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believer, who is lately come from the throne of grace, where he had been begging spiritual alms, and he will say, “Yes, he has done exceeding abundantly above all that I could ask or desire.” Inquire of another, , and another, and of all the saints on earth or in hea. ven, and you will hear them all magnifying the Lord, and saying, “ The Lord is the portion of my inheritance, and of my cup. Thou maintainest my lot. Surely the lines are fallen to me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.”
The Lord is also a sure portion; and in our fluctuating world, this is a circumstance particularly interesting and encouraging. Earthly possessions and enjoyments are so precarious, that there is no dependance on them for a moment. If your wealth consist chiefly in money, thieves may break through, and steal it; or those with whom you have trusted it, may prove false or unfortunate, and either refuse or be unable to repay it. If it be houses, a fire
may few hours reduce them to rubbish; or if it be ships, a storm may sink them to the bottom of the sea. If it consist in lands, which are pompously made over to you and your heirs for ever, some flaw may be found in the title; some inundation may overflow it; an earthquake may swallow it up; or a foreign enemy may come, and dispossess you of the whole of your property: or if neither of these things should occur, a blast from heaven may suddenly render them bara ren. But our divine portion is subject to no such accidents ; it is secured to us by an unchangeable covenant. Though riches, therefore, may make to themselves wings, and fly away, and though from ease and affluence, we may be reduced to sit with
Job on a dungbill, yet“ nothing shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,”
The Lord is therefore an eternal portion. It is said in the psalm already quoted, “ He is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” Other things, though their tenure be sure, are perishable in their nature. If we were not to be deprived of them by external accidents, yet they will decay of themselves, or if they continue, the relish for them will sooner or later be gone. Or if we long enjoy them, we must certainly leave them at death, for then we can carry nothing away. The rich man, that is clothed in purple and fine linen, and fares sumptuously every day, may be looked up to with envy while he lives; but the first moment after he is dead, he is poorer than the beggar that lies at his gate. But how different is it with those who have God for their portion! Death is so far from destroying or diminishing their treasure, that they are, from that time, richer and happier than ever. They have only a pledge of their Father's love, sent to them occasionally, while they continue below. But when they are exalted to the mansions above, “ they shall hunger no more: neither thirst any more: neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat: for the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and lead them to living fountains of water: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” So that what the generality dread, the Christian has the strongest reason to desire. What is to the sinner the King of Terrors, is to the faithful servant of God a welcome messenger. The valley of the shadow of death, which to others is dark and gloomy, and the beginning of sorrows, is to him lightsome and pleasant as an anti-chamber of heaven, and a short passage to endless happiness and glory: When the kings of the earth, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, are pining in the most deplorable poverty and wretchedness, with only the bitter remembrance, that they, in their life-time, received their good things, the heirs of God will be exulting in the possession of a new and nobler treasure; an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away; a kingdom which cannot be moved, and a blessedness eternally increasing.
After this, I 'may very well add, that he is a tran. scendent portion, excellent and glorious beyond all comparison. “ There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heavens for thy help: and in his excellency, on the sky.” Many things have the deluded children of men fixed upon for their portion: but they are refuges of lies, broken reeds, or, as the prophet expresses it, “ vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish,” While the Christian's is a hope that makes not ashamed: an honour noble in itself, and enduring for ever. What
say ye now, ye lovers of sin and the world, is your rock like our rock, or your portion to be compared with our portion? Is it as satisfying in life, or as supporting in death? Wherefore do ye spend your money for that which is not bread, and
labour for that which satisfies not? Hearken diligently to me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live: and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David."
II. How came the Lord to be the portion of his creatures ?
It is very natural to make such an enquiry : for there was a time when it was the most improbable event in the world. Like the prodigal, we had our portion, and spent it. We wasted our substance, and were reduced to the greatest extremity. We lived without hope, and without God in the world : and had nothing but death and destruction before us. Yet even then, instead of resolving to arise, and go to our father, our minds were full of enmity against him. We liked not to retain him in our knowledge: and when he would kindly advance towards us, we turned away from him, and said, “ Depart from us : for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways." We preferred the unsuitable and unsatisfying vanities of this world, before that favour which is life, and that loving-kindness which is better than life. Such was our condition. We were feeding on ashes, grasping at shadows, and calling them our portion. How is it then, that we can any of us adopt the language of the text, and say, “ The Lord is my portion, saith my soul ?” How was this surprising alteration effected ? How came we, from having nothing, to possess all things: from being wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, to be richer and happier than the wealthiest and mightiest monarch upon earth? I answer,
First, by free gift on God's part. We durst not have asked such a thing. If we had been convinced of our need, yet who would venture to kneel down and pray in this manner; “ Lord, I have been a most perfidious wretch; abusing the riches of thy goodness, and turning thy grace into wantonness. All the precious fruits of thy love I have squandered away upon my sins ; and now, when I have nothing left to subsist upon, and am perishing with hunger, I desire that thou wouldst give me thyself. Then I shall have a portion that I can never spend, and pleasures that I can never exhaust." I say, who would have presumed to make such a proposal? Or, if we had, what could we have expected, but to have our petition rejected, and our presumption and rashness punished with severity? But what we durst not ask, God has freely bestowed. He knew our deplorable poverty and misery. He saw that those things which we were pursuing, were “lying vanities:” and his eye
affected his heart, so that he said to us, as he did to the people of Israel, “ Thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thy help. I see that you have been hewing out broken cisterns, which can hold no water; but I will be to you a fountain of living waters, and engage all my infinite perfections to supply you with whatever you want. I will never leave' nor forsake you ; I will be to you a God, and ye shall be to me a people.” What a gracious and glorious donation is this! Had he taken us up into an exceeding high mountain, and shown us all the kingdoms of this world, and the glory of them, and said, “ All this will I give thee,” it had been nothing to this. He may not bestow himself in all his excellencies and glory on a believer at once; but one perfection at this time, and another at that, according to his wants, or, as he is able to receive his gracious communica