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“ All the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts.” He desires not so much our actual martyrdom, as those degrees of faith and constancy which fit us for it. For Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were not actually slain for the sake of God; and yet their faith and righteousness were in such high esteem with him, that their naines stand foremost upon record in the list of his worthies; with whom it is said, that every faithful and upright servant « shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.'
11. Above all things we should bear in our minds the obligation we lie under to do not our own but our heavenly Father's will ; according to what our blessed Lord hath taught us to desire of him in our daily prayer. Now how inconsistent and absurd is it for us to desire, that his will may be done, when yet, upon his summoning us to leave this world, we are backward and reluctant, and are loth to answer to his call ? Thus we strive all we can against it, and like offending servants, who are shy of appearing before their master, we are haled by force into the presence of our Lord, and come thither by constraint, and not by choice. How then can we have the face to expect the rewards and honours of his kingdom, which we would fain have avoided as long as we were able? With what propriety or truth do we pretend to beg of him that his kingdom may come, i. e. the kingdom of heaven, when we plainly prefer before it a state of slavery and bondage upon earth ? Wherefore do we so often repeat our desires to him, to hasten his kingdom ; when it is evident that we would rather continue here in a state of subjection to the devil, than reign with him in life and glory?
12. As a further proof of God's prescience and providence, and of his care and concern for the real advantages of his servants, take the following relation: There was a certain fellow-bishop of ours, who, being almost at the last gasp, and extremely shocked at the thought of death, earnestly begged some time of respite; when in the midst of his prayer, whilst all
whilst all appearances foreboded to him a speedy dissolution, there stood by him a youth of a majestic presence, tall in stature, and of a venerable aspect; and such as mortal eyes could scarce endure to behold, except as our brother's near neighbourhood to another world might peculiarly qualify him for bearing such a spectacle. The youth, with a good deal of seeming displeasure and emotion, said to him, “ You are afraid of suffering, yet are loth to qui the place of it; and what then shall I do for you, when
know not what to ask?" An answer, this, which may serve at once for our own correction and instruction !-I also, however unworthy of so great an honour, have been frequently warned by express revelation from God, to declare in the most public
and pressing manner, that we ought not to mourn for the death of those, whom our Lord hath called to himself, and delivered from the troubles of this world ; inasmuch as we know and should consider, that they are not so properly sent away
as before us ; that they have only the start of us, as it were in a voyage or a journey; that though we may be allowed to miss them, it will not be fit we should lament them, as if they were lost; lest we give hereby a handle 'to the Gentiles of upbraiding our despair and sorrow, in accounting those as lost and dead to us, whom we profess to believe alive unto God; and of producing the testimony of our hearts against that of our lips; whilst our behaviour upon these occasions speaks us not in earnest, though in words we avow our belief that our departed brethren are in a state of happiness.
13. For indeed we thus betray our faith and our hope ; and whatever we may pretend to say will have no weight with it, but will, all of it, carry an hypocritical and forced appearance. It signifies nothing to talk magnificently of virtue, if we contradict the truth of our words by inconsistent actions. The apostle St. Paul hath blamed and censured those, who are dejected with grief upon the departure of their friends; “I would not (saith he) have you be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope : for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” He observes of such as have no hope, that they are the persons most apt to be dejected with grief upon the departure of their friends. But as for us, who live by hope, and believe in God, and consider that Christ suffered and rose again from the dead for our sakes, who abide in Christ, and expect to rise again in and through him; what reason can we have either to leave this world with unwillingness and reluctance, or to bewail the case of those who have left it, as lost and desperate ? Surely our Lord himself hath well encouraged us by saying, “ I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” If we believe in earnest on Christ, let us give credit to his promises ; and since the tenor of them hath assured us, that we shall not die for ever, let us go to Christ, when he calls us with all imaginable cheerfulness, with whom we are to live and to reign for ever. We should really therefore consider death no otherwise than as a necessary passage to life immortal ; inasmuch as we cannot arrive at our eternal mansions without leaving these temporal ones; and should therefore, I say, look upon our departure hence, as a short and a transient journey to our everlasting abode. Who then would not hasten to a change so much for the
better? Who would not desire, with the greatest fervency of spirit, to begin it with the soonest, to be fashioned again in the likeness of Christ, and so to enter upon the participation of his heavenly glory? The apostle hath proclaimed to us; “Our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ : who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body." This our Lord himself hath encouraged us to expect and hope for, where he prayed his Father, that we might be with him, and share with him the glories of his heavenly kingdom : “ Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am ; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me : for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”
14. The man who expects admission to the mansions of Christ, and to heavenly glory, will be quite out of character if he be found in mourning and lamentation ; his faith and his firm dependence upon the performance of his Master's promises, should rather make his removal hence the subject of joy and triumph to him. Thus we find that Enoch pleased God and was translated into heaven; as the holy scripture witnesseth concerning him, saying, “and Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” It should farther be considered, that the world hates a christian, as such; and wherefore