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tages designed to us in this dispensation. Whereas we might observe, that by the shock of this calamity, and by the dread of sharing in it, the lukewarm are spirited, the negligent are awakened, the slothful are roused, apostates hasten their return to the church they have forsaken, heathens are induced to come into it, fresh and numerous forces are listed into the service, who will behave ('tis hoped) with the greater courage and contempt of death as having entered upon it in a time when death was most likely to be their portion.
9. Nor is it, my brethren, a circumstance of small account in the case before us, that the distemper, which appears to us in other respects with such a frightful visage, serves as a proper test of our obedience, and as a proof and trial of our several dispositions; whether, for instance, they who are yet untouched by it, have charity enough in them to attend upon the infected; or relations bear a true affection to each other; or masters have any due compassion for the distresses of their dying servants; and whether the furious and raging will abate of their fierceness; or the extortioner soften his hand; or the proud and haughty drop their arrogant pretensions. Even though the present mortality should in no other respect contribute to our advantage, it would, however, in this single point be very serviceable to us, that it hath taught us to desire martyrdom, by arming us against the fears of death; so that
each funeral solemnity, is indeed to us a trial of our skill, and an exercise of our virtue; it fortifies our minds, and prepares us for the honour of a martyr's crown, by enabling us to despise the King of Terrors.
10. To all this, perhaps, it may be by some objected, that this is the particular which most afflicts them in the present distress: "They had "devoted themselves with all the strength and "power of their minds to suffer for the name of "Christ, and were prepared, at all adventures, "to make a solemn confession of his faith; and "then, it may be, the distemper unhappily steps "in between them and their purposes, prevents "the effect of them by a sudden stroke, and so "deprives them of the honour they had promised "themselves of laying down their lives in the "cause of Christ and of his gospel." Now to this I reply in the first place, that martyrdom is a thing not always in their power, as coming of grace, and being the gift of God; that therefore they cannot say they have lost what 'tis possible they would never have so behaved as to have deserved receiving. Besides, there is a very great difference between the case of those whose minds are prepared for martyrdom, but want the opportunity; and of those who have the opportunity, but want the mind for it. God will judge us by the dispositions wherein he finds us at his summons; he hath expressly assured us, saying:
"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 names 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 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 quit the place of it; and what then shall I do for you, when you 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 from us, 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