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his thoughts and affections should be taken off from this world and fixed upon another : and therefore no storms nor tempests which he may here encounter, should ever be suffered to ruffle or disconcert him, or find him at any time unprepared to cope with them : inasmuch as our Lord who hath indeed given his people a proper warning of all these incidents, hath foretold them, and thereby hath fortified the minds of his followers, that they might be able to bear whatever should happen to them, either by earthquakes, pestilence, famine or the sword. And that we might not be surprised or overborne by any sudden or unexpected calamities, he hath expressly moreover taught and admonished us, that all these mischiefs should increase upon us more and more in the latter days; and now behold his predictions verified! Wherefore, since those things are come to pass which were foretold by him, those things which he hath promised will as surely be accomplished in their proper season :
And our Lord, we may observe, hath given us to know when we may expect them, saying; “ When ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.”
2. The kingdom of God, my brethren, is plainly then nigh at hand, and with it the joyful recompense of life eternal, everlasting gladness, and that happy state of paradise which we had so lately forfeited; these all are making their approaches
towards us, by the same steps and paces wherewith this world is fleeting from us : And then we shall make that blessed advantageous exchange of earthly things for heavenly, of mean and trivial gratifications for joys too great for our hearts to conceive, of a transient and momentary state for one which will abide for ever! What room or pretence can then be left for any melancholy surmises, or misgiving apprehensions ? Under such circumstances, who can bave any damp or flutter upon his spirits, whose faith and hope are not in some manner deficient? No man should indeed be afraid of death, * but he who is afraid to go to Christ; nor can any man be afraid to go to Christ but he who hath reason to fear that he shall have no part nor lot with Christ in his kingdom. It is written, that “the just shall live by faith :" if then you are one of those just ones, and as such do live by faith, and do really believe in God, why are you not overjoyed at receiving your summons to be with Christ, in a full dependence upon the truth of his promises; which, when
There would be no conclusiveness in this reasoning, nor in that of section 4, except our author had been of St. Paul's opinion, that immediately upon a good man's dissolution, he went to Christ, Philip. i. 23, and 2d Cor. v. 1, 6; and indeed our author elsewhere in his tract to Demetrian hath given us his sense upon this question very clearly, where he saith, “ Till upon the conclusion of this transient life we are assigned to separate mansions, either of everlasting destruction, or of life immortal.” And again a little farther, “When we go hence, there is no room for repentance, nor any possibility of atoning for our sins by penitential satisfactions ; here, or no where, must be laid the foundation of life eternal.”
once they are accomplished, will secure you
for ever from the power of the devil? It had been revealed from heaven to good old Simeon, (that true believer unto righteousness,) “ that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ ;" wherefore, when Christ was brought to the temple in the arms of his mother, he presently knew by the Spirit that the person then was born who had been so foretold to him, and that himself should die immediately after seeing him. Thus rejoicing in the approaches of his own dissolution, and nothing doubting of his favourable reception in a better world, “he took the child up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word ; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.” In which words he hath plainly and clearly intimated, that the servants of God are then only secure of peace and undisturbed repose, when they are got out from the storms and hurricanes of this world, and have made to the haven of everlasting rest; when upon the swallowing up of death in victory, their mortal hath put on a blessed immortality.
3. Hence only can we indeed expect any durable peace, repose, or safety : For as to this world, it is a state of perpetual conflict and struggle with our ghostly enemy, and we are always upon the defensive against his various assaults. Covetousness, incontinence, wrath and ambition, do all attack
The lusts of the flesh, and the several allurements of the world, are ever seeking some advantage against us. The mind of man surrounded thus with a whole troop of temptations, and always attacked by some of them, cannot be every
where at once, and therefore doth with great difficulty maintain its ground against such numerous and potent enemies. If covetousness be repulsed, lust takes its post, and renews the onset; if lust be worsted, ambition steps into its place; or if ambition prove too weak to gain upon us, either pride, or anger, or envy, or a peevish emulation, are, some or other of them, ready to enter at an unguarded pass, and to assist the tempter, who had here, or there, been defeated. At one time you are perhaps commanded* to blaspheme Christ, at another, to take an unlawful oath. Such and so endless are the dangers and tribulations to which christians are here obnoxious; and yet they take pleasure in standing continually thus exposed as a mark and butt for our grand adversary to shoot at; whereas it is indeed infinitely more desirable to be dispatched to Christ, by the help of a speedier death; when he hath beforehand told us what we are to expect, from our continuance in this vale of tears, and what from our removal out of it: “verily,
• So the proconsul (as we are told by Eusebius,) commanded St. Polycarp ; who replied ; “ These eighty-six years have I served him, and he never used me hardly; and how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour.”
verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice ; and
shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” Who now would not be glad to be rid of sorrow? Who would not with alacrity hasten to joy? But now the time when our sorrow shall thus be turned into joy, our Lord hath clearly signified to us, where he saith, “I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.” Since, then, to see Christ, is to rejoice, and we can have no true joy till we do see Christ, what madness and infatuation is it to be in love with afflictions and pressures, and the troubles of this life, and not rather to hasten towards that joy which can never be taken from us?
4. All this, my brethren, proceeds from a want of faith ; because the promises of God are not believed, who is faithful and true, and whose word will surely be made good to those who trust in it. If a man of gravity and known integrity should pass his word to you for any thing, you would undoubtedly give him credit, and would never imagine or suspect that he had any design to impose upon you, of whose veracity in his words and dealings you were otherwise well satisfied: And how, then, can you suffer yourself to be in suspense and doubts when God hath passed his word to you? God hath promised you life and irnmortality upon your leaving this world, and can