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der the weight of their greatest sufferings. So St. Paul tells us, 2 Cor. iv. 14. 16. Knowing, that he which raised up the Lord Jesus, jhall raise up us also by Jesus. For which cause we faint not ; bui though our outward man pes s'ish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. The sufferings of their bodies did but help to raise and fortify their spirits. Nay, so far were they from fainting under those afflictions, that they rejoiced and gloried in them. So the fame Apostle tells us, Rom. v. 2. 3. that, in th midst of their sufferings, they rejoiced in hope of the glory of God; and that they gloried in tribulations, as being the way to be made partakers of that glory: and Heb. x. 34: that they took joyfully the spoiling of their goods,, knowing in themselves that they had in heaven a better and an enduring substance. And for this reason, St. James, chap. i. 2. exhorts Christians to account it all joy when they fall into divers temptations, that is, various kinds of sufferings, because of the manifold advantages which from thence would redound to them.
Now, what was it that inspired them to all this courage and chearfulness, but the belief of a mighty reward, far beyond the proportion of all their sufferings, and a firm perfuasion that they should be vast gainers by them at the last? This consideration St. Paul urgeth with great force, 2 Cor. iv. 17. 18. Our light affliction, which as but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory : while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen : for the things which are seen, are temporal; but the things which are not seen, are eternal. If we could compare things justly, and attentively regard and consider the invisible glories of another world, as well as the things which are seen; we should easily perceive, that he who suffers for God and religion, does not renounce happiness; but puts it out to interest, upon terms of the greatest advantage.
I shall now speak briefly to the
Second part of this remarkable saying in the text: If we deny him, he also will deny us. To which is fubjoined in the words following, If we believe not ; el emisorelos
, if we deal unfaithfully with him; yet he abideth faithful ; the cannot deny himself; that is, he will be constant to his
word, and make good that folemn threatening which he hath denounced against those who, for fear of suffering, shall deny him and his truth before men : Matth. X. 33. Whosoever (faith our Lord there) Jhall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Mark viii. 38. Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and finful generation, of him also Mall the Son of man be ashamed when he cometh in the glary of his Father, with the holy angels. This is a terrible threatening, to be disowned by Christ at the day of judgment, in the presence of God and bis holy angels; and this threatening will certainly be made good : and though we may renounce him, and break our faith with him, yet he remains faithful who hath threatened, and cannot deny himself.
This is matter of great terror, and seriously to be thought upon by those who are tempted to deny Christ and his truth, either by the hope of worldly advantage, or the fear of temporal sufferings. What worldly advantage can we propose to ourselves, by quitting our religion, which can be thought an equal price, for the loss of our immortal souls, and of the happiness of all eternity ? Suppose the whole world were offered us in consideration; yet what is a man profited, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or 'what shall a man give inz exchange for his foul ? as our Saviour reasons, Matth. xvi. 26.
And, on the other hand, if the fear of temporal suffering be such a terror to men, as to shake their constancy in religion, and to tempt them to renounce it; the fear of eternal torments ought to be much more powerful to keep them ftedfast to their religion, and to deter them from the denial of it. If fear will move us, then, in all reason, that which is most terrible ought to prevail most with us, and the greatest danger should be most dreaded by us ; according to our Saviour's most friendly and reasonable advice, Luke xii. 4.5. I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn your whoin je lhall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed, hath power 10 cast into hell; yea, I say unto 301, Fear him. If there can be no doubt which of them is most to be VOL.IV.
dreaded, there can be no doubt what we are to do in case of such a temptation.
I shall now draw some inferences from this discourse by way of application.
1. if this be a faithful saying, that if we be dead with Christ, we shall also live with him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with him; but if we deny him, he will also deny us : the belief of it ought to have a mighty influence upon us, to make us stedfast and unmoveable in the profesfion and practice of our holy religion. This inference the Apostle makes from the doctrine of a blessed refurrection, I Cor. xv. 58. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye siedfaft, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; forasmuch as ye know, that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. If any thing will fix men in the profellion of their religion, and make them serious in the practice of it; the belief of a glorious resurrection, and of the reward which God will then give to his faithful servants, must needs have a very powerful influence upon them to this purpose. Upon the fame ground the Apostle to the Hebrews exhorts them to hold fast the profession of their faith without wavering ; because he is faithful that hath promised. If we be constant in the profeffion and practice of our holy religion, God will be faith. ful to the promise which he hath made, of eternal life to those who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glo. ry, and honour, and immortality.
If, under the dark and imperfect difpenfation of the law, good men shewed so much courage and constancy for God and religion, as we read in that long catalogue of heroes, Heb. xi.; how much more should Christians, whose faith is supported much more strongly than theirs was, by a much clearer evidence of another life, and a blessed immortality, than they had; by more exprefs promises of divine comfort and allistance under sufferings, than were made to them; and by the most divine and encouraging example of the greatest patience under the greatest fufferings that the world ever had, in the death and paffion of the Son of God, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, and despised the shame, and is clown at the right hand of the throne of God When we consider this glorious example of suffering,
and the glorious reward of it, how can we be weary and faint in our minds? If the faints and apostles of the Old Testament did such great things, by virtue of a faith which relied chiefly upon the attributes and providence of God; what should not we do, who have the security of God's express promise for our comfort and encouragement! We certainly have much greater reason to take up our cross more chearfully, and to bear it more patiently, than they did,
2. We should always be prepared in the resolutions of our minds, to suffer for the testimony of God's trutla and a good conscience, if it should please God at any time to call us to it. This our Saviour hath made a ne.. cessary condition of his religion, and a qualification of a true disciple: If any man will be my disciple, let him take up his cross, and follow ine. So that we are to reckon upon it, and to prepare for it; that if it comes, we may not be surprised, as if fome strange thing had happened to us; and may not be unresolved what to do in such a case. And God knows when we may be called to it : however, it is wise to forecast it in our minds, and to be always in a preparation and readiness to entertain the worst that may happen; that if it come, we may be able to stand out in an evil day. And if it does not come, God will accept the resolution of our minds, and reward it according to the fincerity of it: he that knows what we would have done, will conlider it as if we had done it.
3. The less we are called to suffer for God, the more we should think ourselves obliged to do for him ; the less God is pleased to exercise our patience, we should abound so much the more in the active virtues of a good life, and our obedience to God should be so much the more chearful, and we more fruitful in every good work. If there be no need of sealing the truth with our blood, we should be sure to adorn and recommend it by our lives.
4. and lastly, If the hopes of immortality will tear men up under the extremity of suffering and torments, and give men courage and resolution against all the terrors of the world ; they ought much more to make us victorious over the temptations and allurements of it. For certainly it is in reason much easier to forego pleafure, than to endure pain; to refuse or lay down a good Ff 2
place for the testimony of a good conscience, than to lay down our lives upon that account. And in vain does any man pretend that he will be a martyr for his religion, when he will not rule an appetite, nor restrain a lult, nor subdue a passion, nor cross his covetousness and ambition, for the fake of it, and in hope of that eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, hath promised. He that refuseth to do the less, is not like to do the greater. It is very improbable, that a man will die for his religion, when he cannot be persuaded to live according to it. So that by this we may try the sincerity of our refolution concerning martyrdom. For what profession foever men make, he that will not deny himself the pleasures of fin, and the advantages of this world, for Chrift; when it comes to the push, will never have the heart to take up his cross, and follow him. He that cannot take up a resolution to live a saint, hath a demonftration within himself, that he is never like to die a martyr.
SER Μ ο Ν
The blessedness of good men after death.
Preached on All-Saints day.
RE v. xiv. 13. And I heard a voice from heaven, Saying unto me, Write,
Blesed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth : Yeo, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
The first fermon on this text.
Will not trouble you with any nice dispute about the author of this book of the Revelation, or the autho
rity of it, though both these were sometimes controverted; because it is now many ages since this book was received into the canon of the scriptures, as of divine authority, and as written by St. John. Nor shall I at this