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both, quite above the reach, and beyond the ken of reason, Il. lv. 8. And,
2. The confident dictates of reason are frequently confuted by experience all the world over; it is every day made a liar, aod the frights it puts us into, proved to be vaia and groundless, lfa. li. 13.
Nothiog can be better for us, than to resign up our reafon to faith, to see all things through the promises, and trust God over all events. · Rule 12. To conclude, exalt the fear of God in your hearts, and let it gain the afcendant over all your other fears.
This is the prescription in my text for the cure of all our Navish fears, and indeed all the formentioned rules for the cure
of fiaful fears run into this, and are reducible to it. For, IV. 1. Doth the knowledge and application of the covenant of
grace cure our fears? The fear of God is both a part of that covenant, and an evidence of our interest in it, Jer. xxxii. 40.
2. Doch sinful fear pluoge men into such distresses of cobe fcieoce? Why, the fear of God will preserve your ways clean (and pure, Pfal. xix. 9. and so those mischiefs will be prevented.
3. Doth foresight and provision for evil days prevent diftracting fears when they come ? No:hing like the fear of God enables us 10 such a prevision and provision for them, Heb. xi. 7.
4. Do we relieve ourselves against fear by commitring all to God ? Surely it is the fear of God that drives us to bim as our only asylum and fure refuge, Mal. iii. 16. They feared God, and thought upon his riame, (i.e.) they meditated on his name, which was their refuge, bis attributes their chambers of rest. : 5. Must our affections to the world be mortified before our fears can be subdued? This is the infrument of mortification, Neh. v. 15.
6. Do the worthy examples of those that are gone before us, tend to the cure of our cowardice and fears! Why the fear of God will provoke in you an holy self-jealousy, left you fail of the grace they manifested, and come short of those excellent patteros, Heb. xii. 15.
7. Is the assurance of interest in God, and the pardon of fin such an excellent antidote against flavish tear? Why, he that walks in the fear of God, fhall walk in the comforts of the Holy Ghost alfo, Acts ix. 31. . : 8. Is integrity of heart and way such a fountain of courage in evil times? Koow, reader, ao grace promotes this integrity
and oprightocls more than the fear of God doth, Prov. xvi. 6. Prov. xxiii. 17. .
9. Do the reviving of past experiences foppress soful fears ? No doubt this was the fubject which the fear of God put them upon, for mutual encouragement, Mal. iii. 16.
10. Are the providences of God in this world such cordials against fear? The fear of God is the very character and mark of those persons over whom his provideace shall watch in the difficulteit times, Ecclef. viii. 12. ..
11. Doth our trulting in our own reason, and makiog it' our rule and measure, breed so many fears? Why, the fear of God will take men off from such self confidence, and bring them to trust the faithful God with all doubtful issues, and events, as the very fcope of my text fully manifefts. Fear not their fear : their fear, moviog by the direction of carnal rea. fon, drove them not to God, but to the Assyrian for help. Follow not you their example in this. But how shall they help it? Why, fančtify the Lord of Hofts, and make him your fear.
Answering the most material pleas for favish fears, and disolving
the common objections against courage and constancy of mind in
day of trouble are endless, and so would his task be. that Thould undertake particularly to answer them all. It is but the curting off an Hydra's head, when one is gone, ten more start up; what is most material I will here take into consideration. When good men (for with such I am dealing in this chapter) see a formidable face and appearance of sharp and blocy times approaching them, they begin to tremble, their hearts faint, and their hands haog down with unbecoming despondency, and puslapimity; their thoughts are fo distracted, their reason and faith fo clouded by their fears, that their temptations are thereby exceedingly strengthened upon them, and their principles and professions brought under the derision and contempt of their enemies; and if their brethren, to whom God hath given more courage and constancy, and who discern the wischief like to ensue from their uncomely carriage, admonish
and advise them of it: they have abundance of pleas and defences for their fears, yea, when they reason the point of suffering in their own thoughts, and the matter is debated (as ia such times it is common) betwixt faith and fear, O what end. less work do their fears put upon their faith, to solve all the buts and ifs which their fears will object or suppose.
Some of the principal of them I think it worth while here to consider, and endeavour to satisfy, that, if possible, I may prevail with all gracious persons to be more magnanimous. Aod first. of all,
Plea 1. Sufferings for Christ are Nrange things to the ChriTians of this age, we have had the happy lot to fall into milder times than the primitive Christians did, or those that struggled in our own land in the begioning of reformation; and there., fore we may be excused for our fears, by reason of our own ua. acquaintedness with sufferiogs in our times.
Answer 1. One fault is but a bad excuse for another, why are sufferings such strangers to you? Why did you not caft upon them in the days of peace, and reckon that such days must come ?. Did you got covenant with Christ to follow him whithersoever he should go, to take up your cress, and follow him ? And did not the word plainly tell you, that “ All that will live godly in “ Christ Jesus, mult suffer perfecution,” 2 Tim. iii. 12. “ And " that we must through much tribulation enter into the king: o dom of God,” Acts xiv, 22. Did we fall asleep in quiet aod prosperous days, and dream of halcyon days all our time on earth? That the mountain of our prosperity stood strong, and we should never be moved? That we should die in our best, and multiply our days as the faod; Babylon's children indeed dream fo, Rev. xviii. 7. but the children of Sion should be better instructed. Alas! how foon may the brightest day be overcast ? The weather is not so variable, as the state of the church in this world is; now a calm, Acts ix. 31. and then a storm, Acts xii. 1, 2.' You could not but know what contingent and vari, able things all things on earth are ; why then did you delude yourselves with such fond dreams ? But as a learned man * rightly observes, Mundus fenefcens patitur phantasias. The older the world grows, the more drowzy and doting it still grows, and these are the days in which the wise as well as the foolish virgios Number. Sure it is but a bad plea, after fo many warnings from the word, and from the rod to say, I did nor ghiok of such times, I dreamed not of them.
That never be as the fa
2. Or if you say, though you have conversed with death and fufferings by fpeculation, yet you lived not in fuch times wheres in you might fee (as other sufferers did) the encouraging faith, patieoce aod zeal of others set before your eyes in a lively pactero and example. Sufferings were not only familiarized to them by frequency, but facilitated also by the daily examples of those that went before them. . · But think you indeed that nothing but encouragement and advantage to followers, arose from the trials of those that went before? Alas, there were sometimes the greatest damps and discouragements imaginable; the zeal of those that followed have often been inflamed by the faintings of those that were tried be. fore them. lo the seventh persecution uuder Decius, anno 250,, there were Itanding before the tribunal, certain of the warriors or koights, viz. Ammon, Zenon, Ptolemeus, Ingennus, and a certain aged man called Theophilus, who all standing by as spectators when a certain Chriftian was examined, and there secing him for fear, ready to decline, and fall away, did almost burst for forrow within themselves: they made rigos to him with their hands, and all gestures of the body to be con. Itaot; this being noted by all the standers by, they were ready to lay hold upon them; but they preventing the matter, pressed up of their own accord, before the bench of the judge, professing themselves to be Christians, infomuch that both the president and the benchers were all astonished, and the Christians which were judged, the more encouraged. Such damping spectacles the Christians of former ages had frequently set before them.
And it was no small trial to fome of them, to hear the faint. ings and abnegation of those that went before them, pleaded agaiost their constaocy; as in the time of Valens, it was urged by the perfecutors; those that came to their trial before you, have acknowleged their errors, begged our pardon, and returaed to us : and why will you staod it out fo obsticately? But the Christians aufwered, Nos hac potiffimum ratione viriliter stabimus, For tbis very reason we will stand to it the more manfully, to repair their fcandal, by our greater courage for Christ. These were the helps and advantages they often had in those days, therefore lay not so much stress upon that; their courage une doubtedly flowed from an higher spring and better priaciple," than the company they suffered with.
3. And if precedents and experiences of others to break the ice before you, be so great an advantage, surely we that live in VOL. IV,
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chefe latter times have the most aod best helps of that paturt that ever any people in the world had. You have all their examples recorded for your encouragement, and therefore think it not Atrange concerning the fiery trial, as tho’ fome Arange thing, bad happened to you, as the apostle speaks, 1 Pet. iv. 12. This plea is weighed, and no great weight found in it.
Plea 2. But my nature is soft and tender, my conftitution more weak and subject to the impressions of fear than others: fome that have robust bodies, and hardy Tout winds, may bet. ter grapple with such difficulties than I can, who by constitution and education, an altogether unfit to grapple with those torments, that I have not paticoce enough to hear related; my heart faints and dies withia me, if I do but read, or hear of the barbarous usages of the martyrs, and therefore I may well be excused for my fears and faiat-heartedness, when the case is like to be my owo.
Answer 1. It is a great mistake to think that the mere strength of natural constitution, can carry any one through such fufferings for Christ, or that patural tenderness and weakness die vinely asfifted, cannot bear the heaviest burden that ever God taid upon the shoulders of any fufferer for Christ. Our fuffer. ing and bearing abilities are not from nature, but from grace. We find men of (trong bodies and resolute daring minds, bave faiated in the time of trial. Dr. Pendleton, in our own story, was a man of a robuft and malfy body, and a resolute daring mind; yet when he came to the trial, he utterly faiated and fell off. On the other side, what poor feeble bodies have fusa tained the greatest torments, and out of weakaefs been made Atroog! Heb. xi. 34. The virgiu Eulalia of Emerita in Portagal, was young and tender, but twelve years old, and with much indulgence and tenderness brought up in an honourable family, being a person of confiderable quality; yet how courageously did she sustain the most cruel torments for Chrift! When the judge fawned upon her with this tempriog language, “ Why “ wilt thou kill thyself, so young a fower, and so dear thole “ hopourable marriages and great dowries thou mightest en“ joy?” Instead of returning a retracting or double answer, Eulalia threw down the idol, and spurned abroad with her feet the heap of incense prepared for che centers ; and when the executioner came to her, she entertained him with this language : "Go to, thou hangman, burn, cut, mangle thout " these earthly members; it is an easy matter to break a brittle