9. 'OH, BUT THE CONDITION THAT GOD HAS PUT ME IN, MAKES ME UNSERVICEABLE, AND THIS TROUBLES ME.

It is true, if it were only an affliction and trouble to myself, it would not be so much, but I am put into such a condition by this affliction that I am unserviceable, and can do God no further service. God has put me into a mean position, and what good can I do? How burdensome is my life to me, because I can do no service for God! This is grievous to me.' Indeed, if it is true that this is your great grief, it is a good sign. If you can say, as in the presence of God, 'Above all afflictions in this world, I count to be laid aside and not to be employed in the service of God the greatest affliction. I would rather bear any trouble in the world if I might do more service, than be freed from trouble and be laid aside and do little service: can you say so? It is a good sign of grace for a man to account afflictions as great because he can do the Lord but little service. Few men account that an affliction at all.

But yet there may be a temptation in this. To murmur at God's disposal, when your calling is low and mean and you can do little service, is many times a temptation to those who are poor, those who are servants and those who are of weak gifts, and must work hard to provide bread for their families. It is many times a grievous burden to them to think: The Lord uses other men in public service and I live in an obscure way, and to what purpose is my life? To help against this temptation, that you may not murmur against this condition:
1. Do but consider that though your condition is low and mean, yet you are in the Body, you are a member of the Body, Though you are but a mean member, the toe and the finger have their use in the body; though it is not the eye, though it is not the head, or the heart, yet it has its use in the body.

There is an excellent expression, which I remember Augustine has about this: 'It is better to be the meanest member in the body, than to be the highest and most important member and cut off from the body; it is better to be a little sprig in the tree joined to the root, than to be an arm cut off from the root.' Other men who have but common gifts in the world,* who are not members of Jesus Christ, seem indeed to have more excellence than those who are godly, who are in a mean condition, with mean gifts and mean callings; but they are not of the body, they are not joined to the root, and therefore their condition is worse. [*Common gifts as distinct from the gift of salvation.] When a great arm of a tree is cut off it has a great many leaves on it, and seems a great deal more glorious than those little sprigs that are on the tree, but that little sprig is in a better condition. Why? Because it is joined to the tree and gets sap from the root and flourishes, but the other will wither and die within a while. So it is with all men of the world: they are just like great boughs cut off from the tree; though they have excellent gifts, and have great wealth and pomp and glory in the world, they have no union with Jesus Christ the root. But others who live in a poor condition, a poor tradesman, a poor servant, a poor laboring-man who labors for his family every day, such a one, being godly, may say, 'Though I have but little for the present, little glory, little credit, little comfort, yet I am joined to the Body, and there I have supply and that which will feed me with comfort, blessing and mercy to all eternity.' So all who are in a poor condition in this world, if you are godly, just thing of that: though you are mean yet you are in the Body, and joined to the root. You are joined to the principle of comfort, good, blessing and mercy, which will hold out to eternity, when thousand thousands of glorious pompous men in the world shall wither and perish everlastingly. Therefore do not be troubled at your mean condition.

2. Though you have only a mean calling in this world, and so are not regarded as a man of use in the world, yet if you are a Christian, God has called you to a higher calling; your general calling is a high calling, though your particular calling is but low and mean.* [*The Puritans taught that believers have a twofold calling: their particular calling, which was to their daily occupation and work; and their general calling, to be Christians.] There is a place for that in the chapter before my text, Philippians 3:14: 'I press towards the mark', says the Apostle, 'for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.' So every Christian has a high calling of God in Christ Jesus: God has called him to the highest thing to which he has called any creature he has made. The angels in Heaven have not a higher calling than you have. You who perhaps spend your time in a poor business, in the meanest calling, if you are a dung-raker, to rake channels, or to clean places of filth, or any other thing in the world that is the meanest that can be conceived of, your general calling as a Christian advances you higher than any particular calling can advance any man in the world. Others, indeed, who are called to manage the affairs of the State are in a high calling, or ministers, they are in a high calling; but yours in some respects is higher. A poor servant who must be scraping all day about poor, mean things many times may have such a temptation as this: 'Oh, what a poor condition has God put me into! Will God have regard to such a one who is in such a poor, low place as I am?' Oh, yes, Christ has regard to the meanest member; as a man has as real a regard to his toe if it is in pain, and will look after it as truly and verily as any other member, so Christ has regard to his lowest and meanest ones.

3. You are in a high calling. Though your outward calling is low in respect of men, yet in respect of God you are in the same calling with the angels in Heaven, and in some degree called to that which is higher, for the Scripture says that the angels come to understand the mystery of the Gospel by the Church. You who are a Christian in that general calling of yours, you are joined with principalities and powers, and with angels, in the greatest work that God has called any creature to, and therefore let that comfort you in this.

4. You calling is low and mean; yet do not be discontented with that, for you have a principle within you (if you are a godly man or woman) of grace, which raises your lowest actions to be higher in God's esteem, than all the brave, glorious actions that are done in the world. The principle of faith does it: if any man or woman goes on in obedience to God in a way of faith in the calling in which God has set them-doing this, I say, through a principle of faith-it raises this action, and makes it a more glorious action than all the glorious victories of Alexander and Caesar. All their triumphs and glorious pomp that they had in all their conquests were not so glorious as for you to do the lowest action out of faith. As Luther speaks of a poor milkmaid who is a believer, and does her work in faith: he compares that action to all the glorious actions of Caesar, and makes it a great deal more eminent and glorious in the eyes of God. Therefore faith raises your works which are but mean, and raises them to be very glorious.

Yes, and the truth is, it is more obedience to submit to God in a low calling, than to submit to him in a higher calling; for it is sheer obedience, mere obedience, that makes you go on in a low calling, but there may be much self-love that makes men go on in a higher calling, for there is riches, credit and account in the world, and rewards come in by that, which they do not in the other. To go on quietly in a low calling is more obedience to God.

5. Know further, in the last place, that there is likely to be more reward.

For when the Lord comes to reward, he does not examine what work men and women have been exercised in, but what their faithfulness has been.

'Well done, good and faithful servant,' said the Lord; he does not say, 'Well done, good servant, for you have been faithful to me in public works, ruling cities and states, and affairs in kingdoms, and therefore you shall be rewarded.' No, but, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.' Now you may be faithful in little as well as others are in more, by going on and working your day's labor; when you get but a couple of shillings to maintain your family, you may be as faithful in this as those who rule a kingdom. God looks to a man's faithfulness, and you may have as great a reward for your faithfulness who are a poor servant in the kitchen all the day, as another who sits upon the throne all day. As great a crown of glory you may have at the day of judgment, as a king who sits upon the throne, who has ruled for God upon his throne. Yes, your faithfulness may be rewarded by God with as great glory as a king who has swayed his scepter for God; because, I say, the Lord does not so much look at the work that is done, as at the faithfulness of our hearts in doing it. Then why should not every one of us go on comfortably and cheerfully in our low condition, for why may not I be faithful as well as another? It is true, I cannot come to be as rich a man and as honorable as others; but I may be as faithful as any other man: every one of you may reason thus with yourselves. What hinders you who are the poorest and meanest from being as faithful as the greatest? Yes, you may have as glorious a crown in Heaven, and therefore go on comfortably and cheerfully in your way.