[ocr errors]

it in return, and all their Pains largely rewarded in their proper time and place; But this Life is not that time and place, and therefore we must be content to Labour now, and expect our Recompence hereafter. Butif we bear with Murmuring and Grudging, what bear we must, we do but gall our Shoulders with the Yoke, and render that a heavy unprofitable Load, which might be fruitful and Meritorious. If we caft

off our Burthen, we are immediately pursued and opi pressed by another; and instead of Amidion full of

Hope and Humility, draw upon our felves that molt intolerable of all Burthens, Guilt and Despair.

Why should you entertain an Imagination so vain, as that of being made an Exception to all Mankind? Produce me, if you can, one single Instance in this whole Catalogue of glorified Saints, who passed this Vale of Tears without his Portion of Misery. Even Jesus Christ himself, our great Lord, tho' God as well as Man, yet lived a Life of Trouble, and none was ever so truly a Man of Sorrows, or so intimately acquainted with Grief. Himself hath told us, That Isaiah liii. it behoved bim thus to suffer, and to rise again Luke xxiv. the third Day, and so to enter into bis Glory.

And if this was the way necessary for Christ himself to ascend to the Throne of God by,we must not presume to hope for a smooth and easy Paisagethither. His whole Life was little else but one continued Cross, a Chain of Sufferings drawn out to the length of so many Years. And do We, who profess to tread in his Steps, expect a Life of Softness and Ease, and Pleasure? No, no, fond Man, expect nothing but Trouble. This thou may'st depend upon, for it will never disappoint thee. It is not only the Condition of thy happiness as a Christian, but thy certain Settlement and Portion as a Man. For Mortality is beseton every fide with Crof

ses, and exposed to Suffering every Moment. And 1 though these be both the Punishment and the Reme


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

dy for Sin, yet may we not imagine that they, whe are most careful to preserve themselves from Sinning, are in the fame Proportion excused from Suffering For frequently the beft Men undergo che feveref

. Tryals; and the better they are, che tender and more painful sense they have of them. For the ferver: Love and Defire of a better Country, their proper and Eternal home, renders the present Pilgrimage and Banishment more tiresome and afflicting.

But yet these Calamities are no juft Reflection upon the Wisdom and Goodness of Almighty God ; for, as he appoints the Rod in his Mercy, so does he likewise furnish his Servants witn mighty Consolations and Supports, suitable to their Circumstances. And ther, who submit to the Cross as becomes them, reap large and glorious Fruits by lowing in Tears. The Burthen of their Miseries is lightned, by casting their Care,and reposing their Trutt upon One who hach a tender Care for them. And the more the outward Man is weakened and oppreft, the greater Strength and Grace they feel in the inner Man. Nay, such is their Desire, such the Satisfaction, of being conformed to the Image of Christ ; that good Men oftentimes would not so much as wish to be freed from those Miseries, in which the less discerning Part of the World are art to think the very Extremity of Unhappiness to confiit. For chefe better inftructed Souls have a farther Prospect, and can soften all their Distreffes by this Conlideration; That the more they endure, the purer and more refined they are from Sin, and the inore acceptable and dear they become to God. 'Tis true, this Confideration is not the effect of any Strength or Wisdom meerly humane, but the Product of Divine Grace, which sometimes gains fo absolute a Conquest over Natural Inclination, and exalts Flesh and Senfeto so high a Degree of Resignation and Perfection, that what, as Men, we cannot but decline, and have vio



lent Aversions to, as Christians we contentedly embrace, and are entirely satisfied with.

When therefore we feel in our Selves, or observe in Others, a Zeal fo powerful, so noble, as, not only to bear, but even to love and delight in the Cross ; When we vanquish and bring into absolute Subjection these Bodies, and their Appetites, by a long painful Course of rigorous and voluntary Severities; When we industrioully avoid Honours and Wealth

bear Injuries and Infamy contentedly ; despise our selves, and even delight to be despised by others; when we entertain the sharpest Misfortunes with Constancy and Temper, and are so perfectly dead to the World, as no longer so much as to desire those Enjoyments and Advantages, which recommend and sweeten Life to Mankind ; do not suppose that this is the Work;or falls within the Compafs of Man : For they who de pend upon their Natural Powers, or their own moft exquisite Philofophy, can never rife so high, nor thus abstract their Minds from Matter and Sense. No Principle but that of Holy Trust and Faith in God, is capable of such Divine Operations. This Strength and Resolution comes from Heaven ; No Force less than Almighty can beat down the Flesh, the World and the Devil under our Feet ; None defeat and fet us above the Horrors and Affaults of his Malice and Temptations, less than His, who vanquith'd this Old Serpent upon the Cross, and by so doing, sanctified our Cross to us too.

Call up then allthy Powers of Reason and Religion. Remember whom thou haft engaged to follow, and with all the Resolute Fidelity due to thy Vows and Obedience, set thy self manfully to take up his Cross, who submitted to die upon a Crofs for thy Salvation. Prepare and dispose thy Heart, that no AMiction may ever-bear thee by surprize ; but conlidering what infinite Variety of Troubles hem thee in, and wait thee


every-where, let none have the Advantage of finding thee unprovided. Were there a possibility of escaping, we might then be allowed to contrive Methods of declining our Miseries, but since they cannot be shifted off, the only

Remedy they have left against them, is Readiness to suffer. Consider it is thy Lord's Cup, and that he drunk the very bitterest Dregs of it; consider it is he who gives it; and that he therefore gives it,that thou may'st be partaker of his Sufferings, in order to be made a moreWorthy Partaker of his

Glories. 'Tis true

he was strengthened in his Luke xxii.

Agonies by an Angel sent from Above; nor shalt thou want Supports proper for thy Conditi

But what these are, or in what Measures fit to be imparted,our Lord himself knows best ; and to his Wise Dispofal we must leave it. But all we have to do our felves, is to secure an Humble and Patient Disposition. And this we should find less difficulty in, would we but follow the Patterns our Jesus hath left of

enduring the Cross, and despising the Shame, Heb. xii.

for the Glory set before him. And what can recommend our Sufferings,what confirm our Patience

more than to consider that these light Afflictions,which are but for

a Moment

shallwork out for us a far more exceeding and eternal Weight of Glory? That Glory, in comparison of which they are not worthy so much as to be named ; a Glory so exceeding, that if all the Tribulations incident to all Mankind were heaped upon one single Person, yet even so the Recompence is infinitely above what such a Suffering could pretend to deserve; and Heaven would be cheap and wisely bought, even at this vast Expence.

Esteem thy self then happy indeed, when thou canst even enjoy thy Sorrows and find a sensible Satisfaction in suffering for Christ; for this is in a manner to attain Heaven upon Earth: A Happiness which no Man can ever arrive at, so long as Adversities bring

2 Cor. iv.

[ocr errors]

Pain, and Discontent, and fad Oppressions of Spirit; for the Solicitude, and constant Labour to avoid Calamities will be sure to produce perpetual Disquiet.

Suffering and Dying are not only neceffary Incumbrances upon us, but the best and most Authentick In. Itances of our Virtue and Obedience. It is the Business and Perfection of a Christian to do thus daily and they, who in good earnest apply themselves to it, will quickly find their Affections raised, their Strength increafed, their Comfort and inward Peace wonder-, fully advanced. St. Paul was wrapt up into the third Heaven, yet did not he boast so much of this as of his Aflịctions. And wherein the uncommon Privileges of this especial Favourite

consisted, we learn from the Mouth of Christ himself; 3 when he says, I will fbew him how great things

alts is. he muft suffer for my Name's sake. Suppole then

you could be admitted to his Extasies and Revevelations, yet even these, 'tis plain from his Example, would not exempt you from Trouble and sufferings For the more you are loved, and the more vehement ly you love, and are desirous to please your Saviour, the greater Proofs of this kind you must expect to give.

Consider those spojiles who went away from their * Persecutors, rejoicing that they were accouz:

fats . ted wortby to suffer for the sake of Chrift, And learn from thence to cover and value the Honour and Dignity of enduring Pain and Poverty, Perfecụcia on and Reproach. For this would seem no mean Prea ferment, but a Favour preserved for those whom God is kindest to, did we but reflect upon the Gain it þrings to our selves, the Glory to our Master, the joy to Saints and Angels, and the Benefit to our Brethren ; who hall observe, and be encouraged by bor Stedfastness; and Pacience, and holy Perlever face. Nay, even the Wicked and Carnal will be


[ocr errors]


« 前へ次へ »