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 wish to answer a few objections that poor sinners are apt to make against their own souls, and against their enjoying of God for their portion.

Objection 1. Methinks I hear some poor sinners ready to object and say, O sir! you have pressed us by many motives to get God for our portion, and we stand convinced in some measure by what you have said, that God is a most excellent, transcendent, glorious portion; but we very much question whether ever God will bestow himself as a portion—upon such great, such grievous, such notorious, and such wicked sinners as we are.

Now to this objection, I shall return these answers:

[1.] First, God is a free agent, and therefore he may give himself as a portion to whom he pleases. Men may do with their own as they please, and so may God do with himself as he pleases. Look! as men may give earthly portions to whom they please, so God may give himself as a portion to what sinners he pleases. God is as free to bestow himself upon the greatest of sinners, as he is to bestow himself upon the least of sinners. But,

[2.] Secondly, I answer, That the Lord has bestowed himself as a portion upon as great and as grievous sinners as you are, Psalm 68:18. Adam, you know, fell from the highest pinnacle of glory into the greatest gulf of misery, and yet God bestowed himself as a portion upon him, Gen 3:15. And Manasseh was a sinner of the greatest magnitude, 2 Kings 21, his sins were of a scarlet dye, they reached as high as heaven, and they made his soul as black as hell; for witchcraft, sorcery, cruelty, idolatry, and murder, he was a beast, 2 Chron 33; he sold himself to work all kinds of wickedness with greediness; he did more wickedly than the very heathen, whom the Lord abhorred; in all his actings he seemed to be the firstborn of Satan's strength; and yet the Lord freely bestowed himself as a portion upon him.

And so, Ezek 16:5,6,8, "No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised. Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, "Live!" Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine."

And so, Isaiah 46:12-13, "Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted, you who are far from righteousness. I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel." Solomon, Mary Magdalene, Matthew, Zaccheus, the jailor, and the murderers of Christ, were all very great and grievous sinners—and yet the Lord bestowed himself as a portion upon them. And so God bestowed himself as a portion upon those monstrous and prodigious sinners that are mentioned in 1 Cor 6:9-11, whose souls were red with guilt, and as black as hell with filth. God has been very good to those who have been very bad. Therefore do not despair, O sinner, though your sins are very great.

I have read a story concerning a great rebel, who had made a great revolt against one of the Roman emperors, and proclamation being sent abroad, that whoever could bring in the rebel, dead or alive, he should have a great sum of money for his reward; the rebel hearing of it, comes, and presenting himself before the emperor, demands the sum of money proposed—the emperor, bethinking himself, concludes, that if he should put him to death, all the world would be ready to say that he did it to save his money; and so he freely pardoned the rebel, and gave him the money. Here now was light in a dark lantern, here was rare mercy and pity in a very heathen. And shall an heathen do thus, and shall not the great God, who is made up of all loves, of all mercies, of all compassions, of all goodnesses, and of all sweetnesses, do much more? Certainly he will.

If the greatest rebels, if the greatest sinners will but come in while the white flag of grace and mercy is held forth, they shall find a marvelous readiness and forwardness in God, not only to pardon them—but also to bestow, not merely money—but himself as a portion upon them. The greatest sinners should do well to make that great Scripture their greatest companion. Psalm 68:18, "You have ascended on high," speaking of Christ, "you have led captivity captive; you have received gifts for men; yes, for the rebellious also." But to what purpose has Christ received gifts, spiritual gifts, gracious gifts, glorious gifts for men, for the rebellious? Why, it is "that the Lord God may dwell among them." But,

[3.] Thirdly, I answer, That God has given out an express promise, that he will make such to be his people, who were not his people. Hos 2:23, "I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to those who were not my people, You are my people; and they shall say, You are my God." In this precious promise God has engaged himself to have a most sweet harmony, and a most intimate union and communion with such a people as were not his people. But,

[4.] Fourthly, I answer, That God gains the greatest glory by bestowing of himself as a portion upon the greatest sinners. There is nothing that makes so much for the glory of free grace, and for the exaltation of rich mercy, and for the praise of divine goodness, and for the honor of infinite fullness—as God's bestowing himself upon the greatest of sinners! O sirs! grace never appears so rich, nor ever so excellent, nor ever so glorious—as when it triumphs over the greatest sins, and when it falls upon the greatest sinners. Grace never shines, nor ever sparkles, nor ever becomes so exceeding glorious—as it does when it lights upon the hearts of the greatest sinners. The greatest sins do most and best set off the freeness and the riches of God's grace. There is nothing which makes heaven and earth to ring and to sound out his praises, so much as the fixing of his love upon those who are most unlovely and ungodly!

And it is further observable, that the greatest sinners, when once they are converted, do commonly prove the choicest saints, and the rarest instruments of promoting the honor and glory of God in the world. The Canaanites were a wicked and a cursed generation; they were of the race of cursed Ham; they were given over to all whoredom, witchcraft, and cruelty; they offered their sons and daughters to devils; they were the very worst of sinners; they were without God and without the covenant, and counted dogs among the Israelites; and such an one was the Canaanite woman, that you read of in that Matt 15:21-29, until the Lord made it the day of his power upon her soul. But when the Lord had brought her in to himself, ah, what a rare Christian did she prove, for wisdom, zeal, humility, self-denial, love, courage, patience, faith, etc.

And so Mary Magdalene was a notorious strumpet, a common whore, among all the harlots none to Mary Magdalene, and she was one out of whom Christ cast seven devils, Mark 16:9; and yet when she was changed and converted, oh, with what an inflamed love did she love the Lord Jesus Christ! and with what a burning zeal did she follow after the Lord Jesus! and how abundant was she in her lamenting and mourning after the Lord Jesus Christ! Some report, that after our Savior's resurrection, she spent thirty years in weeping for her sins.

And Paul, you know, was a very grievous sinner—but after his conversion, oh what a rare, what an eminent, what a glorious instrument was he in bringing of souls to Christ, and of building up of souls in Christ! Oh what a noble drudge was he for Christ! Oh how frequent! Oh how fervent! Oh how abundant was he in the work of the Lord, etc. And indeed, in all ages, the greatest sinners, when once they have been converted, they have commonly proved the choicest saints, and the rarest instruments in the hand of God for the advancement of his glory, and the carrying on of his work in the world. I might instance in Luther, and divers others—but that I hasten to a close. And therefore,

[5.] Fifthly, I answer, that of all sinners the greatest sinners do undoubtedly stand in the greatest need of having of God for their portion.

Look! as those who are most wounded stand in most need of a surgeon, and as those who are most sick stand in most need of a physician, and as those who are in most danger of robbing stand in most need of assistance, and as those who are in most peril of drowning stand in most need of a boat, and as those who are most impoverished stand in most need of relief, so those who are the greatest sinners stand in most need of having God for their portion. For no tongue can express, nor any heart can conceive the greatness of that wrath, of that indignation, of that desolation, of that destruction, and of that damnation which attends and waits upon those great sinners who have not God for their portion, 2 Thess 2:7-9. Therefore the greater sinner you are, the greater obligation lies upon you to get God to be your God and portion; for until that be done, all your sins, in their full number, weight, guilt, and aggravating circumstances—will abide upon your soul. But,

[6.] Sixthly and lastly, I answer, that God is a great God, and he loves to do like himself. Now, there are no works, no actions that are so suitable to God, and so pleasing to God, and so delightful to God—as those who are great; and what greater work, what greater action can the great God do, than to bestow himself as a portion upon the greatest of sinners? It was a great work for God to create the world, and it is a great work for God to govern the world, and it will be a great work for God to dissolve the world, and to raise the dead; and yet doubtless it is a greater work for the great God freely to bestow himself upon the greatest sinners. The love of God is a great love, and the mercies of God are great mercies, and the compassions of God are great compassions, and accordingly God loves to act. Therefore there is ground for the greatest sinners to hope that the Lord may bestow himself as a portion upon them. But,

Objection 2. Secondly, Others may object and say, Hereafter we will look after this portion; for the present we are for living in the world, We are for a portion in hand, we are for laying up portions for ourselves, and providing portions for our posterity. We are first for laying up of earthly treasures, and when we have done that work to purpose, then we will do what we can to obtain this excellent and glorious portion that you have been so long a-discoursing on, etc. Now, to this objection I shall thus answer,

[1.] First, Thus to act is to run counter-cross to Christ's express commands. Matt 6:33, "But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." And so Matt 6:19-20, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust does corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust does corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal." And so in that John 6:27, "Labor not for the food which perishes—but for the food which endures for everlasting life." O sirs! to act or run cross to God's express commands, though under pretense of revelation from God, will cost you your life—as you may see in that sad story, 1 Kings 13:24.

O sirs! it is a dangerous thing to neglect one of his commands, who by another command is able to command your bodies into the grave, and your souls into hell at his pleasure. Shall the wife make conscience of obeying the commands of her husband? and shall a child make conscience of obeying the commands of his father? and shall the servant make conscience of obeying the commands of his master? and shall the soldier make conscience of obeying the commands of his general? and shall the subject make conscience of obeying the commands of his prince? And will not you make conscience of obeying his commands that is the prince of the kings of the earth? Rev 1:5. But,

[2.] Secondly, Who but children, madmen, and fools—will pitch upon a less good, when a greater good is offered to them? What madness and folly is it for men to pitch upon bags of pennies—when bags of gold are laid before them! or for men to choose a pittance—when rich inheritances and great lordships are freely offered to be made over to them forever? What were this but, Esau-like, to prefer a mess of pottage before the birthright? and yet this is the present case of these objectors. God is that rich, that great, that glorious, and that matchless portion that is held out, and freely offered and tendered in the gospel to poor sinners; and they neglect, slight, and reject this blessed offer—and fix their choice, their love, their hearts, their affections, upon the perishing vanities of this world. Oh the folly of such, that at a feast feed upon a crust, and never taste of those substantial dishes that are for nourishment! Oh the madness of such that prefer the fleshpots of Egypt before the dainties of Canaan! Would not such a merchant, such a tradesman be pointed at, as he goes along the streets, for a fool or a madman—who should neglect such a season, such an opportunity, such an advantage, wherein he may be made rich forever—and all because he is resolved first to secure such a bargain of rags, or such a bargain of old shoes, which will turn out but little to his advantage when he has bought them? Surely yes!

Now this is the very case of the objectors, for they neglect the present seasons, the present opportunities of grace and mercy, and of being made happy forever, by enjoying of God for their portion; and all because they are resolved first to secure the treasures, the rags of this world. Certainly, in the great day of account, those will be found the greatest fools that have fooled away such golden opportunities, that were more worth than all the world, and all to secure the rags of the world. But,

[3.] Thirdly and lastly, How many thousands are now in, hell! How many thousands have now their part and their portion in that burning lake, which burns with fire and brimstone forever and ever! Who thought when they were on earth, that after they had laid up goods for many years, like the fool in the Gospel, that then they would look after heavenly treasures, and secure God for their portion; but before they could find time or hearts to set about so noble a work, divine vengeance has overtaken them, and justice has cut the thread of their lives, and given them their portion among hypocrites, Matt 7:22,26-27; Rev 21:8. Ah! how many are there who have died in the time of their earthly projects and designs, before ever they have set about that great work of securing God for their portion, Luke 12:15,22; and how many thousands be there, that God in his just judgment has given up to insatiable desires of earthly things, Phil 3:18-19, and to a cursed endless covetousness all their days!

Some write of the crocodile, that it always grows, that it has never done growing; and just so it is with the desires of worldly men, they always grow, they have never done growing. Now they are for one thousand, then for ten, then for twenty, then for forty, then for a hundred thousand; now they are for this lordship, and then they are for that; now they are for this good bargain, and then they are for that; their hearts grow every day fuller and fuller with new desires of further and greater measures of earthly things. They please themselves with golden dreams, until they awake with everlasting flames about their ears, and then they fall a-cursing themselves that they have made gold their confidence, and that they have neglected those golden seasons and opportunities wherein they might have secured God for their portion. But,

Objection 3. Thirdly, Others may object and say, We would gladly have God for our portion, and we would willingly apply ourselves to all those ways and means whereby we might obtain the Lord to be our portion; but we are poor unworthy wretches. Surely the Lord will never bestow himself as a portion upon such miserable unworthy ones as we are! We are worthy of death, we are worthy of wrath, we are worthy of hell, we are worthy of damnation—but we are in no way worthy of having God for our portion. Did ever the Lord cast an eye of love upon such unlovely and such unworthy sinners, lepers as we are? etc.

Now to this objection I shall return these answers:

[1.] First, Though you have no merits—yet God is rich and abundant in mercy. [2 Cor 4:15; 1 Tim 1:14; 1 Pet 1:3] Your sins, your unworthiness can but reach as high as heaven—but the mercies of God reach above the heavens. Psalm 103:11, "For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward those who fear him." Psalm 108:4, "For your mercy is great above the heavens, and your truth reaches unto the clouds." The highest comparisons which the world will afford, are not sufficient to express the greatness of God's mercy to poor sinners. Though the heavens are exceeding high above the earth—yet the mercies of God to his poor people are above the heavens. But,

[2.] Secondly, I answer, that the Lord has never bestowed himself as a portion upon any yet but unworthy ones. David was as unworthy as Saul, and Job as Joab, and Peter as Judas, and Paul as Simon Magus; and the publicans and harlots who entered into the kingdom of heaven, were as unworthy as the publicans and harlots who were shut out of the kingdom of heaven, Matt 21:31-32; and the thief who went to paradise, was as unworthy as the thief who went to hell. All the saints in heaven, and all the saints on earth, are ready with one joint consent to declare that they were as unworthy as the most unworthiest, when God first bestowed himself as a portion upon them. This objection, 'I am unworthy,' is a very unworthy objection, and therefore away with it. But,

[3.] Thirdly, I answer, That God has nowhere in all the Scripture required any personal worthiness to be in the creature, before he will bestow himself upon the creature. O sirs! it never came into the thoughts of God, it never entered into the heart of God, to require of men that they should be first worthy of his love before they should enjoy his love; and that they should be first worthy of his mercy before they should taste of his mercy; and that they should be first worthy of his goodness before they should be partakers of his goodness; and that they should be first worthy of himself, before he would bestow himself as a portion upon them. If we should never enjoy God for our portion until we are worthy to enjoy him for our portion—we would never enjoy him. If a man had as many eyes as Argus to search into the Scripture, and as many hands as Briareus to turn over the leaves of Scripture—yet he would never be able to find out one text, one line, yes, one word, wherein God requires a personal worthiness in the creature before be gives away himself to the creature. Should God stand upon a personal worthiness to be in the creature before he would look upon the creature, or before he would let out his love to the creature, or before he would extend mercy or pity to the creature, or before he would, in a covenant of free grace, give himself to the creature—no sinner could ever be saved; man would be forever undone, and it would have been good for him that he had never been born. But,

[4.] Fourthly, I answer, it is not men's unworthiness—but men's unwillingness, which hinders them from having God to be their portion. Though most men pretend their unworthiness—yet there is in them a secret unwillingness to have God for their God. When they look upon God as a gracious God, then they are willing to have him to be their God; but when they look upon God as a holy God, then their hearts fly back. When they look upon God as a merciful God, and as a bountiful God, oh then they wish that he were their God; but when they look upon God as a commanding God, and as a ruling and an overruling God, oh then their hearts do secretly rise against God. There is a real unwillingness in the hearts of sinners in all respects to close with God, and to have God to be their God. "Who has believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" Isaiah 53:1. "I spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people who walk in the wrong path, following their own thoughts. These people continually provoke Me to My face." Isaiah 65:2-3. "How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you. But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you—when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you." Proverbs 1:22-27

"This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it." Isaiah 30:15. O sirs! men shall be damned at last, not for cannots—but for will nots! "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." Matt 23:37. No man shall be damned because he could not do better—but because he would not do better, Luke 13:34. If there were no will, there would be no hell. At last sinners will find this to be their greatest hell—that they have wilfully destroyed themselves. This is that which will damn with a witness, and this will be that never-dying worm—I might have had Christ and grace—but I would not; I might have been sanctified and saved—but I would not; I might have been holy and happy—but I would not; life and death has been often set before me, and I have chosen death rather than life, Deut 30:15,19; heaven and hell has been often set before me, and I have chosen hell rather than heaven; glory and misery has been often set before me, and I have chosen misery rather than glory. Therefore it is but just that I should be miserable to all eternity.

No man, no devil, can undo you, O sinner, without yourself; no man can be undone in both worlds but by himself; no man shall be damned for his unworthiness—but for his unwillingness. Therefore never more plead this objection.

But, [5.] Fifthly and lastly, I answer, that if you will not seek after the Lord to be your portion until you are worthy to enjoy him as your portion—then you will never seek after him, then you will never enjoy him for your God and portion. Personal worthiness is no flower that grows in nature's garden. No man is born with a worthiness in his heart, as he is born with a tongue in his mouth. It is not the full—but the empty; it is not the rich—but the poor in spirit; it is not the righteous—but the sinner; it is not the worthy—but the unworthy soul—who is the proper object of God's mercy and pity. The poor publican that cried out, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner," Luke 18:10-15, went home justified; when the self-righteous pharisee returned as proud as he came. The centurion, when he came to Christ, fared well, notwithstanding his personal unworthiness, Matt 8:5-13. And the prodigal son fared well when he returned to his father, notwithstanding his personal unworthiness; for he was readily accepted, greatly pitied, sweetly embraced, courteously received, and very joyfully and nobly entertained. Witness the best robe which was put upon his back, and the gold ring which was put on his finger, and the shoes which were put on his feet, and the fatted calf which was killed to make the company merry, Luke 15:11-32.

O sirs! if in the face of all your unworthiness you will go to God, and tell him that you are sinners, that you are vile sinners, that you are wretched sinners, that you are very great sinners, yes, that you are the greatest of sinners, and that you have deserved a thousand deaths, a thousand hells, a thousand destructions, and a thousand damnations, and earnestly beseech him to look upon you, and to bestow himself upon you, though not for your worthiness's sake—yet for his name's sake, for his mercy's sake, for his promise's sake, for his covenant's sake, for his oath's sake, and for his Son's sake. Certainly if you shall thus plead with God, all the angels in heaven, and all the men on earth, cannot tell to the contrary—but that you may speed as well as ever the centurion or the prodigal did. I have taken the more pains to answer this objection, that so it may never more have a resurrection in any of your hearts, into whose hands this treatise may fall.

I know other objections might be raised—but because I have spoken largely so much in my former writings, I shall pass on to the last thing proposed, and that is, to lay down some PRINCIPLES which may, by the blessing of God, be of singular use to the Christian reader.