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7. Because, if it were not fo, Chrift would have no church in the world. His ftandard would fall, and there would be none to take it up. There is an old inveterate enmity in the wicked against godlinefs; the devil's partizans are always the most numerous. If imprisoning, banishing, fpoiling of goods, fields and scaffolds reeking with the blood of the faints, would have deterred all perfons from following Chrift, 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 fhall be kept alive, though in the midst of an ocean, and "his name shall endure for ever," Pfal. lxxii. 17. A new feed fhall ever be rifing to enlist themselves under Chrift'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 teftimony, and not love their lives even unto death.-I come now,
`IV. To make fome practical improvement. 1. In an ufe of information.--You may hence
(1.) That Chrift will admit no rival in the heart. One throne cannot receive two kings, and one heart cannot admit both Chrift and any worldly thing
fet up befide him; it must needs lie at his feet, or all is wrong in that heart: Matth. vi. 24. " No man can ferve two masters.--Ye cannot ferve God and mammon." Chrift and the world have long ftruggled 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 mafter.-Hence fee,
(2.) How far those perfons are from being Chrift's difciples, to whom a loathfome luft is dearer by far than the Lord Chrift. Though it tends to ruin their bodies, their fouls, and consciences, they notwithstanding will not part with it for Chrift. When Chrift commands thee to do fome 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 waft thou parting with all but one thing, this one will eternally feparate betwixt Chrift 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 obfervation, that lawful things are a ditch, in which many fouls are drowned, Matth. xxiv. 38. 39. A man in the use of lawful things, is like one walking on the brink of a steep precipiece; the ground is firm, but his head is ready to become giddy, and he may fall over. It is hard to rejoice in them, and not to overjoy; to have them, and yet to fit loose to them. Be often feeling the pulfe of thy affection to them, how it beats, left it be fo violent as to separate Chrift and thee.
(4.) This fhews what is the root of apoftacy and defection from the truths and ways of Chrift, in a time of the church's trials and troubles. It is the things of the world being dearer than Chrift, his truth and ways, this is the firft fpring of it: "Demas hath forfaken me, having loved the prefent world." If Chrift be dearer to us than all things elfe, we will follow him wherever he goes, and never break with him, for the world's frowns. -I fhall only add,
2. An ufe of exhortation.
Let me now exhort all of you, especially those
who have been communicants, to evidence your felves the true difciples of Chrift by your comparative hating of father and mother, &c. for Chrift and his caufe in the world. Let your hearts be loofed from, and do you fit loose to, all that is dear to you in the world, refolving in the Lord's ftrength, and fhewing yourselves ready to part with all for Chrift, if he fhall call you to it. In order to influence your complying with the exhortation, I would lay before you the following MOTIVES.
Mot. 1. This is neceffary to fit you for trials; that you may be able to ftand in the evil day, arm your fouls with this difpofition. For this purpose, confider,
(1.) That the path-way to heaven lies by the crofs, and all who have a real defire for heaven muft lay their account with fuffering: John, xvi. 33. "In the world ye fhall 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 Chrift Jefus fhall fuffer perfecution." 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.-Confider,
(2.) That the things which concern us appear to be making hafte. You have enjoyed the dif penfation of the facrament after Chrift's inftitution in peace, we have no great ground to promife another fuch feafon in a hafte. 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 have had long peace, and the air is ufually quiet and
clear before an earthquake, and the winds are laid before great rains fall. The gofpel 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 difpofed to root out ferious 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. Minifters and profeffors, through long cafe, have gathered much mud, they need to be emptied from veffel to veffel. And it feems that judgement, as ordinary, muft begin 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,-fuffer or fin.-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 perfecution, and they who have stood fafteft, their towering branches have been made to fweep 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 Jofeph's mantle, and Satan, by the hands of wicked men, feizes them, to draw us to him by them, they will flip off, and we will leave them in their hand, and so escape, as he did. They who are standing ready to encounter, will refift the enemy, while they who are furprised will fall into confufion. It is a fad thing to feel trouble before we see it, to be paft hope before we have any fear. Troubles S 2
that find men secure, ordinarily leave them defpe
Mot. 2. Apoftafy and defection from God in a trying time, is dreadful and dangerous: Heb. x. 38. Now the juft fhall live by faith; but if any man draw back, my foul fhall have no pleasure in him." God punishes men of this defcription oftentimes remarkably. How has a fpirit of defection been followed in the fearful 'judgement of God with a fpirit of perfecution; for when God departs, the spirit is imbittered. As the fharpest vinegar is made of the moft generous wine, fo apoftate profeffors oftintes become the bitterest perfecutors. Befides, their gifts often wither, and dry up. It has alfo often been seen, that they have quickly loft 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 expreflion will their doom be, 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, Heb. x. 32. "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 lofe for them. It is a general rule: Prov. xxiii. 23. " Buy the truth, and fell it not." The profane fpirits of fome influence their flighting fome lefs truths of religion; and they imagine, after doing fo, that they are fecure 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 Aftab them in the heart; but they who value fun