Page images
PDF
EPUB

particularly in a day of trial, like the faith of the stony-ground hearers.

Use third is of Exhortation. And my only exhortation is, that you would not only believe, but study to have a faith that will inspire you with that courage which acted David in the text, when he said, Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. And to excite your Christian fortitude and courage, consider, by way of motive,

1. That the day we live in requires it. The winds and tide of error and defection are blowing and running hard ; the judicatories of the church are stricken with such a spiritual frenzy and madness, that instead of acting in an agreeableness to the trust committed to them by the Lord, in opppling error and corruption, they are patronizing and setting up the right-hands of the wicked, and opposing and oppressing all that have any shew of serious godliness, or that open a mouth against the courses of defection they are engaged in. And who knows but a storm may be at the door, which will make us all to stagger? And therefore I say it is nzedful.

2. Consider, that Christ was bold and courageous in our cause; and shall not we be bold and courageous in his cause? See with what courage he takes the field, 1l. 1. &c.

3. Christ, the Captain of our salvation, commands and re. quires his followers to take courage, and to be bold in him. He would have us to be strong, and of good courage, as he said to Joihua: “Stand fast in the faith, quit yourselves like men; and be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.”. When their spirits are beginning to droop, he says, “ Fear not them that kill the body,'' &c.

4. The eye of our great Captain and General is upon us, and let that inspire us with courage. If a soldier know that his captain is looking on, it will make him to venture upon death and danger. Sirs, he that is invisible, our glorious Leader and Conmander, is standing by, noticing how every one of us acquit ourselves in our warfare with sin, Satan, and the world: his eyes are as a flame of fire, searching Jerusalem as with lighted candles; and should not this inspire us with cou. rage? As it is a pleasure to him to see his soldiers brisk in the day of battle, so it lengbly touches and wounds him when they faint and go back, as though his cause were not worth the contending for. . 5. Iake courage, believer, for the cause is good. You fight for the honour of your God, for his precious truths, and for “the liberty where with Christ hath made his people free;"' yea, for the defence of eyery thing that is valuable to ourselves

and

and our pofterity. The liberties and privileges of the church and kingdom of Christ in this land have been handed down to us at the expence of the blood of Christ, and the blood of many of his martyrs; and shall we not take courage to maintain and defend what has been transmitted to us at such a dear rate ?

6. The enemy is but weak, and a courageous stand will make them to give way. “Refilt the devil, and he will fee from you ;” so resist his emisl ries, that are carrying on a course of defection, and they will give back; or put them to such a stand, that they will be at their wits end, as we see it was with the Jewish court, Acts iv. &c. You know, when Goliath was sain by David, the heart of the Philistines failed them, and they fied. Sirs, Goliath is flain by Christ; hę o through death hath destroyed him that had the power of death;' and therefore a noble stand against his armies will soon dispirit them.

9. Take courage, believer, for Jehovah, God, Father, Son, and Holy Gholt, is on your head, Mic. ii. at the close. And, if everlasting strength be on your side, what have you to fear? Psal. xlvi. &c.

8. The victory is sure. The spoils are already in the hand of our glorious General, and he has promised to give the victory to all that are faithful unto the death in cleaving to him and his way; and therefore up the heart. "You see what a train of promises are made to the overcomers, Rev. ii. & iii.

I conclude with a few advices, in order to your being fortified with Christian courage against the shadows of death that may cast up in your way through the wilderness.

1. Take care that your covenant with hell, and your agree. ment with death, be broken; and that you be really settled by faith upon the foundation that God has laid in Zion. O fee that you be not building upon any foundation of sand with re. spect to your eternal concerns, but ihat you be really built upon the rock Jesus Christ; for “ another foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” You may read to this purpose, Matth. vii. 24–27. where you fee, that there are but two foundations that all men are building their hope of falvation upon, either upon the rock, or upon the fand. Chrift himself is the rock; and all other things elle, whether general mercy, self righteousnel, common graces or attainments, they are but foundations of land. And you see alio, that when storms of trouble blow, the house built upon the rock stands the shock; but the house built upon the sand falls, and “great is the fall of it.” And therefore niy advice unto you, in order to your {tanding when storms blow that have the lhadows of death in

them,

them; is, For the Lord's fake, take care that the foundation bé well laid upon Chrift, so that ye be joined to him by the bond of faith of God's operation; receive him, and rest upon him, as “made of God unto you (finners) wisdom, righteousness, fanctification, and redemption.”

2. Study not only to have faith in the habit, but to have faith in a continual exercise ; for faith, like the spring of a watch, sets all the other wheels. I mean, the other graces of the spirit, a-going ; such as, love, repentance, fear, hope, pao tience, and joy in the Lord : and while these are kept in ex. ércise, there is no fear, though the shadows of death fhould stretch themselves over us. Hence the apostle exhorts Chri. stians “ above all to take the shield of faith," Eph. vi. 16. becaufe all depends upon the grace of faith, which itself depends upon Christ: “I can do all things (says Paul) through Chrift strengthening me.” Faith speaks like a little omnipotent ; faith is a victorious grace, that overcomes the world, and all difficulties in its way. By faith it was that these worthies, Heb. xi. did wonders; by faith they“ quenched the violence of fire, turned to fight the armies of the aliens, and raised the dead out of the grave;" by faith they “ endured cruel mockings and scourgings,” &c. When created comforts evanish, riches, re. lations, pleasures ; well, in that cafe, faith will look to the Lord, and have a respect to the holy One of Israel; when fenfe can find nothing to stay upon, all props are withdrawn, faith will stay itself upon the Lord; when the promise seems to fail, faith will wait, and not make haste; when the strength of creaa ted grace begins to fail, faith will stay and sit down upon everlasting strength, Il. xxvi. 3. So then, ftudy to have faith in exercise.

3. Study to get your hearts steeled with Christian fortitude and courage, which is the natural fruit of that faith which “ worketh by love.” We have a noble pattern of this, in the glorious Captain of salvation, whose followers we are called to be, particularly in a suffering lot: he “ set his face like a flint,' and challenges all his enemies to encounter hiin, lf. l. " He is near that helpeth, who will contend with me?” &c. Paul followed his Master's example, when he was told that bonds and afflictions did abide him, Acts xx. 24. he answers, « None of these things move me: I am ready not to be bound only, but to die,” &c. And when he was to appear before that cruel monster Nero, and no man to own him, or stand by him, yet he stands his ground, refolving rather to die on the spot, than dishonourably to recede from his principles and profeslion. What holy courage breathes here in the words of Da

vid, rea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, &c.

4. Another advice I give you is this, Study to get rid of the idol of self; self-righteousness, self-wisdom, self-sufficiency. “If any man will be my disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” The prevalency of self was the forerunner of Peter's fall; “ Though all men should deny thee, yet so will not I.” He was too confident of his created grace and strength; and the Lord, in order to humble him, and unbottom him from this kind of confidence, will let him fall into a mire of sin, and deny him in the hour of temptation, at the voice of a filly maid. There are two things wherein the strength of the Christian lies. (1.) Self-diffidence. (2.) Confidence in the Lord. If these two be maintained, they will make the believer stand, when the darkest shadows of death are round about him. “We are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of the Lord.” This is just the way and work of faith; it travels between self-emptiness and all fulness, between self. guiltiness and everlasting righteousness, between self-weakness and everlasting strength : hence David, “I will go in the strength of the Lord, making mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.” .

5. Study to get your heart weaned from, and mortified to, the world, and all the fading interests and enjoyments thereof. The world is a dead weight upon the soul, especially in a day of trial, where the love of it has the ascendant and prevalency in the heart ; hence we are told, that Demas forsook Paul, and the profession of Christianity, by having loved this present world; “ If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” And if the love of the Father be not in us, it is impossible we can stand in a shaking day. There are these things in the world that we should study to be mortified unto, in order to our standing in a time of trial.

1A, Our worldly estates and riches. “ The love of money is the root of all evil, which while some have coveted, they have erred from the faith," &c. O what a scandal is it to Christianity, to see men profesling Christ and Christianity, so wedded to the world, and the perishing riches of it! In order to our getting it under our feet, let us view it in the light wherein God has set it to us in his word ; his verdict of things is the truest ; and if we believe him, all that is in it is mere “vanity, vanity of vanities," &c. Let us contemplate things above, and look at things not seen, &c. What will it appear when we are a little beyond death? 2dly, Let us study to be mortified to our worldly credit, our

name,

[ocr errors]

name and reputation in the world. It commonly goes very near us, and it was among the sharpest of trials that the worthies met with, Heb. xi. when they endured “the trial of cruel mocking.” It is no easy thing to proud nature to have our name and reputation torn by reproach, and cast out as evil: yet, I say, if we would stand in a day of trial, we must lay our worldly name and credit at the feet of Christ. He was con. tent to have his “ name, which is above every name," blackened with reproach for us; he was called “ a blasphemer, a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and Ginners,” an effecter of popularity, yea, a devil : but “ he endured the cross, and defpifed the shame of it." Sirs, let us remeinber that we are neither to stand or fall according to the world's verdict of us: “ It is a small thing for me to be judged of men: he thao judgech me is the Lord.” Let us remember, that there is a real glory in bearing reproach for Christ and his cause: Moses "esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt.”

3dly, Let us study to be mortified to worldly ease, quiet, and liberty. Paul lays his account with “ bonds for the name of Christ." Sirs, what the matter of being, like Paul and Silas, fhut up in a dungeon for Christ, a:id under chains, if his pre. fence be with us, as it was with them ? &c. A prilon has been hapselled by the most eminent of the saints now in glo. ry, Jer. xxxii. Matth. iv. 12. Aas v. 18. But God loosed his prisoners, and let them free at length. Commonly, when men are cruel, the Lord is kind : he “looks down from heaven, to hear the Egbing and groanings of his prisoners,” &c. A pri. son or confinement by men if noi heil; men have their prilons, and God has his. We read of these who linned in the days of Noah, that are now in the pason of heil, 1 Pet. 111. 19., that is a terrible prison indeed, 110 rclief there: little hazard of mcu's prisons, if that be all the bell we are to endure.

4tbly, Let us Audy to get our añcétions mortified even to the inordinate love of life. This inderd is a hard lectere, yet it is a lecture that we muit learn, if we be the followers of Christ, when a dav of trial comes. Sirs, if ever you took on with Chrif the Captain of salvation, vou have laid your lives at his feet, and all the comiorie of life to be ciipoits of by him, &c. Die we must one sire or other, and we call never part with it more honourably than in the cause of Criti, &c. Chrilt parted with bis valuable life for us, and all we spare our poor miserable life for bilu? Again, think what a life of glory you enter into, when you lay down your ife kur his caule, &c. 6. la order to our being prepared for encountering uie VOL. II.

khadows

« PreviousContinue »