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spirit of divine courage that made them too great for this world, although they were almost banished out of it, and wandered among the beasts of the earth. Let not christians then be guilty of base and mean compliances, to preserve their substance in the world, nor to cover their names from slanders and infamy, nor to secure their liberties or their lives when Christ calls us to part with them. If there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things. If there be any call to the practice of such courage, for the sake of Christ, remember these exhortations, and be not afraid.
Thus I have given you variety of instances both of active and passive valour, as they are to be exercised in the christian life : I fear they are too many for the best and boldest of us to practise, even under all our advantages. But in order to render them a little more easy to christians, the following motives and directions may give some assistance under the influence of the blessed Spirit. And these shall be the subject of the next discourse.
Recollection. And now, O my soul, it is time to turn thy thoughts inward, and enquire, how much of this discourse is suited to thy own case? Thou acknowledgest there is a God, but art thou not sometimes ashamed to call upon him in the morning for his presence all the day, lest thy companions should know thou hast been upon thy knees? Hast thou courage to ask a blessing on thy food in the place where others deride the practice?
Thou hast learned and thou hast believed the religion of Christ, but hast thou ever yet had courage enough to make a solemn and public profession of it? llast thou ever yet publicly given thy name up to Christ as one of his subjects, and joined thyself to his visible kingdom amongst men : Or art thou only a believer in secret, ashamed to make profession of thy faith, by joining thyself to some christian assembly? If this be thy state, thou hast now a loud call to add fortitude to thy faith, and assume christian courage to profess the sacred name in which thou hast believed.
Or art thou a professor of this holy religion? Thou hast listed thyself under the banner of Christ, in these days of liberty and peace, and while thou dwellest among those who encourage thy faith and profession. But enquire into thyself, hast thou such a love to the gospel, as to glory in it even amongst infidels, who make it the object of their mockery and reproach? Has this divine religion so deep a root in thy heart, as to bear and resist the storms of the world, and to stand firm and flourish still ? Hast thou courage to declare thyself a disciple of the cross, and a professor of a crucified Saviour, when thou shalt happen to be in the company of those who blaspheme him?
Hast thou obtained holy boldness enough to practise virtue when it is out of fashion, and canst thou refuse to comply with the warmest temptations to a fashionable sin?
Hast thou got such a victory over thyself as to dare to be singular, if thy company would lead thee into any modish vice? This is an hard lesson to young and tender minds, but it must be learned. Omy soul, if thou wilt be a christian indeed, hast thou courage to viodicate the innocent, when he is assaulted with slanders, and to frown upon those who delight in scandal? Or art thou so meanly spirited, as to join in a common jest, that is thrown upon the absent, and to mix with the odious tribe of back-biters? Remember this is a shameful baseness of spirit : but a christian must be a man of honour.
Canst thou see thy friends, thy companions, indulge a sinful course, and hast thou not one kind admonition for them? Hast thou not virtue and courage enough to warn thy brother, and to turn his foot from the path of iniquity, that leads to ruin and death? But remember also, that gentleness and love must attend thy rebukes, if thou ever desirest they should attain success. A reprover should have a bold, but a tender spirit. What zeal hast thou, O my soul, for reformation? Or canst thou bear with immoralities and corruptions of every kind ? And rather than venture to displease man, wilt thou let thy neighbours go on for ever to displease God? What wouldest thou do, if thou wert called to face the great, and to profess religion before the mighty men of the earth? Is thy faith grown bold enough to shew itself in'a court, in a palace, and to venture all thy earthly interests for the defence of it?
Thus far concerning thy active fortitude. But how stands the case with regard to passive valour, and enduring of sufferings ? Is thy heart firm under sharp trials of providence? Canst thou resign thy health and thy ease into the hand of God without fretting or repining? Or doth thy courage faint, and thy impatience shamefully discover itself under the common pains and diseases of nature ? I grant there is much of weakness derived even to a manly spirit, from the distempers of the flesh : When the nerves are unbraced, and the tabernacle of the body tottering, the soul partakes of the infirmities of this poor fleshly engine, frail unhappy state of human nature, and souls that dwell in clay! But is it thy constant labour and prayer, that patience may have its perfect work, that thy spirit may be ever sedate under all the pains and disquietudes of this mortal flesh, and thy temper kept serene under all the frowns and clouds of heaven?
Art thou ready to face the king of terrors, and to descend into that dark valley? Thou must meet this adversary shortly, O my soul! Labour therefore daily to get courage and victory
over death, by faith in a dying and a rising Saviour. Happy is that faith that has no carnal fear attending it, but is got above the frowns and smiles of this world. My soul longs after it, and reaches at it, as something within the power of her present attain, ment through the grace of Christ. I long to be armed with this Bacred courage, and to have my heart fortified all round with these divine munitions. I would fain be calm and serene in the midst of buffetings and reproaches, and pursue my course steadily toward heaven, under the banner of faith, through all the arrows of slander and malice. Lord Jesus, I wait for thy divine influence, to bestow this grace, and thy divine teachings, to put me in the way to obtain it.
Holy Fortituide, or Remedies against Fear.
1 Cor. xvi. 13.-Stand fast in the Faith, quit you like Men, be strong. HAVING described this holy temper of spirit, this fortitude both of the active and passive kind, and having set before you various occasions for its exercise in the cliristian life, I proceed now to the third thing which I proposed, and that is, to excite you by some engaging motives, to seek after this temper, which is so necessary for a christian, I shall not enforce this from the light of nature, and from the mere laws of reason, which have been joined with ambitious and selfish principles in some of the pagan heroes, and have influenced many a man, in the days of heathenism, to some great exploits of fortitude and fame. There is nothing in all the principles of natural religion, that makes the mind brave and noble but it receives high advancements and glorious efficacy from christianity. I would call
you, First, To cast your eyes on the noble patterns of courage that you find in the New Testament. I do not invite you to meditate the examples of heathen warriors, but consider the example of christian heroes, your predecessors, who have stood fast in the faith, who have quitted themselves like men, in nu
, merous and shining instances of active and passive courage. Look at the blessed apostles, Peter and John, when they rejoiced to suffer shame for the sake of Christ their Lord, and boldly told the council of priests, that they must preach the name of Jesus, in opposition to their menaces : They must obey God rather than
Look at St. Paul the most eminent christian hero: Be-, hold him in the midst of the Roman soldiers, and a violent multitude of unbelieving Jews. Hear how he acknowledges his exalted Saviour before captains and centurions, before king Agrippa, before Felix and Festus, who were two successive governors of Judea! And with the same fortitude of soul ho appeared before Cæsar, at Rome. I am not ashamed, says he, of the gospel of Christ ; Rom. i. 16. for he whom I have trusted in is almighty to support me. Read that most generous and pathetic speech of his; Acts xxi. 13. when the spirit of prophecy had foretold that Paul should be bound at Jerusalem, and deliver ed captive into the hands of the Gentiles; his friends and strangers
besought him not to go up to that city. Then Paul answered, Ilhat mean ye to weep, and to break mine heurt? For I am ready, not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. I know, says he, and the Holy Ghost is witness, that bonds and afflictions wait for me, but none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear to myself, that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I hare received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God; Acts xx, 24.
Now when a special occasion calls us to the exercise of this virtue, and to confess Christ before the world, for us to be mealymouthed, and batlled, and frighted at the countenances of men, this is to forsake the example of the blessed apostles, and obey men rather than God. The prophets and the apostles, the ancient saints and the primitive martyrs have given us noble patterns of this virtue; and why should our spirits fail us, or our lips tremble, if we are called to the same glorious confession? Is not our religion divine? Is not the gospel still worthy of the same honour? Is not our God the same almighty? Is not our Redeemer the same Jesus? And does not a dying, a rising, and a reigning Saviour deserve the same homage of our tongues, and demand the same glory at our hands? Yes, surely he demands it of us, and he deserves it infinitely: And not only his apostles, but his own example teacheth us to practise this fortitude, both of the active and the passive kind. In the
Second place then, behold this perfect pattern of fortitude, Jesus the Son of God: When he came into the world in the midst of poverty, and made but a mean figure, as the son of a carpenter, he was called to oppose the whole nation of the Jews, and the priests and princes of Jerusalem; he was sent to reform the vicious customs of a wicked and degenerate age. How did he stand and face danger without fear? When he went into the temple, with what a sacred zeal did he scourge the buyers and sellers out of his Father's house of prayer? Ye know what a noble testimony he bare to the truth, when he was called before the great men, the rulers of the church and state. You know again, what instances of passive courage our Lord Jesus manifested, when he was hatefully reproached, and suffered shameful indignities from a rude multitude: When he was persecuted, when he was buffeted, when he wrestled with many and mighty sorrows, when his friends left him alone in the hands of his cruel enemies.
It must be confessed, his spirit trembled within him, and he was sore amazed, when it pleased his father to bruise him, and put him to grief, and to make his soul an offering for sin; Is. lij. 10. These were unknown and inexpressible burdens, that made