Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

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 fleeting 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

man of God, the true worshipper of him, hath the foundations of his faith and hope so firmly settled, that no storms or tempests of the world can shake them. Though the vine and the olive should fail, and the field be barren for want of moisture to fatten it, yet all this were nothing to christians, to the servants of the most high God, who are lured by better expectations, by prospects of paradise, and of all the joys which the kingdom of heaven can exhibit to them. They do therefore rejoice in the Lord, and do joy in the God of their salvation; and so bear with patience and courage the worst which can befal them, in sure and certain hope of the many felicities which shall hereafter await them: For we who have disclaimed our first birth, and are regenerate and created anew by the spirit of God, do profess to live to him, and not to the world; we do not indeed expect to partake of his rewards and promises till we go hence to him; yet, for deliverance from our enemies, for obtaining rain when it is most necessary, for the removal or mitigation of any temporal calamities; for these, and such like mercies, we apprehend ourselves warranted to make continual intercession at the throne of grace: and thus we cease not day and night, endeavouring to obtain for you the favour of God, and to appease his anger; to solicit your forgiveness, and to forward your salvation. Upon the whole, therefore, it should be no encouragement to any of you to believe that the judgments of God are not pointed at you, merely because the common condition of your and our nature makes a participation of its common burdens necessary, as well to us who are his faithful servants, as to you who are his professed and open enemies. For indeed it hath already been foretold by God himself, and by his prophets, that his wrath should overtake the unrighteous; that we, 'tis true, should have our share of persecutions and afflictions, which would be grievous to flesh and blood; but yet that they who should bring them upon us would be sure to suffer for their outrages against us. For thus it is written, "Behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch."

8. Repent ye, therefore, whilst ye have the opportunity, and lay hold of eternal life; and as the world is now near its end, let the fear of God prevail with you to turn to him. Account it not a pleasure to domineer and to rule imperiously over just and harmless persons in this world; but remember, that in the finest wheat there will be a mixture of noxious or worthless weeds. Suggest not that evils befal you, because we do not worship your gods; but be assured that this is the process of God's wrath, to search with his judgments those whom his mercies cannot gain upon. Seek ye therefore after God, though it be late; who hath long ago thus exhorted you by his prophet, saying, "Seek the Lord, and ye shall liveacquaint yourselves with God, how long soever you have neglected him; and bear in mind those words of Christ, wherein he hath declared, "This is life eternal; that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." Believe him who cannot deceive; who hath foretold that all these things shall happen. Believe him who will assign to believers the recompense of eternal life; who will inflict on unbelievers the everlasting punishment of hell fire. When the day of judgment cometh, how great will then be the glory of our faith, and how astonishing the terror of your infidelity! How will the hearts of believers overflow with joy; and the breasts of unbelievers be filled with sorrow! To consider that here they would not believe, when they will hereafter have no opportunity of returning hither, to be put upon the trial whether they will believe or no! The flames of that devouring fire which never shall be quenched, will punish with endless torments those who are adjudged to them; nor will their sufferings have the least allay from any hope or prospect that time will finish or abate them. Their souls and bodies shall be preserved to make each other completely miserable. There the men, to whom we were here for a while the spectacles of reproach and contempt, will be so to

« AnteriorContinuar »