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main difference, and makes him believe thi and cursing, and troversies that are all that sets them at
auld have much better man, thou overlookest the point
Jur peace, on. Agree first in the seriouş "showing the enment and practice of the substance of that'
, genuine natı - you are both in point of opinion agreed in
condemn thyself in the things which thou allowest contradict not thy creed and pro
It oppression fession by thy fleshly, worldly, negligent, careless, and ungodly life, but love God "this all thy heart and might, and first seek his kingdom and his righteousness, which thou confessest thou shouldest do, and then the principal difference is healed, and thou hast escaped the principal danger of thy soul, and then it is not a few circumstantial differences that will divide your hearts, or divide
from each other in the life to come. Men that differ about bishops, and ceremonies, and forms of prayer, may be all true Christians, and dear to one another, and to Christ, if they be practically agreed in the life of godliness, and join in a holy, heavenly conversation. But if you agree in all your opinions and formalities, and yet were never sanctified by the truth, you do but agree to delude your souls, and neither of you will be saved for all your agreement.
III. The third sort to be spoken to, is those that let out their passion in hard speeches against superiors or others, that they think do wrong or persecute them on a religious account. At this time I will suppose the injury be real, and the complaint be just, it yet beseems not Christians to Tevile.
1. Consider how contrary this is to the example of our Lord ; and that he left us his
imple in this particular, with a special recommendation fo'
(2 ?r imitation. When he was falsely accused, and the Hig:
is a ist urged him ? answer fer himself, (Matt. xxvi. 62, 63,) nc was silent, tchow that he could bear a false accusation, without so muc'inte vindicating his innocency by a just defence. O learn bot in a lesson and motives recommended to you, 1 Pet. ii. 18, to iwe end. vants be subject to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the forward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it if, when ye are buffetted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called, because you so hasty for sous, leaving us an example that we should
the Judge is at the doüst no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; via James v. 5– was reviled, reviled not again ; when he suffered, he Ye have liveu ..but committed himself to him that judgeth rightenourished you. is the description of your duty, and your example.mned and I sed worse than Christ was used ? (Isa. liii. 7, 8.) He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; } is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before 11 shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. And if you will come to him, and be his disciples, you must learn of him to be meek and lowly in heart, that you may find rest unto your souls. (Matt. xi. 28, 19.)
2. Consider, as our kingdom is not of this world, so we are not to strive for worldly pre-eminence, nor with carnal weapons, but must know that our greatness here is in being the least, and our dignity in being the servants of all; and our gain is by our loss, and our honour by evil reports, and by disgrace, and our advancement by our debasement, and our preferment by being kept from worldly honour, and our joy by sorrow, and our exaltation by humiliation. And therefore it is contrary to our state of faith to murmur at them that deprive us of the pleasures of sense, or the ease and privileges of the flesh. Mark the description of Christianity in the gospel, and see how much of it consisteth in contempt of the esteem and honours of the world, and of all the accommodations and pleasures of the flesh, because of the expectation of the unseen eternal pleasures; and in the lyrsaking all, and taking up our cross, and following a crucih shu Christ; and in patience, and meekness, and forbearing anave Driving; and rather than seek either verb or actual rey ynagy to give the cloak also to him that takes a thr our coat, and turn the other cheek to him that smitethus.ell Amortified passion, and untamed nature, will not give somef ln leave to understand these passages of Christ, but they search for some such figure so to expound them by as shall annihilate the plain and proper sense.
Self-love so blindeth men, that when they read these gospel precepts, they feel not their consciences touched and bound by them, but they read them as if they read them not, and retain no more than if it were nonsense which they read. Had the commands aforesaid (of patience, forbearing, and forgiving,) but as much force and efficacy upon the souls of most professors as the com
mandments have that are against swearing, and cursing, and drunkenness, and fornication ; we should have much better maintained our innocency and our peace, anıt have more honoured our profession by showing the world Christianity exemplified in its proper, genuine nature and effects.
3. Consider, it is not oppression, persecution, or hard usage that will exempt us from the obligation of the fifth commandment, which requireth us to honour our superiors, our natural, and civil, and ecclesiastical fathers. It is the evil and froward, and not only the good and the gentle, that we must honour and obey. And the reason is plain from their original end, It is not as our trustees, or agents, or friends only, that our rulers must be honoured, but as the officers of the God of heaven; nor is it only as they do good to us, but as they preserve order and justice in the world, and are the pillars of the Commonwealth. If magistrates should deal ever so hardly with you and me, yet still their office is of necessity to the common good. And if their office be necessary, their honour is necessáry, for when they are dishonoured and despised, they are disabled. And therefore, for the common good, we must be careful to keep up the honour of our governors, even when we suffer by them ourselves. Princes were none of the best when the apostles commanded the churches to honour them, and obey them, and this not only for fear of their penalties, but for conscience' sake. (Rom. xiii. 5.) Of old it was they that walked after the flesh, in the lust of uncleanness, that were presumptuous and self-willed, and despised government, and were not afraid to speak evil of dignities'; whereas the angels that are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusations against them before the Lord. (2 Pet. ii. 10, 11 ; Jude 8, 9.)
4. Consider, that reviling is a tongue-revenge, and revenge is God's, and he is engaged to repay, and hath commanded us not to avenge ourselves. As we must not step into the judge's tribunal whenever we think he is negligent in his administrations, so much less must we accuse God of négligence or injustice, by stepping into his throne. And though the railers of these times excuse their sin with the name of justice, they must show their commissions for the executing of that justice, before it will pass in heaven for an excuse. Is not God severe enougin? will not his judgment be terrible enough? would you wish men to suffer more than he will inflict on the impenitent? what! more than hell? and will it not be soon enough? are
you so hasty for so dreadful a revenge? can you not stay when the Judge is at the door? Mark both the usage and remedy of believers, in James v. 5–8. To the rich and great ones of the world he saith,“ Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts as in a day of slaughter! Ye have condemned and killed the just, and he doth not resist you.” There is your usage. “Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord.” There is the remedy. But must we stay so long? He thus repeateth his advice: “Be ye also patient: stablish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Let your moderation be known to all men; the Lord is at hand.” (Phil. iv. 5.) “Shall not God avenge his own elect, that cry night and day unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will ayenge them speedily.” (Luke xviii. 7, 8.) There is no contradiction between crying long and avenging speedily.
5. Consider what compassion, rather than reproach, you owe to those by whom you suffer. They do themselves much more hurt than they do you. Are they great ? They have the more to answer for, and their fall will be the greater. (James v. 1-3.) If you are yourselves believers, go into the sanctuary, and ask the Scriptures what will be their end; and then deny them compassion if you can. Alas! consider they are, at the worst, but such as you were formerly yourselves as to the main. Paul makes a sad confession of his own persecution of the church, when he was before Agrippa, and doth not complain that he was himself so hardly used. “I verily thought,” saith he, “with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus. Many of the saints I shut up in prison (little thinking that they were saints); I gave my voice against them, I punished them oft in every synagogue; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them.” (Acts xxvi, 9-12.) He would not tell Agrippa that he was mad, but he might speak more freely of himself. Oh! Sirs, pity poor men who have the temptations of worldly greatness and prosperity, and must go through a camel's eye if they will come to heaven ; who stand so high that sun and wind have the greatest force upon them; who see so much vanity, and little serious exemplary piety; who hear so much flattery and falsehood, and so little necessary truth, saith Seneca, “Divites cum omnia habeant, unum illis deest; scilicet, qui verum dicat : si enim in cliente.
lam fælicis hominis potentumque perveneris, aut veritas, aut amicitia perdenda est.” If you were in their places, you know not how far you might be prevailed upon against yourselves. If little temptations can make you miscarry in your places so oft and foully as you do, what would you do if you had the strongest baits of the world, and allurements of the flesh, and the most dangerous temptations that Satan could assault you with ? Have you not seen of late before your eyes, how low some have fallen from high professions, and how shamefully the most promising persons have miscarried, that were lifted up and put to the trial of such temptations of prosperity as they had never been used to before ? Oh! pity those that have such dangerous trials to pass through, and be thankful that you stand on safer ground ; and do not cruelly envy them their perils, nor reproach them for their falls, but pray, and daily pray, for their recovery.
6. Consider this speaking evil of those by whom you suffer, hath too much of selfishness and corrupted nature in it to be good. If another suffered as you do, and you were advanced as another is, would not you speak more mildly then? Or, if not so, yet the proneness of nature to break out into reviling words, though it were for religion and for God, doth intimate to you that it hath a suspicious root. Do you
find it as easy to be meek and patient, and forgive a wrong, and love an enemy? Take heed lest you serve Satan in vindicating the cause of God. It is an unfit way of serving God, to do it by breaking his commands. Read seriously the description of a contentious, hurtful, foul-tongued zeal, in James iii., and then tell me what thanks Christ will give you for it. The two great disciples, James and John, thought it would have notably honoured Christ, and curbed the raging spirit of the ungodly, if he would have let them call for fire from heaven, to consume a town that refused to receive him. But doth Christ encourage their destroying zeal? No; but he tells them, “Ye know not what spirit ye are of.” They little knew how unlike to the tender, merciful, healing spirit of Christ that fiery hurting spirit was, that provoked them to that desire, nor how unpleasing their temper was to Christ. This is the very case of many thousand Christians that are yet young, and green, and harsh, and have not attained to that mellowness, and sweetness, and measure of charity, that is in grown, experienced Christians. They think their passions and desires of some plagues on the