capital crime in Tiberius his days, to carry the image of 
Augustus upon a ring or coin into any sordid place, as Suetonius saith 
it was ; what crime must it be in those masters who despise, revile, re- 
proach, scorn, abuse, and tread under foot, such servants as have the 
image of the great God stamped upon their souls, and all because they 
look God-ward, Christ-ward, heaven-ward, holiness-ward, duty-ward ? 
Masters should never twit their servants in the teeth with their in- 
feriority, penury, poverty, misery, mean parentage, or servile condition ; 
but remember that these things are more the Creator's pleasure than 
the servant's fault, and that that God that hath made the master rich 
and the servant poor, can as quickly make the master poor and the ser- 
vant rich, Prov. xxii. 2, xvii. 5. God many times puts down the mighty 
from their seats, and exalts them of low degree, Luke i. 52. Certainly, 
no master nor mistress should dare to insult or triumph over such servants 
as have souls as noble as their own ; but they should seriously and fre- 
quently consider of Solomon's aphorism, * The righteous, though a ser- 
vant,' though the meanest among all the servants, 'is more excellent 
than his neighbour,' and accordingly give them a little time and liberty 
to converse with God in secret. And oh that all gracious servants would 
discover themselves to be more excellent than their neighbours, by 
making more conscience of private prayer than their neighbours do, 
and by being more in their closets than their neighbours are, and by 
delighting themselves in their secret retirements more than their neigh- 
bours will, and by redeeming some time for God, for their souls, and for 
eternity, more than their neighbours do. But, 

(7.) Seventhly, I answer, That God is only the Lord of time} Time 
is more the Lord's than it is thy master's ; and therefore it is no ne- 
glecting of thy master's business, to take a little time daily for private 
prayer. Times do belong to providence as well as issues ; and as God 
is the God of our mercies, so he is the Lord of our times: 'My times 
are in thy hands,' saith David, Ps. xxxi. 15. Not only the times of his 
sorrows, but also the times of his comforts; not only the times of his 
miseries, but also the times of his mercies ; not only the times of his 
dangers, but also the times of his duties, were in the hands of God. 

It is observable the Psalmist doth not say time, but times, in the 
plural, to shew that every point and period, of time depends upon the 
hand of God. 

One, complaining of those who say. Come, let us talk together, to 
pass away the time, with grief of spirit cries out, donee prcetereat 
hora, &c., ' Oh until the hour be gone, oh until time be past, which the 
mercy of thy Maker hath bestowed upon thee to perform repentance, 
to procure pardon, to gain grace, and to obtain glory.' ^ That servant 
that borrows a little time every day to seek the face of God in a corner, 
borrows it rather of God than of his master; and therefore why should 
his master swell, or rage, or complain, considering that God never made 
him Lord of time ? But, 

(8.) Eighthly, J answer. That servants should rather redeem time 
from their sleep, their recreations, their daily meals, than neglect 
doset-duty a day. And certainly those servants that, out of conscience 

* Hub ii. 3 ; Dan. xi. 27, 29, 86 ; Job vii. 1 ; Ps. cii. 13 ; Eccles. iii. 1 ; Dan. ii. 21 ; Isa. 
Ix. 22 ; Job xiv. 14. » Bernard, serm. de tripl. cuitod. 



216 THE PRIVV KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VI. 6. 

towards God, and out of a due regard to the internal and eternal wel- 
fare of their own souls, shall every day redeem an hour's time from 
their sleep, or sports, or feedings, to spend with God in secret, tliey 
shall find by experience that the Lord will make a few hours' sleep 
sweeter and better than many hours' sleep to them ; and their outward 
sports shall be made up with inward delights; and for their common 
bread, God will feed them with that bread that came down from heaven. 
Sirs, was not Christ his Father's servant?^ Isa. xlii. 1. 'Behol^ my ser- 
vant, whom I uphold, mine elect' (or choice one), ' in whom my soul 
delighteth' (or is well pleased) ! ' I have put my Spirit upon him ; he 
shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.' And did not he redeem 
time from his natural rest, rather than he would omit private prayer? 
Mark i. 35, ' And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, 
he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.' 
Christ spent the day in preaching, in healing the sick, in working of 
miracles ; and rather than these noble works should shut out private 
prayer, he rises a great while before day, that he might have some 
time to wrestle with his Father in secret. So Luke vi. 1 2, ' And it came 
to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and 
continued all night in prayer to God.' O sirs ! did Christ spend whole 
nights in private prayer for the salvation of your souls ; and will you 
think it much to redeem an hour's time from your natural rest to seek 
and to serve him in a corner, and to make sure the things of your ever- 
lasting peace ? The redeeming of time for private prayer is the redeem- 
ing of a precious treasure, which, if once lost, can never fully be re- 
covered again. If riches should make themselves wings, and fly away, 
they may return again, as they did to Job ; or if credit, and honour, 
and worldly greatness and renown, should fly away, they may return 
again, as they did to Nebuchadnezzar ; if success, and famous victories 
and conquests, should make themselves wipgs, and fly away, they may 
return again, as they did to many of the Roman conquerors and others; 
but if time, whom the poets paint with wings, to shew the volubility 
and swiftness of it, fly from us, it will never more return unto us.* 

A great lady [Queen Elizabeth] of this land, on her dying bed cried 
out, ' Call time again, call time again ; a world of wealth for an inch of 
time !' but time past was never, nor could never be recalled. 

The Egyptians drew the picture of time with three heads. 

The first was of a greedy wolf gaping for time past, because it hath 
ravenously devoured even the memory of so many things past recalling. 

The second of a crowned lion roaring for time present, because it 
hath the principality of all action, for which it calls aloud. 

And the third was of a deceitful dog, fawning for time to come, be- 
cause it feeds fond men with many flattering hopes, to their eternal 
undoing. Oh that all this might prevail with servants to redeem time 
for private prayer ! And if my counsel might take place, I should 
rather advise servants to redeem some time for private prayer from 
their sleep or lawful recreations, or set meals, &c., than to spend in. 
private prayer that time which their masters call their time, especially 

' The evangelist applies these words to Christ, Mat. xii. 15-18. Christ is called God's 
servant in regard of his human nature, and in regard of his office of mediatorahip. 
» Sophocles, Phocilides, &c. [Qu. Philoctetes, as be/ore.— G.] 



I 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 217 

if their masters be unconverted, and in ' the gall of bitterness and bond 
of iniquity ;' and that for these five reasons. 

[1.] First, Because this may be a means to prevent m^ueh sin on 
the masters side. Masters that are in their unregenerate estate are 
very apt to storm, and take on, and let fly against God, and Christ, and 
religion, and profession, &c., when they see their servants spend that 
time in private prayer, or in any other religious exercise, wbich, ac- 
cording to their understanding, is their time, and ought to be wholly 
spent in following their businesses. Now gracious servants should 
have that honourable respect, and that tender affection, and that Chris- 
tian compassion to their masters' souls, as to do to the utmost all that 
lies in them to prevent their masters from contracting guilt upon their 
souls, or from making work for repentance, for hell, or for the physician 
of souls, Jude 22, 23. 

The Persians, the Turks, and many Indians are so compassionate, 
that they erect hospitals not only for lame and diseased men, but also 
for birds, beasts, and dogs that are either aged, starved, or hurt. Oh 
then, what tender compassions should gracious servants exercise to- 
wards their masters' souls, which are jewels more worth than heaven 
and earth ! But, 

[2.] Secondly, Because this m,ay he a mMins to convince the judg- 
ments and consciences of their masters, that there is some worth, some 
excellency, some sweetness. &c., to be found in private prayer, and in 
other closet-duties; for when masters shall observe their servants to 
redeem time for closet duties, from their very sleep, recreations, dinners, 
suppers, they will be ready to conclude, that certainly there is more 
worth, more goodness, more sweetness, more excellency, more glory, 
more gain in closet duties, than ever they have understood, felt, or expe- 
rienced, &c., and that their very poor servants are better and more right- 
eous than themselves. Sozomen reports, that the devout life of a poor 
captive Christian woman, made a king and all his family embrace the 
faith of Jesus Christ. Good works convince more than miracles them- 
selves. 

I have read of one Pachomius, a soldier under Constantine the em- 
peror, how that his army being almost starved for want of necessary 
provision, he came to a city of Christians, and they of their own charity 
relieved them speedily and freely ; he wondering at their free and noble 
charity, inquired what kind of people they werewhom he saw so bountiful? 
It was answered that they were Christians, whose profession it is to hurt 
no man, and do good to every man. Hereupon Pachomius, convinced 
of the excellency of this religion, threw away his arms, and became a 
Christian, a saint.^ Look as husbands sometimes are won by the con- 
versation of their wives without the word, 1 Peter iii. 1,2; so masters 
may sometimes be won by the gracious carriage and conversation of 
their servants, without the word. The servant's redeeming of time for 
private duties, upon the hardest and severest terms, may be so blessed to 
the master, that it may issue in his conviction, conversion, and salva- 
tion. There is a may-be for it ; and a very may-be should be a suffi- 
cient encouragement for every gracious servant to do all he can to save 
the* soul of his master from going down into the infernal pit. But, 
• Sozomen H.E. III. et alibi.— G. 



218 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

[3.] Thirdly, Because the servant's redeeming of time from his 
sleep, recreations, meals, for private prayer, will most clearly and 
abundantly evidence the singular love, the great delight, and the high 
esteem that lie liath of private prayer. We say those children love their 
books well, and delight much in learning, who will be at their books 
when others are gone to their beds, and who will be at their books be- 
fore others can get out of their beds. Certainly they love private prayer 
well, and they delight much in closet communion with God, who will 
be a-praying when others are a-sleeping, and who will be a-dressing 
their souls before God m a corner, before their mistress is a-dressiug of 
herself at the glass, or their fellow-servants a-dressiug themselves in the 
shop. But, 

[4.] Fourthly, Because the servant's redeeming of time for privaie 
prayer, from his sleep, set meals, recreations, &c., may be of most use 
to other fellow-servants, both to awaken them, and to convince them 
that the things of religion are of the greatest and highest importance, 
and that there is no trade, or pleasure, or profit, to that private trade 
that is driven between God and a mans own soul ; and also to keep 
them from trifling, or fooling away of that time, which is truly and pro- 
perly their masters' time, and by the royal law of heaven ought to be 
spent solely and wholly in their service and business. For what inge- 
nuous servant is there in the world but will argue thus ? I see that 
such and such of my fellow-servants will redeem time for private prayer, 
and for other closet-services, from their very sleep, meals, recreations, 
&c.; rather than they will borrow, or make bold with that time which 
my master saith is his, &c. ; and why then should 1 be so foolish, so 
brutish, so mad, to trifle, or idle, or play, or toy away that time which 
should be spent in my master's service, and for my master's advantage ? 
But, 

[5.] Fifthly, and lastly. Because the servant's redeeming of time for 
private prayer from his sleep. Ids meals, his recreations, &c., cannot 
but be infinitely pleasing to God ; and that which will afford, him 
most comfort when he comes to die. The more any poor heart acts 
contrary to flesh and blood, the more he pleases God ; the more any 
poor heart denies himself, the more he pleases God ; the more any poor 
heart acts against the stream of sinful examples, the more he pleases 
God; the more difficulties and discouragements a poor heart meets 
with in the discharge of his duty, the more love he shews to God ; and 
the more love a poor heart shews to God, the more he pleases God : 
Jer, ii. 2, 3, ' Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying. Thus saith the 
Lord, I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine 
espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that 
was not sown. Israel was holiness unto the Lord, and the first-fruits 
of his increase : all that devour him shall offend ; evil shall come upon 
them, saith the Lord.' God was very highly pleased and greatly de- 
lighted with the singular love and choice affections of his people towards 
him, when they followed after him, and kept close to him, in that tedious 
and uncouth passage through the waste, howling wilderness. How all 
these things do comport with that poor pious servant that redeems 
time for private prayer tipon the hardest terms imaginable, i shall leave 
the ingenuous reader to judge. And certainly, upon a dying bed, no 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. . 219 

tongue can express, nor heart conceive but he that feels it, the unspeak- 
able comfort that closet-duties will afford to him that hath been 
exercised in them, upon those hard terms that are under present con- 
sideration. But, 

(9.) Ninthly, I answer, If tJwu art a gracious servant, then the near 
and dear relations that is between God and thee, and the choice pri- 
vileges that thou art interested in, calls aloud for pHvate prayer, 
John viii. 32, 33, 36. As thou art thy Master's servant, so thou art the 
Lord's free-man : 1 Cor. vii, 22, 23, ' For he that is called in the Lord, 
being a servant, is the Lord's iree-man ; likewise, also he that is called 
being free, is Christ's servant. Ye are bought with a price ; be not ye 
servants of men,' — either when they command you things forbidden by 
Christ, or forbid you things commanded by Christ; or when they would 
exercise a dominion over your faith, or a lordship over your consciences. 
Suffer not yourselves in spiritual things to be brought into such bon- 
dage by any men or masters in the world, as not to use that freedom 
and liberty that Christ hath purchased for you with his dearest blood, 
GaL V. 1, Col. ii. 20, GaL ii. 4. No servants are to serve their masters 
in opposition to Christ ; nor no servants are to serve their masters as 
spiritual masters ; nor no servants are to serve their masters as supreme 
masters, but as subordinate masters, Eph. vi. 5-7. And as every 
gracious servant is the Lord's free-man, so every gracious servant is the 
Lord's friend, Isa. xli. 8, James ii. 23, John xv. 13-15. And as every 
gracious servant is the Lord's friend, so every gracious servant is the 
Lord's son, Gal. iv. 5, 6, Rom. viii. 16. And as every gracious servant 
is the Lord's son, so every gracious servant is the Lord's spouse, Hosea 
ii 19, 20, 2 Cor. xi. 2. 

And now I appeal to the consciences of all that have tasted that the 
Lord is gracious, whether the near and dear relations that is between 
the Lord and pious servants doth not call aloud upon them to take all 
opportunities and advantages that possibly they can to pour out their 
souls before the Lord in secret, and to acquaint him in a corner with all 
their secret wants, and weaknesses, and wishes, &c. And as gracious 
servants are thus nearly and dearly related to God, so gracious servants 
are very highly privileged by God. Gracious servants are as much 
freed from the reign of sin, the dominion of sin, and the damnatory 
power of sin, as gracious masters are, Rom. vi. 14. Gracious servants 
are as much freed from hell, from the curse of the law, and from the 
wrath of God, as their gracious masters are, Rom. viii. 1. Gracious 
servants are as much adopted, as much reconciled, as much pardoned, as 
much justified, and as much redeemed, as their gracious masters are. 
Gal. iii. 13. Gracious servants are as much heirs, heirs of God, and 
joint heirs with Christ, as their gracious masters are.' Gracious ser- 
vants are as much a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy 
nation, a peculiar people, called out of darkness into his marvellous 
light, as their gracious masters are. And therefore they being all alike 
interested in all these great and glorious privileges which belong to 
saints as saints, they are, without all peradventure, alike obliged and 
engaged to all those duties which lies upon saints as saints, among which 

> 1 Thes. i. 10 ; Col. iii. 11 ; Gal. v. 6 ; Eora. viii. 17 ; Gal. vi. 14 ; 1 Peter ii. 9. 



220 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

private prayer is one ; and therefore they are to buckle to this duty 
against all carnal reasons and objections whatsoever. But, 

(10.) Tentldy, and lastly, I answer, that the promised reward in tJte 
teed lies as fair and as open to the servant as to the 7)iaster, to the 
bond as to the free, to the peasant as to the pHnce. Whosoever prays 
to his heavenly Father in secret, be he high or low, rich or poor, honour- 
able or base, servant or master, he shall receive an open reward. The 
reward in the text is not to be confined or limited to this or that sort or 
rank of men, but it is to be extended to all ranks and sorts of men that 
make conscience of private prayer, of closet duties. So Eph. vi. 5-8, 
' Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters, according to the 
flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ. 
Not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, 
doing the will of God from the heart : with good will doing service, as 
to the Lord, and not to men : knowing that whatsoever good thing any 
man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or 
free.' Col. iii. 22-24, ' Servants obey, in all things, your masters, accord- 
ing to the flesh, not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singlenevSS 
of heart, fearing God. And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the 
Lord, and not unto men ; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive 
the reward of the inheritance ; for ye serve the Lord Jesus Christ.' * 
Such servants as serve their masters faithfully, cordially, and in single- 
ness of spirit, shall receive the reward of grace and the reward of the 
inheritance. The meanest servant that is faithful in the service of his 
master, shall for a recompence receive the eternal inheritance, Rom. viii. 
15-17. The recompence of reward in the scripture last cited is not of 
merit, but of mere grace, because the inheritance belongs only to chil- 
dren upon the account of their birth or adoption. Faithful servants 
shall of servants be made sons, and so enjoy the heavenly inheritance. 
Christ is so noble a master, that he will not sufier any service that hath 
been performed to men out of conscience to his command to pass un- 
rewarded. Oh how much more will he recompense pious servants for 
those spiritual services that they perform for his sake, for his glory ! 
God is so liberal a paymaster, that no man shall so much as shut the 
door, or kindle a fire upon his altar, or give a cup of cold water — one of 
the least, readiest, and meanest refreshments that be — but he shall be 
rewarded, Mai. i. 10, Mat. x. 42. 

It is au excellent observation of Calvin, upon God's rewarding of the 
Rechabites' obedience, Jer. xxxv. 19, * God,' saith he, ' often recom- 
penseth the shadows and sepming appearances of virtue, to shew that 
complacency he takes in the ample rewards that he hath reserved for 
true and sincere piety.' Nebuchadnezzar, though a tyrant, yet being 
engaged in God's service against Tyre, he shall have Egypt as his pay, 
for his pains at Tyre, Ezek. xxix. 18-20. It is an ancient slur and slan- 
der that hath been cast upon God, as if he were an austere master, an 
illiberal Lord, and as if there were nothing to be got in his service but 
knocks, blows, wounds, crosses, losses, &c., whereas he is a rewarder, 
not only of them that diligently seek him, but even of the very worst of 
men that do any service for him, Heb. xi. 6. I have read of Herod 

' The Persian kings did usually reward the faithful services of their servants. Surely 
the King of kings will not fall short of the kings of Persia ? 



Mat. VI. 6.] the prr^y key of heaven. 221 

Agrippa, the same that was smitten by the angel and eaten up of 
worms, because he gave not glory to God, Acts xii. 23, that, being 
bound in chains, and sent to prison by Tiberius for wishing Caius in 
the empire, one Thaumastus, a servant of Caius, carrying a pitcher of 
water, met him, and Agrippa being very thirsty, desired him to give 
him some of his water to drink, which he willingly did : whereupon 
Agrippa said, * This service thou hast done in giving me drink, shall do 
thee good another day.' And he was as big and as good as his word ; 
for afterwards, when Caius was emperor, and Agrippa made king of 
Judea, he first got his liberty, then made him chief officer of his house- 
hold, and after his decease took order that he should continue in the 
same office with his son.^ Now how much more then will the King of 
kings reward all those poor pious servants of his, that do not only give 
to him in his members cups of cold water, but do also redeem time 
from their very rest, meals, and recreations, that they may have some 
time to seek the face of God in a corner. Certainly, there shall not be 
a sigh, a groan, a prayer, a tear let fall by a poor servant in a corner, 
that shall not be at last regarded and rewarded by the great God. 
Lyra saith, that Mordecai waited six years, before his good service was 
rewarded by king Ahasuerus, It may be God may reward thee sooner 
for all thy closet services ; but if he do not reward thee sooner, he will 
certainly reward thee better, he will reward thee with higher honours, 
with greater dignities, with more glorious robes, and with a more royal 
crown, even an incorruptible crown, a crown of righteousness, a crown 
of life, a crown of glory, 1 Cor. ix. 29 ; 2 Tim. iv. 8 ; Rev. ii. 10 ; James 
i. 12 ; 1 Pet. v. 4. And therefore hold on and hold out in your secret 
retirements. Though some may deride you, and others revile you, and 
your carnal masters discourage you, yet God is faithful and will cer- 
tainly reward you ; yea, he will openly reward you for all the secret 
pourings out of your souls in his bosom. But, 

Obj. 3. Some may further object and say, Oh but we cannot pray alone; 
we want those gifts and endowments which others have ; we are shut 
up and know not how to pour out our souls before God in a corner ; 
we would willingly pray, but we want ability to pour out our souls 
before the Lord in secret, &c. 

Solution 1. God's dearest children may sometimes be shut up; they 
may with Zacharias, for a tiine, be struck dumb, and not able to speak, 
Luke i. 20 ; Ps. Ixxvii. 4. ' I am so troubled that I cannot speak,' Ps. 
xxxviii. 9. ' Lord, all my desire is before thee : and my groaning is 
not hid from thee.' God's dearest children have sometimes been so 
shut up, that they have been able to say nothing, nor to do nothing but 
groan. A child of God may sometimes meet with such a blow from 
God, from conscience, from Scripture, from Satan, from the world, that 
may for a time so astonish him, that he may not be able to speak to 
God, nor speak to others, nor speak to his own heart. Look, as the 
Holy Spirit is not always a teaching Spirit, nor always a leading Spirit, 
nor always a comforting Spirit, nor always a sealing Spirit, nor always 
a witnessing Spirit, nor always an assuring Spirit to any of the saints ; 
so he is not always a supplicating Spirit in any of the saints. When 
he ie grieved, vexed, quenched, provoked, he may suspend his gracious 
1 Josephus, Anliq. lib. 18^ cap. 8. 



222 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

influences, and deny the soul his assistance ; and what can a Christian 
then say or do ? h\it, 

[2.] Secondly, I answer, Tfiou canst not pray ; hut canst thou not 
»igh, nor groan neither ? 1 here may be the Spirit of**adoption in 
sighs and groans, as well as in vocal prayer, Rom. viii. 26. The force, 
the virtue, the efficacy, the excellency of prayer doth not consist in 
the number and flourish of words, but in the supernatural motions of 
the Spirit, in sighs, and groans, and pangs, and strong affections of heart, 
that are unspeakable and unutterable. Certainly, the very soul of 
prayer lies in the pouring out of a man's soul before the Lord, though 
it be but in sighs, groans, and tears, I Sam. i. 13-19. One sigh and 
groan from a broken heart, is better pleasing to God, than all human 
eloquence. But, 

[3.] Thirdly, I answer, Beg of God to teach thee to pray. Oh beg the 
Holy Spirit, that is a Spirit of prayer. God hath promised his Holy 
Spirit to them that avsk it, Luke xi, 13. 'If ye then, being evil, know 
how to give good gifts unto your children : how much more shall 
your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him !* 
Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27. ' A new heart also will I give you, and a new 
spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out 
of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh, and I will put my 
Spirit within jou, and cause you to walk in my statutes ; and ye shall 
keep my judgments, and do them,' Ezek. xi. 19. 'And I will give 
them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them ; and I will 
take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of 
flesh,' Zech. xii. 10. ' I will pour upon the house of David and upon 
the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplication.' 
Now gracious promises are God's bonds, and he loves to see his people 
put them in suit. God expects that we should be his remembrancers, 
and that we should pray over his promises, Isa. Ixii. 6, 7 ; Isa. xlii. 25, 
26. When he had promised great things to his people concerning justi- 
fication, sanctification, and preservation, he subjoins, 'Yet, I will for 
this be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it,' Ezek. xxxvi. 37. 
God looks that we should spread his gracious promises before him, as 
Hezekiah did Sennacherib's letter, Isa. xxxvii. 14. God is never better 
pleased than when his people importune him in his own words, and urge 
him with arguments taken from his own promises. Though God be a 
very affectionate father, and a very liberal father, yet he is not a prodigal 
father, for he will never throw away his mercies on such as will not 
stoutly and humbly plead out his promises with him. God loves to take 
state upon him, and will be sought unto, both for his giving in of mer- 
cies, and for his making good of precious promises. Thou sayest thou 
canst not pray; why ! canst thou not go into a corner, and spread the 
promises last cited before the Lord, and tell him how much it concerns 
his honour and glory, as well as thy own internal and eternal good, to 
make good those gracious promises that he hath made concerning his 
giving of his Spirit to them that ask him, and his putting his Spirit 
within them, and his pouring out a Spirit of grace and supplication upon 
them ? 

We read of Tamar, Gen. xxxviii. 18, 25, that when Judah her father- 
in-law lay with her, she took as a pledge his signet, bracelets, and staff; 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 223 

and afterwards, when she was in great distress, and ready to be burnt 
as an harlot, she then brought out her staff, and signet, and bracelets, 
and said, ' By the man whose these are, am I with child,' and thereby 
she saved her life. The promises are as so many rich mines, tliey are 
as so many choice flowers of paradise, they are the food, life, and 
strength of the soul. They are as a staff" to support the soul, and they 
are as a signet and bracelets to adorn the soul, and to enrich the soul ; 
and therefore poor sinners should bring them forth, and lay them before 
the Lord, and urge God with them, there being no way on earth to 
save a man's soul, and to prevent a burning in hell like this. Con- 
cerning precious promisevS, let me give you these eight hints. 

[1,] First, That they are truly propounded and stated by God, 
Mark x. .30. 

[2.] Secondly, That they sJiall certainly be performed, 2 Cor. i. 20, 
they being all made in and through Christ. They are made first to 
Christ, and then to all that have union and communion with him. 

Sirtorius, saith Plutarch, paid what he promised with fair words ; 
but so doth not God. Men many times say and unsay ; they often eat 
their words as soon as they have spoken them ; but God will never eat 
the words that are gone out of his mouth : Isa. xlvi. 10, 1 J, ' My counsel 
shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure : yea, I have spoken it, I will 
also bring it to pass : I have purposed it, I will also do it.' 

[3.] Thirdly, That they all issue from free grace, from special love, 
from divine goodness, Hos. xiv. 4. 

[4<.] Fourthly, That they are all as unchangeable as he is that made 
tJiem, Jer. xxxi. 3, 

[5.] Fifthly, That they are all bottomed and founded upon the 
truth, faithfulness, and all-suffi.ciency of God, Mai. iii. 6. 

[6.] Sixthly, T/tat they are pledges and pawns of great things that 
God will do for his people in tirfie, Heb. xiii. 5. 

[7.] Seventhly, That they are m,ost sure and certain evidences of 
divine favour, and a declaration of the heart and good-will of God 
to his poor people, Heb. vi. 12, Num. xxiii. 19. 

[8.] Eighthly, That they are the price of Christ's blood. 

Now how should all these things encourage poor souls to be still 
a-pressing of God with his promises. But, 

[4.] Fourthly, You say you cannot pray, &c. Oh that you would 
leave off objecting, and fall upon praying. If you cannot pray as you 
would, nor as you should, pray as well as you can. Joseph's brethren 
stood so long dallying, and delaying, and trifling out the time, that, 
having a journey to go to buy corn, they might have bought and re- 
turned twice before they went and bought once. When Elijah called 
Elizeus, he goes about the bush, and he must needs go bid his father 
and mother farewell before he could follow the prophet, 1 Kings xix. 
20. O friends ! take heed of dallying, delaying, trifling, and going 
about the bush, when you should be a-falling upon the work of prayer. 
What though with Hannah thou canst but weep out a prayer, or with 
Moses stammer out a prayer, or with Hezekiah chatter out a prayei", 
yet do as well as thou canst, and thou shalt find acceptance with God : 
2 Cpr. viii. 12, ' For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted ac- 
cording to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.' 



224; THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

The publican's prayer had nat much rhetoric or eloquence in it, ' God 
be merciful to me a sinner,' Luke xviii. 13, and yet God accepted it. 
He prayed much, though he spake little, and God did not turn a deaf 
ear upon him. That God that once accepted a handful of meal for a 
sacrifice, and a gripe of goat's hair for an oblation, and the poor widow's^ 
two mites, as if they had been two millions, will certainly accept of what 
thou art able to do, though thou dost fall short, yea, much short, of 
what thou oughtest to do, Lev. ii. 1, 2, and vi. 15, Luke xxi. 3. ' Lord,' 
saith Luther, ' thou commandest me to pray. I cannot pray as I would, 
yet I will obey ; for though my prayer be not acceptable, yet thine own 
commandment is acceptable to thee,' If weak Christians would but 
put forth in prayer that little strength they have, God would quickly 
renew their spiritual strength ; he would certainly carry them on from 
strength to strength ; he would still, by secret assistances and secret 
influences, help them on in their heavenly trade, Isa. xlix. 20-22, Ps, 
Ixxxiv. 7. As a loving indulgent father will take his little child in 
his arms, and carry him on in his way homeward, when his strength 
begins to fail him, and he can walk no further, and the way proves 
dirty, slippery, or uneven, so doth God by his : Hos. xi. 3, ' I taught 
Ephraim also to go ' (as a nurse doth the infant), ' taking them by their 
arm.' When God's poor children come to a foul way, or a rough place, 
he takes them up in his own arms, and helps them over the quagmire 
of crosses, and the difficulties of duties, and over all that straitness, and 
narrowness, and weakness of spirit that doth attend them in their closet 
performances. 

It is observable, that when the king of Israel was to shoot the arrow, 
he did put his hand upon the bow, and Elisha did put his hand upon 
the king's hand, 2 Kings xiii. 16. So when we go into our closets, we 
are to put up our hand, and then the Spirit of God likewise will put 
his hand upon our hand, he will put his strength to our strength, or 
rather to our weakness : Rom, viii. 26, 'Likewise the Spirit also helpeth 
our infirmities,' lifts with us, or helpeth together. The Greek word- euvav- 
7iXa/ji,<^%viTa/ doth properly signify such a help, as when another man of 
strength and ability steppeth in to sustain the burden that lieth upon 
our shoulders, be it a log, or a piece of timber, setting his shoulders 
under it, to lift up, and bear part of it with us, or to help us as the 
nurse helpeth her little child, upholding it by the sleeve. When a poor 
Christian sets himself to closet prayer, or to mourn, or to believe, or to 
obey, &c., then the Spirit comes in with new help, and new influences, 
and new assistances, and so carries him on in all these noble services. 
That child that doth but stammer at flrst, in time will speak plainly 
and fluently. Oh how many Christians are there that now can pray with 
much freedom, liberty, and fluency, who at first could only sigh out a 
prayer, or stammer out a prayer, or weep out a prayer ! Thou sayest 
thou cannot pray, but didst thou but stir up thyself to obey that com- 
mand. Mat. vi. 6, as well as thou canst, thou dost not know but that a 
power may go forth with the command, that may enable thee to act 
suitable to the command. In Mat, ix, 1-9, Christ bid the palsy man 
rise and walk : ' Take up thy bed, and go unto thine house,' The palsy 
man might have objected, 'Alas ! I am carried by four, I am not able 
to stir a limb, much less to rise, but least of all to take up my bed and 



Mat. VI. C] the privy key of heaven. 225 

walk, &c. Oh but he rouseth up himself as well as he could, and a 
power went forth with the command, that enabled him to do what 
was commanded. So Mat. xii. 10-14, there was a poor man that had 
a withered hand, and Christ commands him to stretch forth his hand ; 
he might have repUed, * My hand is withered, and if I might have as 
many worlds as there be men in the world, to stretch it forth, I could 
not stretch it forth ; yea, if my very life, if my very salvation did lie 
upon stretching forth my withered arm, I could not stretch it forth.' 
Oh ! but he throws by all such pleas, and complies with Christ's com- 
mand as well as he could, and a power Went forth and healed his hand. 
O sirs ! if you would but pray in your closets as well as you can, you do 
not know but that such a power and virtue might flow from Christ into 
your hearts, as might carry you on in your closet-duties, beyond ex- 
pectation, even to admiration ;' others have found it so, and why not 
you, why not you ? Well ! remember, that God is no curious nor critical 
observer of the incongruous expressions that falls from his poor children 
when they are in their closet-duties ; he is such a Father as is very well 
pleased with the broken expressions and divine stammerings of his 
people when they are in a comer. It is not a flood of words, nor studied 
notions, nor seraphical expressions, nor elegant phrases in prayer, that 
takes the ear, or that delights the heart of God, or that opens the gates 
of glory, or that brings down the best of blessings upon the sonl ; but 
uprightness, holiness, heavenliness, spiritualness, and brokenness of heart: 
these are the things that make a conquest upon God, and that turns 
most to the soul's account. But, 

(5.) Fifthly Thou sayest thou canst not pray, hut if thou aH a child of 
God, thou hast the SpiHt of God, and the Spirit of God is a Spirit of 
prayer and supplication. That all the children of God have the Spirit 
of God is most evident in the blessed Scriptures. Take these for a taste : 
Zech. xii. 10, ' I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the in- 
habitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplication ;' Ps. li. 11, 
' Take not thy Holy Spirit from me ;' Eom. viii. 15, * Ye have received 
the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father;' 1 Cor. ii. 12, 
'We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of 
God ; that we might know the things that are freely given to tis of 
God ;' 1 Thes. iv. 8, ' Who hath given unto us his Holy Spirit ;' 1 John 
iii 4, ' Hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he 
hath given us;' chap. iv. 13, 'Hereby we know that we dwell in him,, 
and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.' 

That all the children of God have the Spirit of God, may be further 
made evident by an induction of these seven particulars. 

[1.] First, They are all sanxitified hy the Spirit-. J Cor. vi. 11, 'Ye 
are sanctified by the Spirit of our God.' I do not say, that they are all 
equally sanctified by the Spirit, but I say they are aU really sanctified 
by the Spirit. Though all the servants of Christ have their talents, yet 
all have not their ten talents, nor all have not their five talents, nor all 
have not their two talents ; some have only their one talent, Mat. xxv. 
15. Though Benjamin's mess was five times as much as his brethren's 
mess, yet eveiy one of his brethren had their mess, Gen, xliii 32-34, 

» 'Wonder.'— G. 

VOL. n. p 



226 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

SO though some Christians have five times more measures of the Spirit, 
and more measures pf light, of love, of holiness, of heavenly-mindedness, 
&c., than others have, yet every Christian hath some measures of the 
Spirit, and some measures of grace and holiness, &c. Though some are 
babes in Christ, and others are children in Christ, though some are 
young men in Christ, and others old men in Christ, yet every one of 
them is born of the Spirit of Christ, I Peter ii. 2; 1 John ii. 12-14; 
John iii. 8. Though none of the people of God in this Hfe^ have the 
Spirit in perfection, yet every one of them have so much of the Spirit 
as will bring him to salvation. Every Christian hath so much of the 
Spirit as will bring Christ and his soul together; and therefore without 
all peradventure, every Christian hath so much of the Spirit, as will at 
last bring heaven and his soul together. 

[2.] Secondly f They are all led hy the Spirit': Rom. viii. 14, 'As 
many as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.' Every child 
of God hath a twofold guide: the word without, and the Spirit within, 
Isa. XXX. 20, 21. How the Spirit leads by the rule of the word, and 
how he leads to God, and leads to Christ, and leads to truth, and leads 
to righteousness, and leads to holiness, and leads to happiness, I shall 
not now undertake to shew, Prov. vi. 22, Eph. v. 9. 

[3.] Thirdly, They are all upheld and strengthened hy the Spirit : 
Ps. Ii. 12, ' Uphold me with thy free Spirit ;' or underprop me or sus- 
tain me, as the Hebrew hath it, with thy free, voluntary Spirit ; or, as 
the Greek turns it, with thy noble, princely Spirit. So Eph. iii. 16, 
' To be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.' By 
the inner man, some understand the regenerate part of man ; others, by 
the inner man, do understand the soul with all its noble faculties and 
motions. Take the words which way you will, it is certain that all the 
spiritual might and strength that a Christian hath, he hath it from the 
Holy Spirit. Though the Spirit strengthens every Christian in the 
inner man, yet I do not say that the Spirit strengthens every Christian 
alike in the inward man. Some have stronger corruptions to subdue 
than others, and more violent temptations to withstand than others, and 
greater difficulties to wrestle with than others, and choicer mercies to 
improve than others, and higher and harder duties of religion to man- 
age than others, and accordingly they are more strengthened in the 
inner man than others. 

[4.] Fourthly, They are all] partakers of the first-fruits of the 
'Spirit : Rom. viii. 23, ' Ourselves have the first-fruits of the Spirit,' 
which are but as a handful of corn in respect of the whole crop. All 
the grace and all the holiness which we have from the regenerating 
Spirit at first conversion is but a drop to that sea, a mite to those 
talents, which we shall receive in the life to come, 2 Cor. i. 22. 

[5.] Fifthly, They are all taught by the Spirit, John xiv. 26. * The 
Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach 
you all things,' Isa. lix. 21. 

This promise primarily belongs to the apostles ; 

Secondarily, to all believers. 

Though these words were spoken at first to the apostles only, yet 
they were not spoken of the apostles only : Isa. liv. 13, ' And all thy 
children shall be taught of the Lord ; and great shall be the peace of 



Mat. VT. 6.] the privy key op heaven. 227 

thy children.' In these words there are three things promised to the 
apostles : 

First, Immediate illumination by the Spirit of God. 

Secondly/, A full knowledge of all those truths belonging to their 
apostolical oflSbe, and that were necessary for them at that juncture of 
time. 

Thirdly, Absolute infallibility as to matter of doctrine. 

There are also three things promised to all believers : 

First, Mediate illumination, teaching truths by the Spirit of truth, in 
the use of the means of grace. 

Secondly, Knowledge of all truth necessary to salvation. 

Thirdly, Infallibility too, so far forth as they adhere and keep close 
to the Spirit's teaching in the word. 

Philo saith that the primitive Christians were called tillers, because, 
as husbandmen till their fields and manure their grounds, so did they 
teach their families and nurture their children and servants with good 
instructions.* Oh, what choice teachings of the Spirit were these 
primitive Christians under, who made it so much their business, their 
work, to teach those that were under their charge, 1 Thes. iv. 9, 2 Cor. 
iii. 8. So 1 John iL 27, ' But the anointing which ye have received of 
him abideth in you ; and ye need not that any man teach you : but as 
the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth.' Not that 
we know all things simply, or that we need not a ministry to teach and 
instruct us ; but he speaks comparatively : you shall not be so helped 
by any instructions without the Spirit, as with the Spirit. The Spirit 
shall declare the truth as it is in Jesus more clearly, more freely, more 
particularly, more certainly, more universally, more effectually, than any 
other is able to do.^ The Spirit, this holy unction, shall teach the saints 
all things ; not all things knowable, for that is impossible for finite 
creatures to attain unto. Who knows the motions of the heavens, the 
influences of the stars, the nature of the creatures, or how the bones do 
grow in the womb of her that is with child ? Who knows the reason 
why the river Nilus should overflow in the summer, when waters are at 
the lowest ; or why the loadstone should draw iron to it, or incline to 
the pole star ? 

Pliny tells us of one that spent eight and fifty years in learning out 
the nature of the bee, and yet had not fully attained to it.' How is it 
possible, then, for the wisest naturalist to enter into the deep things 
of God ? 

Paul, that learned his divinity among the angels, and that had the 
Holy Ghost for his immediate teacher, tells us plainly that ' he knew 
but in part,' 1 Cor. xiii. 9-1 1 ; and oh then, how little a part of that 
part do we know ! But the Spirit teacheth the saints all things ; that is, 

First, He teacheth them all things needful for the salvation of their 
souls, all things necessary to bring them to heaven, John xvii. 3. 

Secondly, All things needful to life and godliness, 2 Peter i. 3. 
Thirdly, All things needful to their places, callings, sexes, ages, and 
conditions. 

1 Cf. Works, by Yonge, vol. i. pp. 378, aeq.—Gc. 
* « 1 Cor. vi. 9-11 ; 1 Tim. iv. 1 ; John xvi. 26 ; Isa. xlviii. 17 ; Eceles. xi. 6. 
. ' [NcU. Hist."] Lib. xi. cap. ix. [viz., Aristomachus of Soli. — Q.] 



228 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

Fourthly, All things needful for you to know to preserve you in the 
truth, and to preserve you from being deluded and seduced by those 
false teachers of whom he speaks, 1 John ii. verses 10, 19, 22, 23, 26. 
And certainly this is the main thing that John hints at in that expres- 
sion. The ' all things' spoken of in ver. 27, according* to the ordi- 
nary Scripture style, must necessarily be interpreted only of all those 
things which are there spoken of. But, 

[6.] Sixthly, They are all comforted by the Spirit ;' Acts ix. 31, 
' They walked in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy 
Ghost ;' Rom. xiv. 17, ' For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, 
but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost ;' 1 Thes. i. 6, 
* And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the 
word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.' Not that all 
Christians have always actual comfort, actual joy. Oh no ! For as the 
air is sometimes clear and sometimes cloudy, and as the sea is some- 
times ebbing and sometimes flowing ; so the comforts and joys of the 
people of God are sometimes ebbing and sometimes flowing, sometimes 
clear and sometimes cloudy. 

Hudson the martyr being deserted at the stake, went from under his 
chain ; and having prayed earnestly, was comforted immediately, and 
suffered valiantly.^ 

So Mr Glover the martyr was deserted in prison , but as he was going 
to the stake he looked back, and cried out to his friend, 'He is come, he 
is come,' meaning the Comforter, and so he laid down his life with joy.* 

Rachel wept, and would not be comforted ; she gave so much way 
to weeping, that she would not give the least way to comfort ; and so it 
is many times with the choicest saints, ' My soul refused to be com- 
forted,' Ps. Ixxvii. 2. It is not my purpose at present to insist on the 
several ways whereby the people of God refuse comfort, and fall short 
of those strong consolations which God is willing that they should re- 
ceive. The sun may operate where it doth not shine, and a man may 
be in a state of salvation, and yet want consolation ; a man may fear 
the Lord, and obey the voice of his servant, and yet walk in darkness 
and see no light, Isa. 1. 10. There is no Christian but may sometimes 
have trouble in his conscience, and grief in his heart, and tears in his 
eyes, and fears and questionings in his soul, whether God be his Father, 
and whether Christ be his redeemer, and whether mercy belongs to him, 
yea, whether any promise in the book of God belongs to him? &c. Joy 
and comfort are those dainties, those sweetmeats of heaven, that God 
doth not every day feast his people with, Ps. xxx. 6, 7 ; every day is not 
a wedding day, nor every day is not a harvest day, nor every day is not 
a summer's day. The fatted calf is not killed every day, nor the robe 
and the ring is not every day put on ; every day is not a festival day 
nor a dancing day, Luke xv. 22, 23 ; Eccles. iii. 4 ; Rom. xii. 15. As 
there is a time to sing, so there is a time to sigh ; as there is a time to 
laugh, so there is a time to weep ; and as there is a time to dance, so 
there is a time to mourn. All tears will never be clear wiped from our 
eyes till all sin be quite taken out of our hearts. But notwithstanding 
ail this, yet gracious souls have always sure and choice grounds of con- 
solation ; they have the promises, they have the ' first-fruits of the 

» John xiv. 16, 26, xv. 26, and xvi. 7. » Clarke, as before.— G. ^ Ibid.— G. 



i 



1 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 229 

Spirit,' they have union with Christ, and they have right to eternal life, 
though they have not always sensible comforts. The children of God 
have always cause to exercise faith and hope on God in their darkest 
condition, though they have not always actual joy and consolation, Job 
xiii. 15, Ps. xlii. 5. The Comforter always abides with the saints, 
though he doth not always actually comfort the saints, John i. 1 6. The 
Spirit many times carries on his sanctifying work in the soul when he 
doth not carry on his comforting work in the soul ; the Spirit many 
times acts in a way of humiliation when he doth not act in a way of 
consolation ; the Spirit many times fills the soul with godl}'' sorrow 
when he doth not fill the soul with holy joy. The actings of the Spirit, 
as to his comforting work, are all of his own sovereign will and pleasure ; 
and therefore he may abide in the soul when he doth not actually 
comfort the soul. But, 

[7.] Seventhly, The people of God, first or last, are sealed by the 
Spirit : Eph. i. 13, 'In whom, after ye believed, ye were sealed by the 
Holy Spirit of promise.'' The nature of sealing consists in the imparting 
of the image or character of the seal to the thing sealed. To seal a 
thing is to stamp the character of the seal on it. Now, the Spirit of 
God doth really and effectually communicate the image of God to us, 
which image consists in riorhteousness and true holiness. Then are we 
truly sealed by the Spirit of God when the Holy Ghost stamps the image 
of grace and holiness so obviously, so evidently upon the soul, as that the 
soul sees it, feels it, and can run and read it ; then the soul is sealed 
by the Holy Spirit. So Eph. iv. 30, ' And grieve not the Holy Spirit 
of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.' The per- 
son of the Holy Ghost is here set forth in the Greek with a very great 
energy, such as our tongue is not able fully to express. 

Here are three words, that have three articles, every word his several 
article by itself, '■^ wixjiia, rh aym, roZ 3 gov, the Spirit, not a Spirit ; and 
not holy, but the holy; nor of God, but of thxit God : 2 Cor. i. 22, 'Who 
hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.* 
In these scriptures you see that the Spirit is a seal Now, a seal 
among men is. 

First, For secresy. 

Secondly, For distinction. 

Tliirdly, For authority. 

Fourthly, For certainty. A writing sealed is authentic ; and for en- 
suring. 

In the three texts last cited, if you compare them together, you may 
observe these six things : 

First, The person sealing, and that is, the Father. 

Secondly, In whonj, in Christ. 

Thirdly, With what seal, the Spirit of promise. Where are all the 
persons in the Trinity making us sure of our inheritance. 

Fourthly, When, after ye believed. 

Fifthly, The end, which is twofold: 

(1.) Suhordinaie, and that is the certainty of our salvation ; 

• These words, saith Zanchy [Zanchins]. are a metaphor taken from merchants, who 
having bought goods, seal them as their own. and so transport them to other places 
Eph.iv. 24. 



230 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

(2.) VTtimate, and that is, the praise of his glory. 

Sixthly, The time, how long this seal and earnest shall assure us, 
and that is, ' till we have the complete possession of what it is an ear- 
nest.' To prevent mistakes and disputes about the sealings of the 
Spirit on the one hand, and to support, comfort, and encourage the 
poor people of God on the other hand, let me briefly hint at the Spirit's 
special sealing times. 

[1.] First, Conversion times are often the Spirit's sealing times, 
Luke XV. 22, 23. Upon the prodigal's return, the fatted calf is killed, 
and the best robe is put upon his back, and the ring is put upon his 
hand, and shoes on his feet. Some by the robe understand the royalty 
of Adam, others, the righteousness of Christ. And by the ring, some 
understand the pledges of God's love, rings being given as pledges 
of love ; and by the ring others understand the seal of God's Holy 
Spirit, men using the seal with their rings. Among the Romans the 
ring was an ensign of virtue, honour, and nobility, whereby they that 
wore them were distinguished from the common people. I think the 
main thing intended by the robe and the ring is, to shew us, that God 
sometimes upon the sinner's conversion and returning to him, is gra- 
ciously pleased to give him some choice manifestations of his gracious 
pleasure and good-will, and to seal up to him his everlasting love and 
favour. And henceit comesto pass that some that are but babes in Christ, 
1 Pet. ii. 2, 3 ; 1 John ii. 12-14, are so dihgent and active in religious 
duties, and so conscientious and dexterous in the exercise of their graces. 
At first conversion, God helps some of his people to read their own 
names written in legible letters in the book of life. Acts ix. 3-6. No 
sooner are some converted, but the Spirit stamps his seal upon them. 

[l'.] Secondly, Believing tim.es are sealing times, Eph. i. 13. When 
they were in the veiy exercise of their faith, when they were acting of 
their faith, — for so much the original imports, — the Spirit came and 
sealed them up to the day of redemption, Rom. xv. 1 3 ; 1 Pet. i. 8. He 
that honours Christ by frequent actings of faith on him, him will Christ 
honour, by setting his seal and mark upon him. 

- [3.] Thirdly, Humbling times, moui'ning times, are sealing times. 
When a holy man was asked, which were the joyfullest days, the com- 
fortablest days, that ever he enjoyed, he answered, his mourning days. 
His mourning days were his joyfullest days ; and therefore he cried out, 
* Oh give me my mourning days, give me my mourning days ; for they 
were my joyfullest days.' Those were days wherein God sealed up his 
everlasting love to his soul, Job xxii. 29 ; Isa. xxix. 19. When the 
prodigal had greatly humbled himself before liis father, then the best 
robe and ring were put upon him, Luke xv. 1 7-24. There are none 
that long for the sealings of the Spirit like humble souls ; nor none 
set so high a price upon the sealings of the Spirit, as humble souls ; nor 
none make so choice an improvement of the sealings of the Spirit, as 
humble souls. And therefore when men's hearts are humble and low, 
the Spirit comes and sets the privy-seal of heaven upon them. 

[4.] Fourthly, Sinkilling, sin-mortifying, sin-subduing times, are 
the Spirit's sealing times; Rev. ii. 1 7, *To him thatovercometh will I give 
to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the 
stone a new name written, that no man knows saving he that receiveth it.* 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 231 

God will give to the victorious Christian a secret' love-token, whereby 
his soul may rest assured of the unspeakable love of God, and of its 
freedom from condemnation. White stones were of very great use 
among the Romans, and among the Athenians, and served to acquit the 
accused in courts of justice. When malefactors were accused, arraigned, 
and condemned in their courts, they gave them a black stone in token 
of condemnation ; but when they were acquitted, they gave them white 
stones, in token of absolution ; and to this practice the Holy Ghost 
seems to allude. He that is victorious over his lusts shall have a new 
name, ' that is better than the names of sons and daughters,' Isa. Ivi. 5 ; 
and he shall have the pardon of his sins writ in fair letters upon the white 
stone, so that he may run and read his absolution. The victorious 
Christian shall have assurance of the full discharge of all his sins, he 
shall have a clear evidence of his justification, and a blessed assurance 
of his eternal election ; all which are hidden and mysterious things to 
all but those that have experienced and tasted what these sweet meats 
of heaven mean, 1 John i. 7. 

Among the Romans there were solemn feasts held in honour of those 
that were victorious in their sacred games. Now those that were to be 
admitted to those feasts were wont to have their names written on white 
shells, and white stones, and by these tickets they were admitted. Now 
some think the Holy Ghost alludes to this practice, and so would hint 
to us a privy mark whereby victorious Christians may be known, and 
admitted as bidden guests to the heavenly banquet of the hidden 
manna, according to Rev. xix. 9. O sirs ! when predominate lusts are 
brought under, when bosom-sins lie slain in the soul, then the Spirit 
comes and seals up love, and life, and glory to the soul. 

[5.] Fifthly, Suffering times are seoXing times ; Acts vii. 55, 56, 59, 
60; Rev. i. 9, 10 ; 2 Cor. iv. 15-17. The primitive Christians found 
them so, and the suffering saints in the Marian days found them so.* 
When the furnace is seven times hotter than ordinary, the Spirit of the 
Lord comes and seals up a man's pardon in his bosom, and his peace 
with God, and his title to heaven. When the world frowns most, then 
God smiles most ; when the world puts their iron chains upon the 
saints' legs, then God puts his golden chains about the saints' necks ; 
when the world puts a bitter cup into one hand, then the Lord puts 
a cup of consolation into the other hand ; when the world cries out, 
' Crucify them, crucify them !' then commonly they hear that sweet voice 
from heaven, ' These are my beloved ones, in whom I am well pleased.' 

Blessed Bradford looked upon his sufferings as an evidence to him 
that he was in the right way to heaven. And saith Ignatius, ' It is 
better for me to be a martyr than to be a monarch.' 

[6.] Sixthly, Self-denying tim,es are the Spirit^ 8 sealing tiTnes, Mat. 
xix. 27-29. 

First, There is sinful self, which takes in a man's lusts. 

Secondly, There is natural self, which takes in a man's arts, parts, gifts, 
with reason. 

Thirdly, There is religious self, which takes in all a man's religious 
duties and services, whether ordinary or extraordinary. 
4 Fourthly, There is moral self, which includes a freedom from gross, 
» Acta V. 40-42 ; Pa. Ixxi. 20, 21 ; and f s. xciv. 19 ; Rev. i. 9, 10. 



232 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

heinous, enormous wickednesses, and a fair, sweet, harmless behaviour 
towards men. 

Fifthly, There is relative self, which takes in our nearest and dearest 
relations in the flesh ; as wife, children, father, mother, brothers, sisters, 
&c., Ps. xlv. 7-1 1. Now when a man comes thus universally to deny 
himself for Christ's sake, and the gospel's sake, and religion's sake, then 
the Spirit of the Lord comes and seals him up unto the day of redemp- 
tion. This is a truth confirmed by the experiences of many mart}TS 
now in heaven, and by the testimony of many Christians still alive. 

[7.] Seventhly, Sacrament times are sealing times. In that ' feast 
of fat things,' God by his Spirit seals up his love to his people, and his 
covenant to his people, and pardon of sin to his people, and heaven and 
happiness to his people. There are many precious souls that have found 
Christ in this ordinance, and when they could not find him in other 
ordinances, though they have sought him sorrowingly. In this ordinance 
many a distressed soul hath been strengthened, comforted and sealed. 

I might give you many instances. Take one for all. There was a 
gracious woman, who, after God had filled her soul with comfort, and 
sealed up his everlasting love to her, fell under former fears and trouble 
of spirit, and being at the Lord's supper, a little before the bread was 
administered to her, Satan seemed to appear to her, and told her that 
she should not presume to eat ; but at that very nick of time, the Lord 
was pleased to bring into her mind that passage in the Canticles, * Eat, 
O my friend,' Cant. v. 1. But notwithstanding this, Satan still con- 
tinued terrifying of her, and when she had eaten, he told her that she 
should not drink ; but then the Lord brought that second clause of the 
verse to her remembrance, * Drink, yea drink abundantly' (or, ' be 
drunk,' as the Hebrew hath it) 'my beloved' (or, 'my loves,' as the 
Hebrew hath it ; — all faithful souls are Christ's loves), and so she drank 
also, and presently was filled with such unspeakable joys, that she hardly 
knewhowshe got home ; whi^hsoul-ravishing joys continued forafortnight 
after, and filled her mouth with songs of praise, so that she could neither 
sleep nor eat, more than she forced herself to do out of conscience of 
duty. At the fortnight's end, when God was pleased to abate her mea- 
sure of joy,^he came to a settled peace of conscience, and assurance of 
the love of God ; so that for twenty years after she had not so much as 
a cloud upon her spirit, or the least questioning of her interest in Christ. 
But, 

[8.] Eighthly, When God calls his people to some great and noble 
work, when he puts them upon some high services, some dijfflcult duties, 
some holy and eminent employments, then his Spirit comes and seta 
his seal upon them : Jer. i. 5, ' Before I formed thee in the belly I knew 
thee : and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, 
and I ordained thee to be a prophet unto the nations.' The Lord send- 
ing the prophet- Jeremiah to denounce most dreadful judgments against 
a rebellious people, an impudent brazen-faced nation, he assures him of 
his eternal election, and of his choice presence, and singular assistance 
in that work that he set him about, verses 8th, 17th, 18th 19th. Thus 
the Lord dealt with Peter, James, and John, Mat. xvii. 1st to the 6th, 
and thus he dealt with Paul, Acts ix. 1st to 23d. 

[9.] Ninthly, When they are taken up into more than ordinary 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 233 

communion with God, then is the Spirit's sealing time. When was it 
that the spouse cried out, ' My beloved is mine, and I am his !' but when 
Christ brought her to his banqueting house, and his banner over her 
was love ? Cant. ii. 16 ; 3-6, compared, &c. 

[10.] Tenthly and lastly. When ChHstians give themselves up to 
private prayer, when Christians are more than ordinaHly exercised 
i/n secret prayer, in closet duties, then the Spirit comes and seals up 
the covenant and the love of the Father to them. When Daniel had 
been wrestling and weeping, and weeping and wrestling all day long 
with God in his closet, then the angel tells him, 'that he was a man 
greatly beloved of God,' or a man of great desires, as the original hath 
it, Daniel ix. 20-23. There was a gracious woman who, after much 
frequenting of sermons, and walking in the ways of the Lord, fell into 
great desertions ; but being in secret prayer, God came in with abundance 
of light and comfort, sealing up to her soul that part of his covenant, viz., 
' I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an 
heart of flesh ; that they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine 
ordinances, and do them : and they shall be my people, and I will be 
their God,'Ezek. xi. 19, 20. And thus I have given you a brief account 
of the Spirit's special sealing times. Now mark, this seal God sets upon 
all his wares, upon all his adopted children ; for sooner or later there 
are none of his but are sealed with this seal. God sets his seal of re- 
generation, he stamps his image of holiness upon all his people, to dif- 
ference and distinguish them from all profane, [im]moral,*and hypocritical 
persons in the world, John iii. 3 ; 2 Thes. ii. 13; Heb. xii. 14. Doubt- 
less the sanctifying work of the Holy Ghost, imprinting the draughts 
and lineaments of God's image of righteousness and holiness upon man, 
as a seal or signet doth leave an impression and stamp of its likeness 
upon the thing sealed, is the seal of the Spirit spoken of in Scripture : 
2 Tim. ii. 19, 'The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The 
Lord knoweth them that are his. And let every one that nameth the 
name of Christ depart from iniquity.' But to prevent mistakes, you 
must remember, that though the Spirit of the Lord, first or last, will 
set his seal upon every real saint, yet the impression of that seal is not 
alike visible in all; for some bear this impression as babes, others as 
men grown up to some maturity. All God's adopted children bear this 
impression truly, but none of them bear it perfectly in this life. Some- 
times this seal of regeneration, this seal of holiness is so plain and obvious 
that a man may run and read it in himself and others ; and at other 
times it is so obscure and dark, that he can hardly discern it, either in 
himself or others. This seal is so lively stamped on some of God's people, 
that it discovers itself very visibly, eminently, gloriously ; but on others 
it is not alike visible. And thus I have made it evident by these seven 
particulars, that all the children of God have the Spirit of God. 

Now mark, the Spirit of God that is in all the saints, is a Spirit of 
prayer and supplication : Rom. viii. 15, 'Ye have received the Spirit of 
adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.' While the child is in the 
womb it cannot cry, but as soon as it is born it cries. Whilst Paul did 
lie in the womb of his natural estate, he could not pray; but no sooner 
was^e born of the Spirit, but the next news is, 'Behold he prayethT 
» Qu. ' moral ' ; that is, merely moral, as distinguished from ' holy ' ?— Ed. 



234? THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VI. 6. 

Acts ix. 11, Prayer is nothing but the turning of a man's inside out- 
ward before the Lord. The very soul of prayer lies in the pouring out 
of a man's soul into the bosom of God. Prayer is nothing but the 
breathing that out before the Lord that was first breathed into us by 
the Spirit of the Lord. Prayer is nothing but a choice, a free, a sweet, 
and familiar intercourse of the soul with God. Certainly, it is a great 
work of the Spirit to help the saints to pray : Gal. iv. 6, ' Because you 
are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, cry- 
ing, Abba, Father.' God hath no still-born children. The gemination, 
' Abba, Father,' notes fiducial, filial, and vehement affection. The first 
is an Hebrew or Syriac word, the second a Greek,* whereby is signified 
the union of the Hebrews and Grecians, or the Jews and Gentiles, in one 
church, 'Abba, Father.' What is Abba ? say others in Hebrew, Father ; 
and it is added, because in Christ the corner-stone both peoples are 
joined, alike becoming sons, whencesoever they come : circumcision 
from one place, whereupon Abba; uncircumcision from another, where- 
upon Father is named : the concord of the walls being the glory of the 
corner-stone. 

The word Abba, say others, signifies father in the Syriac tongue, 
which the apostle here retaineth, because it is a word full of affection, 
which young children retain almost in all languages, when they begin 
to speak. And he adds the word father, not only to expound the same, 
but also the better to express the eager movings and the earnest and 
vehement desires and singular affections of believers, in their crying 
unto God ; even as Christ himself redoubled the word Father, Mark 
xiv. 86, to the same purpose, when he was in his greatest distress. This 
little word Father, saith Luther, lisped forth in prayer by a child of, 
God, exceeds the eloquence of Demosthenes, Cicero, and all other so 
famed orators in the world. It is certain that the Spirit of God helps 
the saints in all their communions with God, viz., in their meditations 
of God, in their reading and hearing of the word of God, in the com- 
munions one with another, and in all their solemn addresses to God. 
And as to this the apostle gives us a most special instance in that 
Rom. viii. 26, ' Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities : for we 
know not what we should pray for as we ought ; but the Spirit itself 
maketh intercessions for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.' 
When we are to pray, there is in us sometimes an infirmity of ignorance, 
so that we know not what to pray for, either in regard of the matter 
or the manner. And there is in us at other times an infirmity of pride 
and conceitedness, so that we cannot pray with that humility and low- 
liness of spirit as we should, spiritual pride having fly-blown our 
prayers. Sometimes there is in us an infirmity of deadness, dulness, 
drowsiness, &c., so that we cannot pray with that warmth, heat, life, 
spirit, and fervency, as we should, or as v/e would ; and at other times 
there is in us an infirmity of unbelief and slavish fears, so that we can- 
not pray with that faith and holy boldness, as becomes children that 
draw near to a throne of grace, to a throne of mercy, &c. But now the 
Spirit helps these infirmities by way of instruction, prompting and 
teaching us what to pray for, and how we should spell our lesson ; and 
by telling us as it were within, what we should say, and how we should 
' Pareus [in loco, as before. — G.] 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 235 

sigh and groan ; and by rousing and quickening, and stirring of us up 
to prayer, and by his singular influence and choice assistance opening 
and enlarging our hearts in prayer ; and by his tuning the strings of 
our affections, he prepares us and fits us for the work of supplication ; 
and therefore every one that derides the spirit of prayer in the saints, 
saying These are the men and the women that pray by the Spirit ! blas- 
pheme against the Holy Spirit ; it being a main work of the Spirit to 
teach the saints to pray and to help them in prayer. Now, all the saints 
having the Spirit, and the Spirit being a Spirit of prayer and supplica- 
tion, there is no reason in the world why a saint should say, I would 
pray in secret, but I cannot pray, I cannot pour out my soul nor my 
complaint before the Lord in a corner. 

(6.) Sixthly and lastly, Thou sayest thou canst not pray, thou hast 
not the gifts and parts which others have. But thou canst manage 
thy callings, thy worldly business as well as others ; and why then 
canst thou not pray as well as others ? Ah, friends ! did you but love 
private prayer as well as you love the world, and delight in private 
prayer as much as you delight in the world, and were your hearts as 
much set upon closet-prayer as they are set upon the world, you would 
never say you could not pray, yea, you would as quickly pray as well 
as others. It is not so much from want of ability to pray in secret. 
that you don't pray in secret, as it is from want of a will, a heart to 
pray in secret, that you don't pray in secret. Jacob's love to Rachel, 
and Shechem's love to Dinah, carried them through the greatest diffi- 
culties, Gen. xxix. and xxxiv. Were men's affections but strongly set 
upon private prayer, they would quickly find abilities to pray. He 
that sets his affections upon a virgin, though he be not learned nor 
eloquent, will find words enough to let her know how his heart is taken 
with her. The application is easy. He in Seneca complained of a 
thorn in his foot, when his lungs was rotten. So many complain of 
want of ability to pray in their closets, when their hearts are rotten. 
Sirs ! do but get better hearts, and then you will never say you can't 
pray. It is one of the saddest sights in all the world, to see men 
strongly parted and gifted for all worldly businesses, to cry out that they 
can't pray, that they have no ability to pour out their souls before the 
Lord in secret. You have sufiicient parts and gifts to tell men of your 
sins, your wants, your dangers, your difficulties, your mercies, your 
deliverances, your duties, your crosses, your losses, your enjoyments, 
your friends, your foes ; and why then are you not ashamed to 
complain of your want of parts and gifts, to tell those very things 
to God in a corner, which you can tell to men even upon the housetops? 
&c. But, 

Ohj. 4. Fourthly, Some may further object and say, God is very well 
acquainted with all our wants, necessities, straits, trials; and there is 
no moving of him to bestow any favours upon us, which he doth not 
intend to bestow upon us, whether we pray in our closets or no ; and 
therefore to what purpose do you press secret prayer so hard upon us ? 
&c. 

To this objection I shall give these answers. 

(1 .) First, Tlud this objection lies as strong against family prayer 



236 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. P^AT. VI. 6. 

and public prayer as it doth against private prayer. God knows all 
thy wants and necessities, all thy straits and trials, &c., and therefore 
what needest thou pray in thy family, what needest thou attend public 
prayers in the communion of saints ? There is no wringing of any 
mercy out of the hands of heaven, which God doth not intend to 
bestow. This objection faces all kind of prayer, and fights against all 
kinds of prayer. But, 

(2.) Secondly, I answer. That pnvate prayer is that piece of divine 
worship and adoration, it is a paH of that homage which we owe to 
God upon the account of a divine command, as 1 have already proved. 
Now, all objections must bow before the face of divine commands ; as 
Joseph's brethren bowed before him. Gen. xlii. 6; or as king Ahasuerus 
his servants bowed before Haman, Esther iii. 2. Indeed, every objection 
that is formed up against a divine command, should fall before- it, as 
Dagon fell before the ark, or as Goliah fell before David. He that 
casts off private prayer under any pretence whatsoever, he casts ofif 
the dominion of God, the authority of God, and this may be as much 
as a man's life and soul is worth. But, 

(3.) Thirdly, I answer, Though prayer be not the ground, the cause 
of obtaining favours and mercies from God, yet it is the means, it is 
the silver channel, it is the golden pipe, through which the Lord is 
pleased to convey to his people all temporal, spiritual, and eternal 
favours,^ Ezek. xxxvi. from the 26th to the 37th verse of that chapter. 
God promises to give them the cream, the choicest, the sweetest of all 
spiritual, eternal, and temporal blessings ; but mark, verse 37th, ' I 
will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them.' 
Though God be very prompt and ready to bestow upon his people the 
best and the greatest of blessings, yet he will by prayer be sought unto 
for the actual enjoyment of them. He that hath no heart to pray for 
a mercy he needs, he hath no ground to believe that ever God will give 
him the mercy he needs. There is no receiving without asking, no 
finding without seeking, no opening without knocking. The threefold 
promise annexed to the threefold precept in Mat. vii. 7, should encour- 
age all Christians to be instant, fervent, and constant in prayer. The 
proud beggar gets nothing of men, and the dumb sinner gets nothing 
of God. As there is no mercy too great for God to give, so there is no 
mercy too little for us to crave. Certainly that man hath little worth 
in him that thinks any mercy not worth a seeking. But, 

(4.) Fourthly and lastly, I answer, Every Christian should labour 
to enjoy his mercies in mercy ; he should labour to have his blessings 
blessed unto him ; he should labour to have 'the good will of him that 
dwelt in the bush,' with all he hath, Gen. xxii. 17. Now this is an 
everlasting truth, a maxim to live and die with, that whatsoever mercy 
comes not in upon the wing of prayer is not given in mercy. Oh, how 
sweet is that mercy that comes flying in upon the wing of prayer ! 
How sweet was that water to Samson which streamed to him in the 
channel of private prayer. Judges xv. 19 ; he called the name of it 
En-hakkore, the well of him that prayed. Samson prayed as for life, 
and that water that was handed to him was as sweet as life. Every 
mercy that is gathered by the hand of prayer is as sweet as the rose of 
' Isa. Iv. 6 ; James i. 6; Isa. Ixii. 7 ; Fs. xxii. 24. 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 237 

Sharon, Cant. ii. 1 . But that mercy that comes not in at the door of 
prayer, comes not in at the right door ; and that mercy that comes not 
in at the right door will do a man no good : such mercies will make 
themselves wings and fly from us, Prov. xxiii. 5. Every Christian should 
narrowly look that all his mercies are sanctified mercies. Now, every 
mercy is sanctified by the word and prayer, 1 Tim. iv. 4, 5. Prayer 
prepares and fits us for mercy, and mercy for us. It is prayer that gives 
us a right and holy use of all our mercies. Such mercies are but great 
miseries that come not in upon the wing of prayer. Prayerless men's 
mercies are all given in wrath ; yea, their blessings are cursed unto 
them, Prov. iii. 33, Mai. ii. 2. Look, as every sacrifice was to be sea- 
soned with salt, so eveiy mercy is to be sanctified by prayer. Look, as 
gold sometimes is laid not only upon cloth and silks, but also upon 
silver itself, so prayer is that golden duty that must be laid not only 
upon all our natural and civil actions, as eating, drinking, buying, sell- 
ing, &c., but also upon all our silver duties, upon all our most religious 
and spiritual performances, as hearing, reading, meditating, conference, 
church-fellowship, breaking of bread, &c. 

Certainly prayer is very necessary to make every providence, and 
every ordinance, and every mercy to be a blessing to us. Every mercy 
that comes in upon the wing of private prayer is a double mercy ; it is 
a great-bellied mercy ; it is a mercy that hath many mercies in the 
womb of it. Happy is that Christian that can lay his hand upon every 
mercy that he enjoys, and say of them all as once Hannah said of her 
Samuel : 1 Sam. i. 27, ' For this child I prayed, and the Lord hath 
given me my petition which I asked of him.' But, 

Objection 5. Fifthly, Some may further object and say, I would 
drive a private trade with God, I would exercise myself in secret 
prayer, hut I want a convenient place to retire into ; I want a private 
corner to unbosom my soul to my Father in, &c. 

To this objection I shall give these three short answers : 
(1.) First, / suppose this objection concerns but a few Christians in 
our days. That God that hath given a Christ to believers doth com- 
monly give them a convenient corner to enjoy private communion with 
himself in, Rom. viii. 32. Most Christians, I am afraid, do rather want 
a heart for private prayer, than a convenient place for private prayer. 
What men set their hearts upon, they will find time and place to effect 
it, whether it be good or whether it be evil, whether it concerns tem- 
porals or spirituals, whether it concerns this world or another world, 
this life or a better hfe. If most men would but get better hearts, they 
would quickly find or make convenient places for private prayer. He 
who hath an inflamed love to God will certainly find out a corner to 
enjoy secret communion with God, True lovers will find out corners to 
enjoy one another in. How many men are there that can easily find 
out private places for their dogs to lie in, and their swine to sleep in, 
and their horses to stand in, and their oxen to feed in, &c., who can't 
find out a private place to seek the face of God in ! But did these men 
but love their God, or their souls, or private prayer, or eternity, as well 
or better than their beasts, they would not be such brutes but that they 
would quickly find out a hole, a corner, to wait u£)on the Lord in. B\it, 



238 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VI. 6. 

(2.) Secondly, I answer, If a Christian he on the top of a house with 
Peter, he may pray there ; or if he he walking in the field with Isaac, 
he may pray there ; or if he on the mountain with Christ, he iriay 
pray there ; or if he he hehind the door with Paul, he may pray 
there ; or if he he waiting at table with Nehemiah, he may secretly 
pray there ; or if he he in a wood, he may pray there, as the primi- 
tive Chi'istians in times of persecution did ; or if he he hehind a tree, 
he may pray there ; or if he he hy the sea side, he may pray there, as 
the apostles did. It was a choice saying of Austin, 'Every saint is God's 
temple/ saith he, ' and he that carries his temple about him, may go 
to prayer when he pleaseth.' Some saints have never had so much of 
heaven brought down into their hearts, as when they have been with 
God in a corner. Oh the secret manifestations of divine love, the secret 
kisses, the secret embraces, the secret influences, the secret communion 
with God, that many a precious Christian hath had in the most solitary 
places : it may be behind the door, or behind the wall, or behind the 
hedge, or behind the arbour, or behind the tree, or behind the rock, or 
behind the bush, &c. But, 

(3.) Thirdly, and lastly. Didst thou never in thy unregenerate estate 
make use of all thy wits, and parts, and utmost endeavours, to find 
out convenient seasons, and secret corners, and solitary places to sin 
in, and to dishonour thy God in, and to undo thine own and others' 
souls in ? Yes ! I remember with shame and blushing, that it was so 
with me when I was dead in trespasses and sins, and walked according 
to the course of this world, Eph. ii. 1-3. Oh, how much then doth it 
concern thee in thy renewed, sanctified, and raised estate, to make use 
of all thy wits, and parts, and utmost endeavours, to find out the fittest 
seasons, and the most secret comers, and solitary places thou canst, to 
honour thy God in, and to seek the welfare of thine own and others' 
souls in ! Oh that men were but as serious, studious, and industrious, 
to find out convenient seasons, secret places to please and serve and 
glorify the Lord in, as they have been serious, studious, and industrious 
to find out convenient seasons, and secret places to displease and grieve 
the Spirit of the Lord in. But, 

Ohf 6. Sixthly, and lastly, others may further object and say. We 
would he often in private with God, we would give ourselves up to 
closet-prayer, but that we can no sooner shut our closet door8,hut a mul- 
titude of infirmities, weaknesses, and vanities do face us, and Hse up 
against us. Our hearts being full of distempers and follies, and our 
bodies, say some, are under great indispositions; and our souls, say 
others, are imder present indispositions; and how then can we seek 
the face of God in a comer ? how can we wrestle with God in our 
closets ? &c. 

Now, to this objection I shall give these six answers. 

(1.) If these kinds of reasonings or arguingswere sufficient to shut 
private prayer out of doors, where lives that man or woman, that 
husband or wife, that father or child, that master or servant, that 
would ever he found in the practice of that duty /' Where is there a 

« Ps. xl. 12 ; Ps. li. 5 ; Rom. yii. 16, 24 ; Pa. cxxx. 8 ; 1 Cor. iv. 4 ; 2 Chron. vi. 86 ; 
Philip, iii. 12. : 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 239 

person under heaven whose heart is not full of infirmities, weaknesses, 
follies, and vanities; and whose body and soul is not too often indis- 
posed to closet duties ? 1 Kings viii. 46, ' If they sin against thee, for 
there is no man that sinneth not, &c. ;'^ Eccles. vii. 20, ' For there is not 
a just man upon the earth that doth good and sinneth not;' Prov. xx. 
9, * Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my 
sin?' Job xiv. 4, 'Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not 
one.' Job ix. 30, 31, ' If I wash myself with snow-water, and make 
my hands never so clean ; yet shall thou plunge me in the ditch, and 
mine own clothes shall abhor me.' Job ix. 20, 'If I justify myself, my 
own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove 
me perverse.' Ps. cxliii. 2, ' And enter not into judgment with thy 
servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.' James iii. 2, 
* For in many things we offend all.' 1 John i. 8, ' If we say we have no 
sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.' Such that afiirm 
that men may be fully perfect in this life, or without sin in this life, 
they do affirm that which is expressly contrary to the Scriptures last 
cited, and to the universal experience of all saints, who daily feel and 
lament over that body of sin and death that they bear about with 
them ; yea, they do affirm that which is quite contrary to the very 
state or constitution of all the saints in this life. In every saint, * the 
flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit lusteth against the flesh, 
and these are contrary one to the other, so that they cannot do the 
things that they would,' Gal. v. 17. In every good man there are two 
men, the old man and the new; the one must be daily put on, and the 
other daily put off, Eph. iv. 22-24. All saints have a law in their 
members rebelling against the law of their minds; so that the good that 
they would do, they do not ; and the evil that they would not do, that they 
do, Rom. vii. 23, 25, comp. They have two contrary principles in them, 
from whence proceeds two manner of actions, motions, and inclinations, 
continually opposite one to another; hence it is that there is a continual 
combat in them, like the struggling of the tv/ins in Rebekah's womb. 
An absolute perfection is peculiar to the triumphant state of God's 
elect in heaven : heaven is the only privileged place, where no unclean 
thing can enter in. Rev. xxiii. 21 ; that is the only place where neither 
sin nor Satan shall ever get footing. Such as dream of an absolute 
perfection in this life, do confound and jumble heaven and earth toge- 
ther ; the state of the church militant, with the state of the church 
triumphant, which are certainly distinct both in time and place, and in 
order, measure, and concomitants, Heb. xii. 22, 23. This dangerous 
opinion of absolute perfection in this life, shakes the very foundation of 
religion, and overthrows the gospel of grace ; it renders the satisfaction 
of Christ, and all his great transactions, null and void ; it tells the world 
that there is no need of faith, of repentance, of ordinances, of watchful- 
ness. They that say they have no sin, say they have no need of the 
blood of Christ to cleanse them from sin, 1 John i. 7. Such as say they 
have no sin, say they have no need of faith to rest upon Christ for 
imputed righteousness to justify their persons. Such as say they have 
no sin, say they have no need of Christ as king to subdue their lusts; 
nor a^ priest, to expiate offences ; nor as prophet, to teach and instruct 
• Grace in this life is like gold in the ore, full of mixture. 



240 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

them ; nor as a Saviour, to save them from their sins, or from wrath to 
come, Mat. i. 21 ; 1 Thes. i. 1 0. They that have a perfect righteousness 
of their own, need not be beholden to Christ for his pure, perfect, spotless, 
matchless righteousness. Such as are without sin have no cause to 
repent of sin, nor yet to watch against sin. Such as are perfect cannot 
say, We are unprofitable servants. But are they indeed just? Then 
they must live by faith, Heb. ii. 4. Are they men, and not angels ? 
Then they must repent, Acts xvii. 30, ' For now he commands men 
everywhere to repent.' Surely the best of men are but men at the 
best. Oh how bad those men must be, who make God himself a liar, 
1 John i. ] 0. But if these men are absolutely perfect, how comes it to 
pass that they are afflicted and diseased as other men ? How comes it 
to pass that they eat, and drink, and sleep, and buy, and sell, and die 
as other men ? Are these things consistent with an absolute perfec- 
tion 1 Surely no. An absolute perfection is not a step short of heaven ; 
it is heaven on this side heaven ; and they that would obtain it must 
step to heaven before they have it. But, 

(2.) iSecondly, I answer, That this objection lies as strong against 
family-prayer, and against all oilier kind of prayer, as it doth against 
closet-prayer. He that shall upon any grounds make this objection a 
great bug-bear to scare his soul from closet-prayer ; he may upon the 
same ground make it a great bug-bear to scare his soul not only from 
all other kind of prayer, but from all other duties of religion also, 
whether private or public. The spirit of this objection fights against all 
religion at once; and therefore you should say to it, as Christ said to 
Peter, 'Get thee behind me, Satan.' But. 

(3.) Thirdly, I answer. It is not the infirmities and weaknesses of a 
Christian which are seen, lairfiented, bewailed, and resisted, that can 
obstructor hinderthe efficacy and success of his prayers.^ Letmeclearup 
thi s in afew instances. Jonah, you know, was a man full of sinful passions, 
and other weaknesses, &c,, and yet his prayer was very prevalent with 
God : Jonah ii. 1, 2, 7, 10, compared. So Elias his prayers were exceed- 
ing prevalent with God ; he could open and shut heaven at his pleasure ; 
and yet subject to like passions as we are, James iii. 17. Elias was a 
man of extraordinary sanctity and holiness, a man that lived in heaven 
whilst he dwelt on earth ; Enoch-like, he walked with God, and yet sub- 
ject to like passions as we are, 1 Kings xix. 8 ; Romans xi. 2, 3. God 
did in an eminent way communicate to him his counsel and secrets ; he 
lay in the bosom of the Father ; and yet was a man subject to like 
passions as we are. He was a very powerful and prevalent prophet ; 
his very name imports as much ; Eli-jah signifies my strong God. In 
that 1 Kings xvii. 1, it is Uli-jahu, that is, the Lord he is my strong God ; 
and yet subject to like passions as we are. He was a man much in 
fasting and prayer ; he was an inferior mediator between God and his 
people ; and yet subject to like passions as we are. Now because some 
from hence might object and say. No wonder if such a man as he was, 
could by his prayers open and shut heaven at his pleasure ; but 1 am 
a poor, weak, low, sinful, and unworthy creature ; I am full of infirmi- 
ties, weaknesses, and passions ; and shall my prayers ever find access to 

1 A spiritual infirmity is the sickness or indisposition of the soul, that arises from 
weakness of grace. 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven, 241 

God, and acceptance with God, or gracious answers and returns from God ? 
Now to obviate this objection, and to remove this .discouragement out 
of the thoughts and hearts of poor sinners, the Holy Ghost addeth this 
clause, that he was not a god, nor an angel, but a man, and such a man 
as was not exempted from common infirmities ; for he had his passions, 
frailties, and weaknesses as well as other saints ; intimating to us, that 
infirmitiesin the meanest saints should no more prejudice the acceptance 
and success of their prayers with God, than they did in Elias himself. 
The word passion sometimes signifies, first, a motion of the sensual 
appetite, arising from the imagination of good or ill, with some com- 
motion of the body ; secondly, sometimes passions signify sinful infirmi- 
ties, sinful perturbations of the mind ; and thirdly, sometimes passion 
is taken more strictly for the especial affection of sinful anger and 
wrath, which Chrysostom calls brevis dcemon, a short devil It makes a 
man speak he knows not what, as you may see in Jonah ; and to do he 
knows not what, as you may see in SauL Now in these two last senses 
Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and yet a man so 
potent with God, that by private prayer he could do even what he 
listed in the court of heaven. In that 1 Sam. chap, xxi, you may read 
of David's round lies, and of his other failings, infirmities, and unseemly 
carriages before Achish, kingof Gath, and for which he was turned out 
of the king's presence, under the notion of a madman ; and yet at that 
veiy time he prays, and prevails with God for favour, mercy, and de- 
liverance : Ps. xxxiv. 4, ' I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and de- 
livered me out of all my fear.' But when was this ? Ilead the title of 
the psalm, and you shall find it : ' A psalm of David, who changed his 
behaviour before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed.' 
In that Num. xx. 10-12, Moses his infirmities are pointed out. First, 
You have there his immoderate anger. (2.) His speaking to the people, 
when he should have spoke to the rock, ver. 8. (3.) His smiting of it, 
when he should only have spoken to it with the rod in his hand ; and 
smiting it twice, as in a pang of passion and impatiency. (4.) His dis- 
trusting of the Lord's word, ver. 12. (5.) His reviling of the people, 
when he should have convinced them, ' Hear, ye rebels.' (6.) He seems 
to be so offended at his commission, that he can hardly forbear mur- 
muring : ' Must we bring water out of the rock V Mark that word, 
' must we.' Oh how is the meekest man in all the world transported 
into passion, and anger, and unbelief, and hurried into sad indecencies ! 
Num. xii. 3 ; and yet there was not a man on earth whose prayers were 
so powerful and prevalent with God as Moses his were, Ps. cvi. 23, 
Exod. xxxii. 9-15, xxxiii. 11-17, xiv. 13-16, &c. So king Asa was a 
man full of infirmities and weaknesses ; he relies on the king of Syria, 
and not on the Lord, 2 Chron. xvi. 7-13; he is very impatient, and 
under a great rage upon the seer's reproof He imprisons the seer ; he 
oppressed some of the people ; or, as the Hebrew hath it, ' he crushed,' 
or he trampled upon some of the people at the same time ; and being 
greatly diseased in his feet, he sought to the physicians and not to 
the Lord ; and yet this man's prayer was wonderful prevalent with 
God, 2 Chron. xiv. 11-15. The saints' infirmities can never make 
void those gracious promises by which God stands engaged to hearken 

VOL. IL Q 



242 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6- 

to the prayers of his people, Ps. 1. 15, Isa. xxx. 19, and Ixv. 24. God's 
hearing of our prayers doth not depend upon sanctification, but upon 
Christ's intercession ; not upon what we are in ourselves, but upon 
what we are in the Lord Jesus ; both our persons and our prayers 
are acceptable in the beloved, Eph. i, 6, 1 Pet. ii. 5, When God hears 
our prayers, it is neither for our own sakes nor yet for our prayers* 
sake, but it is for his own sake, and his Son's sake, and his glory's 
sake, and his promise's sake, &c. 

Certainly God will never cast off his people for their infirmities. 

First, It is the glory of a man to pass by infirmities, Prov. xix. 1 1. 
Oh how much more, then, must it be the glory of God to pass by the 
infirmities of his people ! 

Secondly, Saints are children ; and what father will cast off his chil- 
dren for their infirmities and weaknesses? Ps. ciii. 13, 14, 1 Cor. xii. 27. 

Thirdly, Saints are members of Christ's body ; and what man will 
cut off a member because of a scab or wart that is upon it ? ' What 
man will cut off his nose,' saith Luther, ' because there is some filth in it?' 

Fourthly, Saints are Christ's purchase ; they are his possession, his 
inheritance.* Now what man is there that will cast away, or cast off 
his purchase, his possession, his inheritance, because of thorns, bushes, 
or briars that grow upon it ? 

Fifthly, Saints are in a marriage-covenant with God, Hos. ii. 19, 20. 
Now what husband is there that will cast off his wife for her failings 
and infirmities ? So long as a man is in covenant with God, his infir- 
mities can't cut him off from God's mercy and grace. Now it is cer- 
tain a man may have very many infirmities upon him, and yet not 
break his covenant with God, for no sin breaks a man's covenant with 
God but such as unties the marriage knot. As in other marriages, 
every offence or infirmity doth not disannul the marriage union ; it is 
only the breach of the marriage vow, viz. adultery, that unties the mar- 
riage knot ; so here it is only those sins which breaks the covenant 
which unties the marriage knot between God and the soul : (1.) When 
men freely subject^ to any lust as a new master ; or, (2.) When men 
take another husband ; and this men do, when they enter into a league 
with sin or the world, when they make a new covenant with hell and 
death, Isa. xxviii. 15, 18. Now from these mischiefs God secures his 
chosen ones. In a word, if God should cast off his people for their in- 
firmities, then none of the sons or daughters of Adam could be saved : 
' For there is not a just man upon the earth that doth good and sinneth 
not,' Eccles. vii. 20. Now if God will not cast off his people for their 
infirmities, then certainly he will not cast off the prayers of his people 
because of those invincible infirmities that hang upon them ; and there- 
fore our infirmities should not discourage us, or tate us off from closet 
prayer, or from any other duties of Religion. But, 

(4.) FouHhly, I answer. The more infirmities and weaknesses hang 
upon us, the more cause have we to keep close and constant to our 
closet-duties.^ If grace be weak, the omission of private prayer will 
make it weaker. Look, as he that will not eat will certainly grow 

' Eph. i. 22, 28; 1 Cor. vi. 20, vii. 23 ; 1 Pet. i. 18-20. 

* In our older writers subject is frequently used aa an intransitiTO verb. — Ed. 

3 The omission of good diet breeds diseases. 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 243 

weaker and weaker, so he that will not pray in his closet will certainly 
grow weaker and weaker. If corruptions be strong, the neglect of 
private prayer will make them stronger. The more the remedy is 
neglected, the more the disease is strengthened. Whatsoever the dis- 
tempers of a man's heart be, they will never be abated, but augmented, 
by the omission of private prayer. The more bodily infirmities hang 
upon us, the more need we have of the physician ; and so the more sinful 
infirmities hang upon our souls, the more need we have of private 
prayer. All sinful omissions will make work for repentance, for hell, 
or for the physician of souls. Sinful omissions lead to sinful commis- 
sions, as you may see in the angels that fell from heaven to hell, and 
in Adam's fall in paradise. 

Origen going to comfort and encourage a martyr that was to be tor- 
mented, was himself apprehended by the officers, and constrained either 
to offer to the idols, or to have his body abused by a blackamore that 
was ready for that purpose ; of which hard choice, to save his life, he 
bowed unto the idol ; but afterwards, making a sad confession of his 
foul fact, he said, ' That he went forth that morning before he had been 
with God in his closet ;' and so peremptorily concludes, 'that his neglect 
of prayer was the cause of his falling into that great sin.' 

The neglect of one day, of one duty, of one hour, would undo us for 
ever, if we had not an advocate with the Father, 1 John ii. 1, 2. Those 
years, those months, those weeks, those days, those hours that are not 
filled up with God, with Christ, with grace, with duty, will certainly be 
filled up with vanity and folly. All omissions of duty, will more and 
more unfit the soul for duty. A key thrown by, gathers rust ; a pump 
not used, will be hardly got to go ; and armour not used, will be hardly 
made bright, &c. Look, as sinful commissions will stab the soul ; so 
sinful omissions will starve the soul. Such as live in the neglect of 
private prayer may well cry out, Isa. xxiv. 16, Job xvi. 8, 'Our lean- 
ness, our leanness !' And therefore away with all these pleas and rea- 
sonings about infirmities, and weaknesses, and indispositions, and address 
yourselves to closet prayer. But, 

(5.) Fifthly, I answer. It 'may he thy disteTrtper and indisposition of 
body is not so great, but that thou canst buy, and sell, and get gain} 
Notwithstanding thy aching head, and thy shooting back, and thy 
pained sides, and thy feeble knees, yet thou canst, with Martha, cumber 
thyself about thy worldly affairs. In that Cant. v. 3, Christ calls upon 
his spouse to open the door, and let him in. But sin and shifting com- 
ing into the world together, see how poorly and unworthily she labours 
to shift Christ off : ' I have put off my coat ; how shall I put it on ? 
I have washed my feet ; how shall I defile them ?' Rather than she 
will make* no excuse for herself, she will make a silly excuse, a worthless 
excuse. She was past a child ; and what a great business had it been 
for her to have risen to have let in such a guest, that brings everything 
with him that heart can wish or need require. Rev. iii. 17, 18. She 
was not grown so decrepid with old age, but that she was able to make 
herself ready ; at least, she might easily have slipped on her morning-coat 
and stepped to the door without any danger of taking cold, or of being 

' I'he body itself, if you set too high a price upon it, will make a cheap soul ; and he 
is the most unhappy man whose outaide is his best side. 



244 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

wet to the skin, and so have let him in, who never comes empty-handed, 
Kev. xxii. 12 ; yea, who was now come full of the dew of divine bless- 
ings to enrich her ; for so some sense those words, ' Mine head is filled 
with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.' Oh, the frivolous 
pretences, and idle excuses that even gracions persons are apt sometimes 
to take up to over-colour their neglect of duty ! 

But some may say. It may be the spouse of Christ was asleep. Oh no ! 
for she saith, verse 2, ' I sleep, but my heart waketh.' She slept with 
open eyes, as the lion doth; she slept but half-sleep ; though her outward 
man was drowsy, yet her inward man was wakeful ; though the flesh 
took a nap, yet her spirit did not nod. 

Oh ! but it may be Christ made no noise, he gave no notice that he 
was at the door ! O yes ! he knocked, he knocked and bounced by the 
hammer of his word, and the hand of his Spirit ; he knocked by outward 
coiTections and inward admonitions ; he knocked by providences, and 
he knocked by mercies. His importunity and vehemency for admission 
was very great. 

Oh ! but it may be he did but only knock, he should have called as well 
as knocked ; for none but madmen would open their doors in the 
night, except they knew the voice of him that knocketh. Oh yes ! he 
did not only knock, but called also. 

Oh ! but it may be she did not know his voice, and therefore she would 
not open. No chaste wife will at unseasonable hours arise and open 
her doors unto a stranger, especially in her husband's absence. Oh yes, 
she knew his voice : verse 2, 'It is the voice of my beloved that knocketh.' 
She was not so fast asleep, but that she knew the voice of her beloved 
from all other voices, and could tell every tittle that he said.' The calls 
of Christ were so strong, so loud, and his pulsations so mighty, that she 
could not but know and confess, that it was the voice of her beloved, 
though she was not so respectful and dutiful as to obey that voice. 

Oh ! but it may be Christ knocked and called, like a friend in his jour- 
ney, only to inquire how it was with her, or to speak to her at the 
window. Oh no ! he speaks plainly, he speaks with authority, ' Open 
to me.' 

Oh ! but it may be she had no power to open the door. Oh yes ; for 
when he commands his people to open, he lends them a key to open the 
door, that he may enter in, Philip, i. 6, 13 ; 1 Cor. xv. 10. Infused grace 
is a living principle that will enable the soul to open to Christ. If a man 
be not a free agent to work and act by the helps of grace received, to 
what purpose are counsels, commands, exhortations and directions, given 
to perform this, and that, and the other work ? And certainly it is our 
greatest honour and happiness in this world to co-operate with God in 
those things which concern his own glory, and our own internal and 
eternal good. 

Oh ! but it may be Christ had given his spouse some distaste, or it 
may be he had let fall some hard words, or some unkind speeches, 
which made her a little froward and pettish. Oh no ! for he owns her as 
his beloved, and courts her highly, with the most winning and amicable 
terms of love: 'My sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled, or my perfect 
one.' He calls her so for her dovelike simplicity, purity, and integrity. 
All these endearing and honouring titles, are the rhetoric of divine 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 245 

love ; and should have been as so many sacred engagements upon her, 
to open to her beloved. 

Oh ! but it may be Christ was too quick for her, it may be he gave but 
a knock and a call, and was gone before she could rise and open the 
door. O no ! Christ stayed till his head was filled with dew, and his 
•locks with the drops of the night ; which most passionate expression 
notes the tender goodness, patience, and gentleness of our Lord Jesus, 
who endures far greater and harder things for his spouse's sake, than ever 
Jacob did for his Eachel's salce. After Christ had suffered much for 
her sake, and waited her leisure a long while, she very unkindly, and 
very unmannerly, and unworthily turns her back upon all his sweet and 
comfortable compellations, and blessed and bleeding embracements, and 
turns him off to look [for] his lodging in some other place ; so that he 
might well have said. Is this thy kindness to thy friend, thy husband, thy 
Lord, to suffer him to stand bareheaded, and that in foul weather, yea, 
in the night time, wooing, entreating, and beseeching admittance; and 
yet to turn him off as one in whom thy soul could take no pleasure ? 

Now, if you will but seriously weigh all these circumstances in tlie 
balance of the sanctuary, you may run and read the fault and folly, 
the weakness and madness, the slightness and laziness of the spouse ; 
and by her you may make a judgment of those sad and sinful distempers 
that may seize upon the best of saints, and see how ready the flesh is 
to frame excuses ; and all to keep the soul off from duty, and the doors 
fast bolted against the Lord Jesus. 

It is sad when men are well enough to sit, and chat, and trade in their 
shops, but are not well enough to pray in their closets. Certainly, that 
man's heart is not right with God, at least at this time, who, under all 
his bodily distempers, can maintain and keep up his public trade with 
men, but is not well enough to maintain his private trade with heaven. 
Our bodies are but dirt, handsomely tempered, and artificially formed ; 
we derive our pedigree from the dirt, and are akin to clay. One calls 
the body ' the blot of nature ;' another calls it the ' the soul's beast,' ' a 
sack of dung,' ' worms' meat ;' another calls it ' a prison, ' a sepulchre ;' 
and Paul calls it ' a body of vileness.' Now for a man to make so much 
ado about the distempers of his body to excuse the neglects of his soul, 
is an evil made up of many evils. But really, sir, I am so ill, and my 
body is so distempered and indisposed, that I am not able to mind or 
meddle with the least things of the world ! Well ! if this be so, then 
know that God hath on purpose knocked thee off from the things of this 
world, that thou mayest look the more effectually after the things of 
another world. The design of God in all the distempers that are upon 
thy body, is to wind thee more off from thy worldly trade, and to work 
thee to follow thine heavenly trade more close. Many a man had 
never found the way to his closet, if God by bodily distempers had not 
turned him out of his shop, his trade, his business, his all, &c. 

Well, Christians ! remember this once for all, if your indisposition to 
closet prayer doth really arise from bodily distempers, then you may be 
confident that the Lord will pity you much, and bear with you much, 
and kindly accept of a little. You know how affectionately parents and 
ingenuous masters do carry it towards their children and servants, when 
they are under bodily distempers and indisposition ; and you may be 



246 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VI. 6. 

confident that God will never carry it worse towards you than they do 
towards them. Ponder often upon that Ezek. xxxiv. 4, 16, 21, 22. But, 

(6.) Siocthly, and lastly, 1 shall answer this objection by way of dis- 
tinction, thus : 

First, 2 here is a contracted indisposition to private prayer, and 
there is an involuntary indisposition to private prayer. There is a 
contracted indisposition, and that is when a man, by his wilful sinning 
against light, knowledge, conviction, &c., contracts that guilt that lies 
as a load upon his conscience. Now guilt makes the soul shy of God ; 
and the greater the guilt is, the more shy the soul is of drawing near 
to God in a corner. The child that is sensibly under guilt hides him- 
self, as Adam did, in the day from his father's eye, and at night he slips 
to bed, to avoid either a chiding or a whipping from his father, Gen. iii. 
7, 8. Guilt makes a man fly from God, and fly from prayer. It is a 
hard thing to look God in the face, when guilt stares a man in the face. 
Job xi. 14, 15. Guilt makes a man a terror to himself, Jer. xx. 3, 4 ; 
now when a man is a terror to himself, he is neither fit to live, nor fit to 
die, nor fit to pray. When poison gets into the body, it works upon the 
spirits, and it weakens the spirits, and it endangers life, and unfits and 
indisposes a man to all natural actions. It is so here ; when guilt lies 
heavy upon the conscience, it works upon the soul, it weakens the soul, 
it endangers the soul, and it doth wonderfully unfit and indispose the 
soul to all holy actions. Guilt fights against our souls, our consciences, 
our comforts, our duties, yea, and our very graces also, 1 Peter ii. 11. 
There is nothing that wounds and lames our graces like guilt ; there is 
nothing that weakens and wastes our graces like guilt ; there is nothing 
that hinders the activity of our graces like guilt ; nor there is nothing 
that clouds our evidences of grace like guilt. Look, what water is to 
the fire, that our sinnings are to our graces, evidences, and duties. Guilt 
is like Prometheus's vulture, that ever lies gnawing. It is better with 
Evagrius to lie on a bed of straw with a good conscience, than to lie on 
a bed of down with a guilty conscience. What the probationer-disciple 
said to our Saviour, — Mat. viii. 19, ' Master, I will follow thee whither- 
soever thou goest,' — that a guilty conscience saith to the sinner, 'Whither- 
soever thou goest I will follow thee/ If thou goest to a fast, I will 
follow thee, and fill thy mind with black and dismal apprehensions of 
God ; if thou goest to a feast, I will follow thee, and shew thee the hand- 
writing on the wall, Dan. v. 5 ; if thou goest abroad, I will follow thee, 
and make thee afraid of every leaf that wags ; thou shalt look upon 
every bush as an armed man, and upon every man as a devil ; if thou 
stayest at home, I will follow thee from room to room, and fill thee with 
horror and terror ; if thou liest down to rest, I will follow thee with 
fearful dreams and tormenting apparitions; if thou goest intotliy closet, 
I will follow thee, and make thy very closet a hell to hold thee. 

It is storied of king Richard the Third, that after he had murdered 
his two nephews in the Tower, guilt lay so hard upon his conscience, 
that his sleeps were very unquiet ; for he would often leap out of his 
bed in the dark, and catching his sword in his hand, which hung by his 
bed side, he would go distractedly about his chamber seeking for the 
traitor. 

So Charles the Ninth of France, after he had made the streets of 



Mat. VL 6.] the privy key of heaven. 247 

Paris run down with the blood of the Protestants, he could seldom take 
any sound sleep, nor could he endure to be awakened out of his sleep 
without music' 

Judge Morgan, that passed the sentence of condemnation upon Jane 
Grey, a virtuous lady, shortly after fell mad, and in his raving cried 
out continually, ' Take away the Lady Jane from me, take away the 
Lady Jane from me,' and in that horror ended his wretched life. 

James Abyes, going to execution for Christ's sake, as he went along, 
he gave his money and his clothes to one and another, till he had given 
all away to his shirt, whereupon one of the sheriff's men fell a-scoffing 
and deriding of him, and told him that he was a madman and an heretic, 
and not to be believed ; but as soon as the good man was executed, 
this wretch was struck mad, and threw away his clothes, and cried out 
that * James Abyes was a good man, and gone to heaven, but he was a 
wicked man, and was damned,' and thus he continued crying out till 
his death.^ Certainly he that derides or smites a man for walking 
according to the word of the Lord, the Lord will, first or last, so smite 
and wound that man's conscience, that all the physicians in the world 
shall not heal it. 

Now if thy indisposition to private prayer springs from contracting 
guilt upon thy conscience, then thy best way is speedily to renew thy 
repentance, and greatly to judge and humble thine own soul, and so 
to act faith afresh upon the blood of Christ, both for pardoning mercy 
and for purging grace. When a man is stung with guilt, it is his 
highest wisdom in the world to look up to the brazen serpent, and not 
to spend his time or create torments to his own soul by perpetual por- 
ing upon his guilt. When guilt upon the conscience works a man to 
water the earth with tears, and to make heaven ring with his groans, 
then it works kindly. When the sense of guilt drives a man to God, 
to duty, to the throne of grace, then it will not be long night with that 
man. He that thinks to shift off private prayer under the pretence of 
guilt, doth but in that increase his own guilt. Neglect of duty will 
never get guilt off the conscience. 

But then there is an involuntary indisposition to private prayer; 
as in a sick man, who would work and walk, but cannot, being hindered 
by his disease ; or as it is with a man that hath a great chain on his 
leg, he would very fain walk or get away, but his chain hinders him. 
Now if your indisposition to private prayer be an involuntary indispo- 
sition, then God will in mercy, in course, both pardon it and remove it. 

Secondly, There is a total indisposition to private prayer, and 
there is a partial indisposition to private prayer. A total indisposi- 
tion to private prayer is, when a man hath no mind at all to private 
prayer, nor no will at all to private prayer, nor no love at all to private 
prayer, nor no delight, nor no heart at all to private prayer, Jer. iv. 
22, and xliv. 17-19. Now where this frame of heart is, there all is 
naught, very naught, stark naught. A partial indisposition to private 
prayer is, when a man hath some will to private prayer, though not 
such a will as once he had ; and some mind to private prayer, though 
not such a mind as once he had; and some affections to private prayer, 
though not such warm and burning affections as once he had. Now'if 
' ThuanuB, lib. Ivii. Cf. Sibbes, vol. i. p. 149.— G. » Clarke, as before, p. 457.— G. 



248 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

your indisposition to private prayer be total, then you must wait upon 
the Lord in all his appointments for a changed nature, and for union 
with Christ ; but if your indisposition to private prayer be only partial, 
then the Lord will certainly pardon it, and in the very use of holy 
means in time remove it. But, 

Thirdly, and lastly. There is a transient, accidental, occasional, or 
fieeting indisposition to private prayer; and there is a customary, 
a constant, or permanent indisposition to private prayer. Now a 
transient, accidental, occasional, or fleeting indisposition to that which 
is good may be found upon the best of saints, as you may see in Moses, 
Exod. iv. 10-14; and in Jeremiah, Jer. i. 5-8, 17-19, and xx. 9; and 
in Jonah, chap. i. ; and in David, Ps. xxxix. 2, 3. Now if this be the 
indisposition that thou art under, then thou mayest be confident that 
it will certainly work off by degrees, as theirs did that I have last cited, 
Isa. Ixv. 2. But then there is a customary, a constant or permanent 
indisposition to private prayer, and to all other holy duties of religion. 
Now if this be the indisposition that thou art under, then I may safely 
conclude that thou art in the very gall of bitterness and in the bond 
of iniquity. Acts viii. 21-23, and thy work lies not in complaining of 
thy indisposition, but in repenting and believing, and in labouring for 
a change of thy heart and state ; for till thy heart, thy state be changed, 
thou wilt remain for ever indisposed both to closet prayer and to all 
other duties of religion and godliness. To see a sinner sailing hell- ward 
with wind and tide on his side, to alter his course, and tack about for 
heaven, to see the earthly man become heavenly, the carnal man be- 
come spiritual, the proud man become humble, the vain man become 
serious, to see a sinner move contrary to himself in the ways of Christ 
and holiness, is as strange as to see the earth fly upward, or the bowl 
run contrary to its own bias ; and yet a divine power of God upon the 
soul can effect it ; and this must be effected before the sinner will be 
graciously inclined and sincerely disposed to closet prayer. And let 
thus much suffice by way of answer to this objection also. 

Now, for the better management of this great duty, viz., closet 
prayer, I beseech you take my advice and counsel in these eleven follow- 
ing particulars. 

(1.) First, Be frequent in closet prayer, and not now and then only. 
He will never make any yearnings of closet prayer, that is not frequent 
in closet prayer. Now, that this counsel may stick, consider, 

[1.] First, Other eminent servants of the Lord have been frequent 
i/n this blessed work : Neh. i. 6, ' Let thine ear now be attentive, and 
thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, 
which I pray before thee, day and night.' So Daniel, he kneeled upon 
his knees three times a-day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, 
as he did before-time, Dan. vi. 10. So David, 'My voice shalt thou hear 
in the morning, and in the evening will I direct my prayer unto thee, and 
will look up/ Ps. V. 3. So. Ps. Ixxxviii. 1 3, ' But unto thee have I cried, 
Lord ; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.' So. Ps. 
cxix. 147, * I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried unto 
the Lord.' So Ps. Iv. 17, 'Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I 
pray and cry alofld.' Yea, he was vir orationis for his frequency in it. 
Ps. cix. 4, ' For my love they are my adversaries : but I give myself 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 249* 

unto prayer ;' or, as the Hebrew may be read, ' But I am a man of 
prayer.' 

Of Garolus Magnus it was said, Garolus -plus cum, Deo quam homi- 
nibus loquitur, that he spake more with God than with men. 

[2.] Secondly, Consider the blessed Scripture doth not only enjoin 
this duty, but it requires frequency in it also, Luke xviii. 1 ; 1 Thes. 
V. 17 ; Col. iv. 2. In the former part of this discourse, I have given 
light into these scriptures ; and therefore the bare citing of them must 
now suffice. 

[3.] Thirdly, Christ was frequent in private prayer, as you may easily 
see by com,paring of these scriptures together, Mark i. 35 ; Mat. xiv, 
23 ; Luke xxii. 39 ; John xviil 2. In my second argument for private 
prayer you may see these scriptures opened and amplified. But, 

[4.] Fourthly, Consider that you have the examples of the very worst 
of men in this ca^se. Papists are frequent in their private devotions. 
And the Mahomedans, what occasion soever they have, either by profit 
or pleasure, to divert them, will yet pray five times every day. Yea, 
the very heathens sacrificed to Hercules morning and evening upon the 
great altar at Rome. Now, shall blind nature do more than grace ? 
But, 

[5.] Fifthly, Consider you cannot have too frequent- communion 
with God, you cannot have too frequent intercourse with Jesus, you 
cannot have your hearts too frequently filled with joy unspeakable 
and full of glory, and with that peace that parses understanding, 
you cannot have heaven too frequently brought dbum into your hearts, 
nor you cannot have your hearts too frequently carried up to heaven ; 
and therefore you cannot be too frequent in closet prayer. But, 

[6.] Sixthly, Consider that you are under frequent wants, and 
frequent sins, and frequent snares, and frequent temptations, and 
frequent allurements, and frequent trials, and frequent cares, and 
frequent fears, and frequent favours, 1 Peter v. 8, Job i. 7 ; and 
therefore you had need be frequent with God in your closets. But, 

[7.] Seventhly, Consider you are the favourites of heaven, you are 
greatly beloved, you are highly honoured, you are exceedingly esteemed 
and valued in the court of the Most High ; and remember, that the 
petitions of many weak Christians, and of many benighted Christians, 
aiid of many tempted Christians, and of many clouded Christians, and 
of many staggering Chjristians, and of many doubting Christians, and 
of many bewildered Christians, and of many fainting Christians, &c., 
are put into your hands, for a quick and speedy despatch to the throne 
of grace ; so that you had need be frequent in your closets, and improve 
your interest in heaven, or else many of these poor hearts may be 
wronged, betrayed, and prejudiced by your neglect. Such as are 
favourites in princes' courts, if they are active, diligent, careful, and 
watchful, they may do much good for others, they may come as often 
as they please into their prince's presence, and with Queen Esther have 
for asking what they please, both for themselves and others, Esther vii. 
Oh what a world of good may such do for others that are God's favou- 
rites, if they would be but frequent with God in their closets ! 

0. sirs ! if you have not that love, that regard, that pity, that com- 
passion to your own souls, as you should have, yet, oh let not others 



250 THE PEIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VI. 6. 

suffer by your neglect of private prayer ! Oh, let not Zion suffer ! Oh, 
let not any particular saint suffer by your being found seldom in your 
closets. 

Certainly, it might have gone better with the churches of Christ, and 
with the concernments of Christ, and with many of the poor people of 
Christ, if most Christians had been more frequent with God in their 
closets. But, 

[8.] Eighthly and lastly, Consider tlmt this liberty to approach nigh 
to Ood i/n your closets, cost Christ his dearest blood, Eph. ii. 13, Heb. x. 
20.' Now, he that is not frequent with God in his closet, tells all about 
him, that he sets no great value upon that liberty that Christ hath 
purchased with his blood. The incomparable, the unparalleled price 
which Christ hath paid down upon the nail, above sixteen hundred years 
ago, that we might have liberty and free access to his Father in our 
closets, argues very strongly, yea, irrefragably, the superlative excellency 
of that liberty, 1 Peter i. 19. Oh therefore let us improve to purpose 
this blessed purchase of our Lord Jesus, by being frequent with God in 
our closets. It is disputed by some whether one drop of Christ's blood 
was sufficient for the pardon of our sins and redemption of our souls.* 
My intention is not to dispute, but to offer a few things to your con- 
sideration. 

First, It must be granted, that by reason of the hypostatical union, 
a drop of Christ's blood was of an inestimable worth and excellency; 
and the value of his passion is to be measured by the dignity of his 
person. But, 

Secondly, A proportion was to be observed betwixt the punishment 
due to men, and that which was suffered for man ; that his sufferings 
might be satisfactory, two things were necessary, Posnce gravitas, as 
well as personce dignitas.^ That the least drop of Christ's blood was 
not sufficient for the redemption of our souls may thus appear : 

First, If it were, then the circumcision of Christ was enough, for 
there was a drop, if not many drops of blood shed. 

Secondly, Then his being crowned with a crown of thorns, was 
sufficient ; for it is most probable that they drew blood from him. 

Thirdly, Then all Christ's sufferings besides were superfluous and 
vain. 

Fourthly, Then God was unjust and unrighteous to take more than 
was due to his justice. But for any man to affirm that God hath taken 
beyond what was his just due, is high blasphemy. 

Fifthly, Then Christ was weak and imprudent to pay more than he 
needed ; for what need was there of his dearest heart blood, if a drop 
from his hand would have saved our souls ? Let schoolmen fancy what 
they please, it is certain, that not one dram of that bitter cup that 
Christ drunk off could be abated, in order to his Father's full satisfac- 
tion, and man's eternal redemption. Christ hath given under his own 
hand that it was necessary that he should suffer many things, Luke 
xxiv. 26. O sirs ! shall Christ shed not only a few drops of blood, but 

• Sanguis Christi clavis axli. 

* One little drop of Christ's blood is more worth than heaven and earth. — Luther. 

» What is the blood of a grape, or the blood of a son, an only son, to the blood of a 
Saviour? 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 251 

his very heart blood, to purchase you a freedom and liberty to be as 
often in your closets with his Father as you please; and will you only 
now and then give God a visit in private ? The Lord forbid. 

(2.) My second advice and counsel is this, Take the fittest seasons 
and opportunities that possibly you can for closet prayer. Many 
take unfit seasons for private prayer, which do more obstruct the 
importunity of the soul in prayer, than all the suggestions and instiga- 
tions of Satan. As, 

First, When the body is drowsy and sleepy; this is a very unfit 
season for closet prayer, Cant. iii. 1. Take heed of laying cushions of 
sloth under your knees, or pillows of idleness under your elbows, or of 
mixing nods with your petitions, or of being drowsily devoted when 
you draw near to God in your closets. 

Secondly, When a man's head and heart is filled with worldly cares 
and distractions ; this is a very unfit season for closet-prayer, 1 Cor. vii. 
35, Ezek. xxxiii. 31. 

When Dinah must needs be gadding abroad to see fashions, Shechem, 
prince of that country, meets with her, and forces her virginity. So 
when our hearts, Dinah-like, must needs be a-roving and gadding 
abroad after the things of the world, then Satan, the prince of the air, 
usually seizes upon us, commits a rape upon our souls, and either leads 
us off from prayer, or else he doth so distract us from prayer, that it 
were, better not to have prayed at all, than to have offered the sacrifice 
of foolish and distracted prayer, 

I have read a story, how that one offered to give his horse to his 
fellow, upon condition he would but say the Lord's prayer, and think 
upon nothing but God ; the proffer was accepted, and he began, ' Our 
Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.' But I must have 
the bridle too, said he. ' No, nor the horse neither,^ said the other, for 
thou hast lost both already. The application is easy. 

Certainly, the most free and lively season for closet-prayer is the 
mornings, before a man's spirit be blunted or cooled, deadened, damped, 
or flatted by worldly businesses. A man should speak with God in his 
closet, before he speaks with his worldly affairs and occasions. A man 
should say to all his worldly business, as Abraham said unto his young 
men, when he went to offer up his only Isaac, ' Abide you here, and I 
will go yonder and worship, and then return to you again.' He that 
will attend closet prayer without distraction or disturbance, must not, 
first, slip out of the world into his closet, but he must first slip into 
his closet before he be compassed about with a crowd of worldly 
employments. 

It was a precept of Pythagoras, that when we enter into the temple 
to worship God, we must not so much as speak or think of any worldly 
business, lest we make God's service an idle, perfunctory, and lazy 
recreation. The same I may say of closet-prayer. 

Jerome complains very much of his distractions, dulness, and indis- 
posedness to prayer, and chides himself thus, 'What ! dost thou think, 
that Jonah prayed thus when he was in the whale's belly; or Daniel 
when he was among the lions ; or the thief when he was upon the 
cross V 

Thirdly, When men or women are under rash and passionate dis- 



252 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VT. 6. 

tempers, 1 Tim. ii. 8 ; for when passions are up, holy affections are 
down, and this is a very unfit season for closet-prayer ; for such prayers 
will never reach God's ear which do not first warm our own hearts. In 
the Muscovy churches, if the minister mistake in reading, or stammer 
in pronouncing his words, or speak any word that is not well heard, the 
hearers do very much blame him, and are ready to take the book from 
him, as unworthy to read therein. And certainly God is no less 
offended with the giddy, rash, passionate, precipitate, and inconsiderate 
prayers of those who, without a deliberate understanding, do send their 
petitions to heaven in post-haste. Solomon's advice is worthy of all 
commendation and acceptation : ' Be not rash with thy mouth, and let 
not thy heart be hasty, to utter any thing before God,' Eccles. v. 2. ; or 
as the Hebrew may be read, ' Let not thy heart through haste be so 
troubled or disturbed, as to tumble over, and throw out words with- 
out wisdom or premeditation.' Good men are apt many times to be 
too hasty, rash, and unadvised in their prayers, complaints, and depre- 
cations. Witness David, Job, Jeremiah, Jonah, and the disciples.' 
No Christian to him that doth wisely and seriously weigh over his 
prayers and praises before he pours out his soul before the Lord. He 
never repents of his requests, who first duly deliberates what to re- 
quest ; but he that blurts out whatsoever lies uppermost, and that brings 
into the presence of God his rash, raw, tumultuary, and indigested peti- 
tions, confessions, complaints, &c., he doth but provoke God, he doth but 
brawl with God, instead of praying to him or wrestling with him. Suitors 
at court observe their fittest times and seasons of begging ; they com- 
monly take that very nick of time, when they have the king in a good 
mood, and so seldom or never come off but with good success. 

Sometimes God strongly inclines the heart to closet-prayer ; some- 
times he brings the heart beforehand into a praying frame ; sometimes 
both body and soul are more enlivened, quickened, raised, and divinely 
inflamed than at other times ; sometimes conscience is more stirring, 
working, and tender, &c. Oh now strike while the iron is hot ! Oh 
now lay hold on all such blessed opportunities, by applying of thyself 
to private prayer. sirs ! can you take your fittest times, seasons, and 
opportunities for ploughing, and sowing, and reaping, and buying and 
selling, and eating, and drinking, and marrying, &c. And cannot you 
as well take your fittest times and seasons to seek the Lord in your clo- 
sets ? Must the best God be put off with the least and worst of your 
time ? The Lord forbid. Neglect not the seasons of grace, slip not 
your opportunities for closet-prayer ; thousands have lost their seasons 
and their souls together. 

(3.) My third advice and counsel is this, Be marvellous careful that 
you do Tiot perform closet duties merely to still your consciences. You 
must perform them out of conscience, but you must not perform them 
only to quiet conscience. Some have such a light set up in their under- 
standings, that they cannot omit closet-prayer, but conscience is upon 
their backs, conscience is still upbraiding and disquieting of them, and 
therefore they are afraid to neglect closet-prayer, lest conscience should 

> Pa. xxxi. 2, 8 ; Pb. civi. 11 ; Job x. 1-3; Jer. xviii. 15, 18; Jonah iv. 2-4 ; Mat. 
XI. 20, 21. 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 253 

qiiestion, arraign, and condemn them for their neglects.^ Sometimes 
when men have greatly sinned against the Lord, conscience becomes 
impatient, and is still accusing, condemning, and terrifying of them ; 
and now in these agonies they will run to their closets, and cry, and 
pray, and mourn, and confess, and bitterly bewail their transgressions, 
but all this is only to quiet their consciences ; and sometimes they find 
upon their performance of closet-duties, that their consciences are a 
little allayed and quieted ; and for this very end and purpose do they 
take up closet-prayer as a charm to allay their consciences ; and when 
the storm is over, and their consciences quieted, then they lay aside 
closet-prayer, — as the monk did the net when the fish was caught, — and 
are ready to transgress again. O sirs ! take heed of this, for this is but 
plain hypocrisy, and will be bitterness in the end. He that performs 
closet-prayer only to bribe his conscience that it may not be clamorous, 
or to stop the mouth of conscience that it may not accuse him for sin, 
he will at length venture upon such a trade, such a course of sinning 
againt conscience, as will certainly turn his troubled conscience into a 
seared conscience, 2 Tim. iv. 2 ; and a seared conscience is like a sleepy 
lion, when he awakes he roars, and tears his prey in pieces; and §o will 
a seared conscience, when it is awakened, roar and tear the secure 
sinner in pieces. 

When Dionysius's conscience was awakened, he was so troubled with 
fear and horror of conscience that, not daring to trust his best friends 
with a razor, he used to singe his beard with burning coals, as Cicero 
reports. All the mercy that a seared, a benumbed conscience doth 
afford the sinner, when it doth most befriend him, when it deals most 
seemingly kind with him, is this, that it will not cut, that it may kill ; 
it will not convince, that it may confound ; it will not accuse, that it 
may condemn ; it will spare the sinner a while, that it may torment 
him for ever ; it will spare him here, that it may gnaw him hereafter ; 
it will not strike till it be too late for the sinner to ward off the blow. 
Oh cruel mercy, to observe the sin, and let alone the sinner till the gates 
of mercy be shut upon him, and hell stands gaping to devour him : 
Gen. iv. 7, ' Sin lieth at the door.' The Hebrew word robets signifies to 
lie down, or couch, like some wild beast at the mouth of his cave, as if 
he were asleep, but indeed watcheth and waketh, and is ready to fly at 
all that come near it. sirs ! sin is rather couchant thaij dormant ; 
it sleeps dog's sleep, that it may take the sinner at the greater advan- 
tage, and fly the more furiously in his face. But, 

(4.) My fourth advice and counsel is this. Take heed of resting 
upon closet-duties, take heed of trusting in closet-duties.^ Noah's dove 
made use of her wings, but she did not trust in her wings, but in the 
ark ; so you must make use of closet-duties, but you must not trust in 
your closet-duties, but in Jesus, of whom the ark was but a type. 
There are many that go a round of duties, as mill horses go their round 

1 An ill conscience, saith Austin, is like a scolding wife ; a man, saith he, that hath an 
111 conscience, he cares not to be at home, he cares not to look into his own soul, but loves 
to be abroad. 

* Amama quotes Tamovius, who mentions a sort of men that brought in an opinion 
which he calls a new gospel, that if a man perform the external duties of religion, viz., 
if he go to the church, hear the word, pray. &c., it was sufScient to salvation. [Qu. Anama? 
Tamovius, a learned commentator on Scripture. — G-] 



254! THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

in a mill, and rest upon them when they have done, using the means 
as mediators, and so fall short of Christ and heaven at once. Closet- 
duties rested in, will as eternally undo a man as the greatest and foulest 
Qjiormities ; open wickedness slays her thousands, but a secret resting 
upon duties slays her ten thousands. Multitudes bleed inwardly of this 
disease, and die for ever. Open profaneness is the broad dirty way 
that leads to hell, but closet-duties rested in is a sure way, though a 
cleaner way, to hell. Profane persons and formal professors shall meet 
at last in one hell. Ah, Christians ! do not make closet-duties your 
money, lest you and your money perish together. 

The phoenix gathers sweet odoriferous sticks in Arabia together, and 
then blows them with her wings and burns herself with them ; so do 
many shining professors burn themselves by resting in their duties and 
services. You know, in Noah's flood all that were not in the ark, 
though they climbed up the tallest trees, and the highest mountains 
and hills, yet were really drowned ; so let men climb up to this duty 
and that, yet, if they don't get into Christ, they will be really damned. 
It is not thy closet, but thy Christ, that must save thee. If a man be 
not interested in Christ, he may perish with ' Our Father* in his mouth. 
It is as natural to a man to rest in his duties as it is for him to rest 
in his bed. 

This was Bernard's temptation, who, being a little assisted in duty, 
could stroke his own head with bene fecisti Bemarde, O Bernard, this 
was gallantly done, now cheer up thyself. Ah, how apt is man, when 
he hath been a little assisted, heated, melted, enlarged, &c., in a way of 
duty, to go away and stroke himself, and bless himself, and hug him- 
self, and warm himself with the sparks, with the fire of his own kind- 
ling, Isa. 1. 11. 

Adam was to win life and wear it ; he was to be saved by his doings: 
* Do this and live,' Gen. ii. 2. Hence it is that all his posterity are so 
prone to seek for salvation by doing : Acts ii. 37, chap. xvi. 30, ' What 
shall we do to be saved V and ' good Master, what shall I do that I 
may inherit eternal lifef Mark x. 17, 20. Like father, like son. But 
if our own duties or doings were sufficient to save us, to what purpose 
did Christ leave his Father's bosom, and lay down his dearest life ? &c. 
Closet-duties rested in may pacify conscience for a time, but this will 
not always hold. ' When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw 
his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb; 
yet could they not heal him, nor cure him of his wound,' Hosea v. 13. 
If we rest on closet-duties, or on anything else on this side Christ, we 
shall find them as weak as the Assyrian, or as Jareb ; we shall find to 
our cost that they cannot help us nor heal us; they cannot comfort us nor 
cure us of our wounds. As creatures, so duties, were never true to any 
that have trusted in them. When the Israelites were in great distress, 
the Lord bids them go and cry unto the gods which they had chosen, 
and let them deliver you, saith God, in the time of your tribulation, 
Judges X. 14. O sirs ! if, when you are under distress of conscience, or 
lying upon a dying bed, God should say to you, Go to your closet prayers 
and performances, that you have made and rested in, go to your 
closet tears that you have shed and rested in, and let them save you 
and deliver you; oh, what miserable saviours and comforters would 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 255 

they be unto you ! Look, what the ark of God was to the Philistines, 
1 Sam. chap, v., that closet-duties are to Satan ; he trembles every 
time he sees a poor sinner go into his closet and come out of his closet, 
resting and glorying in Jesus, and not in his duties ; but when he sees 
a poor creature confide in his closet-duties, and rest upon his closet- 
duties, then he rejoiceth, then he claps his hands and sings, Aha ! so 
would I have it. Oh, rest not on anything on this side Jesus Christ ; 
say to your graces, say to your duties, say to your holiness, You are not 
my saviour, you are not my mediator ; and therefore you are not to be 
trusted to, you are not to be rested in. It is my duty to perform 
closet-duties, but it is my sin to rely upon them, or to put confidence 
in them ; do them I must, but glory in them I must not. He that 
rests in his closet-duties, he makes a saviour of his closet-duties. Let 
all your closet-duties lead you to Jesus, and leave you more in com- 
munion with him, and in dependence upon him; and then thrice happy 
will you be, Heb. vii. 25. Let all thy closet prayers and tears, thy 
closet fastings and meltings, be a star to guide thee to Jesus, a Jacob's 
ladder by which thou mayest ascend into the bosom of eternal loves ; 
and then thou art safe for ever. 

Ah ! it is sad to think, how most men have forgotten their resting- 
place, as the Lord complains : Jer. 1. 6, * My people have been like lost 
sheep, their shepherds have caused them to go astray, and have turned 
them away to the mountains ; they have gone from mountain to hill, 
and forgotten their resting-place.' Ah ! how many poor souls are there, 
that wander from mountain to hill, from one duty to another, and here 
they will rest, and there they will rest, and all on this side their resting- 
place ! sirs ! it is God himself that is your resting-place ; it is his free 
grace, it is his singular mercy, it is his infinite love that is your resting- 
place ; it is the bosom of Christ, the favour of Christ, the satisfaction of 
Christ, and the pure, perfect, spotless, matchless, and glorious righteous- 
ness of Christ, that is your resting-place ; and therefore say to all your 
closet duties and performances. Farewell ; prayer, farewell ; reading, fare- 
well; fasting, farewell ; tears, farewell; sighs and groans, farewell ; melt- 
ings and humblings, I will never trust more to you, I will never rest 
more on you ; but I will now return to my resting-place, I will now 
rest only in God and Christ, I will now rest wholly in God and Christ, 
I will now rest for ever in God and Christ. 

It was the saying of a precious saint, that * he was more afraid of his 
duties than of his sins ; for the one made him often proud, the other 
made him always humble.' But, 

(5.) M.y fifth advice and counsel is this, Labour to bring your hearts 
into all your closet-prayers and performances. Look that your 
tongues and your hearts keep time and tune. Ps. xvii. 1, ' Give ear 
unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned Ups,' or, as it is in the 
Hebrew, * without lips of deceit.' Heart and tongue must go together ; 
word and work, lip and life, prayer and practice, must echo one to 
another, or else thy prayers and thy soul will be lost together. The 
labour of the lips and the travail of the heart must go together. 

The Egyptians of all fruits made choice of the peach to consecrate to 
their goddess, and for no other cause, but that the fruit thereof is like 

» Plutarch. 



256 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VL 6. 

to one's heart, and the leaf to one's tongue. These very heathens in 
the worship of their gods, thought it necessary that men's hearts and 
tongues should go together. Ah, Christians ! when in your closet duties 
your hearts and your tongues go together, then you make that sweet 
and delightful melody that is most taking and pleasing to the King of 
kings. The very soul of prayer lies in the pouring out of the soul 
before God, 1 Sam. i. 15. Ps. xlii. 4, ' When I remember these things I 
pour out my soul in me.' So the Israelites poured out their souls like 
water before the Lord. So the church : ' The desire of our soul is to 
thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. With my soul have I 
desired thee in the night, yea, with my spirit within me will I seek 
thee early,' Isa. xxvi. 8, 9. So Lament, iii. 41, ' Let us lift up our heart 
with our hands unto God in the heavens.' So Heb. x. 22, 'Let us draw 
near with a true heart,' &c. So Rom. i, 9, ' For God is my witness, whom 
I serve in the spirit.' 1 Cor. xiv. 15, * I will pray with the spirit, and 
sing with the spirit.' Philip, iii. 3, ' We are the circumcision which wor- 
ship God in the spirit.' Under the law the inward parts were only to 
be offered to God in sacrifice ; the skin belonged to the priests. Whence 
we may easily gather, that truth in the inward parts, is that which is 
most pleasing in a sacrifice. When the Athenians would know of the 
oracle the cause of their often unprosperous success in battle against 
the Lacedaemonians, seeing they offered the choicest things they could 
get, in sacrifice to the gods, which their enemies did not, the oracle gave 
them this answer, that ' the gods were better pleased with their inward 
supplication without ambition, than with all their outward pomp in 
costly sacrifices.' Ah, sirs ! the reason why so many are so unsuccessful 
in their closet-duties and services is because there is no more of their 
hearts in them. No man can make sure work or happy work in prayer 
but he that makes heart-work on it. When a man's heart is in his 
prayers, then great and sweet will be his returns from heaven. That 
is no prayer in which the heart of the person bears no part. When the 
soul is separated from the body the man is dead ; and so when the heart 
is separated from the lip in prayer, the prayer is dead. 

The Jews at this day write upon the walls of their synagogues these 
■words, Tophillah belo cavannah ceguph belo neshamah ; that is, a 
prayer without the heart, or without the intention of the affection, is 
like a body without a souL 

In the law of Moses the priest was commanded to wash the inwards 
and the feet of the sacrifices in water ; and this was done, saith Philo, 
' not without a mystery, to teach us to keep our hearts and affections 
clean when we draw nigh to God.' In all your closet-duties God looks 
first and most to your hearts : ' My son, give me thy heart,' Prov. xxiii. 
26. It is not a piece, it is not a comer of the heart, that will satisfy 
the Maker of the heart ; the heart is a treasure, a bed of spices, a royal 
throne wherein he delights. God looks not at the elegancy of your 
prayers, to see how neat they are; nor yet at the geometry of your 
prayers, to see how Jong they are; nor yet at the arithmetic of your 
prayers, to see how many they are ; nor yet at the music of your prayers, 
nor yet at the sweetness of your voice, nor yet at the logic of your 
prayers ; but at the sincerity of your prayers, how hearty they are. There 
is no prayer acknowledged, approved, accepted, recorded, or rewarded 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 257 

by God, but that wherein the heart is sincerely and wholly. The true 
mother would not have the child divided. As God loves a broken and 
a contrite heart, so he loathes a divided heart, Ps. li. 17, James, i. 8. 
God neither loves halting nor halving; he will be served truly and 
totally. The royal law is, ' Thou shalt love and serve the Lord thy 
God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul.' Among the heathens, 
when the beasts were out up for sacrifice, the first thing the priest looked 
upon was the heart, and if the heart was naught, the sacrifice was re- 
jected. Verily, God rejects all those services and sacrifices, wherein the 
heart is not, as you may see by comparing the Scriptures in the margin 
together.' Prayer without the heart is but as sounding brass or a 
tinkling cymbal. Prayer is only lovely and weighty, as the heart is in 
it, and no otherwise. It is not the lifting up of the voice, nor the wring- 
ing of the hands, nor the beating of the breasts, nor an affected tone, 
nor studied motions, nor seraphical expressions, but the stirrings of the 
heart, that God looks at in prayer. God hears no more than the heart 
gpeaks. If the heart be dumb, God will certainly be deaf. No prayer 
takes with God, but that which is the travail of the heart. 

The same day Julius Caesar came to the imperial dignity, sitting in 
his golden chair, he offered a beast in sacrifice to the gods; but when 
the beast was opened, it was without a heart, which the soothsayers 
looked upon as an ill omen. It is a sad omen, that thou wilt rather pro- 
voke the Lord than prevail with him, who art habitually heartless in thy 
closet duties. Of the heart, God seemeth to say to us, as Joseph did to 
his brethren, concerning Benjamin, 'Ye shall not see my face without it.' 
It was the speech of blessed Bradford, that 'he would never leave a 
duty, till he had brought his heart into the frame of the duty; he 
would not leave confession of sin, till his heart was broken for sin ; he 
would not leave petitioning for grace, till his heart was quickened and 
enlivened in a hopeful expectation of more grace; he would not leave 
gratulation, till his heart was enlarged with the sense of the mercies he 
enjoyed, and quickened in the return of praise.' 

(G.) My sixth advice and counsel is this, B^ fervent, he warm, he 
importunate vnth God in all your closet duties and performances. 
James v. ] 6, ' The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth 
much;' o-r, as the Greek hath it [iv^yovfuvrj], 'The working prayer;' 
that is, such working prayer as sets the whole man on work, as sets all 
the faculties of the soul, and all the graces in the soul, at work. The 
word signifies such a working as notes the liveliest activity that can be. 
Certainly, all those usual phrases of crying, wrestling, and striving -with 
God, which are scattered up and down in Scripture, do strongly argue 
that holy importunity and sacred violence that the saints of old have 
expressed in their addresses to God.* Fervency feathers the wings of 
prayer, and makes them fly the swifter to heaven. An arrow, if it be 
drawn up but a little way, flies not far; but if it be drawn up to the 
head, it will fly far, and pierce deeply: so fervent prayer flies as high as 

» Prov. xxi. 27 ; Tsa i. 11, 12; Chap xxix. 18 ; Mat. xv, 7-9; Ezek. xxxiii. 30-82 ; 
Zech. vii. 4-6 ; 2 Cliion. xxv. 1,2; Ps, Ixxviii, 30, 37, 

« Ps Iv. 1 ; Ps. Ixi. 1 ; I's. Ixiv. 1 ; Ps. Ixxxviii. 1, 13; Ps. cxix. 1G4 ; Jonah ii. 1, 2 ; 
Joel ii: y.i ; Ps, cxix. 145, 147 ; Pa, cxix. 20. 

VOL. II. R 



258 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6.1 

heaven, and will certainly bring down blessings from thence.* Cold prayers 
bespeak a denial, but fervent prayers offer a sacred violence both to heaven 
and eartli. Look, as in a painted fire there is no heat ; so in a cold prayer 
there is no heat, no warmth, no omnipotency, no devotion, no blessing. 
Cold prayers are like arrows without heads, as swords witliout edges, as 
birds without wings: they pierce not, they cut not, they fly not up toheaven. 
Such prayers as have no heavenly fire in them, do always freeze before 
they reach as high as heaven. Put fervent prayer is very prevalent 
with God : JLcts xii. 5, ' Peter, therefore, was kept in prison, but prayer 
was made without ceasing.' The Greek word i>iTsvrii signifies instant 
prayer, earnest prayer, stretched out prayer; prayer stretched out upon 
the tenters, as it were. These gracious souls did in prayer strain and 
stretch themselves, as men do that are ruiming in a race; they prayed 
with all the strength of their souls, and with all the fervency of their 
spirits; and accordingly they carried the day with God, as you may see 
in the following verses. So Acts xxvi. 7, ' Unto which promise, our 
twelve tribes instantly serving God day and night,' or rather as the 
Greek hath it, Iv hnveitf,, ' in a stretched out manner, serving God day 
and night.' These twelve tribes, or the godly Jews of the twelve tribes 
of Israel, stretched out their hearts, their affections, their graces, to the 
utmost in prayer. In all your private retirements, do as the twelve 
tribes did. Rom. xii. 11, ' Fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.' The 
Greek word ^iovrsg, signifies seething hot. God loves to see his people 
zealous and warm in his service. Without fervency of spirit, no service 
finds acceptance in heaven. God is a pure act, and he loves that his 
people should be lively and active in his service ; ver. 1 2, ' Continuing 
instant in prayer ;' cr^ocxa^rs^oDvrts, ' continuing with all your might in 
prayer.' It is a metaphor from hunting dogs, that will never give over 
the game till they have got it. Rom. xv. 30, ' That ye strive together 
with me, in your prayers to God for me ;' e\)mywitsa<sdai, strive mightily, 
strive as champions strive, even to an agony, as the word imports. It 
is a military word, and notes such fervent wrestling or striving, as is 
for life and death. CoL iv. 12, ' Always labouring fervently for you in 
prayer.' The Greek word a/ww^o/isvog, that is here used, signifies to 
strive or wrestle, as those do that strive for mastery; it notes the 
vehemency and fervour of Epaphras his prayers for the Colossians. 
Look, as the wrestlers do bend, and writhe, and stretch, and strain every 
joint of their bodies, that they may be victorious; so Epaphras did 
bend, and writhe, and stretch, and strain every joint of his soul, — if I may 
so speak, — that he might be victorious with God upon the Colossians' 
account. So, when Jacob was with God alone, ah how earnest and fer- 
vent was he in his wrestlings with God, Gen. xxxii. 24-27, Hosea xii. 
4, 5. He wrestles and weeps, and weeps and wrestles ; he tugs hard 
with God, he holds his hold, and he will not let God go, till as a prince 
he had prevailed with him. Fervent prayer is the soul's contention, 
the soul struggling with God ; it is a sweating work, it is the sweat and 
blood of the soul, it is a laying out to the uttermost all the strength 
and powers of the soul. He that would gain victory over God in 
private prayer, must strain every string of his heart ; he must, in 
beseeching God, besiege him, and so get the better of him; be must 
' ^t timide rogat, docet rugare, saith the philosopher, 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 239 

be like importunate beggars, that will not be put off with frowns, or 
silence, or sad answei-s. Those that would be masters of their requests, 
must, like the importunate widow, press God so far as to put him to 
an holy blush, as I may say with reverence: they must with an holy 
impudence, as Basil speaks, make God ashamed to look them in. the 
face, if he should deny the importunity of their souls. 

Had Abraham had a little more of this impudence, saith one,^ when 
he made suit for Sodom, it might have done well. Abraham brought 
down the price to ten righteous, and there his modesty stayed him ; had 
he gone lower, God only knows what might have been done, for 'God 
went not away, saith the text, 'till he had left communing with 
Abraham,' that is, till Abraham had no more to say to God. Abraham 
left over asking, before God left over granting; he left over praying, 
before God left over bating; and so Sodom was lost. 

Oh the heavenly fire, the holy fervency that was in Daniel's closet 
prayer 1 ' O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do, defer 
not for thine own sake,' Dan. ix. 19. Look, as there be two kinds of 
antidotes against poison, viz., hot and cold, so there are two kinds of anti- 
dotes against all the troubles of this life, viz., fervent prayers and holy 
patience : the one hot, the other cold ; the one quickening, and the 
other quenching, and holy Daniel made use of them both. Fervency 
to prayer, is as the fire was to the spices in the censer, or as wings to 
the bird, or as oil to the wheels; and this Daniel found by experience. 
God looks not for any James with horny knees, through assiduity of 
prayer; nor for any Bartholomew with a century of prayers for the 
morning, and as many for the evening; but for fervency of spirit in 
prayer, which alone carries all with God. Feeble prayers, like weak 
pangs, go over, and never brings a mercy to the birth. Cold prayers 
are still-born children, in whom the Father of spirits can take no 
pleasure. Look, as a painted man is no man, and as painted fire is no 
fire; so a cold prayer is no prayer. Such prayers never win upon the 
heart of God that do not first warm our own hearts. As a body with- 
out a soul, much wood without a fire, a bullet in a gun without powder; 
so are all prayers without fervency of spirit. 

Luther terms prayer homharda Christianorum, the gun or cannon 
of Christians, or the Christian's gun-shot. 

The hottest springs send forth their waters by ebullitions. Cold 
prayers make a smoke, a smother in the eyes of God. Lazy prayers 
never procure noble answers ; lazy beggars may starve for all their 
begging, Isa. i. 15, and Ixv. 5. 

Such as have a male in their flock, and offer to the Lord a female ; 
such as offer to the Lord the torn, and the lame, and the sick ; such as 
turn off God with their cold, lazy, sleepy, and formal devotions, are 
condemned, cast, and cursed by God, Mai. i. 13, 14. David compares 
his prayers to incense, and no incense was offered without fire, Ps. cxli. 
2 ; it was that that made the smoke of it to ascend. It is only fervent 
prayer that hits the mark, and that pierces the walls of heaven, though, 
like those of Gaza, Isa. xlv. 2, made of brass and iron. While the child 
only whimpers and whines in the cradle, the mother lets it alone ; but 

» Doi:. Don. fol. p. 622, Gen. xviii. 22, 23. [Query— Dr Donne? Of. Sermon on 
Qeuesis xviii. 25. — G. 



Ji60 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VL 6. 

when once it sets up its note, and cries outright, then she runs and 
takes it up. So it is with a Christian : Fs. xxxiv. 6, ' This poor man 
cried.' Tliere is his fervency, he cried; but it was silently and secretly, 
in the presence of King Achish, as Moses did at the Red Sea. and as 
Nehemiah did in the presence of the king of Persia. ' And the Lord 
heard him, and delivered him out of all his troubles ;' here is his pre- 
valency. So Latimer plied the throne of grace with great fervency, 
crying out, ' Once again, Lord, once again restore the gospel to Eng- 
land,' and God heard him.* 

Hudson the martyr, deserted at the stake, went from under his chain, 
and having prayed fervently, he was comforted immediately, and suf- 
fered valiantly.^ 

I have road of one Giles of Bruxels, a Dutch martyr, who was so fer- 
vent in his prayer, kneeling by himself in some secret place of the 
prison where he was, that he seemed to forget himself; and being called 
to his meat, he neither heard nor saw who stood by him, till he was 
lifted up by the arms, and then he would speak gently to them, as one 
awaked out of a trance.^ 

So Gregory Nazianzen, speaking of his sister Gorgonia, saith, that, 
in the vehemency of her prayer, she came to a religious impudency 
with God, so as to threaten heaven, and tell God that she would never 
depart from his altar till she had her petition granted.* 

Let us make it our business to follow these noble examples, as ever 
we would so prince it in prayer as to prevail with God. An importu- 
nate soul in prayer is like the poor beggar, that prays and knocks, that 
prays and waits, that prays and works, that knocks and knits,^ that 
begs and patches, and will not stir from the door till he hath an alms. 
Well, friends, remember this, God respects no more lukewarm prayers 
than he doth lukewarm persons, and they are such that he hath threat- 
ened to spue out of his mouth. Those prayers that are but lip-labour 
are lost labour; and therefore, in all your closet prajers, look to the fer- 
vency of your spirits. 

(7.) My seventh advice and counsel is this. Be constant, as ivell as 
fervent, in closet-prayer. Look that you hold on and hold out, and 
that you persevere to the end in private prayer: 1 The.s. v. 17, * Pray 
without cea.sing.' A man must always pray habitually, though not 
actually ; he must have his heart in a praying disposition in all estates 
and conditions. Though closet-prayer may have an intermission, yet 
it must never have a cessation : Luke xviii. 1, 'And he spake a parable 
unto them, to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint,' 
or, as the Greek hath it, eKxaKiT^, not to shrink back, as sluggards in 
work, or cowards in war. Closet-prayer is a fire like that on the altar, 
that was never to go out, day nor night: 1 Thes. iii. 10, 'Night and 
day praying exceedingly/ Paul speaks like a man made up all of 
prayer, like a man that minded nothing so much as prayer : so Eph. 
vi. 18, ' Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, 
and watching thereunto with all perseverance.' Calvin makes this 
difference between 'praying always' in the beginning of this verse, and 
'praying with perseverance' in the end of this verse: 'By praying always,' 

• Clarke, as before. Foxe, tub nomine. — G. * Ibid — G. ^ Ibid. — G. 

* Puuliu. Epist. lib. i. Epist. 4. ^ Hee Glostary lor other uses of this wurd. — G. 



Hat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 261 

saith he, ' he exhorts its to pray in prosperity as well as in adversity, 
and not to quit the d\ity of prayer in a prosperous estate, because we 
are not driven to it by outward pressing necessities and miseries; and 
by praying with perseverance, he admonisheth us that we be not weary 
of tlie work, but continue instant and constant in its performance, 
though we liave not presently what we pray for.' So that ' praying 
always' is opposed to a neglect of the duty in its proper times and 
seasons, and 'praying with perseverance' is opposed to a fainting in 
our spirits, in respect of this or that particular suit or request that we 
put up to God, When God turns a deaf ear to our prayers, we must 
not fret nor faint, we must not be dismayed nor discouraged, but we 
must hold up and hold on in the duty of prayer with invincible pa- 
tience, courage, and constancy, as the church did : Lament, iii. 8, 44, 
65-57, compared ; Col. iv. 2, ' Continue in prayer, and watch in the 
same with thanksgiving.' We must be constant and instant in closet 
prayer ; we must wait upon it, and lay all aside for it. He that is only 
in his closet by fits and starts, will neither glorify God nor advantage 
his own soul. If we do not make a trade of closet-prayer, we shall never 
make any yearnings of closet-prayer. Look, as they that get money 
by their iron mills do keep a continual fire in their iron mills, so they 
that will get any soul-good by closet duties, they must keep close and 
constant to closet duties. The hypocrite is only constant in incon- 
stancy ; he is only in his closet by fits and starts. Now and then, when 
he is m a good mood, you shall find him step into his closet, but he 
never holds it : Job xxvii. 10, ' Will he always call upon God,' or, as the 
Hebrew hath it, ' Will he in every time call upon God ?' When they 
are under the smarting rod, or when they are upon the tormenting rack, 
or when they are under grievous wants, or when they are struck with 
panic-fears, &c., then you shall have them run to their closets, as Joab 
ran to the horns of the altar, when he was in danger of death ; but they 
never persevere, they never hold out to the end ; and therefore in the 
end they lose both their closet prayers and their souls together, Isa. 
xxvi. 16, Ps. Ixxviii. 34, Zech. vii. 5. 

It was a most profane and blasphemous speech of that atheistical 
wretch,* that told God ' that he was no common beggar, and that he 
never troubled him before with prayer, and if he would but hear him 
that time, he would never trouble him again.' 

Closet-prayer is a hard work ; and a man must tug hard at it, and 
stick close to it, as Jacob did, if ever he intends to make any internal 
or eternal advantages by it, Gen. xxxii. Daniel chose rather to run the 
hazard of his life, than to give over praying in his chamber, chap. vi. It 
is not he that begins in the spirit and ends in the flesh. Gal. iii. 3 ; it is 
not he that puts his hand to the plough and looks back, Luke ix. 62 ; 
but he that perseveres to the end in prayer, that shall be saved and. 
crowned. Mat. xxiv. 13. It is he that perseveres in well doing that shall 
eat of the hidden manna, and that shall have the white stone, ' and in the 
stone a new name written, which no man knows saving him that receiveth 
it,' Rev. ii. 17. Those precious, praying, mourning souls in that Ezekiel 
ix. 4, 6, that were marked to be preserved in Jerusalem, were distin- 
guished, say some of the learned, by the character ^, tau, which is the 
» Query ' after ' ?— G., or * earnings of ?'— £d. ' Heil. Mic p. 376. [As before.— G.] 



262 THE PKIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VI. 6. 

last of all the Hebrew letters, to teach them that thoy must hold out 
and hold on to the end in well doing.' It is constancy in closet-duty 
that crowns the Christian and commends the duty. 

But would God have his people to cast off their callings, and to cast 
off all care of their relations, and shut themselves up in their closets, 
and there spend their whole time in secret prayer ? Oh, no ! Every 
duty must have its time and place; and as one frienil must not shut 
out another, so one duty must not shut out another, Eccles. iii. 1. The 
duties of my particular calling as I am a man must not shut out the 
duties of my general calling as I am a Christian, nor tlie duties of my 
general calling as I am a Christian must not shut out the duties of my 
particular calling as I am a man. But that you may be fully satisfied 
in this case, you must remember that a man may be said to pray always, 

[1.] First, When his heart is always in a praying frame. Look, as 
a man may be truly said to give always whose heart is always in a giving 
frame, and to suffer always whose heart is always in a sulFering frame 
— * For thy sake are we killed all the day long,' Ps. xliv. 22 — and to siu 
always whose heart is always in a sinning frame, 2 Peter ii. 14, Jer. ix. 3, 
so a man may be as truly said to pray always whose heart is always in 
a praying frame. 

[2.] Secondly, A man prays always when he takes hold on every JU 
season and opportunity for the pouHng out of his soul before the 
Lord in his closet. To pray always is sv vavTi xai^^, to pray in] every 
opportunity ; but of this before. 

It is observed by some of Proteus, that he was wont to give certain 
oracles, but it was hard to make him speak and deliver them, but he 
would turn himself into several shapes and forms ; yet if they would 
hold our, and press him hard without fear, into whatsoever form or 
shape he appeared, they were sure to have satisfactory oracles.^ So if 
we cont'nue constant in our closet-wrestlings with God, if we hold on in 
private { ra} er though God should appear to us in the form or shape of 
a judge, an enemy, a stranger, we shall certainly speed at last: 'O woman, 
great is thy faith, be it unto thee even as thou wilt; and her daughter 
was made whole from that very hour,' Mat. xv. 28. 

The philosopher being asked in his old age why he did not give over 
his practice and take his ease, answered, * When a man is to run a race 
of forty furlongs, would you have him sit down at the nine-and-thirtieth, 
and so lose the prize, the crown for which he ran V^ sirs ! if you hold 
not out to the end in closet-prayer, you will certainly lose the heavenly 
prize, the crown of life, the crown of righteousness, the crown of glory. 
To continue in giving glory to God in this way of duty, is as necessary 
and requisite as to begin to give glory to God in this way of duty ; for 
though the beginning be more than half, yet the end is more than all; 
ftnis coronat opus. The God of all perfections looks that our uUimum 
vitoi should be his optimum glorice, that our last works should be our 
best works ; and that we should persevere in closet-prayer to the end, 
Rev. ii. 10. 

(8.) Aly eighth advice and counsel is this, In all your closet-prayers, 

• J. [S ] Mennch Coin, in Ezek. cap. ix. 4. [Comment : S. S. 1719, 2 vols, folio.— G.] 

• H. liner, Odi/ iv. 410 and 456, &c Ovid, Art. Am. i. 761, &c.— G. 

• Non progrtdi est regredi. 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 263 

thirst and long after communion with Qod. In all your private re-^ 
tirements, take up in nothing below fellowship with Grod, in nothing, 
below a sweet and spiritual enjoyment of God, Cant. iii. 1-3, Ps. 
Ixxiii. 28. Ps; xxviL 4<, 'One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will 
I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of 
iny life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.' 
The temple of the Lord, without communion with the Lord of the 
temple, will not satisfy David's soul : Ps. xlii. 1, 2, 'As the hart panteth 
after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul 
thirsteth for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear 
before God ?' 

The hart, as Aristotle and others observe, is of all creatures moat hot 
and dry of itself ; but especially when it is chased and hunted, then it 
is extreme thirsty. The female is here meant, as the Greek article, 
^ iXapoc, doth manifest. Now, in the females the passions of thirst are 
more strong, as the naturalists observe. By this David discovers what 
a vehement and inflamed thirst there was in his soul after communion 
with God ; and as nothing could satisfy the hunted hart but the water 
brooks, so nothing could satisfy his soul but the enjoyments of God : 
Ps. xliii. 4t, 'Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceed- 
ing j,oy.' The altar of God is here put for the worship of God. Now, 
it is not barely the worship of God, but communion with God in his 
worship, that was David's exceeding, joy : Ps. Ixiii. 1, 2, 'O God, thou 
art my God, early will I seek thee; my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh 
longeth for thee in a d^y and thirsty land, wherein no water is ; to see 
thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.' 
Pavid's soul did not thirst after a crown, a kingdom, or any worldly 
greatness or glory, but after a choice and sweet enjoyment of God in his 
wilderness estate. Never did any woman with child long more after 
this or thaty than Da^vid's soul did long to enjoy sensible communion 
with God in the midst of all his sorrows and sufferings :: Ps. Ixxxiv. 2, 
'My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my 
heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.' By the ' courts of the 
Lord; we are to understand the ordinances. Now, these without com- 
munion with God would never have satisfied David's soul. 

I commend that speech of Bernard, Nunquam abs te, absque te recede, 
* I never come to thee, but by thee y I never come from thee, without 
thee.'' 

Whenever you go into your closets, press hard after real and sensible 
communion with God, that so you may come out of your closets with 
9ome shines of God upon your spirits, as Moses came down from the 
mount with his face shining, Exod. xxxiv. 29-35. Oh do not take up 
in your closet prayers, or tears, or joys, or enlargements ; but labour 
and long to enjoy that inward and close fellowship with God in your 
closets, as may leave such a choice and sweet savour of God, both upon 
your hearts and lives, as others may be forced to say. Surely these have 
peen with Jesus, Acts iv. 13. It is sad when Christians return from 
their closets to their shops, their trades, their families, their commerce, 
^c, without the least visible rays of divine glory upon them. 

P §ir8 ! closet-prayer will be found to be but a dry, s;ipless, lifeless, 
^ Bernard, JKpist. 116. 



264 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VI. 6. 

heartless, comfortless thing, if you do not enjoy communion with God 
in it. Cornmuniou with God is the very life, soul, and crown of all your 
closet duties ; and therefore press after it as for life. When you go into 
your closets, let every thing go that may hinder your fruition of Christ, 
and let everything be embraced, that makes way for your enjoyment of 
Christ. Oh let closet-prayer be a golden bridge, a wherry, a -chariot to 
convey your souls over to God, and to bring you into a more intimate 
communion with God. Let no closet duty satisfy you or content you, 
wherein you have not convei"sed with God, as a child converseth with his 
father, or as a wife converseth with her husband, or as a friend con- 
verseth with his friend, even face to face. Nothing speaks out more 
unsoundness, falseness, and baseness of heart than this, when men make 
duty the end of duty ; prayei* the end of prayer ; than when men can 
begin a duty, and go on in a duty, and close up a duty, and bless and 
stroke themselves after a duty, and yet never enjoy the least communion 
with God in the duty. 

Qued. But how shaU a man know when he hath a realoommunion 
with God in a duty or no? 

This is a very noble and necessary question, and accordingly it calls 
for a clear and satisfactory answer ; and therefore thus : 

Sol. [1.] First, A man may have communion with God in sorrow 
and tears, when he hath not communion with God in joy, delight, Ps. 
11. 17. A man may have communion with God in a heart-humbling, a 
heart-melting, and a heart-abasing way, when he hath not communion 
with God in a hearfc-reviving, a heart-cheering, and a heart-comforting 
way. It is a very great mistake among many tender-spirited Christians, 
to think that they have no communion with God in their closets, except 
they meet with God embracing and kissing, Cant. ii. 4-6, cheering and 
comforting up their souls. When they find God raising the springs of 
joy and comfort in their souls ; when they find God a-speaking peace 
unto them ; when they find the singular sensible presence of God cheer- 
ing, refreshing, and enlarging of them in their closets, oh then they are 
willing to grant that they have had sweet communion with God in their 
closets. But if God meets with them in their closets, and only breaks 
their hearts for sin, and from sin, if he meets with them and only makes 
his power and his presence manifest, in debasing and casting down of 
their souls, upon the sight and sense of their strong corruptions and 
many imperfections, how unwilling are they to believe that they have 
had any communion with God ! Well, friends, remember this once for all, 
viz., that a Christian may have as real communion with God in a heart- 
humbling way, as he can have in a heart-comforting way. A Christian 
may have as choice communion with God when his eyes are full of tears, 
as he can have when his heart is full of joy, John xx. 11-19. Some- 
times God meets with a poor Christian in his closet, and exceedingly 
bieiks him and humbles him, and at other times he meets with the 
same Christian in his closet, and mightily cheers him, and comforts him ; 
sometimes God meets with a poor soul in his closet, and there he sweetly 
quiets him and stills him, and at other times he meets with the same 
soul in his closet, and then he greatly revives him and quickens him. 
God doth not always come upon the soul one way, he doth not always 
come in at one and the same door, John iii. 8. We sometimes look for 



Mat. VT. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 265 

a friend to come in at the fore-door, and then he comes in at the back- 
door ; and at other times, when we look for him at the hack-door, then 
he comes in at the fore-door ; and just so it is with God's coming into 
his people's souls. Sometimes they go into their closets, and look that 
God will come in at the fore-door of joy and comfort, and then God 
comes in at the back-door of sorrow and grief ; and at other times, when 
they look that God should come in at the back-door of humiliation, 
breaking, and melting their hearts, then God comes in at the fore-door 
of joy and consolation, cheering and rejoicing their souls. But, 

[2.] Secondly, I answer, That aU Christians do not enjoy a like com- 
munion with God in their closets. Some enjoy much communion with 
God in their closets, and others enjoy but little communion with God 
in their closets. Moses had a more clear, glorious, and constant com- 
munion with God in his days, than any others had in those times 
wherein he lived, Exod. xxxiii. 11 ; Deut. v. 4 ; Num. xii. 7, 8. 
God spake to none ' face to face,' as he did to Moses. And Abraham, 
Gen. xviii., in his time, had a more close, friendly, and intimate com- 
munion with God, than holy Lot, or any others had in that day. And 
though all the disciples, Judas excepted, had sweet communion with 
Christ in the days of his flesh, yet Peter, James, and John had a more 
clear, choice, and full communion with him than the rest had. Mat. xvii. 
1-4. Among all the disciples John had most bosom-communion with 
Christ, he was the greatest favourite in Christ's court, he leaned on 
Christ's bosom, he could say anything to Christ, and he could know any- 
thing of Christ, and he could have anything of Christ, John xiii. 23, xx. 
2, and xxi. 20. Now that all Christians do not enjoy communion with 
God alike in their closets, may be thus made evident ; — 

First, All Chnstians do not prepare alike to enjoy closet-communion 
with God ; and therefore all Christians do not enjoy communion with 
God alike in their closets, Eccles. v. 1 ; Ps. x. 17. Commonly he that 
prepares and fits himself most for closet-communion with God, he is the 
man that enjoys most closet-communion with God, 2 Chron. xxx. 17-20. 

Secondly, All Gho^stians do not alike prize communion with God 
in their closets. Some prize communion with God in their closets be- 
fore all and above all other things; as that noble marquis said, 'Cursed 
be he that prefers all the world to one hour's communion with God.'* 
They look upon it as that pearl of price, for the enjoyment of which 
they are ready to sell all and part v.'ith all ; others prize it at a lower 
rate, and so enjoy less of it than those that seta higher price and value 
upon it. Job xxiii. 12 ; I's. cxix. 127 ; Mat. xiii. 45, 46. 

Thirdly, AU Christians do not alike press after com/munion with 
God in their closets. Some press after communion with God in their 
closets, as a condeinne<l man presses after a pardon, or as a close 
prisoner presses after enlargement, or as as a poor beggar presses after 
an alms, Ps. Ixxiii. 8, Isa. xxvi. 8, 9. Now, you know these press on with 
the greatest earnestness, the greatest fervency, and the greatest impor- 
tunity imaginable. But others pre.ss after communion with God in their 
closets more coldly, more carelessly, more slightly, more lazily : 'I have put 
off my coat, how shall I put it on ? I have washed my feet, how shall I 
defile them ?' Cant. v. 3. Now, they that press hardest after communion 
» Galeacius Carracciolus. Cf. Sibbes, vol. i. pp. 289, 290.— G. 



266 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN, [MAT. VI. 6. 

with God in their closets, they are usually blessed with the highest de- 
grees of closet-commuuion with God. 

Fourthly, All Christians dont alike improve their communion 
with God in their closets ; and thei'efore all Christians don't enjoy com- 
munion with God alike in their closets. Some Christians do make a 
more wise, a more humble, a more holy, a more faithful, a more fruit- 
ful, and a more constant improvement of their closet-communion with 
God than others do; and therefore they are blessed with higher degrees 
of communion with God than others are. Some Christians do more 
improve their closet-communion with God against the world, the flesh, 
and the devil, than others do ; and therefore no wonder if they do enjoy 
more communion with God in their closets than others do. 

Fifthly, All Christians do not alike need communion tvith God in 
their closets ; and therefore all Christians have not a like communion 
with God in their closets. All Christians have not a like place in the 
mystical body of Christ, 1 Cor. xii. 14, seq. ; some rule, and others are 
ruled. Now, every man stands in more or less need of communion 
with God, according to the place that he bears in the body of Christ. 
Again, all Christians have not alike burdens to bear, nor alike difficulties 
to encounter with, nor alike dangers to escape, nor alike temptations to 
wrestle with, nor alike passions and corruptions to mortify, nor alike 
mercies and experiences to improve, &c. ; and therefore all Christians 
don't need alike communion with God in their closets. Now, com- 
monly God lets himself out more or less in ways of communion, 
according as the various necessities and conditions of his people doth 
require. 

^Sixthly and lastly, All Christians do not alike meet with outward 
interruptions, nor inward intei^uptions ; and therefore all Christians 
have not alike communion with God in their closets. Some Christians 
meet with a world of outward and inward interruptions more than 
others do ; some Christians' outward callings, relations, conditions, and 
stations, &c., do afford more plentiful matter and occasions, to interrupt 
them in their closet-communion with God, than other Christians' 
callings, relations, conditions, and stations do, &c. Besides, Satan is 
more busy with some Christians than he is with other Christians ; and 
corruptions work more strongly and violently in some Christians than 
they do in other Christians, &c.; and let me add this to all the rest, that 
the very natural tempers of some Christians are more averse to closet- 
duties than the natural tempers of other Christians are; and therefore 
all Christians have not alike communion with God in their closets, but 
some have more and some have less, according as God in his infinite 
wisdom sees best. 

Now, let no Christian say, that he hath no communion with God in 
closet-prayer, because he hath not such a full, such a choice, such a 
sweet, such a sensible, and such a constant communion with God in 
closet-prayer, as such and such "saints have had, or as such and such 
saints now have ; for all saints do not alike enjoy communion with God 
in their closets : some have more, some have less ; some have a higher 
degree, others a lower ; some are rapt up in the third heaven, when 
others are but rapt up in the clouds. What man is there so childish 
and babyish as to argue thus, that he hath no wisdom, because he hath 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 267 

not the wisdom of Solomon ; or, that he hath no strength, because he 
hath not the strength of Samson ; or, that he hath no life, because he 
hath not the swiftness of Ahimaaz ; or, that he hath no estate, because 
he hath not the riches of Dives ? And yet so childish and babyish many 
weak Christians are, as to argue thus : viz., that they have no com- 
munion with God in their closets, because they have not such high, 
such comfortable, and such constant communion with God in their 
closets, as such and such saints have had, or as such and such saints 
now have ; whereas they should seriously consider, that though some 
saints have a great communion with God, yet other saints have but a 
small communion with God ; and though some Christians have a strong 
communion with God, yet other Christians have but a weak communion 
with God ; and though some of the people of God have a very close and 
near communion with God, yet others of the people of God have but a 
more remote communion with God; and though some of God's servants 
have a daily, constant, and uninterrupted communion with God, yet 
others of his servants have but a more transient and inconstant com- 
munion with God. But, 

[3.] Thirdly, I answer, When a man acts grace in closet-duties, then 
certainly he hath communion ivith God in closet-duties, 2 Tim. i. 17, 
1 Tim. ii. 8. When a man in closet duties acts faith on God, or faith 
on the promises, or faith on the blood of Christ ; or when a man in 
private duties acts repentance for sin, or love to Jesus Christ, or sets 
up God as the object of his fear, or as the object of his joy, &c., then he 
hath communion with God, then he hath fellowship with the Father, 
and with the Son, 1 John L 3. An unregenerate man may act gifts 
and parts in a duty, but he cannot act grace in a duty ; for no man can 
act grace in a duty, but he that hath grace in his soul ; and hence it 
comes to pass that unsanctified persons under the highest activity of 
their arts, parts, and gifts in religious duties, enjoy no communion with 
God at all; witness the scribes and pharisees, Demas, Judas, Simon 
Magus, &c., Isa. i. 11-13. As ever you would have an evidence of your 
communion with God in closet duties, carefully look to the activity of 
your graces, carefully stir up the grace of God which is in you, 2 Tim. 
i. 6. But, 

[4.] Fourthly, I answer, When a man hath communion with God 
in his closet, then he gives God the glory of all his actings and activi- 
ties, Ps. cxv. 1. Communion with God always helps a man to set the 
crown of praise and honour upon the head of God. Wi tness that gracit»us 
and grateful doxology of David and his people, in that 1 Chron. xxix. 13, 
* Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorit)Us name.' 
Men that enjoy no communion with God in religious duties, are still 
a-sacrificing unto their own net, and a-burnmg incense unto their own 
drag, Hab. 116; they are still ablessing themselves, and a-stroking of 
themselves, and applauding themselves ; they think the garland of 
praise, the crown of honour, becomes no head but their own, Luke xviL 
11, 12. But now, men that enjoy communion with God in religious 
duties, they will uncrown themselves to crown God, they will uncrown 
their duties to crown the God of their duties, they will uncrown their 
arts, parts, gifts, and enlargements, to set the crown of praise upon the 
head of God alone. Acts iil 11-13, 16 ; B^v. iv. 10, 11 ; chap. v. 11, 



268 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

12. Thou thinkest that thou hast communion with God in closet-duties, 
yea, thou sayest that thou hast communion with God in closet duties ; 
but on whose head dost thou put the garland of praise ? Ps. cxlviii. 13. 
If on (iod's head, thou hast communion with God ; if on thine own 
head, thou hast no communion with God. As all the rivers run into 
the sea, and all the lines meet in the centre, so, when all our closet- 
duties terminate and centre in the advance of God's glory, then have we 
communion with God in them. 

Constantine did use to write the name of Christ over his door. When 
a man hath communion with Christ in a duty, then he will write the 
name of Christ, the honour of Christ, upon his diity. Some say that 
the name of Jesus was engraven upon the heart of Ignatius; sure I am, 
when a man hath communion with God in a duty, then you shall find 
the honour and glory of Jesus engraven upon that duty. But, 

[5.] Fifthly, I answer. When the performance of closet-duties leaves 
the soul in a better frame, then a man hath communion with God in 
them. When a man comes off from closet-duties in a more holy frame, 
or in a more humble frame, or in a more spiritual frame, or in a more 
watchful frame, or in a more heavenly frame, or in a more broken frame, 
or in a more quickened and enlivened frame, &c., then certainly he 
hath had communion with God in those duties. When a man comes 
out of his closet, and finds the frame of his heart to be more strongly 
set against sin than ever, and to be more highly resolved to walk with 
God than ever, and to be more eminently crucified to the world then 
ever, and to be more divinely fixed against temptations than ever, then 
without all perad venture he hath had communion with God in his 
closet 

[6.] Sixthly, 1 answer. When closet-duties fit a man for those other 
duties that lie Tiext his hand, then doubtless he hath had com-munion 
with God in them. When private duties fit a man for public duties, 
or when private duties fit a man for the duties of his place, calling, and 
condition, wherein God hath set him, then certainly he hath had fellow- 
ship with God in them, Eccles. ix. 10. When a man in closet duties 
finds more spiritual strength and power to perform the duties that are 
next incumbent upon him, then assuredly he hath met with God; when 
private prayer fits me more for family prayer, or public prayer, then I 
may safely conclude that God hath drawn near to my soul in private 
prayer ; or when one closet duty fits me for another closet duty, as 
when praying fits me for reading, or reading for praying ; or when the 
more external duties in my closet, viz., reading or praying, fits me for 
those more spiritual and internal duties, viz., self-examination, holy 
meditation, soul-humiliation, &c., then I may rest satisfied that there 
hath been some choice intercourse between God and my soul. When 
the more I pray in my closet, the more fit I am to pray in my closet ; 
and the more I read in my closet, the more fit I am to read in my 
closet ; and the more I meditate in my closet, the more fit I am to 
meditate in my closet ; and the more I search and examine my heart 
in my closet, the more fit I am to search and examine my heart in my 
closet ; and the more I humble and abase my soul in my closet, the 
more fit I am to humble and abase my soul in my closet : then 1 may 
be confident that I have had communion with God in my closet. 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 269 

[7.] Seventhly, I answer, That all private communion with God ia 
very soul-humbling and soul-abasing. Abraham was a man that had 
much private communion with God, and a man that was very vile and 
low in his own eyes : Gen. xviii. 27, * And Abraham answered and said. 
Behold, now I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am 
but dust and ashes.' In respect of my original, saith Abraham, ' I am 
but base dust and ashes ;' and in respect of my deserts, I deserve to be 
burnt to ashes. There are none so humble as they that have nearest 
communion with God, Gen. xxviii. 10-18. Jacob was a man that had 
much private communion with God, and a man that was very little in 
his own eyes : Gen. xxii. 10, *I am not worthy of the least of all the 
mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy ser- 
vant ;' or, as the Hebrew hath it, 'I am less than all thy mercies.' 
When Jacob had to deal with Laban, he pleads his merit ; but when 
he hath to do with God, he debaseth himself below the least of his mer- 
cies. Gen. xxxi. 38— il. Moses was a man that had much private com- 
munion with God, as I have formerly evidenced, and a man that was 
the meekest and humblest person in all the world : Num. xii. 3, ' Now 
the man Moses was very meek, above all the men that were upon the 
face of the earth.' 

Josephus, writing of Moses, saith, if he may be believed, * that he 
was so free from passions, that he knew no such thing in his own soul; 
he only knew passions by their names, and saw them in others, but felt 
them not in himself.' And so, when the glory of God appeared to him, 
he falls upon his face. Num. xvi. 22, in token of humility and self- 
abasing. David was a man that had much private communion with 
God, as is granted on all hands; and how greatly doth he debase himself 
and vilify himself! 1 Sam. xxvi. 20, 'The king of Israel is ccme out to 
seek a flea ;' and what more weak and contemptible than a flea ? So 
chap. xxiv. J 4, ' After whom is the king of Israel come out? after whom 
dost thou pursue? after a dead dog, after a flea?' As if David had said, 
' It is not worth the while, the labour ; it is below the dignity and 
honour of the king of Israel to take such pains and to pursue so 
violently after such a poor nothing as I am, who hath no more strength 
nor power to bite or hurt than a dead dog or a poor flea hath.' So Ps. 
xxii. 6, ' But I am a worm, and no man.'^ Now, what is more weak, 
what less regarded, what more despicable, what more trampled under 
foot than a poor worm ? The Hebrew word tolagnath, that is here 
rendered worm, signifies a very little worm, such as breed in scarlet, 
which are so little that a man can scarcely see them, or perceive them. 
Thus you see that holy David debaseth himself below a worm, yea, be- 
low the least of worms. No man sets so low a value upon himself as 
he doth who hath most private communion with God. The four-and- 
twenty elders cast down their crowns at the feet of Jesus Christ, Rev. 
iv. 10, 11. Their crowns note all their inward and outward dignities, 
excellencies, and glories ; and the casting down of their crowns notes 
their great humility and self-debasement. When Christians, in their 
closets and out of their closets, can cast down their crowns, their duties, 
their services, their graces, their enlargements, their enjoyments, &c., at 
the feet of Jesus Christ, and sit down debasing and lessening of them- 

' As Nazianzen said of Alhanasius, lie was Li^h in woilb, and humble in heart. 



270 THE PRIVT KEY OP HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

selves, then certainly they have had a very near and sweet communion 
with God.> 

Chrysostom hath a remarkable saying of humility : ' Suppose,' saith 
he, ' that a man were defiled with all manner of sin and enormity, yet 
humble, and another man enriched with gifts, graces, and duties, yet 
proud, the humble sinner were in a safer condition than this proud 
saint' 

When a man can come ofiF from closet-duties, and say, as Ignatius 
once said of himself, Non sum dignus did minimva, I am not worthy to 
be called the least, then certainly he hath had fellowship with God in 
them. All the communion that the creature hath with God in his clo- 
set is very soul-humbling and soul-abasing. In all a man's communion 
with God, some beams, some rays of Ajie glory and majesty of God, will 
shine forth upon his soul. Now all divine manifestations are very 
humbling and abasing, as you may clearly see in those two great in- 
stances of Job and Isaiah : Job xlii. 5, 6 ' I have heard of thee by the 
hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee : Wherefore I abhor 
myself, and repent in dust and ashes.' Isaiah vi. 1, 5, ' In the year that 
king Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and 
lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Then said I, Woe is m.e ! for 
I am undone ; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the 
midst of a people of unclean lips : for mine eyes have seen the King, 
the Lord of hosts.* What sweet communion had Elijah with God in 
the \o^ cave I 

There was a gentlewoman, of no ordinary quality or breeding, who, 
being much troubled in mind, and sadly deserted by God, could not be 
drawn by her husband, or any other Christian friends, either to hear or 
read anything that might work for her spiritual advantage ; at last her 
husband, by much importunity, prevailed so far with her, that she was 
willing he should read one chapter in the Bible to her ; so he read that 
Isaiah 57th, and when he came to the loth verse, ' For thus saith the 
high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, I 
dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and 
humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart 
of the contrite ones.' Oh, says she, is it so, that God dwells with a con- 
trite and humble spirit ? Then I am sure he dwells with me, for my heart 
is broken into a thousand pieces. Oh happy text and happy time, that 
ever I should hear such comfort ! and she was thereupon recovered. The 
more communion any man hath with God, the more humble and broken 
his heart will be. 

Holy Bradford was a man that had much private communion with 
God, and he would many times subscribe himself in his letters, * John' 
the hypocrite, and a very painted sepulchre.'^ Agur was one of the 
wisest and holiest men on the earth in his days, and he condemned 
himself for being more brutish than any man, and not having the 
understanding of a man, Prov. xxx. 2. How sweet is the smell of the 
lowly violet, that hides his head, above all the gaudy tulips that be in 

* Austin being once asked what was tlie first grace, answered, humility ; what the 
second, humility ; what the third, humility. [See Index, under IlumiUty, for other 
references to this. — G.] 

• Foxe his Acts and Mon. [^Sub nomme.—Ot.'] 



Mat. YI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 271 

your garden. The lowly Christian is the most amiable and the most 
lovely Christian. When a man can come out of his closet, and cry out 
with Augustine, ' I hate that which I am, and love and desire that which 
I am not. O wretched man that I am, in whom the cross of Christ 
hath not yet eaten out the poisonous and the bitter taste of the first 
tree.' Or, as another saith, ' Lord, I see, and yet am blind ; I will, and 
yet rebel ; I liate, and yet I love ; I follow, and yet I fall; I press for- 
ward, yet I faint ; I wrestle, yet I halt ;' then he may be confident that 
he hath had communion with God in his closet. He that comes off 
from closet-duties in a self-debasing way, and in laying of himself low 
at the foot of God, he certainly hath had communion with God ; but 
when men come out of their closets with their hearts swelled and lifted 
up, as the hearts of the pharisees were, Luke xviii. 11, 12, it is evident 
that they have had no communion with God. God hath not been near 
to their souls, who say, stand by thyself, come not near to me, for I am 
holier than thou, Isa. Ixv. 5. But, 

[8.] Eighthly, and lastly, When a man finds such a secret virtue 
and povjer running through his closet-duties, as wounds and weakens 
his beloved corruption, as breaks the strength and the power of his 
special sin, as sets his heart itnore fully, resolutely, and constantly 
agaivst his darling lust, as stirs up a greater rage, and a more bitter 
hatred, and a m,ore fierce indignation against the toad in the bosom, 
then certainly he hath had communion with God in his closet-duties. 
Consult these scriptures: Isa. ii. 20, 'In that day a man shall cast his 
idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they have made each one 
for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats.' In the day wherein 
God should take these poor hearts into communion with himself, their 
hearts should be filled with such rage and indignation against their 
most delectable and desirable idols, that they should take not only 
those made of trees and stones, but even their most precious and costly 
idols, those that were made of silver and gold, and cast them to the 
moles and to the bats, to note their horrible hatred and indignation 
against them. Idolatry was the darling-sin of the Jews ; their hearts 
were so exceedingly affected and delighted with their idols, that they 
did not care what they spent upon them : Isa. xlvi. 6, ' They lavish gold 
out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith, 
and he maketh it a god : they fall down, yea, they worship.' The word 
here used for lavish, in the Hebrew, signifies properly to waste, or 
spend riotously ; they set so light by their treasure, that they cared not 
what they spent upon their idols. God gave them gold and silver as 
pledges of his favour and bounty, and they lavish it out upon their idols, 
as if God had hired them to be wicked. Oh, but when God should 
come and take these poor wretches into a close and near communion 
with himself, then you shall find their wrath and rage to rise against 
their idols, as you may see in that Isa. xxx. 19-21. Their communion 
with God is more than hinted ; but mark, ver. 22, ' Ye shall defile also 
the covering of thy graven images of silver, and the ornament of thy 
molten images of gold ; thou shalt cast them away as a menstruous cloth ; 
thou shalt say unto it. Get thee hence.' None defile, deface, detest, and 
disgrace their idols like those that are taken into communion with God. 
Fellowship with God will make a man cast away, as a menstruous cloth, 



272 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

those very idols, in which he hath most delighted, and with which he 
hath been most pleased and enamoured. Idols were Ephraim's bosom- 
sin, Hosea iv. 17, ' Ephraim is joined,' or glued, as the Hebrew hath it, 
' to idols; let him alone.' Oh ! but when you find Ephraim taken into 
close communion with God, as you do in that Hosea xiv. 4-7, then you 
shall find another spirit upon him : ver. 8, ' Ephraim shall say, what have 
I to do any more with idols? I have had too much to do with them 
already, I will never have to do with them any more. Oh ! how doth 
my soul detest and abhor them, and rise up against them. Oh ! how do 

1 now more loathe and abominate them, than ever I have formerly 
loved them, or delighted in them. After the return of the Jews out of 
Babylon, they so hated and abhorred idols, that in the time of the 
Romans they chose rather to die, than suffer the eagle, which was the 
imperial arms, to be set up in their temple. 

Though closet-duties are weak in themselves, yet when a man hath 
communion with God in them, then they prove exceeding powerful to 
the casting down of strongholds, and vain imaginations, and every high 
thing and thought, that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, 

2 Cor. X. 4, 5. When a man comes out of his closet with a heart more 
fully and stedfastly set against every known sin, but especially against 
his bosom-sin, his darling-sin, his Delilah that he played and sported 
himself most with, and that he hath hugged with pleasure and delight 
in his bosom, then certainly he hath had private communion with God. 

After Moses had enjoyed forty days' private communion with God in 
the mount, how did his heart rise, and his anger wax hot against the 
molten calf that his people had made ! Exod. xxxii. 1&, 20, 'And it 
came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the 
calf and the dancing ; and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the 
tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount : and he 
took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground 
it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children 
of Israel drink of it.' Moses had never more intimate fellowship 
with God than now, and he never discovered so much holy zeal, anger, 
and indignation against sin as now. When a man comes off from the 
mount of closet-duties with a greater hatred, anger, wrath, and indig- 
nation against bosom-sins, darling- sins, complexion-sins, that were once 
as dear to him as right hands or right eyes, or as Delilah was to Samson, 
or Herodias to Herod, or Isaac to Abraham, or Joseph to Jacob, then 
certainly he hath had communion with God in those duties. When a 
man finds his beloved sins, his Delilahs, which, like the prince of devils, 
command all other sins, to fall before his closet-duties, as Dagon fell 
before the ark, or as Goliath fell before David, then assuredly he hath 
had fellowship with God in them. Pliny writes of some families that 
had privy marks on their bodies, peculiar to those of that line.' Cer- 
tainly, there are no families, no persons, but have some sin or sins, some 
privy marks on their souls, that may in a peculiar way be called theirs. 
Now when in private duties they find the bent of their hearts, and the 
purposes, resolutions, and inclinations of their souls more raised, in- 
flamed, and set against these, they may safely and comfortably conclude, 
that they have had communion with God in them. O sirs ! there is no 
* Viz., The Tibareni and Mossyni, Nat. Hist. lib. vi. c 4.— G. 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 273 

no bosom-sin so sweet or profitable, that is worth burning in hell for, 
or worth shutting out of heaven for ; and therefore, in all your private 
duties and services, labour after that communion with God in them, 
that may break the neck and heart of your most bosom-sins. When 
Darius fled before Alexander, that he might run the faster out of danger, 
he threw away his massy crown from his head. As ever you would be 
safe from eternal danger, throw away your golden and your silver idols, 
throw away your bosom-sins, your darling lusts. 

And thus I have done with the answers to that noble and necessary 
question, that was last proposed. 

(9.) My ninth advice and counsel is this. In all your closet-duties 
look that your ends be right, look that the gloi^ of God he your ultimate 
end, the mark, the white, that you have in your eye. There is a great 
truth in that old saying. Quod non axitibus, sed finihus pensantur 
ojfficia, that duties are esteemed, not by their acts, but by their ends.* 
Look, as the shining sun puts out the light of the fire, so the glory of 
God must consume all other ends. There may be malum ojms in 
bona materia, as in Jehu's zeal. Two things make a good Christian, 
good actions and good aims. And though a good aim doth not make 
a bad action good, as in Uzzah, yet a bad aim makes a good action bad, 
as in Jehu, whose justice was approved, but his policy punished. God 
writes a nothing upon all those services, wherein men's ends are not 
right : Jer. xxxii. 23, ' They obeyed not thy voice, neither walked in thy 
law, they have done nothing of all that thou hast commanded them to 
do.' So Dan. ix. 13, 'AH this evil is come upon us, yet made we not 
our prayer before the Lord our God.' The Jews were very much in 
religious duties and services; witness Isa. i. 11-15; Isa Iviii. 1-3; 
Zech. viL 5, 6. I might produce a hundred more witnesses to confirm 
it, were it necessary ; but because they did not aim at the glory of God 
in what they did, therefore the Lord writes a nothing upon all their 
duties and services. It was Ephraim's folly, that he brought forth fruit 
unto himself, Hos. x. 1. And it was the Pharisees' hypocrisy, that in all 
their duties and services they looked at the praise of men. Mat. vi. 
1 -5, ' Verily,' saith Christ, ' you have your reward.' A poor, a pitiful 
reward indeed ! Such men shall be sure to fall short of divine accept- 
ance, and of a glorious recompence, that are not able to look above the 
praises of men. Woe to that man that, with Augustus, is ambitious to 
go off the stage of duty with a plaudit} Peter was not himself when 
he denied his Lord, and cursed himself to get credit amongst a cureed 
crew. As ever you would ask and have, speak and speed, seek and find, 
look that the glory of the Lord be engraven upon all your closet-duties. 
He shall be sure to speed best, whose heart is set most upon glorifying 
of God in all his secret retirements. When God crowns us, he doth but 
crown his own gifts in us ; and when we give God the glory of all we do, 
we do but give him the glory that is due unto his name ; for it is he, and 
he alone, that works all our works in us and for us. All closet-duties 
are good or bad, as the mark is at which the soul aims. He that makes 

OhrutuB opera nostra, non tarn aetibua quam finibus penaat. — Zanchius. 
' See more of this in my Treatise on Holiness, p. 157 to p. 168. [That is, his ' Crowa 
and Gloi^y of Christianity.' See it in Vol. IV.— G.] 

VOL. II. S 



274 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

God the object of closet-prayer, but not the end of closet-prayer, doth 
but lose his prayer, and take pains to undo himself. God will be 
Alexander or Nemo ; he will be all in all, or he will be nothing at all. 
Such prayers never reach the ear of God, nor delight the heart of God, 
nor shall ever be lodged in the bosom of God, that are not directed to 
the glory of God. The end must be as noble as the means, or else a 
man may be undone after all his doings. A man's most glorious actions 
will at last be found to be but glorious sins, if he hath made himself, 
and not the glory of God, the end of those actions. 

(10.) My tenth advice and counsel is this. Be sure that you offer all 
your closet-prayers in Christ's name, and in his alone ; John xiv. 13, 
14, ' And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the 
Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my 
name, I will do it.' John xv. 16, 'That whatsoever ye shall ask of the 
Father in my name, he may give it you.' John xvi. 23, 24, 26, ' Verily, 
verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall avsk the Father in my name, 
he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name : 
ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be fulL At that day ye 
shall ask in my name: and I say' unto you, that I will pray the Father 
for you.' sirs ! this is your privilege as well as your comfort, that 
you never deal with God but by a mediator. When you appear before 
God, Jesus Christ appears with you, and he appears for you ; when 
you do invocare, then he doth adrocare ; when you put up your peti- 
tions, then he doth make intercession for you. Christ gives you a 
commission to put his name upon all your requests ; and whatsoever 
prayer comes up with this name upon it, he will procure it an answer. 
In the state of innocency, man might worship God without a mediator ; 
but since sin hath made so wide a breach between God and man, God 
will accept of no worship from man, but what is offered up by the hand 
of a mediator. Now this mediator is Christ alone ; 1 Tim. ii. 5, ' For 
there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man 
Christ Jesus.' One mediator, not of redemption only, as the papists 
grant, but of intercession also, which they den}'. 

The papists make saints and angels co-mediators with Christ ; but in 
this, as in other things, they fight against clear Scripture hght. The 
apostle plainly tells us, that the office of intercession pertaineth unto 
Christ, as part of his mediation, Heb. vii, 25 : and it is certain, that we 
need no other master of requests in heaven, but the man Christ Jesus ; 
who being so near to the Father, and so dear to the Father, and so 
much in with the Father, can doubtless carry any thing with the 
Father, that makes for his glory and our good. This was typified in 
the law. The high-priest alone did enter into the sanctuary, and carry 
the names of the children of Israel before the Lord, whilst the people 
stood all without ; this pointed out Christ's mediation, Exod. xxviii. 2.9. 
In that Lev. xvi. 13, 14, you read of two things : first, of the cloud 
of incense that covered the mercy seat ; secondly, of the blood of the 
bullock, that was sprinkled,before^the mercy-seat. Now that blood typi- 
fied Christ's satisfaction, and the cloud of incense his intercession. 

Some of the learned think, that Christ intercedes only by virtue of 
his merits; others, that it is done only with his mouth. I conjecture 

» Qu. • say not ' ?— Ed. 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 275 

it may be done both ways, the rather because Christ hath a tongue, as 
also a whole body, but glorified, in heaven ; and is it likely, that that 
mouth which pleaded so much for us on earth, should be altogether 
silent for us in heaven ? 

There is no coming to the Father, but by the Son, John xiv. 6. 
Christ is the true Jacob's ladder, by which we must ascend to heaven. 
Joseph, you know, commanded his brethren, that as ever they looked 
for any good from him, or to see his face with joy, that they should be 
sure to bring their brother Benjamin along with them. O sirs ! as ever 
you would be prevalent with God, as ever you would have sweet, choice, 
and comfortable returns from heaven to all your closet-prayers, be sure 
that you bring your elder brother, the Lord Jesus Christ, in the arms 
of your faith, be sure that you treat and trade with God only in the 
name of the Lord Jesus. 

It is a notable speech that Luther hath upon the 130th Psalm, 
* Often and willingly,' saith he, ' do I inculcate this, that you should 
shut your eyes, and your ears, and say, you know no God out of Christ, 
none but he that was in the lap of Mary, and sucked her breasts,' 
Dulce nomen Christi. He means none out of him. When you go to 
closet-prayer, look that you pray not in your own names, but in the 
name of Christ; and that you believe and hope not in your own names, 
but in the name of Christ; and that you look not to speed in your own 
names, but in the name of Christ: Col. iii. 17, 'And whatsoever ye 
do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.' Whatsoever 
we do, we are to do it by the authority of Christ, and through the 
assistance of Christ, and in the name of Christ, and for the sake and 
glory of Christ. Christ's name is so precious and powerful with the 
Father, that it will carry any suit, obtain any request at his hands. 
Jesus, in the China tongue, signifies the rising sun. When a man 
writes the name of Jesus upon his closet-prayers, then he shall be sure 
to speed. Though God will not give a man a drop, a sip, a crumb, a 
crust, for his own sake, yet for Jesus' sake he will give the best, the 
choicest, and the greatest blessings that heaven affords; that name is 
still mighty and powerful, prevalent and precious before the Lord. 
The prayers that were offered up with the incense upon the altar were 
pleasing, Rev. viii. 3; and came up with acceptance, ver. 4. Joseph's 
brethren were kindly used for Benjamin's sake. sirs ! all our duties 
and services are accepted of the Father, not for their own sakes, nor for 
our sakes, but for Christ's sake. There are no prayers that are either 
heard, owned, accepted, regarded, or rewarded, but such as Christ puts 
his hand to. If Christ doth not mingle his blood with our sacrifices, 
our services, they will be lost, and never ascend as incense before the 
Lord. No coin is current that hath not Caesar's stamp upon it; nor 
no prayers go current in heaven, that have not the stamp of Christ 
upon them. There is nothing more pleasing to our heavenly Father, 
than to use the mediation of his Son. Such shall be sure to find most 
favour, and to speed best in the court of heaven, who still present 
themselves before the Father with Christ in their arms. But, 

(11.) My eleventh and last advice and counsel is this, When you 
come out of your closets, narrowly watch what becomes of your pri- 
vate prayers. Look at what door, in what way, and by what hand the 



276 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

Lord shall please to give you an answer to the secret desires of your 
souls in a corner. It hath been the custom of the people of God, to 
look after their prayers, to see what success they have had, to observe 
what entertainment they have found in heaven : Ps. v. 3, * My voice 
shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord ; in the morning will I direct 
my prayer unto thee, and will look up.' In the words you may observe 
two things : first, David's posture in prayer ; secondly, his practice 
after prayer. First, His posture in prayer, * I will direct my prayer 
unto thee.' Secondly, His practice after prayer, ' And I will look up.' 
The prophet, in these words, makes use of two military words. First, 
he would not only pray, but marshal up his prayers, he would put 
them in battle-array; so much the Hebrew word gnarach imports. 
Secondly, when he had done this, then he would be as a spy upon his 
watch-tower, to see whether he prevailed, whether he got the day or 
no ; and so much the Hebrew word tsaphah imports. When David 
had set his prayers, his petitions, in rank and file, in good array, then 
he was resolved he would look abroad, he would look about him, to see 
at what door God would send in an answer of prayer. He is either a 
fool or a madman, he is either very weak or very wicked, that prays 
and prays, but never looks after his prayers ; that shoots many an arrow 
towards heaven, but never minds where his arrows alight : Ps. Ixxxv. 
8, ' I will hear what God the Lord will speak ; for he will speak peace 
imto his people, and to his saints.' If David would have God to hearken 
to his prayers, he must then hearken to what God will speak ; and 
upon this point it seems he was fully resolved. The prophet's prayer 
you have in the seven first verses of this psalm, and his gracious reso- 
lution you have in the eighth verse, ' I will hear what God the Lord 
will speak.' As if be had said, ' Certainly it will not be long before 
the Lord will give me a gracious answer, a seasonable and a suitable 
return to my present prayers :' Ps. cxxx. 1, 2, 5, 6, ' Out of the depths 
have I cried unto thee, O Lord : Lord, hear my voice, let thine ears be 
attentive to the voice of my supplications. I wait for the Lord, my 
soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the 
Lord, more than they that watch for the morning; I say, more than they 
that watch for the morning.' Those that watch abroad in dangerous 
times and tedious weather look frequently after peep of day. How 
doth the weary sentinel, that is wet with the rain of heaven or with the 
dew of the night, wait and watch, look and long, for the morning light. 
Now this was the frame and temper of David's spirit when he came off 
from praying ; he falls a- waiting for a gracious answer. Shall the hus- 
bandman wait for the precious fruits of the earth, and shall the mer- 
chantman wait for the return of his ships, and shall the wife wait for 
the return of her husband, that is gone a long journey? James v. 7, 8, 
and shall not a Christian wait for the return of his prayers ? Noah 
patiently waited for the return of the dove to the ark with an olive- 
branch in his mouth, so must you patiently wait for the return of your 
prayers. When children shoot their arrows, they never mind where 
they fall ; but when prudent archers shoot their arrows up into the 
air, they stand and watch where they fall. You must deal by your 
prayers as prudent archers do by their arrows : Hab. ii. 1, ' I will stand 
upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 277 

he will say unto me.' The prophet, in the former chapter, having been 
very earnest in his expostulations, and very fervent in his supplications, 
he gets now upon his watch-tower, to see what becomes of his prayers. 
He stands as a sentinel, and watches as vigilantly and as carefully as 
a spy, a scout, earnestly longing to hear and see the event, the issue, 
and success of his prayers. That Christian that in prayer hath one eye 
upon a divine precept, and another upon a gracious promise, that Chris- 
tian will be sure to look after his prayers. He that prays and waits, 
and Avaits and prays, shall be sure to speed ; he shall never fail of rich 
returns, Ps. xl. 1-4. He tliat can want as well as wait, and he that 
can be contented that God is glorified, though he be not gratified; he 
that dares not antedate God's promises, but patiently wait for the 
accomplishment of them, he may be confident that he shall have 
seasonable and suitable answers to all those pmyers that he hath 
posted away to heaven. Though God seldom comes at our time, yet 
he never fails to come at his own time : ' He that shall come, will come, 
and will not tarry,' Heb. x. 37. The mercies of God are not styled 
the swift, but the ' sure mercies of David.' He that makes as much 
conscience to look after his prayers as to pray, he shall shortly clap 
his hands for joy, and cry out with that blessed martyr, ' He is come, 
Austin, he is come, he is come.'* Certainly there is little worth in that 
man's heart, or in that man's prayers, who keeps up a trade of prayer, 
but never looks what becomes of his prayers. When you are in your 
closets, marshal your prayers ; see that every prayer keeps his place 
and ground ; and when you come out of your closets, then look up for 
an answer ; only take heed that you be not too hasty and hot with God. 
Though mercy in the pi-omise be yours, yet the time of giving it out 
is the Lord's ; and therefore you must wait as well as pray. 

And thus much by way of counsel and advice, for the better carrying 
on of closet prayer. 

I have now but one thing more to do before I shut up this discourse, 
and that is, to lay down some means, rules, or directions that may be 
of use to help you on in a faithful and conscientious discharge of this 
great duty, viz. closet-prayer. And therefore thus, 

(1.) First, As ever you would give up yourselves to private prayer. 
Take heed of an idle and slothful spirit. If Adam, in the state of 
innocency, must work and dress the garden, and if, after his fall, when 
he was monarch of all the world, he must yet labour, why should any 
be idle or slothful ? Idleness is a sin against the law of creation. God 
creating man to labour, the idle person violates this law of creation ; for 
by his idleness he casts off the authority of his Creator, who made him 
for labour. Idleness is a contradiction to the principles of our creation.* 
Man in innocency should have been freed from weariness, but not from 
employment; he was to dress the garden by divine appointment : 'And 
the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden, to 
dress it, and to keep it,' Gen. ii. 15. All weariness in labour, and all 
vexing, tiring, and tormenting labour, came in by the fall : ' In the 
sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,' Gen. iii. 19. The bread of idle- 
ness is neither sweet nor sure : ' An idle person shall suffer hunger,' 

' Mr Glover [Foxe] Acts and Mon. [tub nomine; also Clarke, as before.— G.] 
* August, de Gen. ad lit., lib. viii. cap. 8. 



278 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VI. 6. 

saith Solomon, Pro v. xix. 15. An idle life and an holy heart are far 
enough asunder. By doing nothing, saith the heathen man, men learn 
to do evil things. It is easy slipping out of an idle life into an evil 
and wicked life ; yea, an idle life is of itself evil, for man was made to 
be active, not to be idle. The Cyclops thought man's happiness did 
consist in nihil agendo, in doing nothing ; but no excellent thing can 
be the child of idleness. Idleness is a mother-sin, a breeding-sin ; it 
is pulvinar diaboli, the devil's cushion, on which he sits, and the devil's 
anvil, on which he frames very great and very many sins, Eph. iv. 28, 
2 Thes. iii. 10, 12. Look, as toads and serpents breed most in standing 
waters, so sin thrives most in idle persons. Idleness is that which pro- 
vokes the Lord to forsake men's bodies, and the devil to possess their souls. 

No man hath less means to preserve his body, and more temptations 
to infect his soul, than an idle person. Oh shake off sloth ! The 
sluggish Christian will be sleeping, or idling, or trifling, when he should 
be in his closet a-praying. Sloth is the green-sickness of the soul ; 
get it cured, or it will be your eternal bane. Of all devils, it is the 
idle devil that keeps men most out of their closets. There is nothing 
that gives the devil so much advantage against us as idleness. It was 
good counsel that Jerome gave to his friend, Facito aliquid operis, ut 
te semper diabolus inveniat oceupatum, that when the devil comes 
with a temptation, you may answer him you are not at leisure.^ 

It was the speech of Mr Greenham, sometimes^ a famous and painful 
preacher of this nation, that when the devil tempted a poor soul, she 
came to him for advice how she might resist the temptation, and he 
gave her this answer : ' Never be idle, but be always well employed, 
for in my own experience I have found it. When the devil came to 
tempt me, I told him that I was not at leisure to hearken to his temp- 
tations, and by this means I resisted all his assaults.' Idleness is the 
hour of temptation, and an idle person is the devil's tennis-ball, tossed 
by him at his pleasure. 

' He that labours,' said the old hermit, ' is tempted but by one devil, 
but he that is idle is assaulted by all.' Cupid complained that he could 
never fasten upon the Muses, because he could never find them idle. 
The fowler bends his bow and spreads his net for birds when they are 
set, not when they are upon the wing. So Satan shoots his most 
fiery darts at men, when they are most idle and slothful. And this the 
Sodomites found by woful experience, Ezek. xvi. 49, when God rained 
hell out of heaven upon them, both for their idleness, and for those other 
sins of theirs, which their idleness did expose them to. 

It was said of Rome, that during the time of their wars with Carthage 
and other enemies in Africa, they knew not what vice meant ; but no 
sooner had they got the conquest, but through idleness they came to 
ruin. Idleness is a sin, not only against the law of grace, but also against 
the light of nature. You cannot look any way but every creature checks 
and upbraids your idleness and sloth ; if you look up to the heavens, there 
you shall find all their glorious lights constant in their motions, ' The 
sun rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race,' Ps, xix. 5, civ. 23 ; the 
winds blow, the waters run, the earth brings forth her pleasant and de- 

* Jerome, Ep. 4. 

> Some time. Greenham 'a Works form a rich folio (1601). He died 1691. — G. 



Mat. YL 6] the privy key of heaven. 279 

lightful fruits, all the fish in the sea, fowls in the air, and beasts in the 
fields and on the mountains, have their motions and operations, all which 
call aloud upon man not to be idle, but active. Solomon sends the 
sluggard to the ant to learn industry, Prov. vi. 6. The ant is a very 
little creature, but exceeding laborious. Nature hath put an instinct 
into her to be very busy and active all the summer ; she is early and 
late at it, and will not lose an hour unless the weather hinder. And 
the prophet Jeremiah sends the Jews to school to learn to wait, and ob- 
serve of the stork, the turtle, the crane, and the swallow, Jer. viii. 7. 
And our Saviour sends us to the sparrows and lilies, to learn attendance 
upon providence, Mat. vi. 26, 28. And let me send you to the busy bee, 
to learn activity and industry ; though the bee be little in bulk, yet it is 
great in service ; she flies far, examines the fields, hedges, trees, orchards, 
gardens, and loads herself with honey and wax, and then returns to her 
hive. Now how should the activity of these creatures put the idle person 
to a blush. sirs ! man is the most noble creature, into whom God hath 
put principles of the greatest activity, as capable of the greatest and 
highest enjoyments ; and therefore idleness is a forgetting man's dignity, 
and a forsaking of that rank that God hath set him in, and a debasing 
of himself below the least and meanest creatures, who constantly in their 
order obedientially serve the law of their creation. Nay, if you look up 
to the blessed angels above you, you shall still find them active and 
serviceable ; ' are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister 
for them who shall be heirs of salvation V Heb. i. 14. And if you look 
down to the angels of darkness below you, oh how laborious and in- 
dustrious are they to destroy and damn your precious and immortal 
souls ! 1 Peter v. 8. 

For a close, remember that idleness is so great an evil, that it hath 
been condemned and severely punished by the very worst of men. 
Among the Egyptians, idleness was a capital crime. Among the Lucans,^ 
he that lent money to an idle person was to lose it. By Solon's law, 
idle persons were to suffer death ; and Seneca had rather be sick than 
idle. The Lacedasmonians called men to an account for their idle hours. 
Among the Corinthians, idle persons were delivered to the Camifex. 
Antoninus Pius, being emperor, caused the roofs and coverings of all such 
houses to be taken away, as were known to receive in idle people, affirm- 
ing that nothing was more uncomely, or absurd to be suffered, than 
such idle caterpillars and slow- worms to have their food and nourishment 
from that commonwealth, in the maintenance of which there was no 
supply from their industry and labour. All which should steel us and 
arm us against sloth and idleness. I have the longer insisted on this, 
because there is not a greater hindrance to closet prayer than sloth and 
idleness. Slothful and idle persons commonly lie so long a-bed, and 
spend so much precious time between the comb and the glass, and in 
eating, drinking sporting, and trifling, &c., that they can find no time 
for private prayer. Certainly such as had rather go sleeping to hell, 
than sweating to heaven, will never care much for closet-prayer. And 
therefore shun sloth and idleness, as you would shun a lion in the way, 
or poison .in your meat, or coals in your bosom, or else you will never 
6nd time to wait upon God in your closets. 

* Qu. ' Lucanians' ? — G. 



280 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VI. 6. 

(2.) Secondly, Take heed of spending too much of your precious time 
ahout circumstantials, about the little things of religion, as ' minty 
anise, and cummin,' Mat. xxiii. 23, or in searching into the circum- 
stances of worship, or in standing stoutly for this or that cere- 
Tuony, and in the mean while neglect the studying of the covenant 
of grace, or ahout inquiring what fruit that was that Adam ate in 
paradise, or in inquiring after the authors of such and such hooks, 
whose names God in his infinite wisdom hath concealed, or in inquir- 
ing what God did hefore the world was made. When one asked Austin 
that question, he answered, ' that he was preparing hell for such busy 
questionists as he was.' It was a saying of Luther, ' From a vain- 
glorious doctor, from a contentious pastor, and from unprofitable ques- 
tions, the good Lord deliver his church.' It is one of Satan's great 
designs to hinder men in the great and weighty duties of religion, by 
busying them most about the lowest and least matters of religion. 
Satan is never better pleased, than when he sees Christians puzzled and 
perplexed about those things in religion that are of no great moment 
or importance, Col. ii. 21. Such as negotiate and trade in religion more 
for a good name than a good life, for a good report than a good con- 
science, for to humour others than to honour God, &c., such will take 
no pleasure in closet-duties. Such as are more busied about ceremonies 
than substances, about the form of godliness than the power, 2 Tim. iii. 
5, such will never make it their business to be much with God in their 
closets, as is evident in the Scribes and Pharisees, Mat. vi. 1-6. Such 
as are more taken up with the outward dress and garb of religion, than 
they are with the spirit, power, and life of religion : such will never affect 
to drive a secret trade heavenwards, Luke xi. 34-40. There cannot be 
a surer nor a greater character of an hypocrite, than to make a great 
deal of stir about little things in religion, and in the mean while neglect 
the great and main things in religion. Such as these have all along in 
the Scripture discovered a strangeness, and a perfect carelessness as to 
closet duties. I never knew any man hot and zealous about circum- 
stantials, about the little things of religion, that was ever famous for 
closet prayer. But, 

(3.) Thirdly, Take heed of curiosity, and of spending too much of 
your precious time in searching into tJwse dark, abstruse, mysterious, 
cmd hidden truths and things of God and religion, that lie most 
remote from the understanding of the best and wisest of men. 
Curioaity is the spiritual adultery of the soul. Curiosity is a spiritual 
drunkenness ; for look, as the drunkard is never satisfied unless he see 
the bottom of the cup, be it never so deep, so those that are troubled 
with the itch of curiosity, will say they can never be satisfied till they 
come to the bottom of the most deep and profound things of God ; they 
love to pry into God's secrets, and to scan the mysteries of religion, by 
their weak, shallow reason, and to be wise above what is written. 
Curious searchers into the deep mysterious things of God will make all 
God's depths to be shallows, rather than they will be thought not able 
to fathom them by the short line of their own reason. Oh that men 
would once learn to be contentedly ignorant, where God would not 
have them knowing! Oh that men were once so humble, as to account 
it no disparagement to them, to acknowledge some depths in God, and 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 281 

in the blessed Scripture, which their shallow reason cannot fathom ! 
They are only a company of fools in folio, that affect to know more 
than God woidd have them. Did not Adam's tree of knowledge make 
him and his posterity mere fools ? He that goes to school to his own 
reason, hath a fool for his schoolmaster. The ready way to grow stark 
blmd is to be still prying and gazing upon the body of the sun : so 
the ready way to spiritual blindness is to be still prying into the most 
secret and hidden things of God, Deut. xxix. 29. Are there not many 
who, by prying long into the secrets of nature, are become arch-enemies 
to the grace of God ? Rom. ix. 20. Oh that we were wise to admire 
those deep mysteries which we cannot understand, and to adore those 
depths and counsels which we cannot reach, Rom. xi. 33. Oh let us 
check our curiosity in the things of God, and sit down satisfied and 
contented to resolve many of God's actions into some hidden causes 
which He secret in the abyss of his eternal knowledge and infallible will. 
Christ, when he was on earth, very frequently, severely, and sharply 
condemned curious inquirers, as is evident by the scriptures in the 
margin ;' and the great reason why our Saviour did so frequently 
check this humour of curiosity, was because the great indulgers of it 
were too frequent neglecters of the more great, necessary, and important 
points of religion- Curiosity is one of Satan's most dangerous engines, 
by which he keeps many souls out of their closets, yea, out of heaven. 
When many a poor soul begins in good earnest to look towards heaven, 
and to apply himself to closet duties, then Satan begins to bestir him- 
self, and to labour with all his might, so to busy the poor soul with vain 
inquiries, and curious speculations, and unprofitable curiosities, that 
the soul hath no time for closet prayer. Ah ! how well might it have 
been with many a man, had he but spent one quarter of that time in 
closet prayer, that he hath spent in curious inquiries after things that 
have not been fundamental to his happiness. 

The heathenish priests affected curiosity, they had their mythologies, 
and strange canting expressions of their imaginary inaccessible deities, 
to amaze and amuse their blind superstitious followers, and thereby to 
hold up their popish and apish idola>feries in greater veneration. Oh 
that there were none of this heathenish spirit among many in these 
days, who have their faces toward heaven ! Ah • how many are there 
that busy themselves more in searching after the reasons of the irre- 
coverableness of man's fall, than they do to recover themselves out of 
their fallen estate ! Ah, how many are there [that busy themselves 
more about the apostasy of the angels, than they do about securing 
their interest in Christ ! And what a deal of precious time have some 
spent in discovering the natures, distinctions, properties, and orders of 
angels.2 , 

That high-soaring, counterfeit Dionysius describes the hierachy of 
angels as exactly as if he had dwelt among them. He saith there are 
nine orders of them, which he grounds upon nine words, which are 
found partly in the Old Testament, and partly in the New; as seraphims, 

' John xxi. 22, Acts i. 6. T. 

* Peter Martyr saith, that to inqiiire of the angels accurately and SHbtilly, is maffit ad 
euriositatem nostram, quam ad talutem ; and he wisheth that the Bchoolinen in their knotty, 
thorny, and unprofitable discourses had observed this. 



282 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

cherubims, thrones, powers, hosts, dominions, principalities, archangels, 
and angels ; and at large he describes their several natures, distinctions, 
and properties, as that the first three orders are for immediate attend- 
ance on the Almighty, and the next three orders for the general govern- 
ment of the creatures, and the last three orders for the particular good 
of God's elect ; that the archangel surpasses the beauty of angelaten 
times, principalities surpass the archangels twenty times, and that 
powers surpass the principalities forty times, &c. How he came by 
this learning is not known, and yet this hierarchy in these nine several 
orders hath passed for current through many ages of the church. 

The Platonics were the first that divided the angels into three orders, 
as, some above heaven, called superccelestes ; others in heaven, called 
ccelestes ; and others under heaven, called suhcaelestes, and accordingly 
they assign them several offices. As, 

First, They above heaven, I mean this visible heaven, continually 
stand before God, as they say, praising, and lauding, and magnifying 
of his name. 

Secondly, They in heaven are there seated to move, and rule, and 
govern the stars. 

Thirdly, They under heaven are, some to rule kingdoms, others pro- 
vinces, others cities, others particular men. 

Several Christian writers, that have written on the hierarchy of 
angels, follow these opinions. Now, if we should take these surmises . 
for real truths, then it will follow, that the highest angels do not 
minister to the saints, but only and immediately to God himself, which 
is expressly contrary to several scriptures, as you may see by them in 
the margin among others.^ When I was upon the ministration of the 
blessed angels, I did then prove in several exercises, as some of you may 
remember, * that all the angels in heaven were commanded and 
commissionated by God to be serviceable and useful to the heirs of 
salvation. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister 
for them who shall be heirs of salvation ? ' The devil knows he is no 
loser, and the curious soul but a very little gainer, if he can but per- 
suade him to spend most of hig precious time in studying and poring 
upon the most dark, mysterious, and hidden things of God. He that 
affects to read the Revelation of John more than his plain epistles, or 
Daniel's prophecies more than David's Psalms, and is more busy about 
reconciling difficult scriptures than he is about mortifyipg of unruly 
lusts, or that is set more upon vain speculations than upon things that 
make mostfor edification, he is notthe man that is cut outfor closet-prayer. 
Such as affect sublime notions, obscure expressions, and are men of 
abstracted conceits, are but a company of wise fools, that will never 
take any delight to be with God i^ a corner. Had many men spent 
but half that time in secret prayei', that they have spent in seeking 
after the philosopher's stone, how happy might they have been ! Oh 
how holy, how happy, how heavenly, how humble, how wise, how 
knowing, might many men have been, had they spent but half that 
time in closet prayer, that they have spent in searching after those 
things that are hard to be understood ! 2 Peter iii. 16. But, . 

(4.) Fourthly, Take heed of engaging yourselves in a crowd of 
^ Jude 9 ; Luke i, 19, 26 ; Zech. iv. 10 ; Rev. v. 6 ; Heb. i. 14. 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 283 

worldly businesses. Many have so much to do on earth that they have 
no time to look up to heaven. As much earth puts out the fire, so much 
worldly business puts out the fire of heavenly affections. Look, as the 
earth swallowed up Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, Num. xxii. 32 ; so 
much worldly business swallows up so much precious time, that many 
men have no leisure to be with God in their closets. This business is 
to be done, and that business cannot be omitted, and the other neces- 
sary occasion must be attended, so that I have no leisure to step out of 
my shop into my closet, saith the earthly-minded man, Philip, iii. 19. 
Thus a crowd of worldly businesses crowds closet-prayer quite out of 
doors. Many drive so great a trade in their shops, that their private 
trade to heaven is quite laid by. There is nothing that hath kept men 
more from Christ and closet-prayer, than the shop, the exchange, the 
farm, and the oxen, &c., Luke xiv. 16-22. The stars which have least 
circuit are nearest the pole ; and men that are least perplexed with 
worldly businesses are commonly nearest to God, to Christ, to heaven, 
and so the fitter for closet-prayer. It is sad when men grasp so much 
business, that they can have no leisure for communion with God in a 
corner. The noise is such in a mill, as hinders all private intercourse 
between man and man ; and so a multitude of worldly businesses make 
such a noise, as that it hinders all private intercourse between God and the 
soul. If a man of much business should now and then slide into his closet, 
yet his head and his heart will be so filled and distracted with the thoughts 
of his employments, that God shall have little of him but his bodily 
presence, or, at most, but bodily exercise, which profits little, 1 Tim. 
iv. 8. If Christ blamed Martha, Luke x. 40-42, for the multitude of 
her domestical employments, though they were undertaken for the im- 
mediate service and entertainment of himself, because they hindered 
her in her soul-concernments, oh how will he one day blame all those 
who, by running themselves into a crowd of worldly businesses, do cut 
themselves off from all opportunities of pouring out their souls before 
him in secret. But, 

(5.) Fifthly, Take heed of secret sins. There is no greater hindrance 
to secret prayer in all the world than secret sins ; and therefore stand 
upon your watch, and arm yourselves with all your might against them. 
There is an antipathy betwixt secret sinning and secret praying, partly 
from guilt, which makes the soul shy of coming under God's secret 
eye ; and partly from those fears, doubts, disputes, and disorders, that 
secret sins raise in the heart. Light is not more opposite to dark- 
ness, Christ to Belial, nor heaven to hell, than secret prayer is to secret 
sins ; and therefore, whatever you do, look that you keep clear of secret 
sins. To that purpose consider these four things : 

[1.] First, T/uit God is privy to our most secret sins.^ His eye is 
as much upon secret sins, as it is upon open sins : Ps. xc. 8, * Thou hast 
set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy counte- 
nance.' God hath an eye upon our inmost evils, he seeth all that is 
done in the dark : Jer. xxiii. 24, ' Can any hide himself in secret places 
that I shall not see him ? saith the Lord : do not I fill heaven and 
earth ? saith the Lord.' Prov. xv, 3, * The eyes of the Lord are in every 

^ Ps. cxxxix. 1-4 ; Jer. xiii. 27, and xxix. 23 ; Ps. xxxix. 1 ; 1 Kings xx. 39 ; Job 
X. 12. 



SS^ THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

place, beholding the evil and the good.' To say that God doth not see 
the most secret sins of the children of men, is not only derogatory to 
his omniscience, but also to his mercy ; for how can God pardon those 
sins, which he doth not see to be sins ? There is no cloud, nor curtain, 
nor moment of darkness, that can stand betwixt the eyes of God and 
the ways of men : Pro v. v. 21, ' The ways of men are before the eyes of 
the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings.' In this scripture Solomon 
mainly speaks of the ways of the adulterer, which usually are plotted 
with the most cunning secresy ; yet God'seeth all those ways. Look, 
as no boldness can exempt the adulterer from the justice of God, so no 
secresy can hide him from the eye of God. Though men labour to 
hide their ways from others, and from themselves, yet it is but labour 
in vain to endeavour to hide them from God. Men that labour to 
hide God from themselves, can never hide themselves from God. 

I have read that Paphnutius converted Thais and Ephron, two famous 
strumpets, from un cleanness, only with this argument, ' That God seeth 
all things in the dark, when the doors are fast, the windows shut, and 
the curtains drawn.'' Heb. iv. 13, ' Neither is there any creature that 
is not manifest in his sight : but all things are naked and opened (ana- 
tomised) even to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.' It is an 
allusion to the priests under the law, who, when they killed a beast, all 
things that were within the beast were laid open and naked before the 
priest, that he might see what was sound and what was corrupted. 
Though evil be done out of the eye of all the world, yet it is naked and 
manifest in his sight with whom we have to do. 

Those sins which lie closest and are most secretly lurking in the 
heart, are as obvious and odious to God as those that are most fairly 
written upon a man's forehead. God is '^ravoip&aX/iog, all eye ; so that 
he sees all, the most secret turnings and windings of our hearts. Our 
most secret sins are as plainly seen by him, as any thing can be by 
us at noonday : Ps. cxxxix. 11, 12, ' If I say. Surely the darkness shall 
cover me ; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness 
hideth not from thee ; but the night shineth as the day : the darkness 
and the light are both alike to thee.' It is not the thickest clouds that 
can bar out his observance, whose eyes fill heaven and earth. What is 
the curtain, or the darkest night, or the double lock, oi- the secret cham- 
ber, to him who clearly observes all things in a perfect nakedness. God 
hath an eye upon the most inward intentions of the heart, and the mbst 
subtle motions of the spirit. Those philosophers were out, that held 
the eye and ear of God descended no lower than the heavens. Certainly 
there is not a creature, not a thought, not a thing, but lies open to the 
all-seeing eye of God. The Lord knows our secret sinnings as exactly 
as our visible sinnings : Ps. xliv. 21, ' He knoweth the secrets of our 
hearts.' Would not a malefactor speak truly at the bar, did he know, 
did he believe that the judge had windows that did look into his 
breast? 

Athenodorus, a heathen, could say, that all men ought to be careful 
in the actions of their life, because God was everywhere, and beheld all 
that was done. 

Zeno, a wise heathen, aflfirmed that God beheld even the thoughts. 
^ See Index foi other refereuces to this. — G. 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 285 

It was an excellent saying of Ambrose, 'If thou canst not hide thyself 
from the sun, which is God's minister of light, how impossible will it be 
to hide thyself from him, whose eyes are ten thousand times brighter 
than the sun.'^ Though a sinner may baffle his conscience, yet he can- 
not baffle the eye of God's omnisciency. Oh ! that poor souls would 
remember, that as they are never out of the reach of God's hand, so 
they are never from under the view of his eye. God is totus oeulus, 
all eye. Jer. xvi. 17, ' For mine eyes are upon all their ways ; they are 
not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes.' Job 
xxxiv. 21, 22, ' For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all 
his goings. There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the 
workers of iniquity may hide themselves.' Jer. xxxii. 1 9, ' For thine 
eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men, to give every one 
according to his ways, and the fruit of his doings.' You know what 
Ahasuerus, that great monarch, said concerning Haman, when coming 
in he found him cast upon the queen's bed, on which she sat, ' What,' 
saith he, ' will he force the queen before me in the house V Esth. vii. 8. 
There was the killing emphasis in the words before me; 'will he force 
the queen before me t what, will he dare to commit such villany, and 
I stand and look on ? O sirs ! to sin in the sight of God, to do wickedly 
under the eye of God, is a thing that he looks upon as the greatest affront, 
and as the highest indignity that can possibly be done unto him. What, 
saith he, wilt thou be drunk before me ? Wilt thou swear and blaspheme 
before me ? Wilt thou be wanton and unclean before me ? Wilt thou be 
unjust and unrighteous undermine eye? Wilt thou profane mySabbaths, 
and pollute my ordinances before my face 1 Wilt thou despise and per- 
secute my servants in my presence ? &c. This, then, is the killing 
aggravation of all sin, that it is doue before the face of God, that it is 
committed in the royal presence of the King of kings ; whereas the 
very consideration of God's omnipresence should bravely arm us against 
sin and Satan ; the consideration of his aU-seeing eye should make us 
shun all occasions of sin, and make us shy of all appearances of sin. Shall 
the eye of the master keep the scholar from blotting his copy ? Shall 
the eye of the judge keep the malefactor from picking and stealing ? 
Shall the eye of the master keep the servant from idling and trifling ? 
Shall the eye of the father keep the child from wandering and gad- 
ding ? Shall the eye of the husband keep the wife from extravagancies 
and indecencies ? Shall the sharp eye of wise Cato, or the quick eye of a 
near neighbour, or the severe eye of a bosom-friend, keep thee from many 
enormities and vanities ? And shall not the strict, the pure, the jea- 
lous eye of an all-seeing God, keep thee from sinning in the secret cham- 
ber, when all curtains are drawn, doors bolted, and every one in the 
house a-bed or abroad but thee and thy Delilah ? Oh ! what dreadful 
atheism is bound up in that man's heart, who is more afraid of the eye 
of his father, his pastor, his child, his servant, than he is of the eye, 
the presence of the eternal God ? Oh ! that all whom this concerns, 
would take such serious notice of it, as to judge themselves severely for 
it, as to mourn bitterly over it, as to strive mightily in prayer with God 
both for the pardon of it, and for power against it. 

The apostle sadly complains of some in his time who wallowed in 
* Ambrose, Offie. lib. i- cap. xiv. 



286 THE PRIVT KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VI. 6. 

secret sins. Eph. v. 12, * For it is a shame even to speak of those things 
which are done of them in secret' He speaks of such as lived in secret 
fornications and uncleanness. There were many that had put on 
a form of godliness, who yet did allow themselves in the secret act- 
ings of abominable wickedness and filthiness, as if there were no God 
to behold them, nor conscience to accuse them, nor judgment-day to 
arraign them, nor justice to condemn them, nor hell to torment them. 
Oh ! how infinitely odious must they be in the eyes of a holy God, who 
can highly court and compliment him in public, and yet are so bold as 
to provoke him to his face in private. These are like those whores, who 
pretend a great deal of affection and respect to their husbands abroad, 
and yet at home will play the harlots before their husbands' eyes. 

Such as perform religious duties only to cloak and colour over their 
secret filthinesses, their secret wickednesses ; such as pretend to pay their 
vows, and yet wait for the twilight. Pro v. vii. 13-15, Job xxiv. 15 ; such 
as commit wickedness in a comer, and yet with the harlot wipe their 
mouths, and say. What have we done ? such shall at last find the 
chambers, the stones out of the wall, the beam out of the timber, the 
seats they sit on, and the beds they lie on, to witness against all their 
wanton dalliances, and lascivious carriages in secret, Hab, ii. 11. Heb. 
xiii. 4, * Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.' He will sen- 
tence them himself ; and why ? but because such sinners carry it so 
closely and craftily, that oftentimes none but God can find them out. 
Magistrates often neglect the punishing of such sinners, when their 
secret wickedness is made known ; and therefore God himself will sit in 
judgment upon them. Though they may escape the eyes of men, yet 
they shall never escape the judgment of God. Heart iniquities fall not 
under any human sentence. Usually whoremongers and adulterers are 
marvellous close, and secret and'subtle to conceal their abominable filthi- 
ness ; therefore the harlot is said to be subtle of heart, Prov. vii. 10. 
The Hebrew by Rabbi Solomon^ is translated w-itm^o corrfe, and having 
her heart fenced ; * For,' saith he, * as a city is environed with fortifica- 
tions, so her heart is fortified round about with subtilty.' Or else it may 
be rendered occlusa corde, ' fast shut up in the heart, even as close as 
a besieged city,' that is, ' most secret in the subtilty of her heart, how 
open soever she be in the boldness of her outward carriage.' So the 
prophet Agur reckoneth the way of a man ^nth a maid, and the way of 
an adulterous woman, among those things which neither himself nor 
any other man was possibly able to discover and find out, and compares 
it to the way of three things, which no wit nor industry of man is able 
to descry ; but yet God seeth all, and will bring them to the bar for all, 
Prov. XXX. 19, 20. But, 

[2.] Secondly, Consider that secret sins shall be revealed.^ The 
most hidden works of darkness shall be openly manifested; for though 
the actings of sin be in the dark, yet the judgings of sin shall be in the 
light ; Luke viii. 1 7, ' For nothing is secret that shall not be made 

• Eab. Sol. in hunc vers. 

* In my treatise called ' Apples of Gold,' &c., I have proved by many arguments that 
the sins of the saints shall not be brought into the judgment of discussion and discovery 
in the great day, pp. 155 to 172, and therefore understand this second particular of such 
who live and die in their secret sins without repentance and faith in the blood of Christ. 

Apples of Gold,' as contained in Vol. I. — G.] 



Mat. VI. 6.] the privy key of heaven. 287 

manifest; neither an3rthing hid, that shall not be known, and come 
abroad.* The slanders of the Jews concerning the magical arts of 
Christ and his apostles, the horrible lies of the pagans concerning the 
incestuous copulations of the Christians, and their drinking man's 
blood, were in time discovered what they were : Eccles. xii. 14, ' God 
shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether 
it be good or whether it be evil.' Mark, he doth not say some work, 
but evet^ work ; and not only works, but secrets ; and not only secrets, 
but every secret ; and not only secret good things but evil too ; whether 
good works or ill works, whether secret or open, all must be brought 
to judgment. The books of God's omniscience, and man's conscience, 
shall then be opened, and then secret sins shall be as legible in thy 
forehead, as if they were written with the most glittering sun-beams 
upon a wall of crystal. All men's secret sins are printed in heaven, 
and God will at last read them aloud in the ears of all the world : 
1 Cor. iv. 5, ' Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who 
both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make 
manifest the counsels of the heart.' Look, as there are a world of flies 
and motes in the air, which we never see till the sun shines ; so there 
are many thousand thousands of proud thoughts, and unclean thoughts, 
and worldly thoughts, and malicious thoughts, and envious thoughts, 
and bloody thoughts, &c., which the world sees not, knows not; but in 
the great day, when the counsels of all hearts shall be manifest, then 
all shall out, then all shall appear, both to the upper and the lower 
world. In the great day all masks, vizards, and hoods shall be pulled 
off, and then all shall out; all that ever thou hast done in the secret 
chamber, in the dark corner, shall be made known to men and angels, 
yea, to the whole court of heaven, and to all the world beside. Rom. ii. 
16, 'In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus 
Christ.' In this great day, God will judge not only our words but our 
works, not only our open works, but also our secret works and way.s. 
When Jehoiakim was dead, there was found the characters, supereti- 
tious marks, and prints of his sorcery upon his body, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 8 ; 
which shews how deeply idolatry was rooted in his heart, seeing he 
bare the marks in his flesh during his life. He being a king bore it 
out bravely, and kept all close ; but when he was dead, then all came 
out, then the marks of his abominable idolatry appeared upon his 
body. Though sinners, though the greatest of sinners, may hide and 
keep close their horrid abominations for a time, yet there will come a 
time when all shall out, when all their secret marks and secret abomi- 
nations shall be obvious to all the world. 

But sinners may be ready to object and say, ' Let us but alone in our 
secret sins till that day, and then we shall do well enough.' And there- 
fore in the, 

[3.] Third place, consider. That God many times doth, even in this 
life, discover and make known to the world men's secret sins, Isa. 
xli. 21-23. 

God loves to act suitable to his own names. Now, to be a revealer 
of secrets, is one of his names, Dan. ii. 47; and accordingly, even in 
thi^ world, he often brings to light the most hidden things of darkness. 
Of all the glorious attributes of God, there is none that suffers so deeply 



288 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

by secret sins, as the attribute of his omniscience ; and therefore in this 
world God often stands up to vindicate the honour of that attribute, 
by unmasking of sinners, and by bringing to the light all those secret 
paths and ways of wickedness, wherein they have long walked undis- 
covered. It was for the honour of this blessed attribute of God, that 
the secret-plotted sin of Ananias and Sapphira, Acts v. 1-12, was so 
openly discovered; 'And great fear came upon all the church, and 
upon as many as heard these things.' Joseph's brethren for a long 
time hid their malice, their craft, their cruelty, their envy, their 
treachery, in selling their brother into Egypt ; but at last by amazing 
and amusing* providences, all was brought to light. Gen. xlii. 21, 22 ; 
Chap. 1. 15-22. Conscience, that for a time may seem to be asleep, 
yet will in time awake, and make the sinner know, that he is as faith- 
ful in recording, as he is fearful in accusing; and this Joseph's brethren 
found by sad experience. So Gehazi, he sins secretly, he lies fearfully, 
and after all he defends it stoutly; but at last all comes out, and instead 
of being clothed richly, he and his posterity was clothed with a 
leprosy for ever; and instead of two changes of garments, God hangs 
them up in chains, as a monument of his wrath to all generations, 
2 Kings V. 20, seq. So Achan secretly and sacrilegiously steals a goodly 
Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge 
of gold of fifty shekels' weight, and hides them in the earth in the 
midst of his tent, and by reason of this, Israel flies before their enemies; 
but at last Achan is taken, and all comes out, and his golden wedge 
proved a wedge to cleave him, and his Babylonish garment a garment 
to shroud him. Joshua makes a bonfire of all that he had secretly 
and sinfully stolen, and burns him, and his children, and all that he 
had, in it. Oh how openly, how severely doth God sometimes punish 
men for their most secret iniquity ! The same you may see in that 
great instance of David ; 2 Sam. xii. 9-1 2, ' Wherefore hast thou 
despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight ? thou 
hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword' (this was done in a secret 
letter), ' and hast taken his wife to be thy wife. Now, therefore, the 
sword shall never depart from thy house, because thou hast despised 
me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. Thus 
saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine 
own house, and I will take thy wives before thy eyes and give them to 
thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of the sun. 
For thou didst it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and 
before the sun.' 2 Sam. xvi. 22. David was very studious and very 
industrious to hide his sin, and to save his credit; but tlie covering 
made of Uriah's blood was too short, and too narrow to hide his folly 
with Bathsheba, and therefore when he had done all he could, his 
sin was tossed like a ball, from man to man, through court, city, and 
country. 

I have read of one Parthenius, an homicide, treasurer to Theodobert 
king of France, who, having traitorously slain an especial friend of his 
called Ausonius, with his wife Papianillae, when no man suspected or 
accused him thereof, he detected and accused himself after this strange 

' See Glossary for other examples of this peculiar use of 'amuse:' common to con- 
temporary literature. — G. 



I 



Mat. VI. 6.] the pbivy key of heaven. 289 

manner : as he slept in his bed, suddenly he roared out most pitifully, 
crying for help, or else he perished ; and being demanded what he ailed, 
he, half asleep, answered, ' That his friend Ausonius and his wife, whom 
he had slain long ago, summoned him to judgment before God.' Upon 
which confession he was apprehended ; and, after due examination, 
stoned to death.' Thus the terrors and. horrors of his own conscience 
discovers that secret wickedness which none could prove against him. 

I have read^ how that Mahomet the great Turk had with great rewards 
procured two Turks to undertake to kill Scanderbeg. These traitors 
came to Scanderbeg, making such a shx)w of the detestation both of 
Mahomet's tyrannical government and vain superstition, that they were 
both by Scanderbeg and others reputed to be indeed the men they de- 
sired to be accounted ; and so after they had learned the principles of 
the Christian religion, they were both, by their own desire, baptized. 
Soon after, by a providence, it so fell out that these two traitors fell at 
variance betwixt themselves, by which means the plot came to be dis- 
covered ; and after due examination and confession of the fact, they 
were presently condemned and executed. 

Conscience is God's spy in the bosom.^ Conscience, as a scribe, a 
register, sits in the closet of your hearts, with pen in hand, and makes 
a diurnal of all your secret ways and secret crimes, which are above the 
cognizance of men. Conscience sets down the time when, the place 
where, the manner how, and the persons with whom such and such 
secret wickednesses have been committed ; and that so clear and evi- 
dent, that, go where you will, and do what you can, the characters of 
them shall never be cancelled or razed out till God appear in judgment. 
Let a man sin in the closest retirement that human policy can contrive, 
let him take all the ways he can to hide his sins, to cloak and cover his 
sin, as Adam did, yet conscience will so play the judge, that it will bring 
in the evidence, produce the law, urge the penalty, and pass the sen- 
tence of condemnation upon him. There is many a man, who makes a 
fair profession, and who hath a great name in the world, who yet is 
auTOTiarax^iTog, self-condemned, for those secret sins which are not obvious 
to the eyes of man, nor punishable by the hands of men ; yea, many 
times in this life God raiseth such a hell of horror and terror in many 
men's consciences, by reason of their secret sins, that they can have no 
rest nor quiet, neither at bed nor at board, neither lying down nor rising 
up. Fain would they conceal their sins, unwilling they are that the 
world should know how vile they have been in secret ; but conscience 
being upon the rack, and still a-gnawing, accusing, and condemning of 
them, they can hold no longer. Now all must out ; and now those sins 
that were most secret and concealed, come to be published upon the 
house-top. 

Some that have been under anguish of conscience, others that have 
been smitten with a frenzy, and many in their very sleep, have been 

* Beard's ' Theatre of God's Judgments :' Wanley, as before, lib. ii. cap, x. — G. 

« [Knolles'] Turk. Hist. fol. 400. 

3 Conscience, saith Philo, is the little consistory of the soul. Conscience is mille testeg, 
a thousand witnesses, for or against a man. Conscience is a court of record, and whatso- 
ever it sees it writes down ; and conscience is always as quick in writing as the sinner 
can be in sinning. The very heathen could say that conscience was a god to every man. 
VOL. II. T 



290 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. [MaT. VI. 6. 

often the blazers and proclaimers of their own secret filthiness and 
wickedness. In those cases God hath made many a secret sinner ciy 
out with the leper, ' Unclean, unclean,* Lev. xiii. 45 ; and with Judas, 
before all present, ' I have sinned, I have sinned,' Mat. xxvii. 4. Many 
times in this life God doth very strangely and wonderfully discover 
those secret works of darkness in which persons have lived long un- 
discovered. 

A Pythagorean bought a pair of shoes upon trust ; the shoemaker 
dies, he is glad, thinks them gained ; but a while after his conscience 
flies upon him, and becomes a continual chider and tormentor of him. 
He hereupon repairs to the house of the dead, casts in his money with 
these words, * There, take thy due ; thou livest to me, though dead to 
all besides.' But, 

[4.] Fourthly^ Consider that secret sins are in some respects more 
dangerous than open sins. Many a man bleeds to death inwardly, 
and no man perceives it. The more inward and secret the disease is, 
the more the man is in danger to lose his life. There are no fevers so 
dangerous as those that prey upon the spirits and inward parts ; so there 
are no sins so dangerous and pernicious to the souls of men as those 
that are most inward and secret. Secret sins often reign in the souls of 
men most powerfully when least apparently. 

First, Consider that he that sins secretly deprives himself of those 
helps an/l remedies which, by a divine blessing, might arm him 
against sin, yea, make him victorious over sin; to wit, the prayers, 
counsels, reproofs, examples, and encouragements of friends, relations, 
&c. A man's house may be on fire, but whilst it is all inward, help 
comes not in ; but when the fire flames out, when it catcheth the out- 
side of the house, then help runs in, then help on all hands is ready. 
He that sins in secret debars himself of all public remedy, and takes great 
pains to damn his soul in a comer, and to go to hell in the dark. But, 

Secondly, Secret sins will make way for public sins. He that makes 
no conscience of sinning in the secret chamber, will ere long, with Ab- 
salom, be ready to spread a tent upon the top of the house, and to go 
in to his concubines in the sight of all Israel, 2 Sam. xii. 11. Such as 
have made no conscience of stealing a few pins or pence or a few shil- 
lings in private, have in time come to be so bold as to take a purse on 
the road at high noon. The cockatrice must be crushed in the egg, 
else it will soon become a serpent. The very thought of sin, if not* 
thought on, will break forth into action, action into custom, custom into 
habit, and then both body and soul are irrecoverably lost to all eternity. 

If Satan can but wound our heel, as the poets feign of Achilles, he 
will make a hard shift but he will send death from the heel to the heart. 
If this subtle serpent can but wriggle in his tail by an ill thought, he 
will soon get in his head by a worse action. Hence it is that Christ 
calls hatred murder, and a wanton eye adultery. Secret hatred often 
issues in open murder, and secret wanton glances of the eye do often 
issue in visible adultery. If Amnon be sick with the sinful conceptions 
of incestuous lust, how will his soul be in pain and travail till he hath 
brought forth ! And how many are there that in secret have taken 
now and then but one cup more than enough, who now may be seen at 

» Qu. 'but'?— Ed. 



Mat. YI 6.] the privy key of heaven. 291 

high noon reeling against every post. Look, as secret diseases in the 
body, if not cured, will in time openly break forth, so secret sins in the 
soul, if not pardoned and purged, will in time be openly revealed. 
Govetousness was Judas his secret sin ; and no sooner doth an occasion 
or a temptation present itself, but he is very ready and forward to 
betray and sell his Lord and Master for thirty pieces of silver before all 
the world : ' Lust having conceived, brings forth sin,' James i. 15 ; and 
that thus, first, sin hath its conception, and that is delight ; and then 
its formation, and that is design ; and then its birth, and that is action ; 
and then its growth, and that is custom ; and then its end, and that is 
damnation. But, 

Thirdly, Secret sinning puts far Tnore respect and fear upon men 
than upon God. Thou wilt be unjust in secret, and wanton in secret, 
and unclean in secret, and treacherous in secret, &c., and why, but be- 
cause thou art afraid that such or such men should know it, or that 
such and such friends should know it, or that such and such relations 
should know it ? Ah! poor wretch, art thou afraid of the eye of a man, 
of a man that shall die, and of the son of man, which shall be made as 
grass ? Isa. li. 12, and yet not tremble under his eye, ' whose eyes are 
as a flame of fire, sharp and terrible, such as pierce into the inward 
parts V Rev. i. 14, Heb. iv. 13. Ah ! how full of atheism is that man's 
heart, that tacitly saith, ' If my sins be but hid from the eyes of the 
world, I do not care though the Lord knows them, though the Lord 
strictly observes them, though the Lord sets a mark, a memorandum 
upon them.' What is this, O man, but to brave it out with God, and 
to tempt him, and provoke him to his very face, * who is light, and in 
whom there is no darkness at all'? 1 John i. 5, 6. Ah ! sinner, sinner, 
can man damn thee 1 can man disinherit thee ? can man fill thy con- 
science with horrors and terrors ? can man make thy life a very hell ? 
can man bar the gates of glory against thee ? can man speak thee into 
the grave by a word of his mouth ? and after all, can man cast thee 
into endless, easeless, and remediless torments ? Oh no ! Can God do 
all this ? Oh yes ! Why, then, doth not thy heart stand more in awe 
of the eye of the great God, than it doth of the eye of a poor, weak, 
mortal man? ' 

I have insisted the longer on this particular, because there is not 
any one thing in all the world that doth more hinder secret communion 
with God and secret prayer, than secret sins. And oh that you would 
all make it your great business to watch against secret sins, and to pray 
against secret sins, and to mourn over secret sins, and deeply to judge 
and condemn yourselves for secret sins, and carefully and conscien- 
tiously to shun and avoid all occasions and provocations that may be as 
fuel to secret sins. 

Certainly there are no men or women that are so sincere and serious 
in closet-prayer, or that are so frequent, so fervent, so constant in closet- 
prayer, or that are so delightful, so resolute, so undaunted, or so un- 
wearied in closet- prayer, as those that keep themselves most clear and 
free from secret sins. 

For a close, remember this, — that though secret sins are in some 
respects more dangerous than other sins are, yet in three respects they 
are not so bad nor so dangerous as other sins are. 



292 THE PRIVY KEY OF HEAVEN. fM^T. VI. 6. 

First, In that they do not so scandalise religion as open sins do. 

Secondly, In that they do not shame, grieve, and wound the hearts 
of the saints as open sins do. 

Thirdly, In that they are not so infectious to others, nor such pro- 
vocations to others to sin against the Lord as open sins are. 

And thus you may see what those things are that you must carefully 
take heed of, as ever you would addict yourselves to closet-prayer. 

And as you must take heed of these five things, so there are several 
other things that you must carefully and conscientiously apply your- 
selves to, as ever you would be found faithful and constant in this great 
duty, viz. closet'prayer. 

Now they are these : 

[1.] First, Lament greatly and mourn bitterly over the neglect of 
this choice duty. He that doth not make conscience of mourning over 
the neglect of this duty, will never make conscience of performing this 
duty. Oh that your heads were waters, and your eyes a fountain of 
tears, that you might weep day and night for the great neglect of closet- 
prayer, Jer. ix. 1. He that mourns most for the neglect of this duty, 
will be found most in the practice of this duty. He that makes most 
conscience to accuse, arraign, and condemn himself for neglecting closet- 
prayer, he will make most conscience of giving himself up to closet- 
prayer. It is said of Adam that he turned his face towards the garden 
of Eden, and from his heart bitterly lamented his great fall. Oh that 
you would turn your faces towards your closets, and bitterly lament 
your rare going into them. But, 

[2.] Secondly, Hahituaie yourselves, accustom yourselves, to closet- 
prayer. Make private prayer your constant trade. Frequency begets 
familiarity, and familiarity confidence. We can go freely and boldly 
into that friend's house whom we often visit. What we are habituated 
to we do with ease and delight. A man that is habituated or accus- 
tomed to write, to read, to ride, to run, or to play on this or that musical 
instrument, &c,, he doth it all with delight and ease ; and so a man that 
doth habituate himself to closet-prayer, he will manage it with delight 
and ease. But, 

[3.] Thirdly, Keep a diaiv/ of all your closet-experiences, Deut. viL 
18, 19 ; Ps. Ixvi. 12. Oh carefully record and book down all your closet 
mercies ! oh be often in reading over your closet experiences, and be 
often in meditating and in pondering upon your closet experiences ! 
There is no way like this, to inflame your love to closet-prayer, and to 
engage your hearts in this secret trade of private prayer. 

Oh remember that at such a time you went into your closets with 
hard hearts, and dry eyes ; but before you came out of your closets, ah 
how sweetly, how evangelically, how powerfully were you melted, and 
humbled before the Lord ! Ps. vi. 6, xxxix, 12, Ivi. 8. Oh remember 
how that at another time you went into your closets clouded and be- 
nighted, but came out of your closets with as glorious a shine of God 
upon your souls, as Moses had upon his face, when he came down from 
the mount from communing with God ! Exod, xxxiv. 28, 29. Oh re- 
member how often you have gone into your closets with cold, frozen 
spirits, but before you came out of your closets what a fire hath God kin- 
died in your souls, what a spirit of burning have you found in your hearts ! 



Mat. VL 6.] the privy key of heaven. 293 

jjuke xxiv. 31, 32, Isa. iv. 4. Oh remember how often you have gone 
into your closets straitened and shut up, but before you have come out, 
how have your souls been like the chariots of Aminadab ! Cant. vi. 12, 
Oh remember what power God hath given you against corruptions in 
your closets, and what strength God hath given you against temptations 
in your closets ! Oh remember the sweet discoveries of divine love 
that you have had when in your closets ! Oh remember the secret visits, 
the secret kisses, the secret embraces, the secret whispers, the secret love- 
tokens that Christ hath given you in your closets ! Oh seriously ponder 
upon these things, and then closet duties will be sweet unto you ! 

It was a sweet saying of Bernard, ' O saint, knowest thou not that 
thy husband Christ is bashful, and will not be familiar in company ; 
retire thyself by meditation into thy closet, or into the fields, and there 
thou shalt have Christ's embraces," Cant. viii. 11, 12. Meditatio nutrix 
orationis, meditation is the nurse of prayer.* Oh the more any man 
meditates upon his closet-experiences, the more he shall find his heart 
engaged to closet duties ; the more you ponder upon closet experiences, 
the sweeter will closet-experiences be to your souls ; and the sweeter 
closet-experiences are to your souls, the more your souls will delight 
to be with God in your closets. 

Pliny tells u& of one Messala Corvinus, whose memory was so bad, 
that he forgot his own name.' And I am afraid that many of your 
memories are so bad, that you forget your closet-mercies, your closet- 
experiences. 

I have read of such a pestilential disease once at Athens, as took away 
the memories of those that were infected with it, so that they forgot 
their own names. Oh that I had not cause to fear that some pestilen- 
tial disease or other, hath so taken away the memories of many, that 
they have quite forgot their closet-experiences. Well, friends, remember 
this, though stony hearts are bad, yet iron memories are good ; and oh 
that you would all labour after iron memories, that so you may remem- 
ber and ponder upon your closet-experiences. I have read of the 
heathens, how they made use of white and black stones, for these two 
ends : first, they gave them to persons at their ari'aignment before the 
judges ; if they were condemned to death, they gave him a black stone, 
but if absolved and set free, a white stone. To which custom the Holy 
Ghost seems to allude in that Rev. ii. 17, 'To him that overcometh will 
I give a white stone.' A second use of those stones was this, that by 
them they might keep an account of all the good days or evil days they 
had met withal in their lives. Hence Giacopo Senzaro having been 
long in love, and much crossed about his match, he filled a pot full of 
black stones, putting only one white stone among them, and being asked 
the. reason, answered, ' There will come one white day,' meaning his 
marriage day, ' which will make amends for all my black days.' 

Ah, friends ! how often hath God given you the white stone in your 
closets ! Certainly you have had more white stones than black stones : 
your closet mercies and experiences have been more than your public 
crosses and miseries. sirs ! did you but reckon your good days ac- 
cording to the white stones you have had in your closets, it would make 
yoii more in love with closet-prayer than ever. But, 

' Serm. on Cantic— G. ' Gerson. ' Lib. vii. cap. 24. {sub memoriSL — G.] 



294 THE PRIVr KEY OF HEAVEN. [MAT. VI. 6. 

[4.] Foitrthly, Be sure that you do mot spend so much of your pre- 
cious time in public duties and ordinances, as that you can spare 
none for private duties, for secret services. Though Pharaoh's kine ate 
up one another, yet our duties must not eat up one another, Gen. xli. 4. 
Public duties must not eat up family duties, nor family duties must not 
eat up public duties, nor neither of them must not eat up closet duties. 
The wisdom of a Christian doth most eminently sparkle and shine, in 
giving every duty its proper time and place ; I was going to say, that 
either he Avas no Christian, or at least no excellent Christian, that is all 
eye to read, or all ear to hear, or all tongue to speak, or all knee to bow, 
to kneel, to pray, Eccles. viii. 5, Ah ! how many are there that spend 
so much time in hearing of this man and that, and in running up and 
down from meeting to meeting, that they have no time to meet with 
God in their closets. O sirs ! your duties are never so amiable and 
lovely, they are never so orient and beautiful, as when they are season- 
ably and orderly performed. 

Oh how wise are the men of this world, so to order all their civil affairs, 
that no one business shall interfere with another. They set apart for 
each business a convenient proportion of time ; they allot an hour for 
one business, two for another, three for another, &c. Oh that we were 
as wise for our souls, as wise for eternity, as they are for this world. Oh 
that our hearts would so consult with our heads, that we may never want 
a convenient time to seek God in a corner ! That devil that loves to set 
one man against another, and one nation against another, and one 
Christian against another, that devil loves to set one ordinance against 
another, and one duty against another. Hence it is that on the one 
hand he works some to cry up public prayers, in opposition to secret 
prayer ; and on the other hand he works others to cry up private duties 
m opposition to all public duties ; whereas all Christians stand obliged 
by God, so to manage one sort of duties, as not to shut out another sort 
of duties. Every Christian must find time and room for every duty in- 
cumbent upon him. But, 

[5.] Fifthly, Love Christ with a more inflamed love. Oh strengthen 
your love to Christ, and your love to closet-duties. Lovers love much 
to be alone, to be in a corner together. Cant. vii. 10-12. Certainly the 
more any man loves the Lord Jesus, the more he will delight to be with 
Christ in a corner. There was a great deal of love between Jonathan and 
David, — 1 Sam. xviii. xix. and xx. compared,