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ftians were miraculous, and not at all intended for the imitation of succeeding ages ; as if heaven and earth, God and men, and all things, were altered since that time; as if Christianity were then in its youthful age and vigour, but is fince decayed, and grown old, and hath quite lost its power and virtue. And indeed the generality of Christians live at such a faint and careless rate, as to make the world believe, that either all the stories of the primitive Christians are fables ; or else, that the force of Christianity is strangely abated, and that the Holy Spirit of God hath forsaken the earth, and is retired to the Father. But truth never grows old; and those laws of goodness and righteousness which are contained in the gospel, are still as reasonable, and apt to gain upon the minds of inen, as ever. God is the same he was, and our blessed Saviour is still at the right hand of God, interceeding powerfully for finners, for mercy and grace to help in time of need. The promises and threatenings of the gospel are still as true and powerful as ever; and the Holy Spirit of God is still in the world, and effectually works in them that believe.
Let us not then deceive ourselves in this matter. The primitive Christians were men like ourselves, subječt to the fame pasions that we are, and compassed about with the fame infirmities : fo that although that extraordinary spirit and power of miracles which God endued 'them withal, for the first planting and propagating of the gofpel in the world, be now ceased; yet the fan&tifying power and virtue of God's Holy Spirit does still accompany the gospel, and is ready to allist us in every good work.
In a word, we have all that is necessary to work the same
and virtues in us which were in them; and, if we be not slothful, and wanting to ourselves, we may follow their faith, and at last attain the end of it, even the salvation of our souls.
Let us then, from an idle admiring of those excellent patterns, proceed to a vigorous imitation of them, and be so far from being discouraged by the excellency of them, as to make even that matter and ground of encourage ment to ourselves ; according to that of Tertullian, Admmetur omnis atas, fieri pole, quod aliquando factum est :
« All ages to the end of the world may be convinced, " that what hath been done, is possible to be done." There have been such holy and excellent persons in the world; and therefore it is possible for men to be such.
Let us not then be flothful; but followers of them, who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Since we are compassed about with such a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the fin which so easily be fets us, and let us run with patience the race which is set before us ; looking unto Jefus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, and despised the frame, and is now set down at the right hand of God.
S E R M
The encouragement to suffer for Christ, and
the danger of denying him.
Preached on AH-Saints day.
2 TIM. ii. 11. 12.
Jhall also live with him: if we fuffer, we shall also
geth Timothy to continue stedfast in the profession
of the gospel, notwithstanding the sufferings which attended it y 1. Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesús; andy 3. Thou therefore endure hardship, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. And, to animate him in his resolution, he quotes a saying, which it seems was well known and firmly believed among Christians ; a saying, on the one hand, full of en. couragement to those who with patience and constancy fuffered for their religion ; and, on the other hand, full of terror to those who, for fear of suffering, denied it. It is a faithful saying. This is a preface used by this Ee 2
Apostle, to introduce some remarkable sentence, of more than ordinary weight and concernment: 1 Tim. i. 15. This is a fuithful Jaying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Chrill Jefus came into the world 10 save finners; and chap. iv. 8. 9. Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to
This is a faithful faying, and worthy of all acceptazion. Tit. iii. 3. This is a faithful Faying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God, might be careful to maintain good works. And here in the text, the same preface is used to signify the importance of the saying he was about to mention: It is a faithful saying: If we be dead with bim, we shall also live with him if we suffer, we fall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us.
The first two sentences are matter of encouragement to those who suffer with Christ, and for him ; and are the very fame in sense. If we be dead with him, that is, if we lay down our lives for the testimony of the truth, as he did, we shall also live with him, that is, we shall in like manner be made partakers of immortality, as he is. If we suffer (or endure) as he did, we shall also reign with him in glory.
The other fentence is matter of terror to those who deny him and his truth :. If we deny him, he also will deny us. To which is fubjoined another faying much to the same sense : If we believe not ; ci disõuete, if we be unfaithful; yet he remaineth faithful; he cannot deny bimSelf: that is, he will be as good as his word, and make good that solemn threatening which he hath denounced against those who shall, for fear of suffering, deny him and his truth.
The words being thus explained, I shall begin with the First part of this remarkable saying, If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: if we suffer, we fall also reign with him. This, it seems, was a noted saying among Christians; and whether they had it by tradition of our Saviour, or whether it was in familiar use among the Apostles, as a very proper and powerful argument to keep Christians stedfast to their religion, I cannot determine. It is certain, that sayings to this ense are very frequent, especially in the epistles of St.
Paul : Rom, vi. 5. For. if we have been planted together
You see that the sense of this saying was in frequent use among the Apostles, as a powerful argument to encourage Christians to constancy in their religion, notwithstanding the dangers and sufferings which attended it. This is a faithful saying: If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him : if we suffer, we shall also reign with him.
And the force of this argument will best appear, by taking into consideration these two things :
1. What virtue there is in a firm belief and perfuafion of a blessed immortality in another world, to support and bear up mens fpirits under the greatest sufferings for righteousness fake ; and even to animate them, if God thall call them to it, to lay down thcir lives for their religion,
2. How it may be made out to be reasonable, for men to embrace and voluntarily to submit to present and grievous sufferings, in hopes of a future happiness and reward; concerning which we have not, nor perhaps are capable of having, the same degree of certainty and affurance, which we have of the evils and sufferings of this present life. I. What virtue there is in a firm belief and persuasions
of a blessed immortality in another world, to support and bear up mens spirits under the greatest sufferings for righteousness fake ; and even to animate them, if God shall call them to it, to lay down their lives for their religion.
If men do firmly believe that they shall change this temporal and miserable life for an endless state of happiness and glory, and that they shall meet with a reward of their sufferings infinitely beyond the proportion of them, both in the weight and duration of it; this must needs turn the scales on that fide on which there is the greatest. weight. And there is a sufficient ground for a firm belief of this. For if any thing can certainly be concluded from the providence of God, this may, that good men shall be happy one time or other; and because they are very often great sufferers in this life, that there is another state remains for them after this life, wherein they Thall meet with a full reward of all their sufferings for righteousness fake.
But, besides the reasonableness of this from the confideration of God's providence, we have now a clear and express revelation of it; life and immortality being brought to light by the gospel. This St. John tells us is the great promise of the gospel, 1 epist. ii. 25. This is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. And this promise our Saviour most expressly makes to those who suffer for him : Matth. v. 10. 11. 12. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness fake : for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and perfecute you, and shall say all manner of evil.egainst you falsely for my fake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven. Mark. 8. 29. 30. Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my fake and the gospel's, but he Jhall receive an hundred fold now in this time, with persecutions, (that is, so far as a state of persecution would admit); and in the world to come, eternal life.
And if such a persuafion be firmly fixed in our minds, the faith of another world, and the assured hope of eternal life and happiness, must needs have a mighty force and efficacy upon the minds of sober and confiderate