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Worms as tiles upon the høyses.” When brought into the assembly, and required to recant, he calmly, yet boldly maintained his principles, and concluded by solemnly declaring, “ I cannot, I dare not, I will not submit to any thing which appears unsupported by the will of God.”
From the noble army of martyrs a great number might easily be introduced, I shall here just mention two.
John Lambert suffered in the yoar 1538, No man was used at the stake with more cruelty than this martyr. They burned him in a slow fire by inches, for if it kindled higher and stronger than they chose, they took it away. When his legs were burnt off, and his thighs were mere stumps in the fire, they pitched his body upon pikes, and lacerated his broiling flesh with their halberts, But God was with him in the midst of the flame, and supported him in all the anguish of nature. Just before he expired, he lifted up such hands as he had, all flaming with fire, and cried out to the people with his dying voice, “ None but Christ: none but Christ."
Mr. Lawrence Saunders was executed Feb. 8, 1555. When he came to the place, he fell on the ground and prayed, and then arose and took the stake in his arms to which he was to be chained, and kissed it, saying, “ Welcome the cross of Christ : welcome everlasting life.”.
Such seasons of persecution bring the professions of attachment to Christ to a severe test. By these storms the chaff is separated from the wheat. We live in milder times, and never yet saw the fires of Smithfield kindled to consume martyrs. Yet we may ask, Has the offence of the cross entirely ceased? We might as well ask, Is the enmity of the carnal mind quite extinct ? No; as of old, he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the spirit, even so it is now. In our happy land, the heavy artillery of persecution has long since ceased to alarm and agitate the nation with its tremendous shocks. But are not the light weapons of ridicule, and the poisoned darts of calumny, employed to gall and harass those, whom the laws do not permit to be dragged to prisons and stakes? Where is the Christian, who has any thing to do with the world, that has not, in a greater or less degree, to bear the reproach of the cross ?
You may never, reader, be called, for the cause of religion, to hazard life, to endure the spoiling of your goods, or to flee from city to city, to escape the bigot's torch, or the tyrant's chain. But are you ready to sacrifice whatever does now stand in competition with your attachment to the Redeemer? Do you give him the first place in your affections, and make every thing else bow
to his will? Is it the wish and prayer of your heart, that every idol, however dear, may be torn away, and all the powers within you give homage to the Prince of Peace ? Are you willing “ your dame should be cast out as evil in the world, if it be found in the book of life?” Are you fully prepared to " go forth without the camp, bearing the Saviour's reproach ?” Can you meet, without shrinking, the hard speeches of the ungodly, rather than basely renounce, or disingenuously conceal your Christian profession! If, for the Lord's sake, you freely resign the things of the world, deny self, and proceed with boldness to cut off a right hand, and pluck out a right eye, to you he is indeed precious.
3. Another evidence, that Christ is precious to us, is a readiness to manifest our love to him by a course of active, cheerful, universal, and unwearied obedience to his commands.
The Christian is under the supreme authority of his Divine Master, and is therefore called to exemplify his precepts, It is not enough to endure with fortitude privations and sufferings for his sake, when necessary; we must also engage in every service he enjoins, with active zeal and steady diligence. No talent is given us to be laid up in a napkin, no faculty ought to be unemployed, no gift unimproved, no relative
duty knowingly omitted, nor opportunity of usefulness carelessly neglected. “ Being purchased with blood, all the members of the body, and all the powers of the soul, should be yielded up to God.” Hence Jesus said, “ If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Doubtless we should keep them as a treasure laid up in the heart; keep them as a rule always at hand to direct our way. These striking words of our Saviour demand most serious attention. They afford us a criterion or mark, by which we may safely judge ourselves, to ascertain whether the creature or the Creator, the world or the Redeemer, sways the affections. It is not said, if ye love me, take my name, hear my commands; but take my yoke upon you, keep my commands. Now, as a considerable proportion of those commands are of a practical nature, this test of attachment will therefore always be disliked by those, who in words profess Christ, but in works deny him. We may, however, rest fully assured, that, where there are no fruits of righteousness, there can be no root of genuine piety. What would be thought of that man, who, while he professed loyalty and affection to the king, continued in the grossest manner to trample upon his laws ? Would it not subject him justly to the charge of rebellion, aggravated by the vilest dissimulation? The same thing may be asserted of those who exalt Christ in words, and dishonour him by their conduct. He repels the confidence of such vain self-deceivers, “Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?"
Nor is it enough, that there be obedience to the Saviour's commands, unless it be prompt and cheerful. A slave may perform his task to avoid the smarting lash, though he hates both his work and his master. Thus a man in bondage under the law, driven by the scourges of a guilty conscience, sometimes attends a little to the practical part of religion, which is felt every moment to be a tiresome task, or grievous kind of drudgery. Such a forced, reluctant compliance with Gospel precepts, as springs wholly from servile fear, can neither be acceptable to God, nor an evidence of interest in Christ. A believer under the guidance of truth, and the impulse of love, is to be “ ready to every good word and work.” And when obedience in any one is excited by proper motives, it will be distinguished by cheerful alacrity. The natural language of such a heart will be, « Speak, Lord, 'for thy servant heareth. Blessed Saviour ! thy commands to me are not grievous, but joyous. Thy yoke I have found to be easy, and I delight to wear it. Oh may I be enabled daily to follow thee, and