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men; because there is no proportion between suffering for a little while, and being unspeakably and eternally happy. So St. Paul tells us he calculated the matter, Rom. viii. 18. I reckon, (says he), that the sufferings of this present time, are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. The vast disproportion between the sufferings of a few days, and the joys and glory of eternity, when it is once firmly believed by us, will weigh down all the evils and calamities of this world, and give us courage and constancy under them. For why should we faint, if we believe that ourt light afli&tion, which is but for a moment, will work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory as the same St. Paul assures us, 2 Cor. iv. 17. If our minds be but thoroughly possessed with the hopes of a resurrection to a better and happier life, this will make death, attended even with extremity of terror, to be tolerable ; as we read of some in that long catalogue of faints and martyrs, Heb. xi. 35. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. It would make a man to rejoice in the ruin and dissolution of this earthly tabernacle, to be assured, that when it is dissolved, we shall have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens'; as the fame Apostle assures us, 2 Cor. v. I. Thus you see what virtue there is in the firm belief and persuasion of a better life, to bear up mens spirits under those sufferings and torments which may seem unsupportable to human nature.
And so indeed they would be, without an extraordinary grace and assistance of God to enable them to bear those sufferings which his providence permits them to be exercised withal. But of this extraordinary grace we are assured, not only from the consideration of the ato tributes and providence of God, but likewise from the express promises and declarations of his word.
The attributes of God, and his providence, give us good ground to believe, that he who loves goodnefs and righteousness, and hath a peculiar favour and regard for good men, will never suffer his faithful friends and fervants to be brought into that distress for righteousness lake, that they shall not be able to endure those evils
and afflictions which befal them upon that account: and, if in the course of his providence, any thing happen to them that is above the ordinary constancy and patience of human nature to bear, that in such a case God will extraordinarily interpose, and give them ftrength and patience, support and comfort, proportionable to the evils and sufferings that are upon them; and that he will either lighten their burden, or add to their strength: he will either mitigate their pain, or increase their patience ; either he will check and restrain the effect of natural causes, as in the case of the three children that were in the fiery furnace, and of Daniel, who was cast into the den of lions; or else, which comes to the same issue, if he will suffer causes to have their natural course, he will afford fupernatural comforts to balance the fury and extremity of them. This is very credible, from the mere consideration of God's goodness, and of the par ticular care and favour of his providence towards good
But befides this, we have the express promise and declaration of God's word to this purpose, which puts us out of all doubt concerning that which we had good reason to hope and expect before, i Cor. x. 13. St. Paul there tells the Christians at Corinth, that though they had met with some troubles, yet they had not been tried with the extremity of suffering; but when that should happen, they had no cause to doubt, bụt God would enable them to bear it. There hath na temptation taken
you, but such as is common to man; that is, you have not yet been exercised with any trial, but what is human, what the ordinary strength and resolution of human nature is able to bear: but in case it should come to extreme suffering, and that they must either comply with the Heathen idolatry, or endure extremity of torments, they had the promise of God's help to fupport then in that case; God is faithful, (fays he), who will not fuffer you to be tempted above that ye are able ; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it : and then it follows, Where fore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry ; that is, let no fuffering that you are tempted withal, make you guilty of this lin. And, 1 Pet. iv. 14. the presence of God's
Spirit, Spirit, in a very glorious manner, for our support and comfort, is promised to those who fuffer for him : If je be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye ; for the spirit of glory, and of God refieth upon you.
And this confideration, of God's strength to support us under sufferings, makes the other, of the reward of them, a perfect and compleat encouragement; whicle it could not be without it. For if, upon the whole matter, the present sufferings of good men were intolerable, and human nature were not divinely assisted to bear them, how great foever the future reward promised to the should be, they that lay under them would be forced to consult their own present ease and deliverance. I proceed to the II. Second thing I proposed to consider, namely, How it may be made out to be reasonable to embrace and voluntarily to submit to present and grievous sufferings, in hopes of future happiness and reward ; concerning which we have not, nor perhaps are capable of baving, the fame degree of certainty and assurance which we have of the evils and fufferings of this present life.
Now, granting that we have not the fame degree of certainty concerning our future happiness that we have of our present sufferings, which we feel, or fee just ready to come upon us; yet prudence making it necessary for men to run this hazard, does justify the reasonableness of it. This I take to be a known and ruled case in the common affairs of life, and in matters of tempo. ral concernment, and men act upon this principle every day. The husbandman parts with his corn, and casts it into the earth, in confidence that it will spring up again, and at the time of harvest bring him in a confiderable return and advantage. He parts with a certainty, in hope only of a great future benefit : and though he have no demonstration for the infallible success of his labour and hazard, yet he acts very reasonably; because if he does not take this course, he runs a greater and more certain hazard, of perishing by famine at last, when his present stock is spent. The case of the mere chant is the fame, ,who parts with a present estate, in hopes of a future improvement; which is yet not so certain as what he parts withal.'
And if this be reasonable in these cafes, then the hazard which men run, upon much greater assurance than either the husbandman or the merchant hath, is much more reasonable. When we part with this life in hopes of one infinitely better, that is, in sure and certain hope of a resurrection to eternal life; and when we submit to present sufferings, to avoid an eternity of misery, which is much more to be dreaded than temporal want, this is reasonable; because here is a much greater advantage in view, and a more pressing necessity in the case; nothing being so desirable to one that must live for ever, as to be happy for ever; and nothing to be avoided by him with fo much care, as everlasting misery and ruin. And for our security of obtaining the one, and escaping the other, we have the promise of God, who cannot lie; which is all the certainty and security that things future and invi. fible are capable of.
Nay, I will go lower. If God had made no express promise and declaration of a future happiness and reward to those that serve him, and suffer for him ; yet, if any man, out of a sincere love to God, and awful regard to his laws, endure trouble and affliction, if there be a God and providence, this is assurance enough to us, that our services and sufferings shall one time or other be confidered and rewarded. For as fure as any man is that there is a God, and that his providence regards the acti-. ons of men ; so sure are we that no man fhall finally be a loser by any thing that he doth or suffers for him.
So that the matter is now brought to this plain issue, that if it be reasonable to believe there is a God, and that his providence regards and considers the actions of men ; it is also reasonable to endure present fufferings, in hope of a future reward : and there is certainly enough in this case to govern and determine a prudent man, that is in any good measure persuaded of another life after this, and hath any tolerable consideration of, and regard to his eternal interest.
Indeed, if we were sure, that there were no life after this ; if we had no expectation of a happiness or misery beyond this world; the wisest thing that any man could do, would be to enjoy as much of the present contentments and satisfactions of this world as he could fairly
For if there be no refurrection to another life, the Apostle allows the reasoning of the epicure to be very good, Let us eat and drink, for to morrow we die. But, on the other hand, if it be true that we are designed for immortality, and that another state remains for us after this life, wherein we shall be unspeakably happy, or intolerably and eternally miserable, according as we have behaved ourselves in this world; it is then evidently reasonable, that men should take the greatest care of the longest duration, and be content to bear and dispense with some prefent trouble and inconvenience, for a felicity that will have no end; and be willing to labour and take pains, and deny our present ease and comfort for a little while, that we may be happy for ever. This is reckoned prudence in the account of this world, for a man to part with a present possession and enjoyment, for a much greater advantage in reversion. But surely the disproportion between time and eternity is so vast, that did men but firmly believe that they shall live for ever, nothing in this world could reasonably be thought too good to part withal, or too grievous to suffer, for the obtaining of a bleffed immortality.
In the virtue of this belief and persuasion, the primitive Christians were fortified against all that the malice and cruelty of the world could do against them; and they thought they made a very wise bargain, if through many tribulations they might at last enter into tbe kingdom of God; because they believed, that the joys of heaven would abundantly recompense all their forrows and sufferings upon earth. And fo confident were they of this, that they looked upon it as a special favour and regard of God to them, to call them to suffer for his name. So St. Paul fpeaks of it, Phil. 1. 29. Unto you it is given, in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to fuffer for his fake. Yea, they accounted them happy, who upon
this account were miserable in this world. So St. James expressly pronounceth them, chap. i. 12. Bleffed is the man that endureth temptation, (meaning the temptation of persecution and suffering): for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. And this consideration was that which kept up their spirits from sinking un