The comforting strength of sincerity 4/4

(3.) Sincerity girds the Christian with strength of comfort, when deprived of those opportunities which sometime God had intrusted him with for serving of him.  [This is] an affliction which, considered in it­self, [is] so grievous to a gracious soul that he knows none he fears more.  He could choose any, might he be his own carver, before it; yea, to be poor, dis­graced, persecuted, anything rather than be laid aside as a broken instrument, unserviceable to his God.  Indeed, he values his life, and all the comforts of it, by the opportunities they afford for the glorifying God.  David stops the mouth of his soul, which began to whisper some discontented language, with this, that he should yet praise God.  ‘Why art thou disquieted, O my soul,… I shall yet praise him,’ Ps. 42:5.  All is well with David, and no cause of disquiet in his soul, whatever besides goes cross to him, may he but praise God, and have opportunity of glorifying him.  Joseph, when God had so strangely raised him pinnacle high, as I may say, to honour in a strange land, he doth not bless himself in his preferment, carnally to think how great a man he is, but interprets the whole series of providence, bringing him at last to that place, wherein he stood compeer to a mighty king, to be no other than giving him an opportunity of being eminently serviceable to God in the preserva­tion of his church, which was at that time contained in his father’s family.  ‘God hath sent me hither,’ saith he, ‘before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance,’ Gen. 45:7.  This holy man made his place give place to the work he was called to act in it for God, counting the honour of his honour, to lie in the opportunity he had by it of serving God and his church.  It must therefore needs be a sad affliction to a saint, when such opportunities are taken from him that at any time he hath enjoyed.  But sincerity can make good work of this also, if God will have it so.  It is sad to the Christian to be laid aside, but it is comfortable to him to remember that when he was not, he did not melt his talents away in sloth, nor waste them away in riot, but was faithful in improving them for God.  He counts it his affliction that God employs him not as he hath done, but he is not sorry that God can do his work without him; yea, it is a sweet comfort to him, as he lies at the grave’s mouth, to think that the glory of God shall not go down tot he grave with him.  Though he dies, yet god lives to take care of his own work; and it is not the cracking of one string, or of all, that can mar the music of God’s providence, who can perform his pleasure without using any creature for his instrument.  In a word, it is sad to him to be taken from any work wherein he might more eminently glorify God; yet this again comforts him that God counts that done which the Christian sincerely desires to do. David’s good-will in desiring to build the temple, was as much in God’s account as if he had done it.  Many shall be at the last day rewarded by Christ for clothing and feeding the poor, who, when on earth, had neither clothes nor bread to give, yet having had a heart to give, shall be reckoned amongst the greatest benefactors to the poor.  This appears from Matt. 25:34, where Christ is represented speak­ing not to some few saints that had great estates to be­stow on charitable uses, but to all his saints, poor as well as rich.  ‘Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you,’ &c.  ‘For I was hun­gered and ye gave me meat,’ &c.  Mark, not ‘ye that were rich,’ but ‘ye’—that is, ‘all—such as had bread,’ you gave that out, you that had not bread or money to give, when you could not draw out your purse, you yet drew out your souls to the hungry.  Hear this, O ye precious souls that God hath made sincere, and take comfort.  May be you stand low in the world; your calling is mean; your estate next to nothing; which makes you little regarded by your neighbours that overtop you.  Canst thou say, though thou beest but a servant to some poor cobbler, that thou desirest to walk in the truth of thy heart, approving thyself to God in thy whole course?  This bird will sing as sweet a note in thy breast, as if thou wert the greatest mon­arch in the world.  That which brings comfort to the greatest saint in a time of distress, is the same which comforts the meanest in the family, and that is the love and favour of God, interest in Christ, and the precious promises which in him are ‘yea’ and ‘amen.’ Now, sincerity is the best evidence for our title to those.  It will not be so much insisted on, whether much or little has been done by us, as whether that much or little were in sincerity.  ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’  Not ‘well done, thou hast done great things, ruled states and kingdoms, been a famous preacher in thy time,’ &c.; but ‘thou hast been faith­ful;’ and that thou mayest be that standest in the ob­scurest corner of the world.  Good Hezekiah knew this, and therefore, on his sick-bed, he doth not tell God of his great services he had done—though none had done more—but only desires God to take notice of the truth and sincerity of his heart, ‘Remember, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight,’ Isa. 38:3.

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