Chapter 5 – Its Riches

Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matt vi, 20.

No man thinks himself rich until he has all he wants. Very few people are satisfied with earthly riches. If they want any thing at all that they cannot get, that is a kind of poverty. Sometimes the richer the man the greater the poverty. Somebody has said that getting riches brings care; keeping them brings trouble; abusing them brings guilt; and losing them brings sorrow. It is a great mistake to make so much of riches as we do. But there are some riches that we cannot praise too much: that never pass away. They are the treasures laid up in Heaven for those who truly belong to God.

No matter how rich or elevated we may be here, there is always something that we want. The greatest chance the rich have over the poor is the one they enjoy the least–that of making themselves happy. Worldly riches never make any one truly happy. We all know, too, that they often take wings and fly away. It is said of Midas that whatever he touched turned into gold, but with his long ears he was not much the better for it. There is a great deal of truth in some of these old fables., Money, like time, ought not to be wasted, but I pity that man who has more of either than he knows how to use. There is no truer saying than that man by doing good with his money, stamps, as it were, the image of God upon it, and makes it pass current for the merchandise of heaven; but all the wealth of the universe would not buy a man’s way there. Salvation must be taken as a gift for the asking. There is no man so poor in this world that he may not be a heavenly millionaire.


How many are worshiping gold to-day! Where war has slain its thousands, gain has slain its millions. Its history in all ages has been the history of slavery and oppression. At this moment what an empire it has. The mine with its drudges, the manufactory with its misery, the plantation with its toil, the market and exchange with their haggard and care-worn faces–these are but specimens of its menial servants. Titles and honors are its rewards, and thrones are at its disposal. Among its counsellors are kings, and many of the great and mighty of the earth are its subjects. This spirit of gain tries even to turn the globe itself into gold.

It is related that Tarpeia, the daughter of the Governor of the fortress situated on the Capitoline Hill in Rome, was captivated with the golden bracelets of the Sabine soldiers, and agreed to let them into the fortress if they would give her what they wore upon their left arms. The contract was made; the Sabines kept their promise. Tatius, their commander, was the first to deliver his bracelet and shield. The coveted [82] treasures were thrown upon the traitress by each of the soldiers, till she sank beneath their weight and expired. Thus does the weight of gold carry many a man down.

When the steamship “Central America” went down, several hundred miners were on board, returning to their early homes and friends. They had made their fortunes, and expected much happiness in enjoying them. In the first of the horror gold lost its attraction to them. The miners took off their treasure-belts and threw them aside. Carpet bags full of shining gold dust were emptied on the floor of the cabin. One of them poured out one hundred thousand dollars’ worth in the cabin, and bade any one take it who would. Greed was over-mastered, and the gold found no takers. Dear friends, it is well enough to have gold, but sometimes it is a bad life-preserver. Sometimes it is a mighty weight that crushes us down to hell.

The Rev. John Newton one day called to visit a family that had suffered the loss of all they possessed by fire. He found the pious mistress, and saluted her with:

“I give you joy, madam.”

Surprised, and ready to be offended, she exclaimed:

“What! Joy that all my property is consumed?”

“O no,” he answered, “but joy that you have so much property that fire cannot touch.”

This allusion to her real treasures checked her grief and brought reconciliation. As we read in Proverbs 15, 6: “In the house of the righteous is much treasure; but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble.” I have never seen a dying saint who was rich in heavenly treasures who had any regret; I have never heard such a one say he had lived too much for God and heaven.


A friend of mine says he was at the River Mersey, in Liverpool, a few years ago, and he saw a vessel which had to be towed with a great deal of care into the harbor; it was clear down to the water’s edge and he wondered why it did not sink. Pretty soon there came another vessel, without any help at all; it did not need any tug to tow it in, but it steamed right up the Mersey past the other vessels; and he made inquiry, and he found the vessel that had to be towed in was what they call water-logged–that is, it was loaded with lumber and material of that kind; and having sprung a leak had partially sunk, and it was very hard work to get into the harbor. Now, I believe there are a great many professed Christians, a great many, perhaps, who are really Christians, who have become water-logged. They have too many earthly treasures, and it takes nearly the whole church–the whole spiritual power of the church to look after these worldly Christians, to keep them from going back entirely into the world. Why, if the whole church were, as John Wesley said, “hard at it, and always at it,” what a power there would be, and how soon we would reach the world and the masses; but we are not reaching the world, because the church itself has become conformed to the world and worldly-minded, and because so many are wondering why they do not grow in grace while they have more of the earth in their thoughts than God. [84]

Ministers would not have to urge people to live for heaven if their treasures were up there; they could not help it; their hearts would be there, and if their hearts were there their minds would be up there, and their lives would tend toward heaven. They could not help living for heaven if their treasures were there.

A little girl one day said to her mother: “Mamma, my Sunday-school teacher tells me that this world is only a place in which God lets us live a while, that we may prepare for a better world. But, mother, I do not see anybody preparing. I see you preparing to go into the country, and Aunt Eliza is preparing to come here; but I do not see anyone preparing to go there; why don’t they try to get ready?”

A certain gentleman in the South, before the war, had a pious slave, and when the master died they told him he had gone to heaven.

The old slave shook his head, “I’s ‘fraid massa no gone there,” he said.

“But why, Ben?” he was asked.

“Cos, when Massa go North, or go a journey to the Springs, he talk about it a long time, and get ready. I never hear him talk about going to heaven; never see him get ready to go there!”

So there are a good many who do not get ready. Christ teaches in the Sermon on the Mount to–

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” [85]


It does not take long to tell where a man’s treasure is. In fifteen minutes’ conversation with most men you can tell whether their treasures are on the earth or in heaven. Talk to a patriot about the country, and you will see his eye light up; you will find he has his heart there. Talk to some business men, and tell them where they can make a thousand dollars, and see their interest; their hearts are there. You talk to fashionable people who are living just for fashion, of its affairs, and you will see their eyes kindle; they are interested at once; their hearts are there. Talk to a politician about politics, and you see how suddenly he becomes interested. But talk to a child of God, who is laying up treasures in heaven, about heaven and about his future home, and see what enthusiasm. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Now, it is just as much a command for a man to “lay up treasure in heaven” as it is that he should not steal. Some people think all the commandments are in those ten that were given on Sinai, but when Jesus Christ was here, He gave us many other commandments. There is another commandment in this Sermon on the Mount: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you;” and here is a command that we are to lay up treasure in heaven and not on earth. The reason there are so many broken hearts in this land, the reason there are so many disappointed people, is because they have been laying up their treasures down here.

The worthlessness of gold, for which so many are striving, is illustrated by a story that Dr. Arnot used [86] to tell. A ship bearing a company of emigrants has been driven from her course and wrecked on a desert island, far from the reach of man. There is no way of escape; but they have a good stock of food. The ocean surrounds them, but they have plenty of seeds, a fine soil, and a genial sun, so there is no danger. Before the plans are laid, an exploring party discovers a gold mine. There the whole party go to dig. They labor day after day and month after month. They get great heaps of gold. But spring is past, and not a field has been cleared, not a grain of seed put into the ground. The summer comes and their wealth increases; but their stock of food grows small. In the fall they find that their heaps of gold are worthless. Famine stares them in the face. They rush to the woods, they fell trees, dig up the roots, till the ground, sow the seed. It is too late! Winter has come and their seed rots in the ground. They die of want in the midst of their treasures.

This earth is the little isle; eternity the ocean round it; on this shore we have been cast. There is a living seed; but the mines of gold attract us. We spend spring and summer there; winter overtakes us in our toil; we are without the Bread of Life, and we are lost. Let us then who are Christians, value all the more the home which holds the treasures that no one can take away. Dr. Muhlenberg, a Lutheran clergyman, has written beautifully:

“Who would live alway, away from his God,
Away from yon heaven, that blissful abode;
Where the rivers of pleasure flow o’er the bright plains,
And the harps of gold pour out their glorious strains; [87]
And the saints of all ages in harmony meet
Their Savior, and brethren transported, to greet;
While the anthems of rapture unceasingly roll,
And the smile of the Lord is the feast of the soul?
That heavenly music, what is it I hear?
The notes of the harpers ring sweet on my ear.
To see soft unfolding those portals of gold–
The King, all arrayed in His beauty, behold!
Oh give me, oh give me, the wings of a dove,
Let me hasten my flight to those mansions above!
Ay, ’tis now that my soul on swift pinions would soar,
And in ecstacy bid earth adieu evermore.”


When I was in San Francisco, I went into a Sabbath-school the first Sunday I was there. It was a rainy day, and there were so few present that the Superintendent thought of dismissing them, but instead, he afterward invited me to speak to the whole school as one class. The lesson was that passage from the Sermon on the Mount: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.”

I invited a young man to the blackboard, and we proceeded to compare a few things that some people have on earth, and a few things that other people have in heaven.

“Now,” said I, “name some earthly treasure.”

They all shouted “Gold.”

“Well, that is so,” I said, “I suppose that is your greatest treasure out here in California. Now let us go on; what is another?”

A second boy shouted, “Lands.”

“Well,” I said, “we will put down Lands.”

“What else do the people out here in California think a good deal of and have their hearts set on?”

They said “Houses.”

“Put that down; what else?


“Put that down.”


“Put them down.”


“Yes,” I said; “a great many people have their hearts buried in their business–put that down.” As if a little afraid, one of them said “dress,” and the whole school smiled.

“Put that down,” I said. Why, I believe there are some people in the world who think more of dress than any other thing. They just live for dress. I heard not long ago from very good authority, of a young lady who was dying of consumption. She had been living in the world and for the world, and it seemed as if the world had taken full possession of her. She thought she would die Thursday night, and Thursday she wanted them to crimp her hair, so that she would look beautiful in her coffin. But she didn’t die Thursday night. She lingered through Friday, and Friday she didn’t want them to take her hair down, but to keep it up until she passed away. And the friends said she looked very beautiful in the coffin! Just what people wear–the idea of people having their hearts set upon things of that kind!”

“And what else, now?” Well, they were a little ashamed to say it, but one said:


“Yes,” I said, “put that down. There is many a man thinks more of the rum-bottle than he does of the Kingdom of God. He will give up his wife, he will give up his home and his mother, character and reputation forever for the rum-bottle. Many a man by his life is crying Out, ‘Give me rum, and I will give you heaven, and all its glories. I will sell my wife and children. I will make them beggars and paupers. I will degrade and disgrace them for the rum-bottle. That is my treasure.'”

“‘Oh, thou rum bottle! I worship thee,’ is the cry of many–they turn their backs on heaven with all its glories for rum. Some of them thought, when that little boy said ‘rum,’ that he made a mistake, that it was not a treasure, but it is a treasure to thousands.” Another one said:

“Fast horses.”

Said I, “Put it down. There is many a man who thinks a good deal of fast horses, and he wants to go out and take a fast horse and drive Sunday, and spend his Sabbath in this way.” And after we finished, and thought of everything we could, I said: “Suppose we just take down some of these heavenly treasures.”

“And,” said I, “What is there now that the Lord wants us to set our hearts and affections on?” And they all said:


“That is good; we will put Him down first at the head of the list. Now what else?” And they said:


“Put them down. We will have their society when we go to heaven. That is a treasure up there, really. What else?”

“The friends who have died in Christ, who have fallen asleep in Christ.”

“Put them down. Death has taken them from us now, but we will be with them by and by. What else?”


“Yes, we are going to have a crown, a crown of glory, a crown of righteousness, a crown that fadeth not away. What else?”

“The tree of life.”

“Yes,” I said, “the tree of life. We shall have a right to it. We can go to that tree and pluck its fruit, eat, and live forever. What else?”

“The river of life.”

“Yes, we shall walk upon the banks of that clean river.”

“Harps,” one said.

Another one said “palms.”

“Yes,” I said, “put them down. Those are treasures that we will have there.”


“Yes, there will be none but the pure there. White robes, without spot or wrinkle on our garments. A great many find many flaws in our characters down here, but by and by Christ will present us before the Father without spot and without wrinkle, and we shall stand there complete in Him,” I said. “Can you think of anything else?” And one of them said:

“A new song.”

“Yes, we shall have a new song. It is the song of Moses and the Lamb. I don’t know just who wrote it or how, but it will be a glorious song. I suppose the singing we have here on earth will be nothing compared with the songs of that upper world. Do you know the principal thing we are told we are going to do in heaven is singing, and that is why men ought to sing down here. We ought to begin to sing here so that it will not come strange when we get to heaven. I pity the professed Christian who has not a song in his heart–who never ‘feels like singing.’ It seems to me if we are truly children of God, we will want to sing about it. And so, when we get there, we cannot help shouting out the loud hallelujahs of heaven.”

Then I said: “Is there anything else?” Well, they went on. I cannot give you all, because we had to have two columns put down of the heavenly treasures. We stood there a little while and drew the contrast between the earthly and the heavenly treasures. We looked at them a little while, and when we came to put them all down beside Christ, the earthly treasures looked small, after all. What would all this world full of gold be compared with Jesus Christ? You who have Christ, would you like to part with Him for gold? Would you like to give Him up for all the honor the earth can bestow on you for a few months or a few years? Think of Christ! Think of the treasures of heaven. And then think of these earthly treasures that we have our hearts set upon, and that so many of us are living for.

God blessed that lesson upon the blackboard in a marvelous way, for the man who had been writing down the treasures on the board happened to be an unconverted Sunday-school teacher, and had gone out there to California to make money; his heart was set upon gold, and he was living for that instead of for God. That was the idol of his heart, and do you know God convicted him at that blackboard, and the first convert that God gave me on the Pacific coast was that man, and he was the last man who shook hands with me when I left San Francisco. He saw how empty the earthly treasures were, and how grand and glorious the riches of heaven. Oh, if God would but open your eyes–and I think if you are honest and ask Him to do it He will–He will show you how empty this world is in comparison with what He has in store.

There are a great many people who are wondering why they do not mount up on wings, as it were, and why they do not make some progress in the divine life; why they do not grow more in grace. I think one reason may be they have too many earthly treasures. We need not be rich to have our hearts set on riches.

We need not go in the world more than other people to have our hearts there. I believe the Prodigal was in the far country long before he put his feet there. When his heart reached there he was there. There is many a man who does not mingle so much in the world as others do, but his heart is there, and he would be there if he could, and God looks at the heart.

Now, what we need to do is to obey the voice of the Master, and instead of laying up treasures on earth, lay them up in heaven. If we do that, bear in mind, we shall never be disappointed.

It is clear that idolaters are not going to enter the kingdom of God. I may make an idol of my business; I may make an idol of the wife of my bosom; I may make idols of my children. I do not think you need go to heathen countries to find men guilty of idolatry. I think you will find a great many right here who have idols in their hearts. Let us pray that the spirit of God may banish those idols from our hearts, that we may not be guilty of idolatry; that we may worship God in spirit and in truth. Anything that comes between me and God is an idol–anything, I don’t care what it is; business is all right in its place, and there is no danger of my loving my family too much if I love God more; but God must have the first place; and if He has not then the idol is set up.


Not the least of the riches of heaven will be the satisfaction of those wants of the soul, which are so much felt down here but are never found–such as infinite knowledge, perfect peace and satisfying love. Like a beautiful likeness that has been marred, daubed all over with streaks of black, and is then restored to its original beauty, so the soul is restored to its full beauty of color when it is washed with the blood of Jesus Christ. The senseless image on the canvas cannot be compared, however, in any other way with the living, rational soul.

Could we but see some of our friends who have gone on before us we would very likely feel like falling down before them. The Apostle John had seen so many strange things, yet, when one of the bright angels stood before him to reveal some of the secrets of heaven, fell down to worship him. He says in the last chapter of Revelation:

“And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, see thou do it not; for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book. Worship God.”

Among the wants which we have on earth is the thirst for knowledge. Much as sin has weakened man’s mental faculties, it has not taken away any of his desire for knowledge. But with all his efforts, with all that he thinks he knows about astronomy, chemistry and geology, and the rest of the sciences, his knowledge of the secrets of nature is yet limited.

There are very many things we do not know. Thousands of astronomers have lived and died, and the ages of the world have rolled on, and it was only the other day, as it were, that they’ found out that the planet Mars had two moons. Perhaps in ages to come some one will find out that they are not moons at all. This is what most of our human knowledge amounts to.

There is not one of our college professors, and many of them have gone nearly everywhere in the world, but is anxious to learn more and more, to find out new things, to make now discoveries. If we were as familiar with all the stars of the firmament as we are with our own earth, still we would not be satisfied.

Not until we are like God can we comprehend the infinite. Even the imperfect glimpses of God that we get by faith, only intensify our desire for more. For now, as Paul says in 1st Corinthians xiii, 12:

“Now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

The word Paul used, properly translated, is “mirror.” Now we see God, as it were, in a looking-glass–but then face to face.

Suppose we knew nothing of the sun except what we saw of its light reflected from the moon? Would we not wonder about its immense distance, about its dazzling splendor, about its life-giving power? Now all that we see, the sun, the moon, the stars, the ocean, the earth, the flowers, and above all, man, are a grand mirror in which the perfection of God is imperfectly reflected.

Another want that we have is rest. We get tired of toiling. Yet there is no real rest on earth. We find in the 4th chapter of Hebrews, beginning with the 9th verse:

“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Let us labor, therefore, to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”

Now, while we all want rest, I think a great many people make a mistake when they think the church is a place of rest; and when they unite with the church they have a false idea about their position in it. There are a great many who come in to rest. The text tells us: “There remaineth a rest for the people of God,” but it does not tell us that the church is a place of rest; we have all eternity to rest in. We are to rest by and by; but we are to work here, and when our work is finished, the Lord will call us home to enjoy that rest. There is no use in talking about rest down here in the enemy’s country. We cannot rest in this world, where God’s Son has been crucified and cast out. I think that a great many people are going to lose their reward just because they have come into the church with the idea that they are to rest there, as if the church was working for the reward, instead of each one building over against his own house, each one using all his influence toward the building up of Christ’s kingdom.

In Revelation xiv, 13, we read:

“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.”

Now, death may rob us of money. Death may rob us of position. Death may rob us of our friends; but there is one thing death can never do, and that is rob us of the work that we do for God. That will live on forever. “Their works do follow them.” How much are we doing? Anything that we do outside of ourselves, and not with a mean and selfish motive, that is going to live. We have the privilege of setting in motion streams of activity that will flow on when we are dead and gone.

It is the privilege of everyone to live more in the future than they do in the present, so that their lives will tell in fifty or a hundred years more than they do now.

John Wesley’s influence is a thousand-fold greater to-day than it was when he was living. He still lives. He lives in the lives of thousands and hundreds of thousands of his spiritual descendants.

Martin Luther lives more truly to-day than he did three centuries ago, when he awakened Germany. He only lived one life, and that for a little while. But now, look at the hundreds and thousands and millions of lives that he is living. There are between fifty and sixty millions of people who profess to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, as taught by Martin Luther, who bear his name. He is dead in the sight of the world, but his “works do follow him.” He still lives.

The voice of John the Baptist is ringing through the world to-day, although nearly nineteen hundred years have passed away since Herodias asked for his death. Herod thought when he beheaded him that he was hushing his voice, but it is ringing throughout the earth to-day. John the Baptist lives, because he lived for God; but he has entered into his rest, and “his works do follow him.”

And if they up yonder can see what is going on upon the earth, how much joy they must have to think that they have set these streams in motion, and that this work is going on–being carried on after them.

If a man lives a mean, selfish life, he goes down to the grave, and his name and everything concerning him goes down in the grave with him. If he is ambitious to leave a record behind him, with a selfish motive, his name rots with his body. But if a man gets outside of himself and begins to work for God, his name will live forever. Why, you may go to Scotland to-day, and you will find the influence of John Knox over every mountain in Scotland. It seems as if you could almost feel the breath of that man’s prayer in Scotland to-day. His influence still lives. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. They rest from their labors and their works do follow them.” Blessed rest in store; we will rest by and by; but we should not waste time talking about rest while we are here. . . . .

If I am to wipe a tear from the cheek of that fatherless boy, I must do it down here. It is not said in Scripture that we shall have the privilege of doing that hereafter. If I am going to help up some fallen man who has been overtaken by sin, I must do it here. We are not going to have the privilege of being co-workers with God in the future–but that is our privilege to-day. We may not have it to-morrow. It may be taken from us to-morrow; but we can enter into the vineyard and do something to-day before the sun goes down. We can do something now before we go to glory.

Another want that we feel here is Love. Heaven is the only place where the conditions of love can be fulfilled. There love is essentially mutual. Everybody loves everybody else. In this world of wickedness and sin it seems impossible for people to be all on a perfect equality. When we meet people who are bright and beautiful and good, we have no difficulty in loving them. All the people of heaven will be like that. There will be no fear of misplaced confidences there. There we shall never be deceived by those we love. When a suspicion of doubt fastens upon any one who loves, their happiness from that moment is at an end. There will be no suspicion there.

“Beyond these chilling winds and gloomy skies,
Beyond death’s cloudy portal,
There is a land where beauty never dies–
Where love becomes immortal.”


Ye ken, dear bairn, that we maun part,
When death, cauld death, shall bid us start;
But when he’ll send his fearfu’ dart
We canna say,
So we’ll mak’ ready for his dart
Maist onie day.

We’ll keep a’ right and guid wi’in,
Our wark will then be free frae sin.
Upright we’ll walk through thick and thin,
Straight on our way.
Deal just wi’ a’, the prize we’ll win
Maist onie day.

Ye ken there’s Ane, wha’s just and wise,
Has said that a’ His bairns should rise,
An’ soar aboon the lofty skies,
And there shall stay.
Being well prepared we’ll gain the prize
Maist onie day.

When He wha made a’ things just right,
Shall call us hence to realms of light,
Be it morn or noon, or e’en or night,
We will obey.
We’ll be prepared to tak’ our flight
Maist onie day.

Our lamps we’ll fill brimfu’ o’ oil,
Thet’s guid and pure, that wadna spoil,
And keep them burning a’ the while,
To light our way.
Our wark bein’ done we’ll quit the soil,
Maist onie day.