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good conscience; he fares hardly, and sleeps sweetly ; he fies from his enemies, but hath no distracting fears; he is full of thought, but of no amazement; it is his business to be troubled, and his portion to be comforted; he hath nothing to afflict him, but the loss of that which might be his danger, but can never be his good ; and in the recompense of this he hath God for his father, Christ for his captain, the Holy Ghost for his supporter; so that he shall have all the good which God can give him, and of all that good he hath the holy Trinity for an earnest and a gage for his maintenance at the present, and his portion to all eternity. But, though Paul and Silas sang psalms in prison, and under the hangman's whips, and in an earthquake; yet, neither the jailor, nor the persecuting magistrates, could do so. For the prosperity of the wicked is like a winter's sun, or the joy of a' condemned drunkard; it is a forgetfulness of his present danger, and his future sorrows, nothing but imaginary arts of inadvertency: he sits in the gates of the city, and judges others, and is condemned himself; he is honoured by the passers-by, and is thought happy, but he sighs deeply ; "he heapeth up riches, and cannot tell who shall gather them ;' he commands an army, and is himself a slave to his passions ; he sleeps because he needs it, and starts from his uneasy pillows which his thoughtful head hath discomposed; when he is waking, he dreams of greatness; when he sleeps, he dreams of spectres and illusions : he spoils a poor man of his lamb, and himself of his innocence and peace: and in every unjust purchase, himself is the greatest loser.
"Ος δέ κεν αυτός ίληται, αναιδείηφι πιθήσας,
Και τι σμικρών ιόν, το γ' επάχνωσεν φίλον ήτορ.* For, just upon his oppression or injustice, he is turned a devil, and God's enemy, a wolf to his brother, a greedy admirer of the baits of fishes, and the bread of dogs; he is unsafe by reason of his sin: for he hath against him the displeasure of God, the justice of the laws, the shame of the sin, the revenge of the injured person ; and God and men, the laws of nations and private societies, stand upon their defence against this man : he is unsafe in his rest, amazed in his danger, troubled in his labours, weary in his change, esteemed a base man, disgraced and scorned, feared and hated, flattered and derided, watched and suspected, and, it may be, dies in the
• Hesiod. Egz. 357.
middle of his purchase, and at the end is a fool, and leaves a curse to his posterity.
Τούδι ' άμαυροτίρη γενεή μετόπισθι λίλισσαι. “He leaves a generation of blacker children behind him ;" so the poet describes the cursedness of their posterity : and their memory sits down to eternal ages in dishonour. And by this time let them cast up their accounts, and see if, of all their violent purchases, they carry any thing with them to the grave but sin, and a guilty conscience, and a polluted soul ; the anger of God, and the shame of men. . And what help shall all those persons give to thee in thy flames, who divided and scattered that estate, for which thou diedst for ever ?
Audire est operæ pretium, procedere rectè
Atque hæc rara cadat dura inter sæpe pericla. And let but a sober answerer tell me, if any thing in the world be more distant either from goodness or happiness, than to scatter the plague of an accursed soul upon our dearest children; to make a universal curse ; to be the fountain of a mischief; to be such a person whom our children and nephews shall hate, and despise, and curse, when they groan under the burden of that plague, which their fathers' síns brought upon the family. If there were no other account to be given, it were highly enough to verify the intent. of my text; • If the righteous scarcely be saved,' or escape God's angry stroke, the wicked must needs be infinitely more miserable.
Νυν δή εγώ μήτ' αυτός εν ανθρώποισι δίκαιος
"Εμμεναι “ Neither I nor my son” (said the oldest of the Greek poets) “ would be virtuous, if to be a just person were all one as to be miserable.” No, not only in the end of affairs, and at sunset, but all the day long, the godly man is happy, and the ungodly and the sinner are very miserable.
Pellitur a populo victus Cato; tristior ille est
* Hes. Egy. 282. † Hor. S. 1. 2. 37. | Hes. Egy. 268. Gaiss. p. 22.
And there needs no other argument to be added but this one great testimony; that though the godly are afflicted and persecuted, yet even they are blessed, and the persecutors are the most unsafe. They are essentially happy whom affliction cannot make miserable, but turns unto their advantages :* and that is the state of the godly. And they are most intolerably accursed, who have no portions in the blessings of eternity, and yet cannot have comfort in the present purchases of their sin, to whom even their sunshine brings a drought, and their fairest is their foulest weather : and that is the portion of the sinner and the ungodly. The godly are not made unhappy by their sorrows : and the wicked are such, whom prosperity itself cannot make fortunate.
3. And yet after all this, it is but pólus ou lsrat, not uórus owencerai, he escapes but hardly' here: it will be well enough with him hereafter. Isaac digged three wells. The first was called Contention ;' for he drank the waters of strife, and digged the well with his sword. The second well was not altogether so hard a purchase, he got it with some trouble; but that being over, he had some room, and his fortune swelled, and he called his well · Enlargement.' But his third he called “Abundance ;' and then he dipped his foot in oil, and drank freely as out of a river. Every good man first ósows in tears;' he first drinks of the bottle of his own tears, sorrow and trouble, labour and disquiet, strivings and temptations : but if they pass through a torrent, and virtue becomes easy and habitual, they find their hearts enlarged and made sprightly by the visitations of God, and refreshment of his Spirit; and then their hearts are enlarged, they know how to gather the down and softnesses from the sharpest thistles.
Της δ' αρετής ίδρωτα θεοί προτάροιθεν έθηκαν
Ρηϊδίη δ' ήπειτα κίλει, χαλιπή πιο εύσα.* At first we cannot serve God but by passions and doing violence to all our wilder inclinations, and suffering the violence of tyrants and unjust persons: the second days of virtue are pleasant and easy in the midst of all the appen
Quis curam neget esse te Deorum,
dant labours. But when the Christian's last pit is digged, when he is descended to his grave, and hath finished his state of sorrows and suffering ; then God opens the river of abundance, the rivers of life and never-ceasing felicities. And this is that which God promised to his people : “ I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy redeemer.”* So much as moments are exceeded by eternity, and the sighing of a man by the joys of an angel, and a salutary frown by the light of God's countenance, a few groans by the infinite and eternal hallelujahs; so much are the sorrows of the godly to be undervalued in respect of what is deposited for them in the treasures of eternity. Their sorrows can die, but so cannot their joys. And if the blessed martyrs and confessors were asked concerning their past sufferings and their present rest, and the joys of their certain expectation, you should hear them glory in nothing but in the mercies of God, and • in the cross of the Lord Jesus. Every chain is a ray of light, and every prison is a palace, and every loss is the purchase of a kingdom, and every affront in the cause of God is an eternal honour, and every day of sorrow is a thousand years of comfort, multiplied with a never-ceasing numeration; days without night, joys without sorrow, sanctity without sin, charity without stain, possession without fear, society without envying, communication of joys without lessening: and they shall dwell in a blessed country, where an enemy never entered, and from whence a friend never went away. Well might David say, “Funes ceciderunt mihi in præclaris," « The cords” of my tent, my ropes, and the sorrow of my pilgrimage, “ fell to me in a good ground, and I have a goodly heritage.”—And when persecution hews a man down from a high fortune to an even one, or from thence to the face of the earth, or from thence to the grave; a good man is but preparing for a crown, and the tyrant does but first knock off the fetters of the soul, the manacles of passion and desires, sensual loves and lower appetites : and if God suffers him to finish the persecution, then he can but dismantle the soul's prison, and let the soul forth to fly to the mountains of rest; and all the intermedial evils are but like the Persian punishments; the executioner tore off their hairs, and rent their silken mantles, and discomposed their curious dressings,
. Isa. liv. 8.
and lightly touched the skin; yet the offender cried out with most bitter exclamations, while his fault was expiated with a 'ceremony and without blood. So does God to his servants ; he rends their upper garments, and strips them of their un. necessary wealth, and ties them to physic and salutary discipline; and they cry out under usages, which have nothing but the outward sense and opinion of evil, not the real sub'stance. But if we would take the measures of images, we must not take the height of the base, but the proportion of the members; nor yet measure the estates of men by their big-looking supporter, or the circumstance of an exterior advantage, but by its proper commensuration in itself, as it stands in its order to eternity: and then the godly man that suffers sorrow and persecution, ought to be relieved by us, but needs not be pitied in the sum of affairs. But since the two estates of the world are measured by time and by eternity, and divided by joy and sorrow, and no man shall have his portion of joys in both durations; the state of those men is insupportably miserable, who are fatted for slaughter, and are crowned like beasts for sacrifice : who are feared and fear, who cannot enjoy their purchases but by communications with others, and themselves have the least share, but themselves are alone in the misery and the saddest dangers, and they possess the whole portion of sorrows; to whom their prosperity gives but occasions to evil counsels, and strength to do mischief, or to nourish a serpent, or oppress a neighbour, or to nurse a lust, to increase folly and treasure up calamity. And did ever any man see, or story tell, that any tyrant-prince kissed his rods and axes, his sword of justice, and his imperial ensigns of power ? they shine like a taper, to all things but itself. But we read of many martyrs who kissed their chains, and hugged their stakes, and saluted their hangman with great endearments; and yet, abating the incursions of their seldom sins, these are their greatest evils : and such they are, with which a wise and a good man may be in love. And till the sinners and ungodly men can be so with their deep groans and broken sleeps, with the wrath of God and their portions of eternity ; till they can rejoice in death and long for a resurrection, and with delight and a greedy hope can think of the day of judgment; we must conclude that their glass-gems and finest pageantry, their splendid outsides and great powers of evil, cannot make