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for us; he left heaven for us, shall not we leave earth for him ? he denied his natural innocent wills to submit to the death of the cross for our salvation ; shall not we deny our depraved rebellious wills for his glory? And unless desperate sinners, who are fallen as low as hell, who can resist such melting persuasions ? The apostle speaks with the most feeling expressions; “ the love of Christ constrains us ; has an absolute invincible empire over us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then all dead, that henceforth we should live to him who died for us. And it is the noble and sensible effect of quickening grace to mortify sin. Faith as it obliges, so it encourages to subdue our sins, by reflecting upon the end of Christ's death, which shall certainly be accomplished. St. Paul in his conflict with an incessant enemy, was fortified by an assurance from God, My grace is sufficient for thee:” the temptation was not presently removed, but strength conveyed by which he was superior to it. Our special sins so easily encompass us, that considering our imminent danger, we may fear the issue of the fight ; but the believing remembrance of our Saviour's death, inspires new life and heat into us, knowing that he hath not died in vain. Faith raises the drooping spirit, by reflecting upon the compassionate willingness of Christ to relieve and strengthen us in the holy war. When he was upon earth, he prayed his father “ to keep us from the evil of the world.” This was the copy of his continual intercession for us in heaven; from whence we are infallibly assured, that he is most tenderly inclined to assist us, and preserve us from the malignant influence of the world. For these reasons, faith in Christ has a cleansing virtue, a victorious efficacy attributed to it: “ faith purifies the heart, and overcomes the world. A sincere believer that makes use of the divine ordinances, prayer, hearing the word, the confirming sacrament, and other holy means for the subduing his corruptions, shall certainly obtain a final victory, and the reward of it, a triumphant felicity.
The first man by rebellion against his Maker, lost his innocence and felicity, and conveyed a sad inheritance of sin and misery to his universal progeny: ever since it has been esteemed a principal part of wisdom to prepare the minds of men to encounter with innumerable evils that surround them, and to preserve a well-ordered contented state of soul, when actually under the greatest afflictions. All the famous sophists of the world, the most celebrated professors of patience, could not attain to this skill. Their consolatary discourses composed with wit and eloquence, are like artificial fruits of wax, that seem to surpass the productions of nature, but can only please the sight, and afford no real refreshment to the taste. Or, like rings of steel that are joined by the attractive virtue of the loadstone, that make a chain fair to the eye, but of no strength and use. It was inexcusable ignorance, their not resolving temporal evils to their proper original, the righteous providence of God. They erected a blind and foolish power under the title of fortune, to preside in this sphere of mutability: they always boast of their playing a prize with fortune, and triumph over a phantom of their own fiction. * This conceit was both impious and uncomfortable; impious, to take the sceptre of government from God's hand, and attribute the foolish pleasure of fortune, what is ordered by his providence: and uncomfortable, for they fancied their deity to be blind, without discerning between the worthy and unworthy, and inexorable to the complaints of the injured, and the prayers of the miserable. The common topics from whence they hardened themselves are, that none are exempted in this open state, from afflicting aecidents, the common tribute of mankind: that it is in vain to struggle with what is irresistible: that death is the balm and close of all evils. And the best of their moral ar
* Sed tantum cum fortuna se digladiari momentis omnibus gloriantur, Lact. 1. 3.