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designed for looking up to God. To him therefore look up, as you were made to do ; seek him in his holy habitation, which is in the highest heavens. That you may avoid the damnation of hell, lift up your heart and your thoughts to heaven. Wherefore should you lie groveling upon the ground, in the way to ruin, with the serpent which first beguiled you? Why will you accompany the devil in his destruction, and be content to fall with him, and by him? Why should you not rather preserve yourself upright, as God hath made you ; and let your mind resemble the posture and figure assigned to your body ? Know first yourself, and consider the just dignity of your being, that thence you may acquaint yourself with God, and
him his proper honours. Forsake those idols which owe their original to human art and invention. Turn unto the true God, who will hear and help you, whenever you humbly ask it of him. Believe in Christ, the Son of God, sent by his Father to make us alive unto him. Desist from your injurious persecutions of those who profess themselves the servants of God and Christ, and whose cause will one day be avenged by them: This apprehension is indeed the reason why we never make any resistance when
officers take us into custody ; and though our numbers are great, and we are consequently able to make our adversaries very sensible of our resentments; yet we bear all your violence and injustice, without the least return to it. 6. It is indeed our entire dependence upon the providence of God who will own and avenge our cause, which encourages us to bear with patience the most injurious treatment. Upon this foundation good men are content to yield to wicked; and they who are guiltless of any crime, acquiesce in punishments and torments, upon an assurance that whatever they suffer, shall have in due time its proper vindication ; and that the more unjust or grievous their adversaries' usage of them shall be, such in proportion will be the vengeance taken for it. And indeed an instance can scarce be named wherein the men of our persuasion have suffered from the malice and cruelty of their enemies, but that at the same time the justice of God hath visibly attended and repaid the oppressor. To say nothing of examples long since past, wherein the vengeance of God hath appeared on the behalf of his faithful worshippers, we have an instance, fresh in memory, of a great and sudden relief vouchsafed us, by the utter ruin* of those princes who shewed themselves so
* The persecution of the Christians within the Roman Empire, though designed to appease
anger of the gods, and to prevent the devastations of the Barbarians, was, nevertheless, succeeded by dreadful irruptions of the Goths. Decius, opposing them in person, obtained a decisive victory ; but, having resolved to pursue it, he was led into a defile by the treachery of his own General. In this disadvantageous situation he first saw his son killed with an arrow, and soon after his whole army put to rout. Resolving therefore not to survive his loss, he put spurs to his horse, and instantly plunging into a quagmire, was swallowed up, and his body could never after be found.
much our enemies, and by the mighty loss at that time sustained of soldiery, treasure, and all sorts of military provisions. And let no one think that this was an event which happened by chance, or in the common course of things, since it is so expressly said in holy scripture, “ Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
saith the Lord.” And again the Holy Ghost hath cautioned us to the following purpose : “Say not thou, I will recompense evil, but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee.” From all which it is evident that the mischiefs complained of, and supposed very justly to proceed from the wrath of the offended deity, come not upon mankind through any fault of ours, but are really designed for our defence and vindication.
7. And let it be no objection to the preceding remark, that Christians have, themselves, some share of those calamities which I have asserted to come upon the world for their vindication ; for the afflictions of this life are grievous and terrible to those chiefly who have no prospect of happiness or of enjoyment out of it. Well may he lament and mourn for those pressures and distresses which he suffers here, who hath no resources of comfort hereafter ; whose greatest views and designs from life must be here, or no where, answered ; who reckons much upon the little felicities wherewith this short and mutable state of things can furnish him, and hath no expectation but of pain and punishment beyond it. Whereas they feel not the
sorest sting of present evils, who have the assurance of a recompence for them in future good: Wherefore adversity hath no power over us to break or discontent our spirits ; nor doth any misfortune, , incident either to our estates or bodies, make us murmurers ; but, as we profess to live rather by the spirit than the flesh, we get over the weakness of our bodies by the strength and firmness of our minds : We know and are sure that the events which are most afflictive and grievous to you, are designed to approve and fortify our virtues ; and can you then imagine that we are equally sufferers with you in any common calamity, when yet you and we are so very unequally prepared to bear it? You, upon every such occasion, are impatient and loud complainants; we ever acquiesce in it with a religious fortitude, and with a becoming sense of the hand which sends it : Nor do we, indeed, expect any thing of happiness, or comfort, in this life ; but preparing ourselves to weather the storms of it, in the best manner we can, we wait with patience and calmness for the blessed hour, when God shall make good his precious promises concerning us : For whilst we continue in these bodies, we pretend not to any exemption from the common fate of them ; nor is this, we know, the place of distinction for mankind, or of separation between the good and evil ; for that we must wait the opening of another scene : Meanwhile, as the righteous and the wicked live all together in one
common habitation, whatever happens within the walls of it, all must be content promiscuously to take their share in ; till upon the conclusion of this temporal and feeting life we are parted into separate mansions of everlasting destruction, or of life immortal. 'Tis a mistake, therefore, to say that we are upon an equal foot with you, only because, whilst we are clothed with the same bodies, and live in the same world with you, we are liable to the same common inconveniences; for since whatever is truly grievous in any calamity, ariseth from that uneasy sense of it, wherewith the parties under it do severally receive it ; 'tis plain that the punishment affects not us and you equally, because our sense of it is apparently very different from yours. Our hope and faith are in their bloom and vigour, and even the ruins of the world would not sink our courage, or depress our virtue ; we repose ourselves ever with cheerfulness and patience on God's good providence, and are secure of his favourable protection in all events; according to the encouragement which the Holy Ghost hath given to our faith, where he hath said by the mouth of his prophet : “ The fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat ; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls : Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” He intimates that the