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7. Because, if it were not so, Christ would have no church in the world. His standard would fall, and there would be none to take it up. There is an old inveterate enmity in the wicked against godliness; the devil's partizans are always the most numerous. If imprisoning, banishing, spoiling of goods, fields and scaffolds reeking with the blood of the saints, would have deterred all persons from following Christ, there had been no church in the world this day. But God will have a church in spite of devils and wicked men. The spark shall be kept alive, though in the midst of an ocean, and « his name shall endure for ever," Psal. Ixxii. 17. A new seed shall ever be rising to enlist themselves under Christ's banner. God will not remove the rocks for them, but the way to heaven, to the world's end, shall lie through many tribulations ; for he will animate his people to quit with all that is dearest to them in a world, rather than quit his way, and make them overcome through the word of his testimony, and not love their lives even unto death.--I come now,
IV. To make some practical improvement.
use of information.--You may hence see,
(1.) That Christ will admit no rival in the heart. One throne cannot receive two kings, and one heart cannot admit both Christ and any worldly thing fet up
beside him ; it must needs lie at his feet, or all is wrong in that heart : Matth. vi. 24.
« No man can serve two masters.--Ye cannot serve God and mammon." Christ and the world have long struggled together, it is hard to tell which of them
many of us have been chiefly following ; but when Christ and the world parts, it will be known which of them is our master.-Hence fee,
(2.) How (2.) How far those persons are from being Christ's disciples, to whom a loathsome luft is dearer by far than the Lord Christ. Though it tends to ruin their bodies, their souls, and consciences, they notwithstanding will not part with it for Christ. When Christ commands thee to do some great thing for him, how wilt thou do it? Is it a right hand, a right eye? Thou must cut it off, pluck it out; for wast thou parting with all but one thing, this one will eternally feparate betwixt Christ and thee, if thou canst not also part with it for him.-Hence see,
(3.) That men are not out of danger, even when walking within the bounds of lawful things. It is a certain observation, that lawful things are a ditch, in which many souls are drowned, Matth. xxiv. 38. 39. A man in the use of lawful things, is like one walking on the brink of a deep precipiece; the ground is firm, but his head is ready to become giddy, and he may
It is hard to rejoice in them, and not to overjoy ; to have them, and yet to sit loose to them. Be often feel ing the pulse of thy affection to them, how it beats, left it be so violent as to separate Christ and thee.
(4.) This shews what is the root of apostacy and defection from the truths and ways of Christ, in a time of the church's trials and troubles. It is the things of the world being dearer than Christ, his truth and ways, this is the first spring of it: « Demas hath forsaken me, having loved the present world.” If Christ bé dearer to us than all things else, we will follow him wherever he goes, and never break with him, for the world's frowns. -I shall only add,
2. An use of exhortation.
that you may
who have been communicants, to evidence yours felves the true disciples of Christ by your comparative hating of father and mother, &c. for Christ and his cause in the world. Let your hearts be loosed from, and do you fit loose to, all that is dear to you in the world, resolving in the Lord's strength, and shewing yourselves ready to part with all for Christ, if he shall call you to it. In order to influence your complying with the exhortation, I would lay before you the following Motives.
. Mot. i. This is necessary to fit you for trials ;
be able to stand in the evil day, arm your souls with this disposition. For this purpofc, consider,
(1.) That the path-way to heaven lies by the cross, and all who have a real defire for heaven must lay their account with suffering : John, xvi.
33. “ In the world ye shall have tribulation : but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Acts, xiv. 22. “ We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom.” 2 Tim. iii. 12. “ Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Therefore he who does not lay his account thus is a foolish builder, Luke xiv. 25. and downwards. There is always a hot noon-tide in the church's day, Song, i. 7. and it may as certainly be expected as the noon.-Consider,
(2.) That the things which concern us appear to be making haste. You have enjoyed the difpensation of the facrament after Christ's institution in peace, we have no great ground to promise another such season in a haste. There has been much fad work wrought upon this church in a little time, and it is the temper of our enemies to drive more violently than deliberately. We had long peace, and the air is usually quiet and
Clear before an earthquake, and the winds are laid before great rains fall. The gospel has been doing little good for many years; and where people are not bettered, they are made worse by it. I believe there was never a generation more disposed to root out serious godliness from the earth, than that which this time affords. Among the fashionable people of the age, religion is become almost quite out of fashion. Ministers and profeffors, through long ease, have gathered much mud, they need to be emptied from veffel to veffel. And it seems that judgement, as ordinary, must Segin at the house of God, to purge it, and prepare the nations for a more dreadful vengeance ; so that it is probable it will be brought to this ere long-suffer or lin.-Confider,
(3.) That it is not easy to stand in a time of trial. Many will venture to fea in a fair day, that will never abide a storm. Many tall cedars have been blown up from the root by the wind of persecution, and they who have stood fastest, their towering branches have been made to sweep the ground. Be not over confident; though you have endured a form already, there may be a harder yet before you, Heb. x. 34. compared with chap. xii. 4. There is need, then, to be preparing.-Confider,
(4.) That this will fit you for it. When the things of the world hang loose about us, like Joseph's mantle, and Satan, by the hands of wicked men, seizes them, to draw us to him by them, they will flip off, and we will leave them in their hand, and fo escape, as he did. They who are standing ready to encounter, will resist the enemy, while they who are surprised will fall into confusion. It is a fad thing to feel trouble before we see it, to be past hope before we have any fear. Troubles
that find men secure, ordinarily leave them defpe
Mot. 2. Apostasy and defection from God in a trying time, is dreadful and dangerous: Heb. x. 38. “ Now the just shall live by faith ; but if any man draw back, my soul fhall have no pleasure in him.” God punishes men of this description oftentimes remarkably. How has a spirit of defe&tion been followed in the fearful judgement of God with a spirit of persecution ; for when God departs, the spirit is imbittered. As the sharpest vinegar is made of the most generous wine, fo apoftate profeffors oftintes become the bitterest perfecutors. Besides, their gifts often wither, and dry up. It has also often been seen, that they have quickly lost their all dishonourably, who have gone out of God's way to fave it, while they who have walked honestly, have walked furely. Dreadful above expression will their doom bé, if they get not grace to repent: Matth. x. 33. “ Whofoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” But,
« Call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions."
3. The truths and ways of God are more worth than the whole of what we have to lose for them. It is a general rule: Prov. xxiii. 23.“ Buy the truth, and sell it not.” The profane fpirits of some influence their flighting fome less truths of religion ; and they imagine, after doing so, that they are secure from fuffering, while the foundation points remain untouched. If these men valued their bodies as little as they do the truths of God, they would, in like manner, allow you to cut and mangle them as you please, provided ye did not Atab them in the heart; but they who value furi
Heb. x. 32