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flesh, cannot but persecute those that are born after the Spirit. This enmity showed itself soon after this promise was revealed, in Cain's bruising the heel of Abel; it continued in the church through all ages before Christ came in the flesh, as the history of the Bible and the eleventh chapter of the Hebrews plainly shows. It raged exceedingly after our Lord's ascension; witness the Acts of the apostles, and the history of the primitive Christians. It now rages, and will continue to rage and show itself, in a greater or less degree, to the end of time. But let not this dismay us; for in all this the seed of the woman is more than conqueror, and bruises the serpent's head. Thus the Israelites, the more they were oppressed, the more they increased. Thus it was with the apostles ; thus it was with their immediate followers. So that Tertullian compares the church in his time to a mowed field; the more frequently it is cut, the more it grows. The blood of the martyrs was always the seed of the church. And I have often sat down with wonder and delight, and admired how God has made the very schemes which his enemies contrived in order to hinder, become the most effectual means to propagate his gospel. The devil has had so little success in persecution, that if I did not know that he and his children, according to this verse, could not but persecute, I should think he would count it his strength to sit still. What did he get by persecuting the martyrs in queen Mary's time? Was not the grace of God exceedingly glorified in their support! What did he get by persecuting the good old Puritans? Did it not prove the peopling of New England ? Or to come nearer our own times, What has he got by putting us out of the synagogues? Has not the word of God, since that, mightily prevailed ? My dear hearers, you must excuse me for enlarging on this head; God fills my soul generally, when I come to this topic. I can say with Luther, “ If it were not for persecution, I should not understand the scripture." If Satan should be yet suffered to bruise my heel further, and his servants should thrust me into prison, I doubt not, but even that would only tend to the more effectual bruising of his head. I remember a saying of the then Lord Chancellor to the pious Bradford : “ Thou hast done more hurt, said he, by thy exhortations in private in prison, than thou didst in preaching before thou wast put in,” or words to this effect. The promise of the text is my daily support; “I will put enmity between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
Further : This promise is also fulfilled, not only in the church in general, but in every individual believer in particular. In every believer there are two seeds, the seed of the woman, and the seed of the serpent; the flesh lusting against the
Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. It is with the believer, when quickened with grace in his heart, as it was with Rebecca, when she had conceived Esau and Jacob in her womb; she felt a struggling, and began to be uneasy; "If it be so," says she, “why am I thus ?” Thus grace and nature struggled, (if I may so speak) in the womb of a believer's heart: But, as it was there said, the elder shall serve the younger; so it is here; grace in the end shall get the better of nature; the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head. Many of you that have believed in Christ, perhaps may find some particular corruption yet strong, so strong, that you are sometimes ready to cry out with David, “I shall fall one day by the hand of Saul.” But, fear not, the promise in the text insures the perseverance and victory of believers over sin, Satan, death, and hell. What if indwelling corruption does yet remain, and the seed of the serpent bruise your heel, in vexing and disturbing your righteous souls? Fear not, though faint, yet pursue: You shall yet bruise the serpent's head. Christ has died for you, and yet a little while, and he will send death to destroy the very being of sin in you. Which brings me
To show the most extensive manner in which the promise of the text shall be fulfilled, viz: at the final judgment, when the Lord Jesus shall present the elect to his father, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, glorified both in the body and soul.
Then shall the seed of the woman give the last and fatal blow, in bruising the serpent's head. Satan, the accuser of the brethren, and all his accursed seed, shall then be cast out, and never suffered to disturb the seed of the woman any more. Then shall the righteous shine as the sun in the king. dom of their Father, and sit with Christ on thrones in majesty on high.
Let us, therefore, not be weary of well doing; for we shall reap an eternal harvest of comfort if we faint not. Dare, dare, my dear brethren in Christ, to follow the Captain of our salvation, who was made perfect through sufferings. The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head. Fear not men. Be not too much cast down at the deceitfulness of your hearts. Fear not devils; you shall get the victory even over them. The Lord Jesus has engaged to make you more than conquerors over all. Plead with your Savior, plead. Plead the mise in the text. Wrestle, wrestle with God in prayer. If it has been given you to believe, fear not if it should also be given you to suffer. Be not any wise terrified by your adversaries ; the king of the church has them all in a chain. Be kind to them; pray for them; but fear them not. The Lord
will yet bring back his ark, though at present driven into the wilderness; and Satan like lightning shall fall from heaven.
Are there any enemies of God here? The promise of the text encourages me to bid you defiance: The "seed of the woman,” even the blessed Jesus, "shall bruise the serpent's head.” What signifies all your malice? You are only raging waves of the sea, foaming out your own shame. For you, without repentance, is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. The Lord Jesus sits in heaven, ruling over all, and causing all things to work for his children's good; he laughs you to scorn, he has you in the utmost derision, and therefore so will I. Who are you that persecute the children of the ever blessed God. Though a poor stripling, the Lord Jesus, the seed of the woman, will enable me to bruise your heads.
My brethren in Christ, I think I do not speak thus in my own strength, but in the strength of my Redeemer. I know in whom I have believed; I am persuaded he will keep that safe which I have committed unto him. He is faithful who has promised, that the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head.” May we all experience a daily completion of this promise, both in the church and in our hearts, till we come to the church of the first-born, in the spirits of just men made perfect, in the presence and actual fruition of the great God our heavenly Father!
To whom, with the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be ascribed all honor, power, might, majesty, and dominion, now and for evermore. Amen.
PERSECUTION EVERY CHRISTIAN'S LOT.
2 TIMOTHY ii. 12.
Yea and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer perse
When our Lord Jesus was pleased to take upon himself the form of a servant, and go about preaching the kingdom of God, he took all opportunities in public, and more especially in private, to caution his disciples against seeking great things for themselves; and also to forewarn them of the many distresses, afflictions, and persecutions which they must expect to
endure and go through for his name's sake. The great St. Paul, therefore, the author of this epistle, in this, as in all other things, following the steps of his blessed Master, takes particular care, among other apostolical admonitions, to warn young Timothy of the difficulties he must expect to meet with in the course of his ministry : “This know also,” (says he, verse first of this chapter) " that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts ; ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Now, as Jannes and Jambres (two of the Egyptian magicians) withstood Moses (by working sham miracles) so do these also resist the truth ; and (notwithstanding they keep up the form of religion) are men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But, in order to keep him from sinking under their opposition, he tells him, that though God, for wise ends, permitted these false teachers, as he did the magicians, to oppose for some time, yet they should now proceed no farther. “For their folly," says he, "shall be made manifest unto all men, as theirs” (the magicians)“ also was," when they could not stand before Moses, because of the boil; for the boil was upon the magicians as well as upon all the Egyptians. And then, to encourage Timothy yet the more, he propounds to him his own example: “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long-suffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra ; what persecutions I endured; But out of them all the Lord delivered me.” And then, lest Timothy might think that this was only the particular case of Paul ; Yea," says he, in the words of the text, “and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution."
The words, without considering them as they stand in relation to the context, contain a necessary and important truth, viz. that persecution is the common lot of every godly man. This is a hard saying. How few can bear it? I trust God, in the following discourse, will enable me to make it good, by showing,
I. What it is to live godly in Christ Jesus.
II. The different kinds of persecution to which they, who live godly, are exposed.
III. Why it is, that godly men must expect to suffer persecution.
Lastly, We shall apply the whole.
And first, Let us consider what it is to live godly in Christ Jesus : this supposes, that we are made the righteousness of God in Christ, that we are born again, and are made one with Christ by a living faith, and a vital union even as Jesus Christ and the Father are one. Unless we are thus converted, and transformed by the renewing of our minds, we cannot properly be said to be in Christ, much less to live godly in him. To be in Christ merely by baptism, and an outward profession, is not to be in him in the strict sense of the word : No; They that are in Christ Jesus, are new creatures ; old things are passed away, and all things are become new in their hearts. Their life is hid with Christ in God; their souls daily feed on the invisible realities of another world. To live godly in Christ, is to make the divine will, and not our own, the sole principle of all our thoughts, words, and actions ; so that, whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, we do all to the glory of God. Those who live godly in Christ, may not so much be said to live, as Christ to live in them: he is their alpha and omega, their first and last, their beginning and end. They are led by his Spirit, as a child is led by the hand of its father, and are willing to follow the Lamb whithersoever he leads them. They hear, know, and obey his voice. Their affections are set on things above. Their hopes are full of immortality; their citizenship is in heaven. Being born again of God, they habitually live to, and daily walk with God. They are pure in heart; and, from a principle of faith in Christ, are holy in all manner of conversation and godliness.
This is to live godly in Christ Jesus : and hence we may easily learn, why so few suffer persecution ; because so few live godly in Christ Jesus. You may attend on outward duties; you may live morally in Christ, i. e. you may do (as they term it) no one any harm, and avoid persecution : but they that will live godly in Christ Jesus, must suffer persecution.
Secondly, What is the meaning of the word persecution, and how many kinds there are of it, I come now to consider.
The word persecution is derived from a Latin word signifying to pursue, and generally implies, “pursuing a person for the sake of his goodness, or God's good will to him.” The first kind of it, is that of the heart. We have an early example of this in that wicked one Cain, who, because the Lord had respect to Abel and his offering, and not to him and his offering, was very wroth, his countenance fell, and at length he