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ing; not to think much of any trouble that befals us for Christ's sake, but rather to rejoice at it, even as the apostles rejoiced, that they were accounted worthy to suffer shame for his name ; which was a clear instance of their performing the duty here enjoined both them and us under the name of taking up our cross.
And I hope there is none of us can take it ill that Christ bath' imposed so severe a duty upon us; for we may assure ourselves he requires no more of us than what himself hath undergone before, so that we can suffer nothing for him but what he hath suffered before for
Have we grief and trouble in our hearts ? So hadi he, Matt. xxvi, 38—Have we pains and tortures in our bodies ? So had he, Matt. xxvii, 29, 30—Are we de. rided and scoffed at? So was he, Matt. xxvii, 31-Are we arraigned or condemned, yea, do we suffer death itself?
It is no more than what our Lord and Master hath done before. And let us remember what he told us when he was upon the earth, The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. If we be Christ's disciples, we cannot expect to fare better in the world than Christ himself did; neither indeed can we fare so ill, for it is impossible that we should undergo so: much for him as he hath undergone for us, ours being only the sufferings of men, his the sufferings of one who was God as well as man; whereby sufferings in general are sanctified to our human nature, it having already undergone them in the person of the Son of God, so that it can be now no disparagement at all to undergo any trouble, as hatred, reproach, poverty, pain, yea death itself, or any other calamity whatsoever in this world, seeing the Son of God himself, be that made the world, under. went the same while hinself was in it. And therefore we need not think it below us to stoop down and take up the cross of Christ, as considering that Christ, having borne it before us, hath so blessed and sanctified it unto us, that it is now become au honorable, an advantageous, yea, and a pleasant cross, to them that bear it patiently, thankfully, and constantly as they ought to do; especially seeing it is such a cross as leads unto a crown, and what. spever we can do or suffer for Christ here, will be fully Div. No. II.
reconipensed with glory hereafter; and therefore instead of being troubled to take up our cross, we are rather to rejoice that we have any to take up.
Thus we see in few words what it is which our Saviour commands from us, when he enjoins us to deny ourselves, and take up our cross, even that we do not gratify ourselves in any thing that is ungrateful unto him, nor grudge to take up any cross, or suffer any trouble we meet with in the world for his sake; thinking nothing too dear to forsake, nor any thing too heavy to bear for him, who thought not his own life too dear, nor the cross itself too heavy to bear for us. What now remains, but that knowing our Saviour's pleasure, we should all resolve to do it? There is none of us but hope and desire to be saved by him, but that we can never be, unless we observe what he hath prescribed in order to our salvation : and amongst other things, we see how he hath commanded us to deny ourselves and take up our cross. of us therefore desire to be Christians indeed, so see Christ's face with comfort in another world, let us bethink ourselves seriously what sins we have hitherto indulged ourselves in. I fear there are but few, if any amongst us, but are conscious to themselves, that they have and do still live either in the constant neglect of some known duty, or else in the frequent commission of some beloved sin ; what that is, I dare not undertake to tell, but leave that to God and to men's own consciences; only I desire them to deal faithfully with their own souls, and not suffer themselves to be fooled into a fond and vain persuasion that they have an interest in Christ or are truly his disciples, until they deny themselves that sin, whatsoever it is, which they have hitherto indulged themselves in. And let us not think that we shall deny ourselves any real pleasure or profit, by renouncing our sins; for what pleasure can we have in displeasing God, or profit in losing our owo souls? No ; we shall gratify ourselves more than we can imagine, by denying ourselves, as niuch as we are able, whatsoever is offensive or displeasing unto God; for we may be sure, he that came into the world on purpose to save us from evil, commands us nothing but for our own good, neither would lie ever have obliged us to deny ourselves, if we could have been saved without it; and as for the cross, that he was so well acquainted with, that he would never have imposed it upon us to take it up, but that it is indispensably necessary for us. And therefore if we be wbat we pretend, real and true Christians, let us manifest it to the world and to our own consciences, by denying ourselves wbatsoever Christ bath denied us, and by observing whatsoever he hath commanded us, even to the taking up of any cross, that be for his own sake shall suffer to be laid upon us, still remembering that selfdenial, though it be unpleasant, is a most necessary duty; and the cross, though it be never so beavy, is but short, and hath nothing less than a crown annexed unto it, a glorious and eternal crown, which all those shall most certainly obtain, who deny themselves.
ON STRIVING TO ENTER AT THE
STRAIT GATE. As certainly as we are here now, it is not long before we shall all be in another world, either in a world of happiness or else in a world of misery, or, if you will, either in heaven or in hell; for these are the two only places which all mankind, from the beginning of the world to the end of it, must live in for evermore; some in the one, some in the other, according to their carriage and behaviour here: and therefore it is worth the while to take a view and prospect now and then of both_these places, and it will not be amiss if we do it now. For wbich end, I desire the reader in his serious and composed thoughts to attend me first into the celestial mansions above yonder glorious sun and the stars themselves, where not only the cherubim and serapbim, angels and archangels, but many also of our brethren, the sons of men, at this very moment are enjoying the presence and singing forth the praises of the most high God. There are the spirits of just men made perfect, perfect in themselves and perfect in all their actions, perfectly free from all both sin and misery, perfectly full of all true grace and glory; all their faculties being reduced to that most perfect and excellent frame and constitution, that their understandings are continually taken up with the contemplations of the supreme truth, and their wills in the embracement of the chiefest good; so that all the inclinations of their souls rest in God as in their proper centre, in whom, by consequence, they enjoy as much as they can desire, yea, as inuch as they can be made capable of desiring: for all those in-. finite perfections that are concentered in God himself are now in their possession, to solace and delight themselves in the full and perfect enjoyment of them : by which means they are as bappy as God himself can make theni insomuch that, at this very moment, methinks we may all behold them so ravished, so transported with their celestial joys, that it may justly strike us into admiration, how creatures, which once were sinful, could ever be made so pure, so perfect, and altogether so happy as they are. And could we but leave our bodies for a while below, and go up to take a turn in the New Jerusalem that is above, we could not but be ravished and transported at the very sight both of the place and inhabitants, every one being far more glorious than the greatest emperors of this world, with nothing less than crowns of glory on their heads, and sceptres of righteousness in their hands; where they think of nothing but the glory of God, discourse of nothing but praising him, do nothing but adore and worslip him; in a word, whatsoever is agreeable to our patures, whatsoever is desirable to our souls, whatsoever can. any way conduce to make men happy, is fully, perfectly, eternally enjoyed by all and every person that is in heaven. Whereas on the other side, if we bring down our thoughts from heaven and send them as low as hell, to consider the most deplorable estate and condition of those who inbabit the regions of darkness, them we shall find as miserable as the other are happy; not only in that they are deprived of the vision and fruition of the chiefest good, but likewise. in that they are in continual pain and torment, as great as infinite justice can adjudge them to, .and infinite power inflict
upon them; insomuch that could we lay our ear to the entrance of that bottomless pit, what howlings and
shriekings should we hear, what weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth in the midst of those infernal flames, where, as our Saviour himself tells us, the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched !-that is, where their consciences are always gnawed and tormented with the remembrance of their former sins, and the fire of God's wrath is continually burning in them, never to be quenched or abated; for certainly as the smiles and favor of the eternal God constitute the joys of heaven, so do bis frowns and anger quake
the flames of hell. To see him that made us displeased with us, to see mercy itself to frown upon us; to see the great and all-glorious Creator of the world, the chiefest good, to look angrily upon us, and to mean himself offended at us, and incensed against us-methinks the very thoughts of it are sufficient to make the stoutest beart amongst us trenible. But then what shall we think of those poor souls that see and feel it? What shall we think of them ? Questionless they are more miserable than we are able to think them to be ; for we cannot possibly conceive either the greatness of heaven's glory or the sharpness of bell torments; only this we know, and may be certain of, that whatsoever is ungrateful to their minds, whatsoever is troublesonie to their thoughts, whatsoever is contrary to their desires, whatsoever is painful to their bodies, or whatsoever is or can be destructive avd tormenting to their souls, that all they who are once in hell shall fear and feel, and that
But this is too sad and doleful a subject to insist on long, neither should I have mentioned it, but for our own good, and to prepare us the better, both for the understanding and improving the advice of our Saviour, Enter ye in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat ; because strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and
few there be that find it, Matt. vii, 13, 14. The meaning of which words, in brief, may be reduced to these three
First; that it is an easy matter to go to hell, that place of torments we have now been describing, and, by con