Imágenes de páginas

and render the Man and his Cause the more ridiculous. And for the other Dangers, the fear of Perfecution, and the looseness of their Morals ; he must be a strange fort of Christian indeed, whom such Considerations can prevail with to fall from his stedfastness, and hardly worth the while for any Church to get or to preserve. And tho' I Thould be glad by any honest and Christian Mean's to promote the Interests, and enlarge the Borders of the Church of England, yet I must confefs, that I am so little concern d for such Members as these, that on the contrary I could almost wish that all those who will not be perswaded to live Christianly in our Communion, would be so kind to us as to live Unchristianly out of it, rather than in it. The loss of Ten Thousand such Profelytes would only lessen our Number, but neither our Honour nor our Intereft; nay, perhaps, would rather help to promote both : For I should then begin to hope, that God had indeed a Blessing in store for us, could I once see these fonas's cast out, for whose fake, perhaps, it is that the present Storm is fallen upon us; and whose departure from us, may therefore, for ought I know, be the likeliest means to restore to us the Blessing of Peace and Security again.

But if there be then nothing in these Temptations that should draw us aside from our stedfastness, I am sure,

[ocr errors]

adly, There is more than enough in what St. Peter here offers, to engage us to continue firm to it. And because I may not now enlarge my self, I will rather point it out to you, than insist upon it. For,

ist. It is with us now, as it was with the Chrifrians in St. Peter's time: Thofe who would draw


[ocr errors]

us away from our stedfastness to the true Cathelick Faith, would bring in dangerous, I am unwilling with the Apostle to say, damnable Heresies, in the stead of it. We do indeed charitably hope, That they, who by the Providence of God have been born in a different Communion from us, and bred up all their lives

, not only in an utter le norance of the right Faith, but in an irreconcilable hatred to it; who have been taught to damn us. as Hereticks and Schifmaticks, and to value themselves upon the score of their own pretended Catholicism, if they are otherwise sincere in that Faith which they profess, and repent them truly of their fins, but especially of their uncharitableness to those that differ from them, may, through the extraordinary Mercy of God, be faved, notwith {tanding such their Errors. But for us, who know their delufions; that whilst they damn all others as Hereticks, they are indeed themselves the moft perverse and obstinate that ever were ; should we forsake our Truth, and go over to them, that little Argument so often used on these occasions, That we confefs Men may be faved in their Church, but that they utterly deny they can be fo in Ours, and therefore that it is better to be on theirs, i.e.. the safer fide, would stand us in small stead and for all this Sophistry, we should certainly, run a very great hazard of being damn'd for falling away; from our own stedfastness. But,

[ocr errors]

2dly. A fecond Motive which our Apostle here offers to engage us to fuch a Constancy, will arise from the Confideration of the exceeding great punishment that shall be the consequence of such an Apostacy. Now that in this case was so much the more to be consider’d, in that the Punishment


which St. Peter here 'speaks of, was to fill upon them even in this present world. The Prophecies of Christ for the Destruction of the Fews being now just ready to be accomplish'd, and in which the Apoftatizing Christians were also to be involved. But however, I'neither have, nor would defire to have any such prospect with reference to the Sedutcers and their Profelytes in our Days, whose Conversion, tho' I heartily wish, yet, I thank God, I never did, I hope I never shall desire their Defruction : Yet certainly the Argument' ought never the lefs to be consider'd, because it' respects only the Miferies of another Life. There is more than enough in the confideration of Eternal Tormenis, to move the most indifferent Person, both to confider, and, if it may be, to prevent the enduring of them. And however Men may please to put the Evil Day far from them, and hope that it shall not, because it is their Interest that it should not, too soon overtake them; yet neither can any of us say how soon it may come upon us; and were it at never fo great distance, yet let us but remember that when it does' come, it brings an Eternity along with it, and we shall be forced to confess, Thar no present Considerations, how great foever they may seem to be, are yet fit to-stand in Competition with it.

He must be a very foolish, or a very necessitous Man indeed, that would part with the certain Reversion of a Thousand Pounds a Year, for the obtaining a present Peny. And yet fuch, or rather God knows infinitely greater, is the folly of that Man, wlio for any secular Advantages whatsoever, sells his Soul ; and thereby not only loses his Title to all the Joys and Glories of Heaven, but exchan


H 2

ges them for a dreadful Portion of Fire and Brimstone for ever.

Blessed Saviour! What is there in all those little Enjoyments

Men here pursue with so much greediness, that for the sake of them We should deny Thee, and that Faith which must save us when we appear before thee in Judgment ! Behold! yet a little while, and there we must stand to render a strict Account of all our A&tions, and receive according to what we have done in the body, whether it be good or evil. And what then will all these Interests and Advantages avail us ? What profit Shall we then. have, tho' we could havegain'd the whole World, when we shall have lost our own Souls for the doing of it? How will it then please us, that we have renounc'd our Faith to preserve those little Enjoyments that are now no more, but the sad punishment of the foul Apostacy to which they have tempted us, will continue for ever? Certainly, were the complying Hypocrite, but capable of reflecting what shall be the end of his Apoftacy ; could he but once think with the Prophet, Who can dwell with everlasting burnings ? he would need no other motive to convince him of the Folly of such Courtly compliance, and to keep him from falling away : from his own stedfastness.

3dly. But the Apostle adds yet another Motive, and which having mention'd, I shall conclude. We have seen the sad, the unspeakable, and what is yet more, the eternal Misery of him that falls from his stedfastness. Could I now represent to you the as infinite Reward of the constant Christian ; could I delineate to you but a small part of those foys which are prepared for such an One; what an il-,


[ocr errors]

lustrious Crown of Glory shall adorn his triumphant
Head to all Eternity : I might then hope to have
fully accomplish'd the Design of this Exhortation,
and to have effe&tually secured you against falling
away from your stedfasiness.

But this is an Argument above my Capacity to
illustrate. Eye hath not seen, nor ear
beard, nor does it enter into the heart 1 Cor. ii. 9.
of man to conceive, what God has prepared for them
that love him. We have neither thoughts to ima-
gine any thing comparable to its greatness, much less
words to express it. And methinks even this should
be enough to recommend it to us, that we are not
able to express it. That its Excellency so far sur-
passes whatever experience we can pretend to of
any felicity in this Life, that we cannot so much
as found upon it any tolerable Apprehensions of the
Foys and Glories of the other. At least, this I am
sure, that'it ought to be more than enough to con-
vince you, how incomparably more worthy our
desires and pursuits such a reward of our firmness
is, than whatsoever can be offered to draw us afide
from it.

And now having shown you both what it is to
be truly stedfast in our Faith, and how great an Ob-
ligation there lies upon us so to be ; what remains,
but that I briefly close all with the last particular I
proposed to speak to,
III. How highly necessary in its felf, but espe-

cially how advantageous to this great end it
is, that we should all of us endeavour what in
us lies, To grow in Grace, and in the Know-
ledge of our Lord and Saviour fesus Chrift?

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »