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us. 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
verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice ; and ye
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
you than possibly doubt of his performance? This were a confession, that you know not God: This were to offend against Christ (who is the Lord and Master of all true believers) by a criminal incredulity : This were to be void of all faith, whilst yet you pretend to retain a place in the church, which is the house of faith : Now how very advantageous a removal hence will be to us, Christ himself, who is the captain of our salvation, and our great leader in every thing tending to our benefit, hath plainly shewed us; who, when his disciples were discouraged with the news he had communicated to them of his design to leave them, addressed himself to them in the following manner : “ If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father ;" therein strongly hinting to us, that when our nearest and dearest friends depart this life, we should rather rejoice than mourn for their happy exchange. And St. Paul is plainly of the same opinion, where he saith, “ To me to live, is Christ; and to die is gain :" He counted it gain to be disengaged from the various allurements of the world, to continue no longer in a state which made him liable to sin, and exposed him to the assaults of his fleshly lusts he esteemed it a blessed improvement of his circumstances, to be removed out of the way of pressures and afflictions, out of the jaws of the lion, and the several attacks of his ghostly enemy; and to obey the call of his Saviour Christ, sum
moning him to enter upon tlie joys of everlasting salvation.
5. Some are hence staggered, that the contagion of this distemper should spread itself amongst our people, as well as amongst the Gentiles; as if the great end of a christian's faith were his exemption from a share in common calamities, and an undisturbed enjoyment of this world's comforts ; whereas the contrary is indeed his lot, and his pleasures are all in reversion, whilst he is exposed at present to all sorts of sufferings and sorrows. Many expect that we should be excepted out of the general rule, and that the destroying angel should hold his hand, and not involve us in the common destruction; not considering that every thing in this world is, and must be, common to us with the rest of its inhabitants, as long as we are subject to the law of our common birth, and continue to be clothed with the same flesh and blood. Wherefore, whilst this common receptacle retains and holds us, its privileges and disadvantages must needs extend alike to us, and our bodies must take their fate from the same common incidents, though the condition of our souls admits at the same time of a very great diversity; in which at last, and in which alone, consists the point of difference between christians and other men. So that till “this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, and the Spirit (which we receive at our baptism] shall have led us to God, we with the rest of mankind must share alike in those common inconveniences, to which the frame of our bodies doth equally expose us. Thus the barrenness of the earth makes all alike partakers in the distresses of a famine; and when a city is taken by storm, all its inhabitants, without distinction, fall into the hands of the enemy. When a continued calm and sunshine withhold the rain from refreshing the ground, all feel the drought without exception; and when a ship is dashed against a rock, the wreck is universal, and all who are embarked in the same bottom suffer it. Thus pains in the limbs, and the rage of fevers, affect us equally with the rest of mankind, whilst we all alike contract the same causes of those several distempers, and with us bodies of the same make and constitution. Besides ; if a christian would impartially consider the terms whereupon he entered into the service of his master, he would find himself obliged by them to a larger measure of labour and travel than the rest of mankind, as having more difficulties than they to encounter from the necessary struggles with his grand adversary the devil. The holy scripture hath foretold this to him, and fore-armed him against it.