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his bride before-hand, that she may be an honour and a praise to him in the day of coronation, in the day of marriage, in the day of solemnity, when he will own her before devils, angels, and all reprobates; when he will say, ' Lo, here am I, and the bride, O Father, that thou hast given me.' And thus you have a brief account of the reasons of the point, why the Lord gives the best gifts to his own people. We shall make some short, but sweet uses of this point.
1. Does the Lord give the best and greatest gifts to his people? Then you that are his people, sit down and wonder at this condescending love of God.
O what is in thy soul or in my soul, that should cause the Lord to give such gifts to us, as he has given? We were all equal in sin and misery; nay, doubtless, we have actually outsinned thousands to whom these precious gifts are denied. Let us therefore sit down and wonder at this condescending love of God. 'O we were once poor wretches sitting upon the dunghill, yea, wallowing in our blood; and yet behold the king of kings, the lord of lords, has so far condescended in his love, as to bestow himself, his Spirit, his grace, and all the jewels of his royal crown upon. us. O what heart can conceive, what tongue can express this matchless love!' I will be thine for ever,' says Christ, 'and my Spirit shall be thine for ever, and my grace thine for ever, and my glory thine for ever, and my righteousness thine for ever: all I am, and all I have, shall be thine for ever.' O sirs, what condescending love is this! O what a Christ is this!
2. Be greatly thankful, 0 be greatly thankful, for the great gifts which Christ has bestowed upon you.
It is not a little thankfulness that will answer and suit to the great gifts that the Lord Jesus has bestowed upon you. O say with the psalmist, What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord, Psalm cxvi. 12, 13. Yea say again with the psalmist, I will yet praise thee more and more; or as it is in the Hebrew, I will add to thy praise, Psalm lxxi. 14. O when thou lookest upon the jewels, the pearls that Christ has given thee, say, ' Lord, I will praise thee more and more; I-will rise higher and higher in thy praises; I will be still adding to thy praise.' The very law of nature bespeaks great thankfulness, where great favours are given; and the law of custom bespeaks it; and does not the law of grace bespeak it much more?
When Tamerlin had taken Bajazet, among other questions he asked him, if ever he had given God thanks for making him so great an emperor? He confessed immediately, that he had never thought of that; to whom Tamerlin replied, ' It is no wonder so ungrateful a man should be made a spectacle of misery.' O what do they then deserve, who are unthankful for spiritual favours? Tell me, O Christians! are not the gifts that Christ has conferred upon you, peculiar gifts1 and will you not be thankful for them? Were they but common gifts, you ought to be thankful for them, how much more then for peculiar gifts, for right-handed favours. Tell me, are not the gifts that Christ has given thee, rare gifts? What hadst thou been if Christ had not made a difference between thee and others, by those glorious gifts that he has conferred upon thee? Thou lookest upon some, and seest they are very ignorant; O what hadst thou been if God had not bestowed that grace of knowledge upon thee? Thou lookest upon other persons that are unclean, prophane, and filthy; why, such a wretch wouldst thou have been, if the Lord had not made a difference between thee and them, by bestowing himself, his grace and Spirit, upon thee.
It was long since determined in the schools, that penitents had more reason to be thankful than innocents, sin giving an advantage to mercy to be doubly free in giving, and in pardoning; and so the greater obligation is left upon us to thankfulness.
Luther has a very famous story in his writing upon the fourth commandment, in the time of the council of Constance. He tells you of two cardinals, who as they were riding to the council, saw a shepherd in the field weeping. One of them, being affected with his weeping, rode to him to comfort him, and coming near to him, he desired to know the reason of his weeping; the shepherd was unwilling to tell him at first, but at last he told him, saying, 'I, looking upon this toad, considered that I never praised God as I ought for making me such an excellent creatureas a man, comely and reasonable. I have not blessed hint that he made me not such a deformed toad as this.' The cardinal hearing this and considering that God had done far greater things for him than for this poor shepherd, fell down as dead from his mule; his servants lifting him up, and bringing him to the city, he came to life again, and then cried out, 'O Saint Austin! how truly didst thou say, The unlearned rise and take heaven by force, and we, with all our learning, wallow in flesh and blood.' The application is easy.
3. The next use is, if the Lord has given the best gifts to his people, then 0 that his people would not give God the worst, but the best of every thing!
O give the Lord the best of your strength, the best of your time, the best of your mercies, and the best of your services, who has given to your souls the best of gifts. Out of all your gifts ye shall offer every heave-offering of the Lord, of all the best thereof, even the hallowed part thereof out of it, numb, xviii. 29. So I say; of all thy offerings offer God the best, who has given thee the best and greatest gifts. So in Exod. xxxv. 22; For the service of the tabernacle they brought bracelets, and ear-rings, and rings, and tables, all jewels of gold, and every man that offered, offered an offering of gold unto the Lord. They gave the best of the best, and so must we. o do not offer to God the worst of your time, the worst of your strength, the worst of your mercies, the worst of your services. That is a very dreadful text in Mal.i. 8,13,14; And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And if ye offer the lame and the sick, is it not evil? Offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person 1 saith the Lord of hosts. Saith God, 'Will men be put off thus? No, I know they will not; and why then should you deal worse with me than with men? Thy governors will have the best, aye the best of the best; and will you deal worse with me than with your governors? Will you thus requite me for all my favours, O foolish people and unwise? Is this your kindness to your friend?' Ye said also, behold what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts; and ye have brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought
an offering. Should I accept this of your hands? saith the Lord. O that God had not cause to complain thus of many of your souls, to whom he hath shewed much love. But mark what follows, But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing; for I am a great King, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen. If you have better in your hands, and yet shall go to put off God with the worst, the curse will follow. Think of it and tremble, all you that deal fraudulently and falseheartedly with God. Ah Christians, you must say, 'World stand behind; sin and Satan get you behind us, for the best gifts, the choicest favours that ever were given, we have received from the Father of lights; and therefore by his gifts he has obliged our souls to give him the best of our time, strength, and services; and therefore we will not be at your call or beck any longer.' O say, ' The Lord has given us the best gifts, and cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing.'
4. This should bespeak the people of God to trust and lean upon God for lesser gifts.
Has God given thee a crown, and wilt thou not trust him for a crumb. Has he given thee a house that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God? Has he given thee a kingdom thatshaketh not? and wilt thou not trust him for a cottage, for a little house-room in this world? Has he given thee himself, his Son, his Spirit, his grace; and wilt thou not trust him to give thee bread, and friends, and clothes, and other necessary mercies that he knows thou needest? Has he given thee the greater, and will he stand with thee for the lessP. Surely not. Wilt thou trust that man for much, who has given thee but a little? and wilt thou not trust that God for a little, who has given thee much? Wilt thou not trust him for pence, who has given thee pounds? O sirs, has the Lord given you himself, the best of favours; and will not you trust him for the least favours? Has he given you pearls, and will not you trust him for pins? Does not the apostle argue sweetly in Rom. viii. 32? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?' What,' says the apostle, 'hath he given us his Son, his only Son, his bosom Son, his beloved Son, the Son of his joy, the Son of his delights? O how can he then but cast in all other things into the bargain!' O that Christians would learn to reason themselves out of their fears, and out of their distrust, as the apostle does! O that Christians would no longer rend and rack their precious souls with fears and cares, but rest satisfied in this, that he who has been so kind to them in spirituals, will not be wanting to them in temporals.
6. If the Lord has given the best gifts to his people, this should then bespeak his people, not to envy the men of the world, for those lesser favours that God has conferred upon them.
It was horrid wickedness in Ahab to envy poor Naboth, because of his vineyard; and is it a virtue in you that are Christians, to envy others, because their outward mercies are greater or sweeter than yours ? Should the prince, upon 'whose head the royal crown is set, and about whose neck the golden chain is put, envy those whose hands are full of sugar-plums, and whose laps are full of rosemary? Has not God, O Christians, put a royal crown of glory upon your heads, and a golden chain of grace about your necks, and his Son's glorious robe upon your backs? Why then should your hearts rise against others' mercies? O reason yourselves out of this sinful temper.
I would have every Christian thus to argue, ' Has not the Lord given me himself? Is not one dram of that grace that God has given me, more worth than ten thousand worlds? Why then should I envy at others' mercies.' . There was a soldier, who for breaking his rank in reaching after a bunch of grapes, was condemned to die by martial law, and as he went to execution, he went eating his grapes; upon which, some of his fellow soldiers were somewhat troubled, saying, that he ought then to mind somewhat else; to whom he said, 'I beseech you, sirs, do not envy me my grapes; they will cost me dear; you would be loath to have them at the rate that I must pay for them.' So say I; O saints, do not envy the men of this world, because of their honours and riches; for