An Ark for All God's Noahs in a Gloomy Stormy Day or,

The Best Wine Reserved Until Last or,

The Transcendent Excellency of a Believer's
Portion above All Earthly Portions

by Thomas Brooks, 1662

"The Lord is my portion, says my soul; therefore
I will hope in Him." Lamentations 3:24

"I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man who would know me, refuge failed me, no man cared for my soul, I cried unto you, O Lord, I said you are my refuge, and my portion in the land of the living" Psalm 142:4-5.


To all the merchants and tradesmen of England, especially these of the city of London, with all other sorts and ranks of people that either have or would have God for their portion; may grace, mercy, and peace be multiplied.

Gentlemen—The wisest prince that ever sat upon a throne has told us, that "a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver," that is, rightly ordered, placed, and circumstanced. Such a word is, of all words, the most excellent, the most prevalent, most precious, most sweet, most desirable, and most delectable, and the most pleasant word that can be spoken. O sirs! to time a word, to speak a word to purpose, is the project of this book. Though all truths are glorious, yet there is a double glory upon seasonable truths; and, therefore, I have made it my great business in this treatise to hold forth as seasonable a truth, and as weighty a truth, and as comfortable and encouraging a truth, as any I know in all the book of God. The mother of King Cyrus willed, that the words of those who spoke unto her son should be in silk, but certainly seasonable words are always better than silken words.

Every prudent farmer observes his fittest season to sow his seeds, and therefore some he sows in the autumn and fall of the leaf; and some in the spring and renewing of the year; some be sows in a dry season, and some he sows in a wet; some he sows in a moist clay, and some he sows in a sandy dry ground. And so all spiritual farmers must wisely observe their fittest seasons for the sowing of that immortal seed that God has put into their hands; and such a thing as this is I have had in my eye—but whether I have hit the mark or missed it, let the Christian reader judge.

Augustine, speaking of the glory of heaven says, "That the good things of eternal life are so many that they exceed number, so great that they exceed measure, and so precious that they are above all estimation," etc. The same may I say concerning the saint's present portion, for certainly the good things that are in their portion—in their God—are so many, that they exceed number, so great that they exceed measure, and so precious that they are above all estimation.

The same author in one of his epistles has this remarkable relation, namely, that the same day wherein Jerome died, he was in his study, and had got pen, ink, and paper to write something of the glory of heaven to Jerome, and suddenly Augustine saw a light breaking into his study, and smelled also a very sweet smell, and this voice he thought he heard—"O Augustine, what are you doing? do think to put the sea into a little vessel? When the heavens shall cease from their continual motion—only then shall you be able to understand what the glory of heaven is, and not before!" Certainly, the glory of heaven is beyond all conception and all expression, and so is that portion that is a little hinted at in the following discourse. And, indeed, a full description of that God, who is the believer's portion, is a work too high for an Aaron when standing upon mount Hor; or for a Moses, when standing on the top of Nebo after a Pisgah prospect. Yes, it is a work too high and too hard for all those blessed seraphim that are still a-crying before the throne of God, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty." [Num 20:28; Deut 32:49; Deut 34:1; Isa 6:3] No finite being, though ever so glorious, can ever be able fully to comprehend an infinite being.

In Isaiah 6:2, we read that each seraphim had six wings, and that with two he covered the face of God, with two his feet, and with two he flew; intimating, as one well observes upon the place, that with two they covered his face, the face of God, not their own face; and with two they covered his feet, not their own feet. They covered his face, his beginning being unknown; they covered his feet, his end being incomprehensible; only the middle are to be seen, the things which are, whereby there may be some glimmering knowledge made out what God is.

The wise man hit it, when he said, "That which is afar off and exceeding deep—who can find it out?" Eccles 7:24. Who can find out what God is? The knowledge of him is so far off, that he whose arm is able to break even a bow of steel is not able to reach it; so far off, that he who is able to make his nest with the eagle is not able to fly unto it; and so exceeding deep, that he who could follow the leviathan could not fathom it; that he who could venture to the center of the earth, is not able to find it out! Who then is able to reach it? In a word, so far off and so deep too, that "the depth says, It is not in me; and the sea says, It is not in me." It is such a deep to men and angels as far exceeds the capacity of both. Augustine speaking to that question, 'What God is?' gives this answer—"Surely such a one as he, who, when he is spoken of, cannot be spoken of; who, when he is considered, cannot be considered of; who, when he is compared to anything, cannot be compared; and when he is defined, grows greater by defining of him. If that great apostle—who learned his divinity among the angels, yes, to whom the Holy Spirit was an immediate tutor, did know but "in part," then certainly those who are most acute and judicious in divine knowledge may very well conclude—that they know but part of that part that was known to him." As for my own part, I dare pretend but to a spark of that knowledge that others have attained to, and yet who can tell but that God may turn this spark into such a flame as may warm the hearts of many of his dear and precious ones. Much is done many times by a spark.

O sirs! catch not at the present profits, pleasures, preferments, and honors of this world—but "lay up a good foundation for the time to come," provide for eternity, make sure your interest and propriety in God. It was an excellent saying of Lewis, emperor of Germany—"Such goods," said he, "are worth getting and owning, as will not sink or wash away if a shipwreck happens." How many of you have lost your all by shipwrecks! and how has divine providence by your multiplied crosses and losses taught you—that the good things and the great things of this world cannot be made sure! How many of you have had rich inheritances left you by your fathers, besides the great portions that you have had with your wives, and the vast estates that you have gained by trading; but what is become of all? Is not all buried in the deep, or in the grave of oblivion? Oh the fickleness and the grand impostury of this world! Oh the flux and reflux of riches, greatness, honors, and preferments! How many men have we seen shining in their worldly pomp and glory like stars in the skies—who are now vanished into smoke or comets! How has the moon of many great men's riches and honors been eclipsed at the full, and the sun of their pomp gone down at noon!

"It was," says the historian Justinian, "a wonderful precedent of vanity, and variety of human condition to see mighty Xerxes to flee away in a small vessel, who but a little before needed sea-room for his navy." The Dutch, to express the world's vanity and uncertainty, have very wittily pictured a man with a full blown balloon on his shoulders, and another standing by pricking the balloon with a pin, with this motto—How soon is all blown away! I am not willing to make the porch too wide, else I might have given you famous instances of the vanity and uncertainty of all worldly wealth, pomp, and glory, from the Assyrian, Chaldean, Persian, Grecian, and Roman kingdoms, whose glory now lies all in the dust. By all this, it is most evident that earthly portions cannot be made sure, they "make themselves wings, and they fly away," Prov 23:5.

Oh! but God is a portion that may be made sure. In the time of the Marian persecution, there was a woman, who, being convened before bloody Bonner, then bishop of London, upon the trial of religion, he threatened her that he would take away her husband from her—says she, 'Christ is my husband!' I will take away your child; 'Christ,' says she, 'is better to me than ten sons!' I will strip you, says he, of all your outward comforts; 'but Christ is mine,' says she, 'and you cannot strip me of him.' A Christian may be stripped of anything but his God; he may be stripped of his estate, his friends, his relations, his liberty, his life—but he can never be stripped of his God. As God is a portion that none can give to a Christian but God himself; so God is a portion that none can take from a Christian but God himself; and, therefore, as ever you would have a sure portion, an abiding portion, a lasting portion, yes, an everlasting portion, make sure of God for your portion.

O Sirs! that you would judge that only worth much now, which will be found of much worth at last—when you shall lie upon a dying bed, and stand before a judgment-seat. Oh that men would prize and value all earthly portions now, as they will value them when they come to die, and when their souls shall sit upon their trembling lips, and when there shall be but a short step between them and eternity. Oh, at what a poor rate, at what a low rate do men then value their earthly portions! Certainly, it will be their very great wisdom to value their earthly portions now—as they would value them then. And oh that men would value this glorious, this matchless portion that is held forth in this treatise now, as they will value it and prize it when they come to die, and when they come to launch out into the ocean of eternity!

I have read of a stationer, who, being at a fair, hung out several pictures of famous men, among which he had also the picture of Christ. Upon which divers men bought according to their several likings—the soldier buys his Caesar, the lawyer his Justinian, the physician his Galen, the philosopher his Aristotle, the poet his Virgil, the orator his Cicero, and the divine his Augustine. But all this while the picture of Christ hung by as a thing of no value, until a poor man, who had no more money than would purchase that, bought it, saying, Now every man has taken away his God, let me have mine too! O Sirs! it would make any gracious, any serious, any ingenious, any conscientious heart to bleed, to see at what a high rate all sorts and ranks of men do value earthly portions, which at best are but counterfeit pictures, when this glorious portion which is here treated of, hangs by as a thing of no value, of no price!

Most men are mad upon the world, and so they may have much of that for their portion, they care not whether ever they have God for their portion or not. Give them but a palace in Paris, and then with that French duke, they care not for a place in paradise; give them but a mess of pottage, and let who will take the birthright; give them but manna in a wilderness, and let who will take the land of Canaan; give them but ground which is pleasant and rich, and then with the Reubenites they will gladly take up their rest on this side the Holy Land; give them but their bags full, and their barns full, and then with the rich fool in the Gospel, they can think of nothing but of taking their ease, and of eating and drinking, and making merry, Luke 12:16-22. So brutish and foolish are they in their understandings, as if their precious and immortal souls were good for nothing but as salt to keep their bodies from rotting and stinking.

Oh that these men would seriously consider, that as a cup of pleasant wine, offered to a condemned man in the way to his execution, and as the feast of him who sat under a naked sword, hanging perpendicularly over his head by a slender thread, and as Adam's forbidden fruit, seconded by a flaming sword, and as Belshazzar's dainties, overlooked by an handwriting against the wall; such and only such are all earthly portions to those who have not God for their portion.

Well, gentlemen, remember this, there is no true happiness to be found in any earthly portions. Solomon, having made a critical inquiry after the excellency of all creature comforts, gives this in as the ultimate extraction from them all, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." if you should go to all the creatures round, they will tell you that happiness is not in them. If you should go to the earth, the earth will tell you that happiness grows not in the furrows of the field. If you go to the sea, the sea will tell you that happiness is not in the treasures of the deep. If you go to the beasts of the field, or to the birds of the air, they will tell you that happiness is not to be found on them. If you go to your bags, or heaps of gold and silver, they will tell you that happiness is not to be found in them. If you go to crowns and scepters, they will tell you that happiness is too precious and too glorious a gem to be found in them.

As it is not the great cage which makes the bird sing, so it is not the great estate which makes the happy life, nor the great earthly portion which makes the happy soul. There is no true comfort nor no true happiness to be drawn out of the standing pools of outward sufficiencies. All true comfort and happiness is only to be found in having of an all-sufficient God for your portion. Psalm 144:15, "Happy is that people that is in such a case, yes, happy is that people whose God is the Lord." And therefore, as ever you would be happy in both worlds, it very highly concerns you to get a saving interest in God, and to be restless in your own souls until you come to enjoy God for your portion.

A man who has God for his portion is a paragon; he is the rarest and the happiest man in the world; he is like the morning star in the midst of the clouds; he is like the moon when it is full; he is like the flower of the roses in the spring of the year; he is like the lilies by the springs of waters; he is like the branches of frankincense in the time of summer; he is like a vessel of gold that is set about with all manner of precious stones.

Nothing can make that man miserable, who has God for his portion; nor nothing can make that man happy, who lacks God for his portion. The more rich—the more wretched; the more great—the more graceless; the more honorable—the more miserable that man will be, who has not God for his portion. The Sodomites were very wealthy, and who more vile and wicked than they? The Egyptians and Babylonians were very rich, great, and potent in the world, and what greater oppressors and persecutors of the people of God than these? Oh the slavery, the captivity, and the woeful misery of the people of God, under those cruel tyrants! Have not the Nimrods, the Nebuchadnezzars, the Belshazzars, the Alexanders, and the Caesars, etc., been commonly the lords of the world; and who so abominably wicked as these? No men for wickedness have been able to match them or come near them.

It has been long since observed, that Daniel sets forth the several monarchies of the world by sundry sorts of cruel beasts, to show that as they were gotten by beastly cruelty, so they were supported and maintained by brutish sensuality, craft, and tyranny.

Well, Sirs! you may be the lords of this world, and yet you will certainly be miserable in another world, except you get God for your portion. The top of man's happiness in this world lies in his having of God for his portion. He who has God for his portion enjoys all; and he who lacks a saving interest and propriety in God enjoys nothing at all.

Gentlemen, I have read of an heathen who, seeing a sudden shipwreck of all his wealth, said, Well, fortune, I see now that you would have me to be a philosopher. Oh that you would say under all your heavy losses and crosses, Well! we now see that God would have us "lay up treasure in heaven," Matt 6:19-20; we now see that God would have us look after a better portion than any this world affords; we now see that it highly concerns us to secure our interest and property in God; we now see that to enjoy God for our portion is the one thing necessary. Have not many of you said, nay sworn, that if you might but see and enjoy the delight of your eyes—that then you would have a sweeping trade, and abound in all plenty and prosperity, and grow rich and great and glorious in the world, and be eased of everything that did but look like a burden, etc. If it be indeed thus with you, why do you so complain, murmur, and repine? and why do many of you walk up and down the Exchange and streets with tears in your eyes, and with heaviness in your hearts, and with cracked credits, and threadbare coats, and empty purses? and why are so many of you broke, and so many prisoners, and so many hide, and so many fled? But if it be otherwise, and that you are sensible that you have put a cheat upon yourselves, I say not upon others, and that as you have been self-flatterers, so you have been self-deceivers, the more highly it concerns you to do yourselves, your souls that right, as to make sure of God for your portion. For what else can make up those woeful disappointments under which you are fallen?

It is a sad sight to see all the arrows that men shoot to fall upon their own heads; or to see them twist a rope to hang themselves; or to see men dig a pit for others and to fall into it themselves. And it is but justice that men should bake as they brew, and that those who brew mischief should have the first and largest draught of it themselves. Now the best way to prevent so sad a sight and so great a mischief, is to get God for your portion—for when once God comes to be a man's portion, then "all things shall work together for his good," Rom 8:28, and then God will preserve him from such hurtful and mischievous actings.

The whole world is a great bedlam, and multitudes there are that think madly, and that design madly, and that talk madly, and that act madly, and that walk madly. Now as you would not be found in the number of those bedlams, it highly concerns you to get God for your portion, so that you may be filled with that wisdom that may preserve you from the folly and madness of this mad world.

Gentlemen, the following sermons I preached in 1660, and God blessed them then to those Christians that attended on my ministry, and I hope he will bless them also to the internal and eternal welfare of your souls, to whom they are now dedicated. They are much enlarged; the profit will be yours, the labor has been mine. I judge them very seasonable and suitable to present dispensations, else they had not seen the light at this time. Curiosity is the spiritual adultery of the soul; curiosity is that green-sickness of the soul, whereby it longs for novelties, and loathes sound and wholesome truths; it is the epidemic distemper of this age and hour.

And therefore, if any of you are troubled with this itch of curiosity, and love to be wise above what is written, and delight to scan the choice mysteries of religion by carnal reason, and affect elegant expressions and seraphic notions, and the flowers of rhetoric, more than sound and wholesome truths, then you may ease yourselves, if you please, of the trouble of reading this following treatise. Only remember this, that the prudent farmer looks more and delights more in the ripeness and soundness and goodness of the corn that is in his field, than he does at the beauty of the cockle; and remember, that no man can live more miserably than he who lives altogether upon sweets; and he who looks more at the handsomeness than he does at the wholesomeness of the dishes of food which are set before him, may well pass for a fool.

Well, gentlemen, for a close, remember this, that as Noah was drunk with his own wine, and as Goliath was beheaded by his own sword, and as the rose is destroyed by the canker that it breeds in itself, and as Agrippina was killed by Nero, to whom she gave breath; so if ever you are eternally destroyed, you will be destroyed by yourselves; if ever you are undone, you will be undone by yourselves; if ever you are scourged to death, it will be by rods of your own making; and if ever the bitter cup of damnation be put into your hands, it will be found to be of your own preparing, mingling, and embittering.

Behold, I have set life and death, heaven and hell, glory and misery, before you in this treatise; and therefore, if you will needs choose death rather than life, hell rather than heaven, misery rather than glory, what can be more just—than that you should perish to all eternity? If you will not have God for your portion, you shall be sure to have His wrath for your portion, and hell for your portion!

Well, sirs! remember this at last—Every man shall only thank his own folly for his own bane, his own sin for his own everlasting shame, his own iniquity for his own endless misery!

I have now no more to do but to improve all the interest that I have in heaven, that this treatise may be blessed to all your souls, and that you all experience what it is to have God for your portion; for that will be my joy as well as yours, and my crown as well as yours, and my glorying as well as yours, in the great day of our Lord Jesus; and so "I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among those who are sanctified," Acts 20:32; and rest, gentlemen, your souls' servant,
Thomas Brooks.


"The Lord is my portion, says my soul; therefore
I will hope in Him." Lamentations 3:24.

Certainly if Ennius could pick out gold out of a dunghill, I may, by divine assistance, much better pick out golden matter out of such a golden mine as my text is—to enrich the souls of men. The best of painters Apelles, to draw an exquisite Venus, had set before him an hundred choice and selected beauties, to take from one an eye, another a lip, a third a smile, a fourth an hand, and from each of them that special lineament in which the most excelled; but I have no need of any other scripture to be set before me to draw forth the excellency of the saints' portion, than that which I have now pitched upon; for the beauty, excellency, and glory of a hundred choice scriptures are epitomized in this one!

The Jewish doctors and other writers differ about the time of Jeremiah's penning this book of the Lamentations; but to be ignorant of the circumstance of time when this book was made, is such a crime as I suppose will not be charged upon any man's account in the great day of our Lord Jesus.

Doubtless this book of the Lamentations was composed by Jeremiah in the time of the Babylonian captivity. In this book the prophet sadly laments and bewails the grievous calamities and miseries that had befallen the Jews, namely—the ruin of their state, the devastation of their land, the destruction of their glorious city and temple, which was the great wonder of the world, the profanation of all his holy things, the contemptible and deplorable condition of all sorts, ranks, and degrees of men. And then he complains of their sins as the procuring causes of all those calamities that God in his righteousness had inflicted upon them. He exhorts them also to patience under the mighty hand of God, and stirs them up to repent and reform, as they would have their sins pardoned, judgments removed, divine wrath pacified, their insulting enemies suppressed, and former acts and grants of favor and grace restored to them.

But to come to the words of my text, "The LORD is my portion, says my soul; therefore I will hope in Him." Lamentations 3:24

The LORD Jehovah, from havah, he was. This name Jehovah is the most proper name of God, and it is never attributed to any but to God.

1. First, Jehovah sets out God's eternity, in that it contains all times, future, present, and past.

2. Secondly, It sets out also God's self-existence, coming from havah, to be.

3. Thirdly, When either some special mercy is promised, or some extraordinary judgment is threatened, then the name of Jehovah is commonly annexed; to show that that God whose being is from himself, and who gives a being to all his creatures both on heaven and on earth—will certainly give a being to his promises and threatenings, and not fail to accomplish the words that are gone out of his mouth.

4. Fourthly, This name Jehovah consists only of quiescent letters, that is letters of rest, as the Hebrews call them, to show that there is no rest until we come to Jehovah, and that in him we may safely and securely rest, as the dove did in Noah's ark.

"Is my portion." the Hebrew word signifies to divide. He alludes, as I take it, to the dividing of the land of Canaan among the Israelites by lot. "The Lord," says he, "is my portion," my part, my lot; and with this portion I rest fully satisfied, as the Israelites were to do with their parts and portions in that pleasant land. It is true, says Jeremiah, in the name of the church, I am thus and thus afflicted, and sorely distressed on all hands; but yet "the Lord is my portion," and that supports and bears up my spirits from fainting and sinking in this evil day.

"Says my soul." The Hebrew word has nine various senses or significations in the Scripture. But let this suffice, that by soul here in the text we are to understand the heart, the mind, the spirit, and the understanding of a man. Well, says the prophet, though I am in a sea of sorrow, and in a gulf of misery, yet my heart tells me that "the Lord is my portion;" my mind tells me that "the Lord is my portion;" my spirit tells me that "the Lord is my portion;" and my understanding tells me that "the Lord is my portion;" and therefore I will bear up bravely in the face of all calamities and miseries.

"Therefore will I hope in him." The Hebrew word that is here rendered hope, signifies both hoping, expecting, and trusting; also it signifies a patient waiting upon the Lord. [Gen 8:10; Isaiah 42:4; Psalm 31:25] The prophet Jeremiah had not only a witness above him—but also a witness within him, that the Lord was his portion; and therefore he resolves firmly to hope in the Lord, and sweetly to trust on the Lord, and quietly and patiently to wait upon the Lord, until God should turn his storm into a calm, and his sad winter into a blessed summer.

In my text there are three things observable:

First, An assertion or proposition in those words, "The Lord is my portion."

Secondly, A proof of it in those words, "says my soul."

Thirdly, The use or inference from the premises in those words, "Therefore will I hope in him."

The words being thus opened, the proposition that I intend to insist upon is this, namely:

Doctrine. That the Lord is the saints' portion.

I shall call in a few scriptures to witness to the truth of this proposition, and then I shall further open it to you. Psalm 16:5, "The Lord is the portion of my inheritance, and of my cup—you maintain my lot." Psalm 73:26, "My flesh and my heart may fail—but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever." Psalm 119:57, "You are my portion, O Lord—I have said that I would keep your words." Jer 10:16, "He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the Maker of all things, including Israel, the tribe of his inheritance—the Lord Almighty is his name."

Now for the further opening and clearing up of this great and glorious, this sweet and blessed truth, I shall endeavor to show you,

First, What a portion the Lord is to his saints, to his gracious ones.

Secondly, The reasons or grounds whereupon the saints have laid claim to God as their portion.