Billeder på siden

he is acquainted with the wiles and methods of the tempter, and what are the materials which he maketh his baits of, and what is the manner in which he spreadeth his nets. He seeth always some snares before him; and what company soever he is in, or what business soever he is about, he walketh as among snares, which are visible to his sight; and it is part of his business continually to avoid them. He liveth in a continual watch and warfare. He can resist much stronger and more subtle temptations than the weak can do. He is always armed, and knoweth what are the special remedies against each particular snare and sin; Eph. vi. 2 Cor. ii. 11. Prov. i. 17. And he carrieth always his antidotes about him, as one that liveth in an infectious world, and in the midst of a froward, and perverse generation, from which he is charged to save himself; Phil. ii. 15. Acts ii. 40.

[ocr errors]

2. And the weak Christian is a soldier in the army of Christ, and is engaged in striving against sin (Heb. xii. 4.); and really taketh the flesh and world, as well as the devil, to be his enemies, and doth not only strive, but conquer in the main; but yet, alas, how poorly is he armed: how unskilful doth he manage his Christian armour: how often is he foiled and wounded: how many a temptation is he much unacquainted with and how many a snare doth lie before him which he never did observe. And oft he is overcome in particular temptations, when he never perceiveth it, but thinks that he hath conquered.

3. But the hypocrite is fast ensnared when he glorieth most of his integrity, and is deceived by his own heart, and thinketh he is something, when he is nothing; Gal. vi. 3. Luke xviii. 20-23. When he is thanking God that he is not as other men, he is rejoicing in his dreams, and sacrificing for the victory which he never obtained; ver. 11. He is led by satan captive at his will, when he is boasting of his uprightness, and hath a beam of covetousness, or pride, or cruelty in his own eye, while he is reviling, or censuring another for the mote of some difference about a ceremony, or tolerable opinion. And usually such grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived; Matt. vii. 3—5. 2 Tim. iii. 13.

[ocr errors]

XXVIII. 1. A Christian indeed, is one that hath deliberately counted what it may cost him to follow Christ, and to save his soul; and knowing that suffering with Christ is

the way to our reigning with him, he hath fully consented to the terms of Christ. He hath read Luke xiv. 26, 27.33. and findeth that bearing the cross and forsaking all, is necessary to those that will be Christ's disciples. And accordingly in resolution he hath forsaken all; and looketh not for a smooth and easy way to heaven. He considereth that "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution," and that" through many tribulations we must enter into heaven." And, therefore, he taketh it not for a strange or unexpected thing, if the fiery trial come upon him. He doth not wonder at the unrighteousness of the world, as if he expected reason or honesty, justice or truth, or mercy in the enemies of Christ, and the instruments of satan: he will not bring his action against the devil, for unjustly afflicting him: he will rather turn the other cheek to him that smiteth him, than he will hinder the good of any soul by seeking right; much less will he exercise unjust revenge. Though where government is exercised for truth and righteousness, he will not refuse to make use of the justice of it to punish iniquity, and discourage evil doers, yet this is for. God and the common good, and for the suppression of sin, much more than for himself. Suffering doth not surprise him as a thing unlooked for he hath been long preparing for it, and it findeth him garrisoned in the love of Christ. Yea, though his flesh will be as the flesh of others, sensible of the smart, and his mind is not senseless of the sufferings of his body, yet it is some pleasure and satisfaction to his soul, to find himselfin the common way to heaven, and to see the predictions of Christ fulfilled, and to feel himself so far conform to Jesus Christ his head, and to trace the footsteps of a humbled Redeemer in the way before him. As "Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, so doth the Christian arm himself with the same mind;" 1 Pet. iv. 1. He rejoiceth that he is made partaker of the sufferings of Christ, that when his glory shall be revealed, he may also be partaker of the exceeding joy;" ver. 12, 13. Yea, he taketh the reproach of Christ for a treasure, yea, a greater treasure than riches, or men's favours can afford; Heb. xi. 25, 26. For he knoweth if he be reproached for the name or sake of Christ he is happy. For thereby he glorifieth that God, whom the enemy doth blaspheme, and so the Spirit of God and of glory resteth on him; 1 Pet. iv. 14. He liveth and suffereth as one



that from his heart believeth, that "they are blessed that are persecuted for righteousness sake, for great is their reward in heaven. And they are blessed when men shall re vile them and persecute them, and say all manner of evil against them falsely for Christ's sake." In this they "rejoice and are exceeding glad," as knowing that herein they are "followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promise;" Matt. v. 10-12. Heb. vi. 12. If he be "offered upon the sacrifice and service of the faith of Gød's elect, he can rejoice in it as having greater good than evil; Phil.ii. 17. He can suffer the loss of all things, and account them dung, that he may "win Christ, and be found in him, and know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death;" Phil. iii. 8-10. Not out of surliness and pride doth he rejoice in sufferings, as some do, that they may carry the reputation of holy and undaunted men; and seem to be far better, and more constant than others. When pride maketh men suffer, they are partly the devil's martyrs though the cause be never so good. Though it is much more ordinary for pride to make men suffer rejoicingly in an ill cause than in a good; the devil having more power on his own ground than on Christ's. But it is the love of Christ, and the belief of the reward, and the humble neglect of the mortified flesh, and the contempt of the conquered world, that maketh the Christian suffer with so much joy; for he seeth that the Judge is at the door, and what torments the wicked are preparing for themselves; and that as certainly as there is a God that governeth the world, and that in righteousness, so certainly are his eyes upon the righteous, and his face is set against them that do evil (1 Pet. iii. 12), and though "sinners do evil a hundred times," and escape unpunished till their days be prolonged, yet vengeance will overtake them in due time, and it shall be well with them that fear the Lord; and that he keepeth all the tears of his servants till the reckoning day. And if" judgment begin at the house of God, and the righteous be saved through so much suffering and labour, what then shall be their end, that obey not the Gospel? and where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?" 1 Pet. iv. 17, 18. Eccles. viii. 12. Prov. xi. 31. xiii. 6. Psal. lvi. 8. Deut. xxxii. 35. James v. 9.

2. And the weak Christian is one that will forsake all for

the sake of Christ, and suffer with him that he may be glorified with him; and will take his treasure in heaven for all; Luke xiv. 26, 33. xviii. 22. But he doth it not with that easiness, and alacrity, and joy, as the confirmed Christian doth. He hearkens more to the flesh, which saith, ' favour thyself.' Suffering is much more grievous to him; and sometimes he is wavering before he can bring himself fully to resolve, and let go all; Matt. xvi. 22.

3. But the seeming Christian looketh not for much suffering: he reads of it in the Gospel, but he saw no probability of it, and never believed that he should be called to it in any notable degree: he thought it probable that he might well escape it, and therefore, though he agreed verbally to take Christ for better and worse, and to follow him through sufferings, he thought he would never put him to it. And indeed his heart is secretly resolved, that he will never be undone in the world for Christ. Some reparable loss he may undergo, but he will not let go life and all. He will still be religious and hope for heaven; but he will make himself believe (and others if he can) that the truth lieth on the safer side, and not on the suffering side; and that it is but for their own conceits, and scrupulosity, that other men suffer who go beyond him; and that many good men are of his opinion, and therefore he may be good also in the same opinion (though he would never have been of that opinion, if it had not been necessary to his escaping of sufferings) what flourish soever he maketh for a time, "when persecution ariseth he is offended and withereth;" Matt. xiii. 21. 26. Unless he be so deeply engaged among the suffering party, that he cannot come off without perpetual reproach; and then perhaps pride will make him suffer more than the belief of heaven, or the love of Christ could do. And all this is, because his very belief is unrooted, and unsound, and he hath secretly at the heart a fear, that if he should suffer death for Christ, he should be a loser by him, and he would not reward him according to his promise, with everlasting life; Heb. iii. 12.

XXIX. 1. A Christian indeed is one that followeth not Christ for company, nor holdeth his belief in trust upon the credit of any in the world, and therefore he would stick to Christ, if all that he knoweth or converseth with should forsake him. If the rulers of the earth should change their

[ocr errors]

religion, and turn against Christ, he would not forsake him. If the multitude of the people turn against him; nay, if the professors of godliness should fall off, yet would he stand his ground and be still the same. If the most learned men, and the pastors of the church should turn from Christ, he would not forsake him. Yea, if his nearest relations and friends, or even that minister that was the means of his conversion, should change their minds, and forsake the truth, and turn from Christ, or a holy life, he would yet be constant, and be still the same. And what Peter resolved on, he would truly practise: "Though all men should be offended because of thee, yet would not I be offended. Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee;" Matt. xxvi. 33. 35. And if he thought himself, as Elias did, left alone, yet would he not bow the knee to Baal; Rom. xi. 3. If he hear that this eminent minister falleth off one day, and the other another day, till all be gone, yet still the foundation of God standeth sure; he falleth not because he is built upon the rock; Matt. vii. 22, 23. His heart saith, ́Alas, whither shall I go, if I go from Christ? Is there any other that hath the word and Spirit of eternal life? Can I be a gainer if I lose my soul?' John vi. 67, 68. Matt. xvi. 26. He useth his teachers to bring him that light and evidence of truth, which dwelleth in him when they are gone: and, therefore, though they fall away, he falleth not with them.

2. And the weakest Christian believeth with a divine faith of his own, and dependeth more on God than man: but yet if he should be put to so great a trial, as to see all the pastors and Christians that he knoweth, change their minds, I know not what he would do: for though God will uphold all his own, whom he will save, yet he doth it by means and outward helps, together with his internal grace; and keepeth them from temptations, when he will deliver them from the evil; and therefore it is a doubt, whether there be not degrees of grace so weak, as would fail, in case the strongest temptations were permitted to assault them. A strong man can stand and go of himself, but an infant must be carried; and the lame and sick must have others to support them. The weak Christian falleth, if his teacher or most esteemed company fall: if they run into an error, sect

[blocks in formation]
« ForrigeFortsæt »