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both, qnite above the reach, and beyond the ken of reason, Ida. lv. 8. And,

2. The confident dictates of reason are frequently confuted by experience all the world over; it is every day made a liar, and the frights it puts us into, proved to be vain apd groundless, Isa. U. 13. . _

Nothing can be better for us, than to resign up our reason to faith, to see all things through the promises, and trust God over allevents.

Rule 12. To conclude, exalt the sear of Cad in your hearts, and let it gain the ascendant over all your other fears.

This is the prescription in my text for the cure of all our slavish fears, and indeed all the formentioned rules for the cure of sinful fears run into this, and are reducible to it. For,

t. Doth the knowledge and application of the covenant of .grace cure our fears? The fear of God is both a part of that oovenant, and an evidence of our interest in it, Jer. xxxii. 40.

2. Doth sinful fear plunge men into such distresses of conscience i Why, the fear of God will preserve your ways dean and pure, Psal. xix. 9. and to those mischiess will be prevented. :.

3. Doth foresight and provision for evil days prevent distracting fears when they come? Nothing like the fear of God enables us to such a prevision and provision for them, Heb. xi. 7.

4. Do we relieve ourselves against fear by committing all to God? Surely it is the fear of God that drives us to him as our only asylum and sure refuge, Mai. iii. 16. They feared God, and thought upon his name, {i.e.) they meditated on his name, which was their refuge, his attributes their chambers of rest.

5. Must our affections to the world be mortified before our fears can be subdued? This is the instrument of mortification, Neh. v. 15. .

6. Do the worthy examples of those that are gone before us, tend to the cure of our cowardice aud fears > Why the fear of •God w'Hl provoke in you an holy self-jealousy, kst you fail of the grace they manifested, and come short of those excellent patterns, Heb. xii 15.

7. Is the assurance of interest in God, and the pardon of /in such an excellent antidote against slavish fear Why, he that walks in the fear of God, shall walk in the comforts of the Holy Ghost also, Acts ix. 31.

8. Is integrity of heart and way such a fountain of courage to evil times? Know, reader, no grace promotes this integrity

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and uprightness more than the fear of God doth, Prov. xvi. 6.

Prov. xxiii. 17. 0. Do the reviving of past experiences suppress sinful fears?

No doubt this was the subject which the fear of God put them

upon, for mutual encouragement, Mai. iii. 16.

10. Are the providences of God in this world such cordials against fear? The fear of God is the very character and mark ot those persons over whom his providence shall watch in the difficultest thnes, Eccles. viii. 12.

ii. Doth our trusting in our own reason, and making it' onr rule and measure, breed so many fears? Why, the fear of God will take men off from such self confidence, and bring them to trust the faithful God with all doubtful issues, and events, as the very scops of my text fully manifests. Fear not their fear: their fear, moving by the direction of carnal rea • son, drove them not to God, but to the Assyrian for help.' Follow not you their example in this. But how shall they help it ?' Why, sanctisy the Lord of Hosts, and make him your star.

CHAP. Vis.

Answering the mist material pleas for slavish fears, and diffi»lvini> the common objections against courage aad constancy of mind in times of danger.

TH E pleas and excuses for our cowardly faintness in the day of trouble are endless, and so would his talk be that should undertake particularly to answer them all. It is but the cutting off" an Hydra's head, when one is gone, ten more start up; what is most material I will here take into consideration. When good men (for with such I am dealing in this chapter) fee a formidable face and appearance of sharp and bloc-'y times approaching them, they begin to tremble, their hearts faint, and their hands hang down with unbecoming* despondency, and pustlanimity; their thoughts are so distracted, their reason and faith so clouded by their fears, that their temptations are thereby exceedingly strengthened upon them, and their principles and professions brought under the derision and contempt of their enemies ; and if their brethren, to whom God hath given more courage and constancy, and who discern the mischief like to ensue from their uncomely carriage, admonish

and adVise them of it: they have abundance of pleas and defences for their fears, yea, when they reason the point of suffering in their own thoughts, and the matter is debated (as in such times it is common) betwixt faith and fear, O what endless work do their fears put upon their faith, to solve all the buts and ifs which their fears will object or suppose.

Some of the principal of them I think it worth while here to consider, and endeavour to satisfy, that, if possible, I may prevail with all gracious persons to be more magnanimous. And first of all,

Plea 1. Sufferings for Christ are strange things to the Christians of this age, we have had the happy lot to fall into milder times than the primitive Christians did, or those that struggled in our own land in the beginning of reformation; and therefore we may be excused for our fears, by reason of our own unacquaintednels with sufferings in our times. ,

Answer 1. One fault is but a bad excuse for another, why are sufferings such strangsrs to you? Why did you not cast upon them in the days of peace, and reckon that such days must come? Did you not covenant with Christ to follow him whithersoever he should go, to take up your cress, and follow him? And did not the word plainly tell you, that "All that will live godly in "Christ Jesus, must suffer persecution," 2 Tim. iii. 12. " And "that we must through much tribulation enter into the king's dom of God," Acts xiv. 22. Did we fall afleep in quiet and prosperous days, and dream of halcyon days all our time on earth? That the mountain of our prosperity stood strong, and we should never be moved? That we should die in our nest, and multiply our days as the sand; Babylon's children indeed dream so, Rev. xviii. 7. but the children of Sion should be better instructed. Alas! how soon may the brightest day be overcast? The weather is not so variable, as the state of the church in this world is; now a calm, Acts ix. 31. and then a storm, Acts Xii. 1,2. You could not but know what contingent and vari: able things all things on earth are; why then did you delude yourselves with such fond dreams? But as a learned man * rightly observes, Mundus senescent patitur phantasias. The older the world grows, the more drowzy and doting it still grows, and these are the days in which the wise as well as the foolish virgins slumber. Sure it is but a bad plea, after so many warnings from the word, and from the rod to fay, I did not think of such times, I dreamed not of them.

. , * Ceisuo, , . ., , , . ,1

2. Or if you fay, though you have conversed with death and sufferings by speculation, yet you lived not in such times where-' in you might fee (as other sufferers did) the encouraging faith, patience and Zeal of others set before your eyes in a lively pattem and example. Sufferings were not only familiarized to them by frequency, but facilitated also by the daily examples of those that went before them.

But think you indeed that nothing but encouragement and advantage to followers, arose from the trials of those that went before? Alas, there were sometimes the greatest damps and discouragements imaginable; the zeal of those that followed have often been inflamed by the faintings of those that were tried before them. In the seventh persecution under Decius, anno 250, there were standing before the tribunal, certain ot the warriors or knights, viz. Amman, Zenon, Ptolemeus, Ingennus, and a certain aged man called Theophilus, who all standing by as spectators when a certain Christian was examined, and there seeing him for fear, ready to decline, and fall away, did almost burst for sorrow within themselves: they made signs to him with their hands, and all gestures of the body to be constant; this being noted by all the slanders by, they were ready to lay hold upon them; but they preventing the matter, pressed up of their own accord, before the bench of the judge, professing themselves to be Christians, insomuch that both the president and the benchers were all astonished, and the Christians which were judged, the more encouraged. Such damping spectacles the Christians of former ages had frequently set before them.

And it was no small trial to some of them, to hear the faintings and abnegation of those that went before them, pleaded agaiost their constancy; as in the time of Valens, it was urged by the persecutors; those that came to their trial before you, have acknowleged their errors, begged our pardon, and returned to us 1 and why will you stand it out so obstinately? But the Christians answered, Nos hac potijfimum ratwne virillter stabimus, For this very reason we .millstand to it the more mansully, to repair their scandal, by our greater courage for Christ. These were the helps and advantages they often had in those days, therefore lay not so much stress upon that; their courage undoubtedly flowed from an higher spring and better principle, than the company they suffered with.

3. And if precedents and experiences of others to break the ice before you, be so great an advantage, surely we that live ia

Vol. IV. L

these latter times have the most and best helps of that nature that ever any people ia the world had. You have all their examples recorded for your encouragement, and theresore think it not strange concerning the siery trial, as tho' some strange thing had happened to you, as the apostle speaks, 1 Pet. iv. 12. Thi9 plea is weighed, and no great weight found in it.

Plea 2. But my nature is loft and tender, my confutation more weak and subject to the impressions of fear than others: some that have robust bodies, and hardy stout minds, may better grapple with such difficulties than I can, who by constitution and education, am altogether unfit to grapple with those torments, that I have not patience enough to hear related; my heart faints and dies within me, if 1 do but read, or hear of the barbarous usages of the martyrs, and therefore I may well be excused for my sears and faint-heartedness, when the case is like to be my own.

Answer 1. It is a great mistake to think that the mere strength of natural constitution, can carry anyone through such sufferings for Christ, or that natural tenderness and weakness divinely assisted, cannot bear the heaviest burden that ever God laid upon the shoulders of any sufferer for Christ. Our suffering and bearing abilities are not from nature, but from grace. 'We find men of strong bodies and resolute daring minds, have fainted in the time of trial. Dr/ Pendleton, in our own story, was a man of a robust and massy body, and a resolute daring -mind; yet when he came to the trial, he utterly fainted and fell off. On the other fide, what poor feeble bodies have sustained the greatest torments, and out of weakness been made strong! Heb. xi. 34. The virgin Eulalia of Emerita in Portugal, was young and tender, but twelve years old, and with much indulgence and tenderness brought up in an honourable family, being a person of considerable quality; yet how courageously did she sustain the most cruel torments for Christ! When the judge fawned upon her with this tempting language, "Why "wilt thou kill thyself, 16 young a flower, and so near those *' honourable marriages and great dowries thou Brightest enjoy?" Instead of returning a retracting or donble answer, Eulalia threw down the idol, and spurned abroad with her feet the heap of incense prepared for the cenlers; and when the exeentioner came to her, she entertained him with thitlanguage: • " Go to, thou hangman, burn, cut, mangle thou "these earthly members; it is an easy matter to break a brittle

• Acts and Moo. V. 1. p. i2o« .......

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