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hardly persuading our felves, that in this 1 Pet. ii, 25. part be bath left us an Example, that we
Jould follow his Steps. Such was the Behaviour, not of the Multitudes only, but of his own Disciples too heretofore, who throng'd into his Hosanna's, and his Preaching; but when he was apprehended, and
treated as a Malefactor, all forsook bim and Matth. xxi.
fled. And such is the Behaviour of all John xviii.
thoseChristians still,who serve himChearfully, while Things go well with them, and magnify his Mercy, so long as they taste his Goodness, but draw back, when Amictions approach, and if he hide the Brightness of his Face, fall into wretched Dejections and Defpondency-of Mind, and are provoked to Impatience, and Murmuring, and fad Complaints.
Methinks we might find Charms and Engagements, many and powerful, which should unite our Souls and Affections to the Blessed Jefus, from what he is in Himself, not from what he is to Us; without any respect of our own private Interest, and the present Advantages we receive from him. This would confirm and root 'us faft in Love, and Praise, and Gratitude; beyond the Power of outward Calamities, or inward Anxieties of Mind, to shake and divert us. Then should we, with those Holy Men, even think it good, and thank God that we have bęcn in Trouble, and though he Mould slay us, yet should we still delight and trust in hiin.
O! Could we once but get above this mercenary Disposition of proposing Interest and Gain in all we do and love our Blessed Lord for his own fake, how noble would be the Fruits of fo generous a Principle ? And indeed, how can we pretend to love him, when we only love our felves; and pay Obedience to his Commands, not out of regard to bis Authority and our Obligations, nor from a Desire to pleafe him, but purely to promote our own Advantage? For where, among
the many Millions who profefs to be Zealous Christians, where is the Man that would be content to serve God, as his Maker and rightful Lord, had he no Expectation of Reward from him? Nay, who almost is fo fpiritual, so refined, as that Poverty of Spirit recommended and blessed by our Saviour, requires we should be, that is, Resign'd as to all Temporal Enjoyments, and well satisfied to persevere in our Duty, and not to think our Mafter hard, though he should even strip us bare of all those Comforts, which are usually the Encouragements of Piety and Virtue? This is a Temper rarely to be met with ; such a Generosity and Greatness of Spirit, as Crowns and Kingdoms, nay, the whole Eastern World were wisely given in Exç change for. For this is the Perfection of Love ; a Virtue fo exalted, that no other Part of Religion is to be named with it. A Man may bestow all his Wealth upon the Poor, and be never the better. He may
chastise and mortify his Flesh and sensual Appctite, with all the Severities of the most exemplary Penitence, and yet this is but a low and little Excellence in comparison. He may attain to the highest and cleareft Knowledge in the Mysteries of Religion, but still he is infinitely short. His Virtues may be bright and exemplary, his Devotion fervent and constant, his Meditations ravishing and divine: All these are valuable Gifts; but there is still one Excellence behind, more valuable, more necessary than all the reft; and that is, being able, after having renounced all the World befides, to renounce himself for the sake of his Lord; to devote all he is or can do, fo entirely to his Service, as to be content with every thing; to study his Will, his Pleasure, his Glory in all things, and to consult his own in nothing: And when he hath faithfully and diligently perform'd all, which he knew it became, and was expected from him to do, to esteem all this of no Confideration, and account that he hath done nothing.
Others no doubt, will have quite different Notions of him. They will see and admire; publish and extol his Virtues, but still their Commendations, tho' never fo profuse, never so juft, will not have any Influence upon his Judgment; nor tempt him to swerve one whit from that Opinion, which Truth it felf hath directed
us to in this case, Wben ge have done all Luke xvii.
that is commanded you, say, We are unprofi.
table Servants. He will not think that Psalm xxv. Complaint of the Prophet beneath him, I
am poor and defolate ; when yet in truth among Mortal Men none is more wealthy, none more happy, none greater and more powerful than he, who in a true Christian Humility, thinks himself most helpless, moft infirm, most miserable. In a word, none more Honourable in God's Eyes, than he who is vileft and most defpicable in his own.
CHA P. XII. The Reasonableness of taking up our Crofs.
Hen Jefus thus describes the Condition of
being owned for his, If any Man will be my Matth. xvi.
Disciple, let him deny himself, and take up
bis Cross, and follow me ; the Generality of Men are apt to cry out with those in the Gospel up
on another Occasion, This is a bard Saying,
and who can bear it? But oh! that such would seriouslyconfider,how infinitely more terrible and confounding that Sentence will be, which their angry Judge shall pronounce in Thunder at the last Day; And how those Ears, which are too soft and tender to bear Mattb. xxv.
This, will then be able to endure, a G9 ye cursed into everlasting Fire prepared for the
Devil and bis Angels. Ah ! how absurd, how senseless is it, not to harden our felves at prefent, and chearfully embrace a Command, which, tho' attended with fome fhort Uneasiness now, should yet be welcome to us, be cause it will give us Boldness in the great Day of Tryal; and, by imposing some short and very tolerable Pains, be our Security against Torments insupportable and eternal ? For when our Lord shall come to judge the World with terrible Pomp, the Cross shall be difplayed and lifted high in Heaven. This thing now fo much abhorred, so full of Shame, shall then be a Banner of Triumph ; and they who have fought under it here, and followed the Crucified Captain of their Salvation, in a Life of Humility and Sufferings, shall flock to it as their proper Standard, and enter with their Glorious Leader into his Joy and Kingdom.
Why fhould we then boggle at that Cross, which leads directly to a Crown? Why thus obstruct our Happiness, by refusing that which heals our Spiritual Infirmities, guards us against our worst Enemies, fills us with heavenly Comforts, brightens our Virtues, and fupports us with assured Hopes of unconceivable and everlasting Bliss ? Remember thy great Master and Example, bearing his Cross, dying upon his Cross, that thou hereafter mightest not disdain to bear it for thine own Advantage, when he for thy fake hath born it before thee. For if we dye with bim, we shall also live with bim ; if we suffer with bim, we Joall alfo reign with bim; but if we deny Mark vifi.
2 Tim. ii. bim, and are ashamed of this Punishnient, he will also deny and be afhamed of us, and shut us out of his Glory
Consider that thy All depends upon Suffering and Dying. This is the Sum of thy Duty, this the Source of thy Happiness. God hath ordained no other way of bringing us to himself except that one of
. dying daily; and crucifying the Flesh with Gal. v. 24.
its Affections and Lufts. In this all the Dispensations of Providence conspire; For, what Course soever
you take, which way soever you turn, how prudently foever you contrive, the Cross is sure to meet you everywhere. And that which, willingly embraced, would prove your Safety and Virtue, is sure to be your Por, tion, whether you will or not. Bodily Sickness and Pain, Disappointments and Losses in your Fortunes, Anguish and Perplexity of Heart, Discomfort, and Desertions from God, Injuries and Provocations from Men, and which is worse than all, Displeasure and Discontent at your felf; One or more of these will be perpetually exercising your Patience; and fo long as God sees fit to continue you in this State of Mortality and Discipline, 'tis vain to hope you shall be exempted from them.
For God, in his great Wisdom and Goodness, i appoints us to Tribulation ; and damps, or withdraws our present Comforts, that we may learn to love and value Him and Heaven the more, to acknowledge our Dependance upon his Bounty, be made sensible of our own Impotence, and grow wiser and more humble by Afflictions. By these we are taught to understand and value the Sufferings of Christ, of which we should have but a very cold and imperfect Idea, did not our own Experience teach us what it is to suffer.
to suffer. And the greater Conformity to his Image our Trials work us up to, the clearer and more affecting Senfe we have of his Infinite Condescension. Avoid the Cross then we cannot, because we cannot run away from our felves, nor cease to be. Men; and therefore, what we cannot avoid, we must make it our Endeavour pati: ently to endure, and render that which would otherwise be our Torment, an Instrument of Virtue here, and of Glory hereafter.
Now this is still in our own Power. For They who fuftain their Cross, shall likewife be fuftained by