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Surely it were good to fright ourselves by such dreadful examples out of our sinful fears; is any misery we can fear from the hands of man like this? Oh, reader! believe it, " it is "a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an anj;iy God." Hadst thou ever felt the rage and efficacy of a wounded and distressed conscience, as these poor wretches felt it, no fears or threats of men should drive thee into such an hell upon earth as this is, 2.And yet, though this be a doleful cafe, it is not the worst cafe your own sinful fears will cast you into, except the Lord overcome and extinguish them in you by the fear of his name, they will not only bring you into a kind of hell upon earth, but iota hell itself for evermore; for so the righteous God hath faid in his word of truth, Rev. xxi. 8. "but the fearful and unbelieving, "6c. shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire "and brimstone, which is the second death." Behold here the martial law of heaven executed upon cowards and renegadoes, whose fears make them revolt from Christ in the time of danger. Think upon this, you timorous and faint-hearted professors: you cannot bear the thoughts of lying in a nasty dungeon, how will you lie then in the lake of fire and brimstone? You are afraid of the face and frowns of a man that shall die, but how will you live among devils? Is the wrath of man like the fury of God poured out? Is not the little finger of God heavier than the loins of all the tyrants in the world? remember what Christ hath faid, Matth. x. 33. "But whosoever shall deny me be"fore men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in "heaven." Reader, the time is coming when he that spake these words shall break out of heaven with a shbut, accompanied with myriads of angels, and ten thoufands of his faints, the heavens and the earth shall be in dreadful conflagrations round about him; the last trump shall sound, the graves shall open, the earth and sea shall give up the dead that are in them. Thine eyes shall fee him ascend the awful throne of judgment, his faithful ones that feared not to own and appear for him in the face of all enemies and dangers, sitting on the bench, as assessors with him; and then to be disclaimed and renounced for ever by Jesus Christ, in the face of that great assembly, and proclaimed a delinquent, a traitor to him, that deniedsthis name and truths, because of the frowns of a fellow-creature, long since withered as the grafs. O how wilt thou be able to endure this! Now put both these together, in thy ferious consideration, think on the terrors of conscience here, and the desperate horror of it in hell; this is a par-boiling, that as a roasting in the flames pf God's insufferable wrath: these as some scalding drops sprinkled before-hand upon thy conscience, that tender and feasible part of man; that as the lake burning for ever with fire and brimstone. Oh! who would suffer himself to be driven into all this misery, by the fears of these sufferings which can but touch die flesh; and for their duration, they are but for a moment?
Think, and think again upon those words of Christ, Mark yiii. 35. " He that will save his life, shall lose it." It may be a, prolonging of a miserable life, a life worse than death, even in thine own account; a life without the comfort or joy of life; a life ending in the second death; and all this for fear of a trifle, compared with what thou shalt afterwards feel in thine own Conscience, and less than a trifle, nothing, compared with what thou must suffer from God for ever.
Rule 3. He that -will overcome his fears of sufferings, must foresee and provide be/ore-hand for them.
The fear of caution is a good cure to the fear of iistratlien: and the more of that, the less of this ; this fear will cure that, as one sire draws forth another, Heb. xi. 7. " Noah being moved "with fear, prepared an ark." In which he provided as much for the rest and quiet of his mind, as he did for the safety of bis person and family. That which makes evils so frightful as. they are, is their coming by way of surprize upon us. Those troubles that find us secure, do leave us distracted and desperate. Presumption of continued tranquillity proves one of the greatest aggravations of misery. Trouble will lie heavy enough when it comes by way of expectation, but it is intolerable when itcomes quite contrary to expectation. It will be the lot of Babylon to suffer the unexpected vials of God's wrath, and I wish none but she and her children may be so surprised. Rev. xviii. 7. Oh! It were well for us, if, in the midst of our pleasant enjoyments, we would be putting the difficultest cases to ourselves, and mingle a few such thoughts as these with all our earthly enjoyments and comforts.
I am now at ease in the midst of my habitation, but the time may be at hand when my habitation shall be in a prison. I lee no faces at present but those of friends, full of smiles and honours; I may fee none shortly but the faces of eoemies, full of frowns and terrors. I have now an estate to supply my wants, and provide for my family; but this may shortly fall as a prey to the enemy, they may sweep away all that 1 have gathered, reap the fruits of all my labours,—Impius has fegetes. I have yet my me given me for a prey; but, oh! how soon may it fal] into cruel and blood-thirsty hands! I have no better security for these things than the martyrs had, who suffered the loss of all these things for Christ's fake. A double advantage would result to tis from such meditations as these, viz. the advantage,
1. Of acquaintance with 7 TronWei.
2. Or preparation tor }
r. Hereby our thoughts would be better acquainted with these evils; and the more they are acquainted with, the less they will start and fright at them. We should not think it strange concerning the fiery trial, as it is 1 Pet. iv. 12. It is with our thoughts as it is with young colts; they start at every new thing they meet; but we cure them of it, by bringing them home to that they start at, and making them smell to it; better acquaintance cures this startling humour. The newness of evil *, faith a late grave and learned divine, is the cause of sear, when the mind itself hath had no preceding encounter with it, whereby to judge of its strength, nor example of another man's prosperous issue, to consirm its hopes in the like success: For, as I noted before out of the Philosoper f, experience is instead of armour, and is a kind of fortitude, enabling both to judge, and to bear troubles; for there are some things which are w («>»««« Kxi Tio5-«7r£i«, scare-crows and vizors, which children fear only out of ignorance; as soon as they are known they cease to be terrible.
I know our minds naturally reluctate, 'and decline such harsh and unpleafant subjects: It is hard to bring our thoughts to them in good earnest, and harder to dwell so long as is necessary to this end upon them. We had rather take a pleafant prospect of future felicity and prosperity in this world; of multiplying our days as the sand, and at last dying quietly in our nest, as Job speaks. Our thoughts run nimbly upon such pleafant fancies, like oiled wheels, and have need of trigging; but when they come into the deep and dirty ways of suffering, there they drive heavily, like Pharaoh's chariots dismounted from their wheels. But that which is most pleafant, is not always most useful and necessary; our Lord was well acquainted with griefs, tho' our thoughts be such great strangers to them; he often thought and spake of his sufferings, and of the bloody baptism with which he was to be baptized, Luke xii. 50. and he not only minded his own sufferings before-hand, but, when he perceived the fond imaginations and vain fancies of some that followed and professed him, deluding them with expectations of earthly prosperity and rest, he gave their thoughts a turn to
* 'Dr. Edward Reynolds,
this less pleasing, but more needful subject, the things the/ were to suffer for his name; instead of answering a foolish and groundless question, of fitting on his right and left hand, like earthly grandees, he rebukes the folly of the Questionist, and asks a less pleasing question, Mat. xx. 22. "But Jesus answered "and said, Ye know not what ye ask: are ye able to drink of '1 the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the bap
tism that [ shall be baptized with?" q. d. You do but abuse yourselves with such fond and idle dreams, there is other employment cut out for you in the purposes of God; instead of lifting upon thrones and tribunals, it would becomeyou to think of being brought before them as prisoners to receive your doom and sentence to die for my sake; these thoughts would do you a great deal more service.
2. As such meditations would acquaint us better, so they would prepare us better, to encounter troubles and difficult things when they come. Readiness and preparation would subdue and banish our fears; we are never much scared with that for which our minds are prepared. There is the fame difference in this cafe, as there is betwixt a soldier In complete armour, and ready at every point for his enemy; and one that is alarmed in his bed, who hath laid his clothes in one place, and his arms in another, when his enemy is breaking open his chamber-door upon him. 11 was not therefore without the most weighty reason, that the apostle presses us so earnestly, Eph. vi. 13, 14. "Take '* unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to "withstand sn the evil day, and having done all t»stand. Stand "therefore, having your lions girt about with truth, and having "on the breast plate of righteousness, and your feet shod with "thepreparation of the gospel of peace." We see the benefit of such previsions and provisions for suffering, in that great example of courage and constancy, Acts xxi. 13., "I am ready, (faith "Paul) not only to be bound, but to die at Jerusalem." And she same courage and constancy remained in him, when he was entring the very lists, and going to lay his very neck upon the, block, 2 Tim. iv. 6. "I am ready to be offered up, the time. "of my departure is at hand." The word nrithftai, properly signifies a libation or drink-offering, wherein some conceive he alluded tp the very kind of his own death, viz. by the sword : his heart was brought to that frame, that he could with as much willingness pour out his blood for Christ, as the priests used to pour out drink-offerings to the Lord. It is true, all the meditations and preparations in the world, made by us, are not sufficient in themselves to carry us through such difficult services; it is one thing to see death as our fancy limns it out at a distance, and another thing to look death itself in the face. We can behold the painted lion without fear, but the living lion makes us tremble: but yet, tho' our suffering-strength comes not from our own preparations or forethoughts of death, but from God's gracious assistance; yet usually thai assistance of his is communicated to us in and by the conscientious and humble use of these means; let us therefore be found waiting upon God for strength, patience, and resolutions to suffer as it becomes Christians, in the daily serious use of thofe means whereby he is pleased to communicate to his people.
Rule 4. // ever you will subdue your own slavish sears, commit yourselves, and all that is yours, into the hands of God by saith.
This rule is fully confirmed by that scripture, Prov. xvi. 3. ." Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be "established." The greatest part of our trouble and burden, in times of danger, arises from the unsettledness and distraction of our own thoughts; and the way to calm and quiet our thoughts is to commit all to God. This rule is to be applied for this end and purpose, when we are going to meet death itself, and that in all its terrible formalities, and most frightful appearances, 1 Pet. iv. 19. " Let them that suffer according to the will of God "commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto "a faithful Creator." And if this committing act of faith be so useful at such a time, when the thoughts must be supposed to be in the greatest hurry, and fears in their full strength; much more will it establish the heart, and calm its passions in lesser troubles. You know what ease and relief it would be to you, if you had a trial depending in law for your estates, and your hearts were overloaded and distracted with cares and fears about the issue of it: if one whom you know to be very skilful and faithful, should fay to you at such a time, trouble not yourself any farther about this business, never break an hour's steep more for this matter; be you an unconcerned spectator, commit it to me, and trust me with the management of it; I will make it my own concernment, and fave you harmless. O what a burden, what an heavy load would you feel yourselves eased of, as soon as you had thus transferred and committed it to such a hand! then you would be able to eat with pleasure, and sleep in quietness: much more ease and quietness doth your committing the matter of your fears to God give, even so much more as his power, wisdom, and faithfulness is greater than what is
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