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Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.—Phil. iii. 19.
HERE is a further description of evil-workers, to show why they should have no fellowship in their sin, either by giving them countenance or following their example, that they might not be involved in their ruin and destruction, ‘Whose end is destruction,’ &c.
In these words three things are observable—(1.) Their sin; (2.) The aggravations of their sin; (3.) The punishment.132
1. Their sin is ‘Minding earthly things.’
2. The aggravations are two, further discovering the nature of it—(1.) ‘Whose god is their belly;’ (2.) ‘Whose glory is in their shame.’
3. The punishment, ‘Whose end is destruction.’
1. Their sin, ‘They mind earthly things,’ which must be interpreted of their doctrine and practice; for they are considered as a carnal sort of christians, and as seducers of others by their carnal opinions.
[1.] By their doctrine. They corrupted the gospel, and obstructed the progress and power of it, by suiting it to their carnal ends. Such false teachers are elsewhere described by their earthly mindedness, where we are bidden to try the spirits: 1 John iv. 5, ‘They are of the world, therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.’ Their doctrine is a doctrine of licentiousness, calculated for secular interest, or a worldly design, to save themselves from persecution; and worldly-minded men follow them.
[2.] As to their practice, they principally respected their profit and ease, and the commodities of the flesh; so that if their doctrine had been true, their hearts were naught; as if a man should intrude into the ministry, and preach truth, but for worldly ends, not to work in the Lord’s vineyard, but to feed on the portion of the Levites; or if they pretend to love God and souls, it is but a net to catch riches, honours, and pleasures.
2. The aggravations of their sin.
The first is, ‘Whose god is their belly.’ They did in effect set up another god, preferring the things which belong to the belly and bodily life before the honour of God. You have a like description elsewhere: Rom. xvi. 18, ‘They that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly.’ Under the pretence of being servants of God and Christ, they opposed God and Christ. They pretend to serve Christ, and love Christ, but indeed were acted only by their own fleshly ap petite; temporal ease and pleasure was all they sought after, not the honour of God and salvation of souls, but the satisfying their own sinful inclination.
The second is, ‘Whose glory is in their shame;’ that is, that they can avoid trouble, and live a life of pomp and ease, when others are afflicted.
Here observe two things—
[1.] How much human nature is distorted and depraved. Man fallen is but the anagram of man in innocency. As in an anagram, the letters are the same, but the order is inverted, so we have the same affections that innocent Adam had, but they are misplaced; our hatred is where our love should be, and our love where our hatred should be; and (that I may not carry the observation too far) our glory is there where our shame should be, and our shame where our glory should be; we are bold in sinning, but ashamed of Christ and strictness. You shall have some men glory in their oaths, and a graceless grace of rash swearing. Some glory in their new-fangled apparel, which is but an ensign hung out to show the vanity of their minds. Some will glory in painting or spotting their faces, which really is their shame. Others will boast of their base and brutish lusts, which certainly are things they ought to be deeply ashamed of.133
[2.] Observe how worldliness showeth itself in all the properties of it. We read, 1 John ii. 16, ‘For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.’ By the lust of the flesh is meant sensual pleasures; by the lust of the eyes, inordinate desire of riches; by pride of life, ambition, or affectation of honour and glory. Again we read, James iii. 15, ‘This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.’ The wisdom which descendeth not from God is the wisdom of the flesh; that is, earthly, such as carrieth us to the profits of the world; sensual, to the delights of the flesh; devilish, aspiring after greatness and esteem in the world; for pride is ‘the condemnation of the devil,’ 1 Tim. iii. 6; that is, the sin for which the devil was condemned. So here is covetousness expressed by ‘minding earthly things;’ sensuality, ‘their god is their belly;’ pride, ‘whose glory is in their shame.’ The fruit whereby the devil tempted our first parents, Gen. iii. 6, was ‘good for food;’ by that he tempted the lusts of the flesh; ‘pleasant to the eyes,’ and so came in the lust of the eyes; and ‘to be desired to make one wise,’ and that was the pride of life, affecting a higher condition than that wherein God had placed them. And with these kind of weapons he sets upon the second Adam, our Lord Christ, in the wilderness, Mat. iv., tempting him to the lusts of the flesh, when he would have him ‘turn stones into bread;’ to the lusts of the eyes, when, he ‘showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;’ to pride of life, when he persuaded him ‘to cast himself down,’ out of vainglory, and tempting God, to show some extraordinary miracle in his preservation. Well, then, there are more sorts of earthly-mindedness than one. A man may love the world that is sensual, as well as a covetous muckworm, because the profits of this life are but one branch of the enticing world. Many a sense-pleaser will think that he despiseth wealth, because he lavisheth it out freely upon his lusts; yet he may be earthly-minded for all that. Voluptuous living breedeth a senselessness of heavenly things, and choketh the good seed, as well as the cares of this world: Luke viii. 14, ‘They go forth, and are choked with cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life.’ Yea, a man may love the world though he should contemn both riches and pleasures, because there is a third evil as dangerous to the spiritual life, and that is pride of life, or glorying in the flesh, or affecting credit, esteem, and reputation with men: John v. 44, ‘How can ye believe, who receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?’ It is destructive to faith.
3. The last thing is their punishment, ‘Whose end is destruction.’ Sinners gain little by their sin at last. We swallow the bait, but do not mind the hook: ‘Whose end is destruction.’ This is the end, not intended by them, but appointed by God as the wages of the carnal life. Finis operis, the end of the work; though not operantis, of the doer. Their punishment is the reward of their sin. By ‘destruction’ he meaneth they shall be punished by God with eternal damnation, called elsewhere ‘destruction and perdition;’ 1 Tim. vi. 9, ‘They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many hurtful and foolish lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.’ So Gal. vi. 8, ‘For he that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; 134but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.’ Corruption is there opposed to eternal life. Though the substance of body and soul is not annihilated, yet that glory, pleasure, and gain wherein they placed their happiness shall then be consumed; and when all their comforts are gone, they shall for ever remain under the wrath of a highly provoked and then irreconcilable God.
Doct. Earthly-mindedness is the temper and disposition of such men who are for the present in a state of damnation.
Christians, I am upon a profitable point, though it be a terrible one; we cannot be cautious enough of earthly-mindedness, whether we consider the heinousness of the sin or the greatness of the danger. For your help I shall—
1. Show you what is earthly-mindedness.
2. The aggravations of this sin as they lie in the text.
3. The sore punishment appointed to it.
I. What is earthly-mindedness? for this is the crime charged upon these evil-workers, that ‘they mind earthly things.’ Now it seemeth hard to say that we should not at all mind earthly things. These are necessary to sweeten our pilgrimage, and to support us during our service. We carry about earthly bodies, that need daily sustentation. We have ‘an earthly house,’ that must be maintained, 2 Cor. v. 1; and the people of God are subject to the common necessities of an earthly life. Therefore surely God, that doth give us these earthly bodies, doth allow us in some sort to mind earthly things, and seek earthly things in some proportion, and with a due subordination to religion and godliness. In our passage to heaven we may mind them, for every wise man must mind his business; but yet they must not be minded only or chiefly.
1. Not only. So some mind them, scarce have any tincture of religion, or regard to life everlasting, but are of the earth, and speak of the earth, and savour only earthly things; aim at nothing but the good things of this world, that they may live in honour, and credit, and pleasure, and estimation with men; savour and love nothing but this; care for and breathe after nothing but this: ‘God is not in all their thoughts,’ Ps. x. 4. He speaketh of the worldly atheist, or earthly minded, as the former verse showeth: ‘The wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth,’ They regard not whether God be honoured or dishonoured, pleased or displeased. So heaven is not in all their thoughts: Rom. viii. 5, ‘They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit;’ τὰ ἐπῖγεια, ‘earthly things,’ and τὰ σαρκος, ‘the things of the flesh,’ are the same: Col. iii. 2, φρονεῖτε, ‘Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.’ In the margin it is ‘mind.’ So John vi. 27, ‘Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth to everlasting life.’ These are propounded as incompatible; but their affections bend to the wrong side, and so the one thing necessary is neglected: Luke x. 42, ‘One thing is needful, and Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.’ Their life is in a perfect opposition to these counsels and directions; they set their affections on things on earth, mind the things of the flesh, are 135cumbered about many things, neglect the one thing necessary, labour for the meat that perisheth, slight that which endureth for ever, are dead to God and alive to the world, heap up treasure to themselves, and are not rich toward God, Luke xii. 21. All is done to please the carnal mind, nothing done to please God.
2. They must not be chiefly minded. The gross worldling is discovered by the only minding, the secret worldling by the chiefly minding, earthly things; the gross worldling is a practical atheist, the secret worldling is a carnal hypocrite. The rule is, that spiritual and heavenly things must be sought in the first place: Mat. vi. 33, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;’ and we must trust God for other things, in the way of honest and diligent endeavours in the calling wherein God hath placed us. Well, then, the minding of earthly things must be determined by this, when religion is subordinate to the world, and not the world to religion; when the lean kine devour the fat. And though there be some minding both of earth and heaven, yet earth is more minded than heaven; and the honours, and pleasures, and profits of the world, jostle out better things, and choke the good seed; that though we do not cast off the profession of religion, yet we feel little of the power of it. Religion is an underling, it is so obstructed that it cannot bring forth its fruit with any perfection: Luke viii. 14, ‘They are choked with cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.’ But because this is a secret evil, and men easily distinguish themselves out of their convictions, we must a little more closely pursue this discovery, that we may find what is the first or chief thing that we mind and regard. That will be known by these things—
[1.] What is your chief end and scope? The chief end and scope must be God and heaven: 2 Cor. iv. 18, σκοποῦντες, ‘While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal;’ and Phil. iii. 14, διώκω κατὰ σκοπὸν, ‘I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.’ What is the design of your lives, the main bent and drift of your conversations? Is it to please God, and enjoy God, or to heap up riches to yourselves? If God and the life to come only come in by the by, and be not your designed fixed end, which puts life into your endeavours, you mind earthly things. The end is that which cuts out your work, which formeth your thoughts, chooseth your employments, and by which they are constantly directed and influenced. A present worldly passion may prevail on godly men, but the world is not their great design and interest.
[2.] What is your chief work and business? Next to our scope, our work is to be regarded; first what you aim at, next what you labour for. If the great business of your hearts, and the endeavours of your lives, be about earthly things, you are earthly-minded. Surely our great business is to obtain salvation by Christ: Phil. ii. 12, ‘Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.’ It is a dangerous thing to miscarry in so weighty a work. All the solicitude and care that we can possibly use is little enough: Acts xxvi. 7, ‘Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope 136to come.’ This is the top care, to which all others give place. But now, if the world engross our time, and strength, and care, and thoughts, and divert us from that necessary diligence and heedfulness with which soul-affairs should be pursued and attended upon; this we talk of, this we think of, and pursue with all our might, and seek most after, this constantly sets us a-work; surely this is most regarded by you.
[3.] What is the chief joy and trouble of your hearts? Is it to have and want the world? If to have it: Luke xii. 19, ‘I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thy rest, eat, drink, and be merry.’ If the world can keep you quiet in the midst of all the dangers of your soul, and you forget eternity, and can live a quiet merry life apart from God, yea, in the neglect of him, so it may be well with you here, and the peace and pleasure you live upon is more fetched from the world than God and heaven, this is a sure and undeceiving note that you mind earthly things more than heavenly, and prefer the honours, pleasures, and profits of the world before God and your salvation, than which there cannot be a worse temper of heart. The saints fetch their joy and solace from spiritual things: Ps. iv. 6, 7, ‘Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased;’ and Ps. cxix. 14, ‘I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.’ We must often ask ourselves what is the bottom and bosom cause of our comfort, quietness, and peace? Is it because you are well provided for, and live at ease in the world? or because God is reconciled to you in Christ, and because you hope to live for ever with him in glory, and have good grounds for this hope and confidence? Then it is well. A christian may know what he most mindeth, and, which is all one, what he most esteemeth and prizeth, by the grounds and reasons of his joy and trouble: Ps. xciv. 19, ‘Thy comforts delight my soul;’ ‘Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled,’ Ps. xxx. 7. If disappointment in the world be the cause of our trouble, and happiness in the world feedeth our solace and joy, surely we mind these things most. But more of this anon.
Having considered earthly-mindedness singly, we must now consider it in act or habit.
In act. Alas! a child of God is too worldly; he may have too great an esteem of earthly things, but doth not ordinarily mind them before God. The habitual bent and inclination of his will is to God and heaven. In particular acts he may carry himself too much like an earthly-minded man, but his heart is not turned to another happiness, for that is contrary to a state of salvation. No prevalent covetousness or voluptuousness or ambition possesseth his heart instead of God. There is a remainder of worldliness in the godly, as well as other sins; he may too much use the world, for the pleasure of the flesh more than for the glory of God; but yet this is not the scope and tenor of his life. He may sometimes desire a greater measure of riches, or honour, or pleasure, than is agreeable with his spiritual happiness; his desires of earthly things may be too eager, his cares about them too solicitous, his trouble too grievous; but he is still growing out of 137these distempers, and settling his soul to his constant bent, work, and joy. It is not a frame of heart that he can rest in; it is his trouble, and in time he gets above the distemper.
II. The aggravations of this sin; and—
1. The first is, ‘Whose god is their belly.’ Earthly-mindedness is a renouncing of the true God, and setting up of base idols in his stead.
[1.] Here mark what is prized by the earthly-minded, the belly. Provision for the flesh is the sum of worldly happiness. Men that have the world at will get no more by it than bodily food and bodily clothing, which the poorest may attain to without so much ado. It is no great happiness whether our dung or excrements be of a finer or coarser matter, whether we have fewer or more dishes to our table, nor what a gay show we make with our apparel. Some have troubled themselves and the world to make themselves great; and what a sorry happiness have they at last! Hab. i. 16, ‘Their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous;’ a little good cheer and a merry life. They that want it live as well as they, and have more contentment. Are they the nearer to true comfort, or the further from the grave? So Ps. xvii. 14, ‘From men of the world, who have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hidden treasures; they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes.’ They have a belly well filled and a back well clothed, which is but a sorry addition to their happiness. They use it not well, dispense it not to the glory of God, and so have not the true use of riches.
Object. You will say, There are men of great estates who will not part with anything for the necessary uses of nature, who will not afford themselves conveniences, but fare hard, go meanly, and are in debt to back and belly.
Ans. (1.) Covetousness is usually the purveyor for the flesh, and those that mind earthly things, their god is their belly: Rom. viii. 5, ‘They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh;’ those that seem to deal hardly with the flesh, yet please it in the hoarding of wealth, though not in the spending of it.
(2.) If they fail in giving nature its due, yet they much more fail in giving grace its due; and so are twice fools, while they transgress both the laws of nature and of grace. They transgress the laws of grace while they do not lay up treasure in heaven, but treasure up wrath against the day of wrath; and they transgress the laws of nature while they bereave their souls of good, and do not rejoice in their labour, and that portion of earthly things which God hath given them: Eccles. v. 18, 19, ‘Behold that which I have seen; it is good and comely for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun, all the days of his life, which God giveth him; for it is his portion. Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.’ These deny that real benefit which is in a worldly portion, which is the supply of the bodily life, or a free and comfortable use of the creature, denying the lawful use of those comforts to himself which God hath given him.
(3.) They lay it up for them that spend it on the belly; for usually 138God sendeth an heir that wasteth an estate profusely that was greedily and sparingly gotten; and as one goeth to hell in getting, so doth the other in spending it, till all this wealth revolve into other hands that will use it better: Eccles. ii. 26, ‘To the sinner he giveth travail to gather and to heap up, that he may give it to him that is good before God.’ God by his overruling providence disposeth it besides and against the purpose of the gatherer, even to those that fear him, making wicked men but drudges and purveyors for others. Wicked men built the ark, but Noah made use of it. One maketh a garment, and another weareth it: Prov. xiii. 22, ‘The wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just;’ Job xxvii. 17, ‘He may prepare it, but the just shall put it on, and the innocent shall divide the silver;’ Prov. xxviii. 8, ‘He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.’ The world will not believe it, but it is a certain truth that estates are ruined by sins of omission as well as commission; though they are not unjustly gotten, yet if they are not well improved for the glory of God and the good of others. Strange are the providential dispensations of God in disposing money, lands, and heritages, till they come into clean and bountiful hands. They are tenacious, sparing to make use of it; but God will put it into their hands who will divide and distribute for his glory.
[2.] This belly is made a god; that is, interpretatively, a man’s god, which is his chief good and the last end of all his actions, and upon which all his care, thoughts, and endeavours run most. Thus do the earthly-minded upon the world and the belly, therefore here it is said, ‘Their belly is their god;’ and elsewhere that ‘covetousness is idolatry,’ Col. iii. 5, and the ‘covetous man is an idolater,’ Eph. v. 5. That is our god which is most valued by us, and for whose sake we do all things. Now, if we will do more for the world than for God, and more for the belly than for God, and can dispense with God’s honour and glory for an easy and delicate life, and day after day, from morning to evening, do only take care for the flesh, and give earthly things those affections which are only due and proper to God, we make mammon our god, and the belly our god; here is our scope, work, and delight.
 How justly those are deprived of eternal salvation who do thus.
(1.) Partly as they put a vile scorn on God and Christ, who prefer the belly and bodily interest before him. These prefer the body before the soul, which yet is the immortal substance, and will survive the body, and may be rent from it sooner than they imagine: Luke xii. 20, ‘Thou fool! this night thy soul shall be required of thee;’ or rent from the embraces of the unwilling body. They prefer time before eternity, since they make it their great business to have their will and pleasure for a while. If you will have your own will now, you shall not have it long: 1 John ii. 17, ‘The world passeth away and the lusts thereof.’ You love to please your appetite in meats and drinks, to spend your time in vain sports and pleasures, to be honoured and humoured now, to flow in wealth and live in pomp, and would want nothing for the contentment of the flesh. But how long shall you have your will in these things? When death comes, will you Lave it then? When you lie in pain on your death-beds, expecting 139every hour to appear in another world, will you have it then? They prefer earth before heaven. They only mind the way, but never think of home. They are not strangers and pilgrims in the world, but inhabitants, and say, as Peter on the mount, Mat. xvii. 4, ‘It is good to be here;’ 2 Tim. iv. 10. ‘Demas hath forsaken us, having loved this present world.’ And should God save them against their wills, and bring them to a place they desire not? They prefer the world before Christ, and should they have benefit by him who do so lightly esteem the rock of their salvation? His servants prize him: Phil. iii. S, ‘Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord;’ Mat. xiii. 45, 46, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchantman seeking goodly pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it.’ His enemies despise him; to them he is ‘a stone of stumbling,’ 1 Peter ii. 8. Lastly, they prefer the belly before God, a little temporal interest before his favour, love pleasures more than God: 2 Tim. iii. 4, ‘Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.’ Honours more than God: John xii. 42, 43, ‘Among the chief rulers many believed on him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.’ Profits more than God: 1 John ii. 15, ‘Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world: if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.’ Surely then there is a just cause of men’s damnation when they love the world more than God, Christ, and heaven.
(2.) They that serve a base god cannot but be of a base spirit, and so can do nothing worthily and generously. Every man’s temper is as his god is: Ps. cxv. 8, ‘They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.’ They have a dead heart, estranged from the life of God. The carnal life is a spiritual death: 1 Tim. v. 6, ‘She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.’ Therefore God punisheth them with eternal death.
(3.) They are not only unfit for God, but opposite to him: Rom. viii. 7, ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be;’ and James iv. 4, ‘Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.’
2. The second aggravation, ‘They glory in their shame,’ that is, in their riches and worldly conveniences.
[1.] That which a man prizeth most he will glory in. Now for christians to glory in a life of pomp and ease is to glory in their shame. What a man prizeth most, he will glory in it, boast of it, be it wealth or honour, or wit and parts, or else the Lord: Jer. ix. 23, 24, ‘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.’ Man will be glorying in something or another, in that which he esteemeth his excellency. Glorying signifieth the apprehension of the good of the thing we glory in, and our benefit by 140it; it is the content and joy which we take in any benefit, expressed to others, for the glory of God and their good. So Gal. vi. 14, ‘But God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I unto the world.’ True christians will renounce all carnal glorying; if they glory in anything, it will be in God and Christ. It is lawful, if it be a true excellency, to glory in the good things of God bestowed on them, as evidences of his love and approbation of them: 2 Cor. i. 12, ‘For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in this world, and more abundantly to you-wards.’ If it be for the glory of God and good of others; for it is the design of the carnal world to vilify the works of grace in the hearts of the sanctified. If it be for the glory of God: 1 Cor. xv. 10, ‘But by the grace of God I am what I am; and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; for I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with. me.’ Or if it be for the good of others, to incite them to like experiences: Ps. xxxiv. 8, ‘Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in him.’
[2.] The true object of glorying is God and Christ: 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 righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord;’ Jer. iv. 2, ‘Thou shalt swear, the Lord liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory;’ 1 Cor. i. 30, 31, ‘But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; that according as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.’ To have all this in Christ is matter of glory.
[3.] Not only benefits, but disgraceful sufferings for Christ should be more to us than all the world: Heb. xi. 26, ‘Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt;’ Acts v. 41, ‘And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name;’ 2 Cor. xii. 9, 10, ‘Most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong.’
[4.] A mortified estate is a greater cause of glory than an exalted, because it is a far greater mercy: 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, if he were lord of all the wealth and honours in the world, he would not glory in them; if he had all the pleasures which the flesh can desire, he would not glory in them; if he had all the applause man can give him, he would not glory in that; but he would glory in the cross of Christ, by whom the world is crucified to him, and he unto the 141world. And James i. 9, 10, ‘Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted, but the rich in that he is made low.’ The word is καυχάσθω, glory, that is, let him express his satisfaction and contentment that he is preferred by grace or humbled by grace. To have a weaned heart, whether our condition be high or low, is a greater mercy than we have in all the world, because of its tendency to everlasting happiness.
[5.] The carnal and unsanctified rejoice in earthly things, as pleasing their flesh; and so do the godly also, as far as flesh remaineth in them. But this is our weakness, and so really our disgrace. High thoughts of worldly pomp and greatness show how little we have of a christian spirit. A christian should affect a mortified heavenly life, and value himself and others by better enjoyments. A minister, if he glory in his greatness and honour, is not a preacher of the cross, but an enemy to it. It is a greater glory to him to be much in the spirit, much in labours, much in afflictions, than to live in pomp, and flow in ease and wealth, and enjoy great revenues. In hoc successisti non Petro, sed Constantino, saith Bernard to Eugenius—In this you succeed not Peter, but Constantine. Christ had not where to lay his head; his witnesses prophesied in sackcloth. Their true glory is to be mortified, holy, heavenly; not to affect grandeur and precedency; that is a disgrace to the preachers of the cross. So for private christians; they should value themselves and others by their grace rather than pomp.
(1.) Themselves. A christian should not glory in this, that he is wealthy, that he thriveth when others are in misery, and so God loveth him better than others. If a stalled ox had reason, would he be so senseless to think his master loveth him better than his fellows because his food is more liberally provided for him, when he is but fatted for the slaughter? As Haman was deceived in misconstruing the queen’s invitation of him to a banquet, as a matter of special grace to him, when she did it to have better opportunity to accuse him; so are these deceived in judging God’s intention, or the happiness of their condition. Have you dignities, honours, and high places in the world? Do you flow in wealth? Glory not in this as any part of your felicity; all may be blasted in an instant; it may be given you for a snare. Christ gave his Spirit to the rest of the disciples, but the purse to Judas, who was a robber and a thief. Miserable wretches, that shall perish to all eternity, may have more than you have. Are you applauded by men? Will this endear you to God, or abate the least part of your pain in hell? The greatest cause of rejoicing is that you have enough, without all this, in God. If you are advanced on the pinnacle, they that are below are on the safer ground; your wealth will not take away your guilt nor open heaven’s gates to you. Are you clothed with gorgeous attire? Glory not in this; the true ornament is grace: 1 Peter iii. 3, 4, ‘Whose adorning, let it not be the outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great value.’ Pride is a greater shame than poverty. The emptiest person may have the best attire. It is not jour outside showeth your worth, no more than a rich saddle and 142trappings show a good horse. All this is not matter of glorying or blessing yourselves.
(2.) Nor value others. Those that have high thoughts of worldly pomp and wealth do not only bless themselves, but admire others for these things: Ps. x. 3, ‘The wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth.’ They slight the true christian, and have respect to him that weareth the gold ring and gay clothing: James ii. 1-3, ‘My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment, ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool.’ They think it a fine thing to be high. And on the contrary, grace teacheth us to value the godly poor: Ps. xvi. 3, ‘But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight;’ Ps. xv. 4, ‘In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord.’ They value a poor man that is godly above a rich man that is wicked, and have a hearty honour and respect for them above the greatest men in the world. When you think too meanly of the estate of poor believers, and admire the rich, you glory in that which should be no glory to a christian.
[6.] This is to bid defiance to your religion which you profess, and to glory in your shame, when you bless yourselves more for having an estate in this world than an interest in the promises. This is as if one that would be accounted a prudent grave man should glory that he hath found a pin. Alas! the world is too low to be a believer’s glory; his higher hopes do cloud and disgrace all these things. Who is your Saviour? A crucified Christ. What is the glory of your religion, but mortification, as the blessed effect of his cross? To glory in any creature, as opposite to Christ and divided from Christ, is to glory in your shame. Carnal glory will shortly make those ashamed that use it. So also when you account a sinful retreat or escape from the cross to be better than disgraceful suffering, this is contrary to the temper of true christians. See Heb. xi. 26, Acts v. 41. Let others be ashamed of their master, their religion, their God, yet be not you.
III. The punishment. The carnal life endeth in everlasting destruction: ‘Their end is destruction.’
1. It is good to look to the end of things. It maketh one wise: Deut. xxxii. 29, ‘Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!’ Lam. i. 9, ‘She remembereth not her last end, therefore she came down wonderfully;’ Jer. xvii. 11, ‘As a 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.’ On the other side, Heb. xiii. 7, ‘Whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversations.’ Oh, that we had the same thoughts now which we shall have when the end is come, when the mask is taken off, and all shows and fallacies cease, and things appear in their own colours.
2. Worldly pleasures will end in everlasting destruction: 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10, ‘They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and 143into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows;’ Rom. vi. 21, ‘What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of these things is death;’ ver. 23, ‘For the wages of sin is death;’ Gal. vi. 8, ‘He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption;’ Rom. viii. 13, ‘If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die.’ Therefore do not look what the carnal earthly life is now, but what it will be hereafter: 2 Cor. xi. 15, ‘Whose end shall be according to their works.’ We little think there is so much hurt, but, Rom. viii. 6, ‘To be carnally-minded is death.’ Now as you would avoid everlasting destruction, cherish these things.
3. The punishment is the more dreadful, to give us the more help, and the more powerful argument against these pleasing lusts. It is sweet to please the flesh, but it will cost dear. We may counterbalance momentary pleasures with eternal pains; the pleasures are but for a season, but the pain is evermore. If the fearful end of this worldly course were more soundly believed or seriously considered, men would not so eagerly pursue present things. God would order it so that the joy and pain of the other world, which is matter of faith, should be greater than the comfort and pain of this world, which is matter of sense; for things at hand would prevail with us, if things to come were not considerably greater.
Use 1. Do we mind earthly things or heavenly? A man may speak slightly of earthly things, yet these possess our hearts and govern all our choices; for we speak from our convictions, but live by our inclinations; and it is more easy to tip our tongues than change our hearts. A man may be earthly-minded yet profess the belief, hope, and desire of another world; as the Israelites gladly would have Canaan, yet were loath to part with the garlic and onions of Egypt, or run the hazard of the wilderness. A man may be earthly-minded though he have some good affections to religion, but he hath greater and stronger to other things. The business is, which hath the mastery, and can check and control the other? A man may love the world who doth not use ill means to get it; but if his heart be set upon it as his portion, he is earthly-minded. You do not use unlawful means to be rich; but are you not discontented because riches flow not in upon you? You covet not what is unjust, but do, not you crave what is superfluous? You do not snatch at what is another’s, but do you well improve your own? Men sin in not giving what they should, as well as in getting what they should not. You are not ravenous, yet is not the gain of wealth more sweet to you than that of grace, and your desires after earthly things far greater than after God, Christ, and heaven? You say you are only good husbands; but while you are good husbands, are you not bad christians, neglecting religion to follow the world, scraping all you can, but doing little or nothing for God? In short, if you would not mind earthly things—
1. Do not fix them as your scope: 1 Tim. vi. 9, ‘They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare,’ so as to be wholly intent upon get ting wealth. Not he that is, but he that ‘will be rich.’ The devil hath 144you upon the hip when you resolve to make that your scope, care, and work. Be sure the world be not your scope, but the pleasing, and glorifying, and enjoying of God: Ps. xxvii. 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 my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple;’ Ps. lxxiii. 25, ‘Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.’
2. Let not this be your great work and business: Mat. vi. 24, ‘No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon;’ Prov. xxiii. 4, ‘Labour not to be rich;’ that is, so as to jostle out other business which is more necessary. It is worldly things that thrust out heavenly meditations, and worldly business that straitens God’s interest in your hearts and families, in praying and instructing your families, so that family prayers are none or cursorily slubbered over, they having other things to mind. The business of the world is not your principal business; it may take up more time, but should not take up more of your hearts. They must have the world, come what will come of their immortal souls. Think often of your great necessities, to get a sinful condemned soul acquitted, a guilty conscience eased, a naughty heart changed, a disordered life reformed, a title to heaven assured: 2 Peter iii. 14, ‘Seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent, that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.’
3. Let not earthly things be your great delight; that in the want of them you be not overtroubled, or in the enjoyment of them overpleased: 1 Cor. vii. 29, 30, ‘But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none, and they that weep as though they wept not, and they that rejoice as though they rejoiced not; 1 Phil. iv. 12, ‘I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound; everywhere and in all things I am instructed, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need;’ Ps. lxii. 10, ‘Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.’
4. When your estate is yet to be made or gotten, let your desires be modest. When men have enough already, they would have more. As a river, the greater it groweth by receiving in little brooks, the wider and deeper it weareth the channel; so outward things, the more they are increased, the more men enlarge their desires; they would be a little higher in the world, a little better accommodated; and when they have that, then they must have a little more, and so seize upon all things within their grasp: Isa. v. 8, ‘Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth;’ and so the lust groweth with the possession. Earthly-mindedness is a fire that increaseth, the more wood you put thereon: Eccles. v. 10, ‘He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance, with increase.’ Therefore we must be content with such things as we have: Heb. xiii. 5, ‘Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have.’ We must bring our minds to our estate, rather than our estate to our minds, or else we shall never 145be content hereafter. Estate will not do it, if grace do not do it. The way is not to increase our substance, but moderate our desires.
5. Moderate your cares about these things: Mat. vi. 25, ‘Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your bodies, what ye shall put on.’ Trust yourselves with God; consider his general providence to all creatures: ver. 26, ‘Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.’ And consider his particular providence as a father: ver. 32, ‘Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.’ So Phil. iv. 5, 6, ‘Let your moderation be known unto all men: the Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God;’ 1 Peter v. 7, ‘Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.’ Be careful of your duty, how to manage your affairs most innocently, both in your general and particular calling; but be not careful about events, be not anxious about the issue, which is God’s part to determine. When you have done your duty, you should not be further careful about it. God knoweth what is best for you, and how much of worldly prosperity you are fit to enjoy, and to Lim must the whole business be committed.
6. Look to yourselves. In using an estate we bewray our earthly mindedness when the world is used more for the service and pleasure of the flesh than the honour of God. It is used for the service of the flesh when all our end is to live in pomp and pleasure, or that we and ours may be great in the world. It is used for God when they are instruments of piety and charity, to serve the Lord, and benefit others, and to do good, and further our own salvation. The scripture speaketh much of the use: Luke xii. 21, ‘So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God;’ Luke xvi. 9, ‘Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations;’ Eph. iv. 28, ‘Let him that stole, steal no more; but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.’
7. Be willing to resign them up to Christ, when the enjoyment of them is inconsistent with your fidelity to him. Be not unwilling to let go all your earthly conveniences, at least to hazard them for Christ: Luke xiv. 33, ‘Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.’ We esteem them too much when we prefer them before Christ and our salvation, or strain conscience for the world’s sake, or betray our peace, or wound our souls, rather than endure anything when God calleth us thereunto. If we will lose nothing for Christ, and upon the hopes of the other world, we can expect nothing from him.
Use 2. To dissuade us from earthly-mindedness.
To this end consider—
1. You must shortly die and come to your account, and according to the account you give, and the preparation you have made, you must live in endless joy or misery. When we come to die, it is not the possession, but the use, will comfort us. We can carry nothing with 146us into the other world but the comfort of a good conscience: Eccles. v. 15, ‘As he came forth of his mother’s womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand.’ A worldly, wealthy man, when he has made his will, and left all his estate, to such a son such an inheritance, to such a daughter such a portion, to such a friend such a legacy, what hath the poor man left for himself? If he hath not grace, what hath he left to carry with him but the anguish and misery of a guilty conscience, and the expectation of worse to come? Oh, poor miserable creature! when he must bid good-night to all the world, and all things take their leave of him, what a sorry comfort will that be that he hath, once gotten great things, and possessed great things here in the world! But if he hath used it well, his works follow him.
2. Consider the danger of abundance. An estate may be too great for us to manage, as Saul’s armour for David, 1 Sam. xvii. 39. It is harder to go to heaven: Mat. xix. 24, ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.’ A moderate condition of life is freest from ensnaring temptations. Abundance of all things without any want disposeth to a forgetfulness of God. Greater estates expose men to greater troubles and cares: Eccles. v. 11, 12, ‘When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes? The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.’ But chiefly our account is greater: Luke xvi. 2, ‘Give an account of thy stewardship, for thou mayest be no longer steward.’ Compared with Luke xii. 48, ‘Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required.’ They must give an account for more opportunities of doing good; they have a greater reckoning to make.
3. See by faith those sure, great, and glorious things which are infinitely more worthy your love and labour. The soul is never cured but by diversion. Nothing doth so powerfully quench our carnal pleasures, or inclination to earthly things, as a desire of, or a delight in, higher and better things: Col. iii. 2, ‘Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.’ These things are in two contrary balances; the mote the heart is given to the one, the other gets the less. Moses, Heb. xi. 25, ‘chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.’
4. Think often of your great necessities: Luke x. 42, ‘One thing is needful, and Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.’
5. Keep a daily jealousy of yourselves. It is a great part of your religion to be ‘unspotted from the world,’ James i. 27. This will never be without watchfulness, these things do so soon taint us; therefore see how you improve all for God and to eternal ends. Take account often whither the course of your life tendeth, whether to the world or to God and heaven. Because we are not watchful over ourselves, the holy and jealous God watcheth over us, and preventeth our doting on the world by sharp afflictions.
6. Pray often that God would sanctify the labours of your calling, 147and the enjoyments of the world: 1 Tim. iv. 4, 5, ‘Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanks giving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.’ Prayer blesseth all our enjoyments to us.
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