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appointed by his providence. A high example we have of this in Abraham, when he was commanded to offer up his only son Isaac, and by his own hands, for a burnt-offering. This was to kill a double sacrifice at one blow; for the life of Ahraham was bound up in Isaac: he lived in him more dearly than in himself; all'his joy, all his posterity by Sarah had died in Isaac. What resentments, what resistance of nature did he suffer ? yet presently he addressed himself to perform his duty. Whoever saw a more glorious victory over all the tender and powerful passions of human nature ? O unexamplel obedience ! being an original without any precedent to imitate, and without a copy to succeed it. After this clear infallible testimony of his sincerity, the angel declared from heaven, “ Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” And it is said concerning the followers of the Lamb, that

they loved not their lives unto the death.” The love of Christ that animated them in all their sufferings, was sweeter than life, and stronger than death.

Indeed there was a wonderful difference in the behaviour of the martyrs under sufferings, but in all the same persevering grace was evident, though working variously. Some in the most beautiful flower of their age encountered fire and sword, tormentors and torments, with that sensible joy, with those songs of praise to Christ, as if they saw the heavens open with St. Stephen, and their Saviour ready to receive and crown them. But many others, as Chrysostom testifies, * went to the tribunals, to the theatres, to death, with many appearances of fear. Upon hearing the wild beasts roar, they were struck with horror; at the sight of the executioners and the instruments of torment, they were pale and trembling. The flesh seemed

The flesh seemed to cry out, “0 let this cup pass from me;" yet weak and faint, it followed the spirit, that corrected the natural desire, with “not my will, but thine be done." As the moon in eclipse, though obscure, yet goes on in a regular course, as when it is full of light by the reflection of the sun : so those desolate martyrs, though as it were forsaken, and deprived of the bright beams of comfort, yet persevered in their profession of the truth. When one word to renounce christianity would have saved them, no torments could force it from them, but they patiently endured all. Now in these the combat of nature was visible, and the admirable power of grace. They first overcame their own fears, the reluctancy of the carnal part, their affection to whatever is desirable in the world, which is the noblest victory, and then the cruelty of their persecutors. In them was verified the testimony of the Spirit, “ here is the patience of the saints : here are they that keep the command of God and the faith of Jesus."

* lomil. 6, de laud, Paul.

But how many appear faithful while their faith is not to be showed by difficult works, and proved by sufferings? The seed that fell on the stony ground, sprang up as hopeful as the seed in the good ground at first; but when tribulation came, it withered away, wanting the root of sincerity. And that which was sown among thorns, was choaked by the cares and pleasures of the world. Some lust in the heart interweaves with the affections, and causes apostacy. How many from glorious beginnings have made a lamentable end ? not only mercenaries in religion, whose zeal is a foreign complexion, not springing from an inward principle of life and health, relinquish even the profession of godliness, when their gain ceases; but some who have thought themselves sincere, yet in times of danger their resolutions, like the morning dew, have suddenly vanished. As the foolish builder that computed not the charges of his designed work, began to raise a magnificent structure, but unable to finish it, laid the foundation in his own shame. They repented their choice of heaven when they saw what it must cost them, and would save the world with the loss of their souls.

Others that began in the spirit, and with raised affections set out in the ways of godliness, yet by the allurements of sensual lusts and temptations, and therefore with greater * guilt) leave their first love, and end in the flesh. They fall from high professions, but, deceived by soft pleasure, feel not the fall. These were never sincere, and never had a right to heaven. They took up sudden resolutions, not grounded in serious and deep thoughts, and for a flash were hot and active, but with great levity return

* Quæ justior venia in omuibus causis, quam voluntarios, an quam invitus peccator implorat? Negationem quanta compellunt, ingenia carnificum, & genera pænarum ? Quis magis negavit, qui Christum vexatus, an qui deleciatus amisit? Qui quum amitteret doluit, an qui quum amitteret lusit? Tert, de pudicit.

to their former lusts. The apostle tells us of such, “ it had been better for them they had not known the way of righteousness, than to turn back and voluntarily to forsake it.” It is observed that boiling water taken off from the fire, conceals more strongly than that which was never heated : because the subtile parts being evaporated by the fire, the more terrestrial parts remaining are more capable of cold. So those who have felt the power of the word in their affections, and afterwards lose that holy heat, become more hardened in their sins. God justly withdraws his grace, and the evil spirit that was expelled for a time, returns with seven worse, and aggravates his tyranny.

To conclude ; since the certainty of salvation is conditional, if we persevere in a holy state, let us beware of a corrupt considence, and a vicious dejection of spirit, the trusting in ourselves, or distrusting God. To prevent the trusting in ourselves, consider,

1. The most excellent creatures are by the instability of nature liable to defection, subject to a corruptive change. Of this the fallen angels are a dreadful example, who of their own motion, untempted, sinned in heaven.

2. The danger is greater of falling away, when they are urged and solicited by a violent or grateful temptation. Thus our first parents fell, and lost more grace in an hour, than can be recovered by their posterity in all ages to the end of the world.

3. When there is a supervenient corruption in the creature, that inclines them with earnest propensity to forbidden things, and takes flame from every spark, the danger is extreme. Like a besieged city that is in great hazard of taking, by assaults from without, and conspiracies from within. Let us therefore be very watchful over our hearts and senses, and keep as much as is possible at a safe distance from temptations; and be very diligent in the use of all holy means to confirm and fortify our resolutions for heaven. God promised to Hezekiah fifteen years, but not to preserve his life by miracle; he was obliged to repair the wastings of nature by daily food, and to abstain from what was noxious and destructive to his body. The apostle excites christians to “ work out their own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that works in them to will and to do of his good pleasure. Let him that stands take heed lest he fall.” None


are a more easy conquest to the tempter than those who presume upon their own strength. We should be always jealous of ourselves, from the sad examples of apostacy in every age. * St. Ambrose testifies from his own knowledge, that many after the courageous enduring of cruel torments for religion, the tearing open their sides that their bowels appeared, and the burning of some parts of their bodies; yet when led forth to finish the “ victory of faith,” to be a triumphant “ spectacle to angels and men," when the blessed Rewarder was ready to put the martyrs’ crown on their heads, at the sight of their mourning wives and children in the way, were overcome by pity, the weakest affection, and failed in the last act of christian fortitude. “ We must pray to be strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness." For some may vigorously resist one sort of temptation, and render themselves to others. And if finally vanquished by one of those enemies, we'lose our vietory and crown.

And as presumption betrays the soul into the devil's snares, so a vicious dejection of spirit from a distrust of relief from God in our difficulties, and his assistance with our unfeigned endeavours for salvation is very pernicious. For this damps industry, and causes either a total neglect, or uncomfortable use of means for that end. Many christians considering their graces are weak, their nature fickle and apt to revolt, are ready (as David said, “ one day I shall perish by the hand of Saul) to conclude sadly of the issue of their condition. To encourage such, let them consider, that perseverance is not only a condition, but a privilege of the covenant of grace ; for that assures us of supply of spiritual strength to the sincere believer for performing the condition it requires. Indeed if grace were the mere product of freewill, the most fervent resolutions would vanish into a lie, upon the assault of an overpowering temptation. As Hezekiah acknowledged, that the Assyrian kings had “ destroyed the gods of the nations that were no gods, but idols, the work of mens' hands.” But sanctifying grace is the effect of the Holy Spirit ; and he that “ begins that good work in the saints, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” He that inclined them joyfully to choose the spiritual eternal good, will bind their inconstant hearts, that by a faithful adherence they shall cleave to their duty and felicity. God hath most graciously declared, “I will put my spirit into their hearts, that they shall never depart from me.” The promise is founded in the unchangeable love of God to his people. Were God, as man, subject to variation, there might be jealousies in believers, lest they should lose his good will : as those who depend on princes, are suspicious lest from the natural inconstancy of the human will, a new favorite should supplant them. “ But whom God loves, he loves to the end.” The apostle prays for the Thessalonians, “ that God would preserve them blameless until the coming of Christ; by this consideration, “ faithful is he that calleth you, he will do it.” He speaks of the internal call, that opens the heart, and overpowers all resistance. As when the angel came with a light shining in the prison to St. Peter, and struck him on the side, bid him arise quickly, loosed his chains, and led him through the guards, opened the doors, and restored him to liberty. The effectual calling of a sinner is the visible and infallible effect of electing mercy; and God is unchangeable in his own purpose, and faithful to his promises of bringing all such by sanctification to glory. The same apostle tells the saints at Corinth, that the Redeemer would confirm them to the end : “ God is faithful, by whom ye are called.” Grace that was at first inspired, is continually actuated by the spirit, who is “ styled the earnest of the saints' inheritance.” So that whereas the angels that excelled in strength, kept not their first state of purity and glory, but are sunk into corruption and misery; yet true humble believers, though weak, and encompassed with many difficulties, shall be preserved from destructive evil, and raised to an unchangeable estate of perfection. This is as truly admirable, as if the stars should fall from heaven, and clods of earth ascend and shine in the firmament. The apostle, who acknowledged “ his insufficiency of himself to think a good thought;" yet triumphantly declares, “ I can do all things" (within the campass of his duty) “ through Christ that strengthens me.” The love, fidelity, and power of God, are a sure fountain of assistance to every christian,

* Deniq; sæpe cognovimus, quoniam quem formidolosa carnificum porapa non terruit, nec divisi lateris sulcus infregit, nec ardentes laminæ a tri. umphalis fortitudinis vigore abducere potuerunt, eum inter sacra præmia constitutum, uxor teneræ prolis oblatione, miserabilis unius lacrymæ miseratione decepit.


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