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any employment that God shall put upon you. You are always to have an open ear, a ready hand, an obedient heart, and a willing cheerful soul to fall in with what work or service soever it is that God shall put upon you. This is your principle. But tell me, Christians, will a little grace enable a man to live up to this principle? I judge not. You are to stand ready to change your employment from better to worse, if the Lord shall be pleased to order it so. You are to be ready to change your crown, for a cross; to change that employment which is honourable, for that which is mean and low; and that which is more profitable, for that which is less profitable; as it were from the ruling of a province, to the keeping of a herd; from being a lord, to be a servant; from being a servant to great men, to be a servant to the meanest servant, yea, to the poorest beast. Certainly a little grace will never enable a man bravely and sweetly to live up to this principle. Their hearts who are poor in grace, are like a wounded hand or arm, which being but imperfectly cured, can only move one way, and cannot turn to all postures and all natural uses.
Weak Christians are very apt to three things—to choose their mercies, to choose their crosses, and to choose their employments. They are often unwilling that God himself should choose out their way or their work. But now souls that are rich in grace, are at God's beck and check; they are willing that God shall choose their work and their way; they are willing to be at his disposal; to be high or low, to serve or to be served, to be something or to be nothing. Now I beseech you, Christians, that you would seriously and frequently remember this, that there is nothing in all the world that is such an honour to God and glory to the gospel, as for Christians to live up to their principles; and nothing such a reproach to God and his ways, as this, for men to live below their principles, and to act contrary to their principles. And you will never be able to live up to your principles, nor to live out your principles, except you grow rich in grace; therefore labour, I say, labour as for life, to abound in grace.. Now the fifth motive is this—consider, that souls rich No. xxi. u
in grace, are a mighty blessing to the land and place where they live.
There are no such blessings in the world to parishes, cities, and nations, as those souls are, that are rich in grace. O they are great blessings to all places where they come. They are persons who are fit for the highest and noblest employments. There is not the highest work that is too high for a man that is rich in grace, not the hottest work that is too hot for a man rich in grace, nor the lowest work below a man rich in grace. Such a man will not say, ' I would do it, but that it is below my place, my blood, my parts, my education.' 'May Christ have honour? May others have good? If so, I will do it," says the soul that is rich in grace, ' whatever comes of it; and bless God for the opportunity.' Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him, and the king thought to set him over the whole realm, Dan. vi. 3. Why was Daniel set upon the throne, but because there was a glorious, excellent spirit in him, that fitted him for the highest employment? So Joseph was a blessing to his master's family and the people among whom he lived. No such blessings to the people and places, as souls rich in grace. So Neh. vii. 2 ; I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, charge over Jerusalem; and why him ? for he was a faithful man, and feared God above many. O the wisdom, the prudence, the zeal, the courage, the compassion, the patience, the self-denial that should be in magistrates! There is a truth in that old maxim, 'Magistracy will try a man,' None fit toTule, but such as are rich in grace.
What a world of good may a man do with worldly riches in a parish, in a city, in a nation! but that is nothing to the good that a man may do who is rich in grace. O the sins that he may prevent! O the judgments that he may divert! O the favours and blessings that he may draw down upon the heads and hearts of people! I presume you forget not what a blessing Moses, Joseph, Job, Nehemiah, Mordecai, and Daniel, proved to the people among whom thej|.lived; and these were all rich in grace. A man rich in wisdom, rich in faith, rich in goodness; O what a blessing may he prove to ignorant souls, to staggering souls, to wandering souls, to tempted . souls, to deserted souls! Look what the sun is to us; that may a soul rich in grace, be to others. O friends, would you be blessings to your families? Would you be blessings to the city, to the.nationt o then labour to be rich in grace, and do not think it enough that you have so much grace as will keep you from dropping into hell and will bring you to heaven, but labour to be rich in grace; and then you will prove indeed a blessing to the place and nation where you live.
The Romans, when they did perceive any natural excellency to be in any persons, though they were never so poor and mean, would take them from their dinners of turnips and water-cresses, to lead the Roman army. It is true, that natural and moral endowments will enable men to do much, but grace will enable men to do ten thousand times more. There is no work too high or too hard for souls rich in grace; and therefore as you would be choice instruments in the Lord's hand and eminently serviceable in your generations, O labour to be rich in grace. It is not he who has most wit in his head, but he who has most grace in his heart, that is most fit for generationwork.
Sixthly; a rich measure of grace will bear out your souls in several cases; therefore labour to be rich in grace.
A rich measure of grace will bear out the soul under great means of grace. When a soul is spiritually rich, this will bear him out under great means. Such a one will be able to look God in the face with joy and comfort. He can say, ' It is true, Lord, I have more means than others, and, lo, I am grown richer than others. Thou hast taken more pains, with me, than with others, and, lo, I bring forth more fruit than others; my five talents are become ten.' But a little grace will not bear men out under much means of grace.
Again; a great measure of grace will bear the soul out
under a great name, as well as under great means. For
a man to have a great name to live, and yet to have but a
little life, is a stroke of strokes. To be high in name and little in worth, is a very sad and sore judgment. To have a name to be an eminent Christian, and yet to be poor in faith, in love, in wisdom, in knowledge, is the greatest unhappiness in the world. This stroke is upon many in these days. But that which is saddest of all, is this, they feel it not, they observe it not. But now he who is rich in grace, has something within, that will bear him out under a great name in the world.
Again; a great measure of grace will bear you out under great desires, as well as under a great name. A man who is rich in grace, may ask what he pleases; he is one much in with God, and God will deny him nothing. The best of the best is for this man; he may have any thing, he may have every thing that heaven affords. He is able to improve much, and therefore he may ask much, and have it. It was a sweet saying of one, ' O Lord, I have come to thee; but by thee, I never go from thee without thee.' Sozonem says of Apollonius, that he never asked any thing of God, but he had it.. And another, speaking of Luther, says, ' He could have what he would of God.' Rich men may long for this and that, and have it; they have something that will fetch it; but poor men may not. O now who would not labour, as for life, to be rich in grace? O this will bear you out under great means, and under great names, and under great desires; therefore rest not satisfied with a little grace.
But then Seventhly and lastly, souls rich in grace are the honour of Christ and the glory of Christianity.
As it is the glory of the stock, when the grafts grow and thrive in it, even so it is the glory of Christ when those who are engrafted into him, thrive and grow. This declares to all the world, that Christ keeps a good house, and that he does not feed his children with trash, but with the choicest delicates; that he is open-handed, and freehearted. It is the glory of the father, when the child grows rich under him; and the glory of the master, when the servant grows rich under him; and so it is the glory of Christ, when poor souls grow rich under him. The name of Christ, and the honour of Christ, are kept up in the world by souls that are rich in grace. They are the persons who make others think well and speak well of Christ. You may at your leisure read the first and second epistles to the Thessalonians, and there you will see what an honour they were to the Lord Jesus and the gospel, who abounded in spiritual riches. Such Christians as are like to Pharaoh's lean kine, reproach three at once, God, the gospel, and their teachers: and this age is full of such Christians. It is your greatest work in this world to keep up the honour and the glory of the Lord; and this you can never, you will never do, except you labour to be rich in grace. Let others labour for the meat that perisheth, do you labour for that which endureth unto everlasting life. When you come to die, and when you come to make up your accounts, it will never be a grief, but a joy unto you, that you have made it your greatest business and work in this world, to be rich in grace.
2. But here you may say, ' What means must we use, that we may grow rich in grace?' I answer, first; let no discouragements take you off from labouring to be enriched with spiritual riches. A soul that would be spiritually rich, must be divinely resolved, that come what can come, he will hold on in the use of means, that he may be rich with the riches of Christ. Joshua was resolute in this point, Choose you whom ye will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, Josh. xxiv. 15. Strive to enter in at the strait gate; the Greek word signifies, to strive with all your might; with all your strength to strive, even to an agony; to strive as they did for the garlands, in the Olympic games. The word here used, seems to allude to their striving for the garland, where they put out themselves to the utmost. So in John vi. 27; Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you; for him hath God the Father sealed.
I have read of one who did not fear what he did, nor what he suffered, so that he might get riches; 'For,' said he, ' men do not ask how good one is, or how gracious one is, but how rich one is.' O sirs, the day is coming, when God will ask how rich your souls are, how rich you are in faith, in wisdom, in knowledge, in fear; not how rich you are in money, or in jewels, or in land, or in goods;