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you not condemned by any other, but you condemn yourselves. He which will not hear is worse than Herod; for as bad as he was, yet it is said of him that he heard John. Nay, even those whom our Saviour Christ in the parable before this text compareth to the barren, the stony, and the thorny ground, were all hearers; and, therefore, he which will not hear is worse than any ground. It is said of Saul that, though he were haunted with an evil spirit, yet when he heard David play upon the harp the evil spirit departed from him : so they which hear have some ease of their sins, some peace of conscience, some intermission of their fear, as Saul had when he heard the harp; but they which will not hear have no intermission of their fear, nor of their grief, nor of their sins, because the evil spirit never departeth from them. Therefore, as all the beasts tremble when the lion roareth, so let all men hearken when God teacheth.
As the little birds perk up their heads when their dam comes with meat, and prepare their beaks to take it, striving who shall catch most, (now this looks to be served, and now that looks for a bit, and every mouth is opened till it be filled,) so you are here like birds, and we the dam, and the Word the food; therefore, you must prepare a mouth to take it. They which are hungry will strive for the bread which is cast amongst them, and think this is spoken to me, this is spoken to me; I have need of this, and I have need of this; comfort, go thou to my fear; promise, go thou to my distrust; threatening, go thou to my security; and the Word shall be like a perfume, which hath odour for every one.
The Heavenly Thrift.
Luke viii., verse 18.
WHOSOEVER hath, to him shall be given ; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which it seemeth that he hath.
The next words before are, “ Take heed how you hear.” The reason follows: to make us take heed how we hear, He saith, “Whosoever hath,” &c. This sentence hath two hands, (as it were,) one giveth and the other taketh: therefore, one calleth it a comfortable saying and a dreadful saying, for it blesseth some and curseth other ; like Moses, which saved the Israelites and slew the Egyptians. “Whosoever hath, to him shall be given :” there goeth the blessing “Whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken:” there runneth the curse. Thus, looking back to the words before, viz., “ Take heed how you hear," this doctrine cometh unto us: that he which taketh heed how he heareth sprouteth and flourisheth like a twig which hath life in it, till it come to a tree ; but he which taketh no heed how he heareth, fadeth and withereth like a stock which is dead, until he hath not only lost the gifts which he had, but till the Spirit do leave him too, and he seem as naked to men as Adam did to God. The like sentence is in the twentyfirst of Saint Matthew, where it is said, “The kingdom of heaven shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation which will bring forth the fruits thereof :” there is a taking from them which bring no fruits, and a giving to them which bring fruits. The like is in the twenty-first of the Revelation, where it is said, “Let him which is just be just still, and let him which is filthy be filthy still;" whereby it is meant that the just shall be more just, and the filthy shall be more filthy. The like is in the fifteenth of John, verse two, where it is said, “ Every branch which bringeth no fruit He taketh away ; but every branch which bringeth forth fruit He purgeth, that it may bring forth more fruit." The like is in the five-and-twentieth of Matthew, where this sentence is repeated again after the parable of the talents; as to one servant were committed five talents, and to another two, and to another one, to increase and multiply; and he which used his talent doubled it, and he which hid his talent lost it: even so to every man God hath given some gift, of judgment, of tongues, or interpretation, or counsel, to employ and do good; and he which useth that gift which God hath given him to the profit of others and God's glory shall receive more gifts of God, as the servant which used two talents received two more ; but he which useth it not, but abuseth it, as many do, that gift which he hath shall be taken from him, as the odd talent was from the servant which had but one, showing that one gift is too much for the wicked, and, therefore, it shall not stay with him. One would think it should be said, Whosoever hath not, to him shall be given, and Whosoever hath, from him shall be taken; for God biddeth us give to them which want. But this is contrary, for He taketh from them which want and giveth to them which have. It is said that our thoughts are not like God's thoughts, and so our gifts are not like God's gifts ; for He giveth spiritual things, and we give temporal things. Temporal things are to be given to them which have not, but spiritual things to them which have. Therefore, Christ calleth none to receive His Word, and Spirit, and grace, but them which hunger and thirst, which is the first possession of heaven. When it is said, “It shall be given," God showeth Himself rich and bountiful, because He giveth to them which have, that is, He giveth after He hath given; for “What hath any that he hath not received?” Therefore, none can say as Esau said to Isaac, “Hast thou but one
blessing, my father ? ” For He blesseth when He hath blessed, as a spring runneth when it hath run. First, mark the growth of God's gifts in them which use them, how He watereth His seed like a gardener, until it spring in the earth ; and after He watereth it again, until it spring above the earth ; and after He watereth it again, until it bring forth fruit upon the earth: therefore God is called “The Lord of the harvest;" because the seed, and the blade, and the ear, and the corn, and all do come from Him. After you shall see the want and the eclipse of their gifts which use them not, how their learning, and knowledge, and judgment doth betray them, as strength went from Sampson when he had lost his hair, till at last they may say, like Zedekiah, “When did the Spirit depart from me?” When did love depart from me? When did knowledge depart from me? When did my zeal depart from me?
As there is a fall of leaves, and an eclipse of the sun, and a consumption of the body, so there is a fall of gifts, and an eclipse of knowledge, and a consumption of the spirit. It is strange to see how wisdom, and knowledge, and judgment do shun the wicked, as though they were afraid to be defiled. As Barak would not go unless Deborah would go with him, so knowledge will not stay unless virtue will stay with her. To this Jeremiah pointed when he mocked the Jews for saying, “Knowledge shall not depart from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet.” To this Esay pointed when he saith, “The wisdom of the wise men shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall be hid;" as if he should say, One day Christ will tell you that “Whosoever hath not, from him," &c. And when you hear that saying, then remember these examples, how he hath fulfilled it before. After come the apostles, and they show some hardened, some bewitched, some blinded. Paul tells how Demas fell away, and John showeth how many fell away. Thus the prophets and apostles on either side, and Christ in the midst, hold up this threatening, as if it were a pit which all are falling into. The soul of man is called “The temple of the Holy Ghost.” As God pulled down His temple when it became "A den of thieves," so He forsaketh "The temple of the soul,” and taketh His graces from her, (as from a divorced spouse,) when it lusteth after other loves. With any talent He giveth this charge, “ Use and increase it, until I come ;" being left, at last He cometh again to see what we have done. The seed was sown; this year the Lord calls for fruit, and none will come; the next year, and the next after, and none comes ; at last the curse goeth forth, “Never fruit grow upon thee more.” Then, as the fig tree began to wither, so His gifts begin to paire, as if a worm were still gnawing at them; his knowledge loseth his relish like the Jews' manna ; his judgment rusts like a sword which is not used ; his zeal trembleth as though it were in a palsy; his faith withereth as though it were blasted; and the image of death is upon all his religion. After this, he thinketh, like Sampson, to pray as he did, and speak as he did, and hath no power, but wondereth, like Zidkijah, how the Spirit is gone from him. Now when the good spirit is gone, then cometh the spirit of blindness, and the spirit of error, and the spirit of fear; and all to seduce the spirit of man. After this, by little and little, first he falls into error, then he comes unto heresy, at last he plungeth into despair. After this, if he inquire, God will not suffer him to learn ; if he read, God will not suffer him to understand ; if he hear, God will not suffer him to remember; if he pray, God seemeth unto him like Baal, which could not hear; at last, he beholdeth his wretchedness, as Adam looked upon his nakedness, and mourneth for his gifts, as Rachel wept for her children, “Because they were not.” All this cometh to pass that the Scripture might be fulfilled, “Whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken that which he seemeth to have.” As the ship sinketh upon the sea while the merchant sporteth upon the land, and makes him a bankrupt when he thinketh that his goods are coming in; so, while we are secure, and the heart spendeth, and the ear bringeth not in, by little and little the stock decayeth, and more become bankrupts in religion than in all trades beside. When a man sinneth he thinketh with himself, I will do this