SERMON VIII. ON MARK X. v. 21.
3 Doct.ALL those that follow Christ, should prepare their Shoulders for the Cross.
Here I shall shew,
- 1. What it is to take up the Cross.
- 2. The Reasons why they must so do.
I. What it is to take up the Cross.
1. Not to devise a voluntary Affliction to our selves; as Baal's Priests gashed themselves. 1 Kings 18.28. They cryed aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancers, till their blood gushed out upon them; and the Pharisees had their Self-Disciplines. Christ is a lover of Humane Nature, and he hath put no such severe Penance upon us. This is to make the Cross, not to take it up: Ori∣gen, that was too Allegorical in plain Texts, was too literal, when he castrated himself upon that Text, Matth. 19.12. There be Eunuchs, which have made them∣selves Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake: Christ only intended power over our Natural Affections.
2. Not to draw sufferings upon our selves by our own Rashness and Folly. Iames 1.2. My Brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations. He saith, when ye fall into them, not when ye draw them upon your self. It was Tertullian's Error to say, That Afflictions are to be sought and desired. Man is never satisfied with his present Condition; sometimes we question God's Love, when we have no Afflictions, and anon when we have nothing but Afflictions. In all these things we must referr our selves to God's Pleasure, not desire Troubles, but bear them and improve them, when he layeth them on us. Christ hath taught us to pray, Lead us not into Temptation, it is but a fond Presumption to cast our selves upon it. Philastrius and Theodoret speak of some that would compell Men Page 351 to kill them out of an Affectation of Martyrdom; this was a mad Ambition, not a true Zeal. And no less fond are they that seek out Crosses and Troubles, ra∣ther than wait for them; or by their own Violence and Miscarriage draw a just hatred upon themselves. Christ would not that for his sake we should run head∣long into Dangers, and without Necessity; there is a Medium between Faint∣ness and Rashness. Christ himself did not take up the Cross till it was laid up∣on him. If a Man set fire on his own House, he is liable to the Law; if it be fired by Accident he is pitied and relieved: Therefore we are not to seek the Cross, or make it, but bear it, and take it up; not to fill the Cup our selves, but to drink it off, when God puts it into our hands to take it up; when we cannot avoid it without Sin, or a breach upon our Consciences, we are not to shift then, or avoid it by unlawful means:
2. Positively: To bear it patiently and willingly, when we cannot avoid it with∣out Sin. When we are brought into a Necessity of either Suffering or Sinning, in such cases there must be a chearful, free, voluntary submission of our selves to suffer the whole Will of God. To take up the Cross implyeth,
- (1.) Faithfulness and Integrity without shifting.
- (2.) Patience and Submission without murmuring.
- (3.) Joy and Chearfulness without fainting.
(1.) Faithfulness and Integrity without Shifting. Many distinguish themselves out of their Duty, and when God calleth them to suffering put a Fallacy upon their Souls, Gal. 6.12. As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they con∣strain you to be Circumcised, only lest they should suffer persecution for the Cross of Christ. They cannot live without Honour, and Ease, and Plenty, and therefore turn and wind themselves to shift the Cross. Our Lord Jesus offered himself; Psal. 40.7, 8. Then said I, lo I come, in the Volume of the Book it is written of me, I de∣light to do thy will, O my God! yea thy Law is within my heart: So should we resign our selves when the Will of God is so, and give up the Comforts of our Lives, when we can hold them no longer, and be glad we have something of value to esteem as nothing for Christ. The Apostle speaks of some, who are Enemies of the Cross of Christ, whose God is their Belly, whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things, Phil. 3.18, 19. Multum interest inter Theologum gloriae, & Theologum crucis. Men that have no love to God, but only serve their fleshly Appetites, and look no higher than Riches, and Honours, and Pleasures, and Applause, will never be faithful to Christ. There are a sort of Men that study to save them∣selves, not from Sin, but from Danger, and accordingly accommodate themselves to every Interest. As the men of Keilah dealt with David, they entertained him for a while, but when Saul pursued him, they resolved to betray him, they would come into no Danger and Trouble for him; so they deal with Religion.
2. Patience and Submission without Murmuring. We shew our Obedience to God in suffering his Will, as well as doing his Will: He is Soveraign in his Acts of Providence, as well as in his Laws. And this we must do without murmur∣ing or repining against God, as if he did us wrong, or did deal hardly with us. Isa. 30.15. In quietness and confidence shall be your strength; that is, in Faith and Patience, humbly submitting to Gods Will, and depending on his favour and gra∣cious Protection. There must be a submissive Attendance upon God, Psal. 62.1. Truly my Soul waiteth upon God, from him cometh my Salvation — Psal. 39.9. I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it; not uttering impatient words, God's Will silenceth all.
3. Chearful Behaviour under the Cross: Rom. 5.3. And not only so, but we glory in Tributation also. James 1.2. My Brethren, count it all joy, when ye fall into divers temptations. Afflictions to God's People do not only minister occasion of Patience, but great Joy, 2 Cor. 7.4. I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. I overflow with Joy. A dejected Spirit doth not behave it self answerably to its Principles, Priviledges and Hopes. Are you at peace with God, and have you Communion with him at every turn? And have you Hopes of Glory, and are you so troubled, when you are a little cut short in your Temporal Comforts? A Christian should be at an indifferency, to rejoyce as if he rejoyced not, and mourn as if he mourned not: Dejection of Spirit argueth too great addictedness Page 352 to worldly Comforts, and Love of Ease and Flesh-pleasing, and Ingratitude for all the Spiritual Good we have received: Shall God lay in such great Comforts, and after such great Receivings do you take it ill to be put to a little Expence? Iob 15.11. Are the Consolations of God small with thee? If you had a due sence of the World to come, you would be glad to keep your Conscience, thô you lose your Coat: Hebr. 10.34. Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in your selves that ye have in Heaven a better and an enduring substance. Rom. 8.18. For I reckon, that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Do you look for a Glory to be revealed in you? Then look upon all the Sufferings of this Life as a Feather put into the Scales against a Talent. We are to have a sense of our Condition, yet in regard of the Honour done to us, to bear a part of Christ's Cross, and in regard of the Comfort and Happiness provided for us, we should be chearful, that it may not be known to be an unwilling Patience, and extorted by force.
There is one Expression more, Luke 9.23. Let him take up his Cross daily. How daily? There are fair days as well as foul days, and the Face of Heaven doth not always look sad and lowring: How then are we to take up the Cross daily? I Answer,
1. It notes a daily expectation of it, the first day that we begin to be Christi∣ans, we must reckon on the Cross. Mat. 16.24. If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his Cross, and follow me. These words are the Chri∣stians Indenture, and every one must Seal to this before he can call Christ Ma∣ster. As Porters stand in a Street waiting for a Burden for them to carry, so must a Christian be ready and prepared to meet with any hardship, which God may lay out for him in his Christian Course. Or as the Israelites eat the first Passeover with their loins girded, their shooes on their feet, and their staff in their hand. Exod. 12.11. as ready for a Journey; so should a Christian be ready to go forth at God's Call. Acts 21.13. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, I am ready not to be bound only, but also to dye at Ierusalem for the Name of the Lord Iesus — Evils familiarized are less bur∣densome; by renewing our daily Resolution the evil is the less when it cometh.
2. The Frequency of our Conflicts, as if every day there were some exercise for our Faith and Patience. We are not to prescribe to God how long, or how much Affliction he shall exercise us with: No, thô it were all the days of our Lives we must be content, it is but a moment to Eternity. We must take up our Cross as often as it lyeth in our way, and we cannot baulk it without Sin, Gen. 47.9. Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been.— Man is Born to Trouble. The World is a Valley of Tears, not the Mount of the Lord, where is fulness of Joy. If there were no Cross, we should not be in Tune and Con∣sort with the rest of the World, for here all the Creatures are a groaning.
3. The Word [Daily] sheweth, That private and personal Calamities are a part of the Cross as well as the Afflictions of the Gospel, and for the Profession of the Name of Christ. Afflictions are either for God, or from God: Sickness and Death of Friends, and loss of Estate by an immediate Providence, are a part of our Cross: There is an enduring Persecution for the Name of Christ, and an enduring Affliction at the Will of Christ. Ordinary Crosses do not exclude the Comforts of Christianity; these occasion Experience of God, and Tryal of Grace, and are a part of God's Discipline for the mortifying of Sin, and are happy op∣portunities to discover more of God, and of Grace to us: Yea there is more Rea∣son for Submission in these, because God taketh us into his own hands. A Man that stormeth when a Bucket of water is cast upon him, is patient when he is wet with the Rain that cometh from Heaven.
II. The Reasons why those that follow Christ should prepare their Shoulders for the Cross.
1. That we may be conformed to our Head. He had a bitter Cup tempered for him by his Father's hand. Iohn 18.11. The Cup that my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? and we must pledge him. Jesus Christ was a Man of Sorows, and acquainted with grief, Isa. 53.3. And there would be a strange dispro∣portion between Head and Members, if we should altogether live in Delicacy, Ease, and Pleasures. The bitter Cup goeth by course and round, first to Christ, Page 353 then to his Apostles, and it goeth from hand to hand ever since. The Apostle speaks of 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Col. 1.24. that which is behind of the afflicti∣ons of Christ. There is Christ personal, and Christ mystical: Christ personal, as he is compleat in himself, so his Sufferings are compleat; but the Sufferings of Christ mystical are not perfect, until every Member have their own allotted share and portion. Indeed our Sufferings are but the drops upon the brim of the Cup, he drank up the Dreggs: The great Wave of Affliction did first beat upon him, and being thereby broken, some small sprinklings of it do light upon us; we bear the hinder part of the Cross of Christ. It is but Reason that those that will partake with Christ in his Kingdom, should be partakers with him in his Sorrows, and that the Souldiers should follow the Captain of their Salvation, Heb. 2.10. and fare as he fared, Iohn 15.20. Remember the word that I said un∣to you, the Servant is not greater than the Lord; if they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. We cannot in Reason expect better entertainment than he found in the World: If you had an high esteem of Christ, and a low esteem of your selves, you would easily consent to submit to the Will of God herein. It is an unseemly daintiness to be nice and tender of carrying the Cross after Jesus Christ, as if we were better than he. Many Christians will seem to express much Devotion to a Crucifix, or those Chips of Wood which Impostors cry up for pieces of the Cross of Christ; but here is true respect to the Cross of Christ, to be willing for Christ's sake to bear afflictions with patience and humble submissi∣on. The Apostle counted all things but dross and dung, Phil. 3.10. That I may know him, and the power of his Resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, be∣ing made conformable to his death. There is a great deal of sweetness and spiritu∣al Comfort in suffering after, for, and with Christ; we should count all things dung and dross to gain this Experience. This should be comfort enough to a gra∣cious heart, that thereby he is made more like his Lord and Master.
2. Because of the World's hatred, Ioh. 15.19. If ye were of the World, the World would love it• own; but because ye are not of the World, but I have chosen you out of the World, therefore the World hateth you. A thorough Christian will be sure to meet with opposition; we are told, 2 Tim. 3.12. Yea and all that will live godly in Christ Iesus, shall suffer Persecution. If a Man will be lukewarm, not caring how things goe, he may find Frien•dship with the World; but he that hath any Zeal and Conscience, and would be faithful, the World will hate him as an Object reviving guilt, 1 Ioh. 3.12. Not as Cain, who was of that wic∣ked one, and slew his Brother; and wherefore slew he him? because his own works were evil, and his Brothers righteous. The Spiritual and Carnal Seed cannot a∣gree, Gal. 4.29. For as then he that was born after the Flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, so it is now.
3. It is needful in order to our following Christ, that our Pride and Carnal Affections should be broken by the Cross, 1 Pet. 1.6. Now for a Season (if need be) ye are in heaviness through manfold Temptations. There is a need of the Cross to reclaim us from our wanderings, to cut off the Provisions and Fuel of our Lusts, to make us mindful of heavenly things, and that we may retreat to our great Priviledges, and to humble us for sin, to stir us up to Prayer, and to wean us from the World. Tribulatio tam nobis necessaria est quàm ipsa vita, immo magis necessaria, & multò utilior quàm totius mundi opes & dignitates: Affliction is as ne∣cessary to us as Life it self, yea more necessary and profitable than all the Wealth and Honours of the World: And therefore being so necessary and pro∣fitable for us, we should be willing to take up the Cross.
1 VSE. Is of Information: It informeth us
(1.) With what Thoughts we should take up the stricter Profession of Christi∣anity, namely, with expectations of the Cross. We cannot but expect great inconveniencies and troubles in Christ's Service, therefore let us not flatter our selves. Many think they may be good Christians, and yet live a Life of Ease and Peace, free from Troubles and Afflictions: This is all one as if a Souldier going to the Wars should promise himself Peace and continual Truce with the Enemy; or as if a Mariner committing himself to the Sea for a long Voyage, should promise himself nothing but fair Weather, and a calm Season, without Page 354 Waves and Storms; so irrational it is for a Christian to promise himself a Life of Ease and Rest here upon Earth.
(2.) That a Christian had need be a Mortified and Resolute Man.
1. A Mortified weaned Man: That which is la•e is soon turned out of the way, Heb. 12.13. If we have any weak part in our Souls, there the assault will be most strong and fierce. A Garrison that looketh to be Besieged, takes Care to fortifie the weak places, and where there is any suspition of Entrance; so should a Christian mortifie every corrupt Inclination, lest it betray him, be it Love of Honour, Pleasure or Profit.
2. He had need be a resolved Man, his Feet shod with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace, Eph. 6.15. or else in hard ways he will soon founder and halt: That 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that Preparation is a resolved mind to go through thick and thin, and to follow Christ in all Conditions. Well then, it is no easie matter to be a Christian indeed: Nature in the general is against bearing the Cross: Christ himself, his Humane Nature recoyled and shunned it, without sin: and to us it is more grievous to suffer, Heb. 12.11. No affliction for the present seemeth to be joyous but grievous: And besides, Lusts if they be not purged out, will tempt us to stumble, and we need to be armed with great Resolution, or else after we have launched out into the deep with Christ, we shall be ready to run ashoar again: Now most Christians are not mortified, and so they trip up their own heels. Most Christians are not resolute, and do but take up Religion as a Walk for Recreation, not as a Journey, so as to be prepared for all Weathers.
3. What Fools they are that take up Religion upon a Carnal Design of Ease and Plenty in the World, they quite mistake it: There are Inconveniencies that attend Religion in peaceable times, but the Profession will afterwards engage us in the greater troubles; and therefore Men do but make way for the shame of a Change, and other Inconveniencies to themselves, that hope for temporal Com∣modity by the Profession of the Gospel. The great drift of the Gospel is to draw us off from the Comfort of this World to the Concernments of a better, and to bring us to follow a naked Christ upon unseen Encouragements; therefore they that have Temporal things in their Eye, quite change the Nature of the Gospel, and make Christ another Christ.
4. That the course which Christ taketh to draw in Proselytes, is quite different from that of Satan and the World: Satan sheweth us the Bait, and hideth the Hook, but Christ telleth us the worst at first. The World useth to invite fol∣lowers with Promises of Honours and Riches, and Christ telleth us not of the Crown, but the Cross: Why so? partly to discourage Hypocrites, who will come and cheapen and taste, but will not buy; Christ will not deceive them, but have them count the Charges: Partly to forearm his People, that they account affli∣ctions▪ will come, and prepare accordingly. We entered upon the ways of God∣liness on these Terms, to be willing to suffer Afflictions when the Lord seeth fit, and therefore we should arm our selves with a mind to endure them, whe∣ther they come or no. God never intended Isaac should be sacrificed, yet he will have Abraham lay the Knife to his throat: Partly because Sorrows foreseen leave not so sad an impression upon the spirit, the evil is more familiarized before it cometh: Iob 3.25. For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me: When we suffer our fears to prophesie, and do expect evils, they smart less; praecogitati mali mollis ictus; but when they come unlooked for, it is the more burdensome: He saith his Lesson best that often con∣ned it over. Partly because it allayeth the offence, when we see nothing befall∣eth us but what we were warned of before-hand, Ioh. 16.1. These things have I spoken to you, that ye should not be offended: And Ver. 4. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. The Scripture speaketh nothing at random; we pretend to believe them when they are read, and yet we complain when they are fulfilled. For all these Reasons it is necessary that those that will be Christ's Disciples, must be forewarned in peace∣able times of approaching Troubles, and the rather because we are so apt still to promise great things to our selves.
Page 3552 VSE. Is of Reproof of several sorts.
1. Of those that suffer per Force, by compulsion and constraint, not willingly. It is not enough to bear the Cross, but we must take it. It is said of the three Children, That they yielded their Bodies, that they might not Serve nor Worship any God, except their own God, Dan. 3.28. that is, they chearfully suffered themselves to be cast into the Furnace, rather than Worship any but the true God. Many suffer, but it is unwillingly and against stomach, with repining and impatience under the Hand of God, like refractory Oxen, that draw back, and are loth to submit their Necks to the Yoke, especially such as have not been acquainted with sufferings. Patience per force is no true Patience, little better than the Pa∣tience of the Devils and Damned in Hell, who suffer Misery and Torment against their Wills, being forced to it. Rebellion and want of Subjection is the very Curse of Crosses, it maketh the burden heavier than otherwise it would be, and causeth God to redouble his strokes, as a stubborn Child under the Rod hath the more blows.
2. Those that murmur not against the Cross in general, but such a Cross, if it were any other they could bear it. Christ saith, Take up the Cross, indefinite∣ly, whatever God is pleased to lay on us; we must not be our own Carvers, but stand to God's allowance: The Patient is not to choose his own Physick, God knows what is best for us. Men under their Troubles wish that God would afflict them in another kind, lay any trouble upon them rather than that which is laid, and think they could bear it better: The poor Man wisheth any other Cross but Poverty, the sick Man he could bear Poverty better than the Pain of Sickness; he that hath a long and lingring sickness wisheth for a sharp fit so it might be short; and on the contrary another feeling a sharp and violent Sickness, could wish for a longer, so it were less painful. Thus we are apt to dislike our Cross which God layeth on us for the present: But this is Disobedience to God and Folly too, for if God should leave us to our selves to choose our own Crosses, we should choose worse for our selves than the Lord doth, that affliction which is hurtful and dangerous for us. The Lord knows what is best for us, and in what Vein to strike us.
3. Those that desert their Duty and their Station, as being discouraged by the Cross: These are more culpable than the former, Psal. 125.5. As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of ini∣quity: He had been speaking of the rod of the wicked resting on the lot of the righ∣teous, Ver. 3. and therefore by them that turn aside he meaneth such as dare not trust God, nor adhere to the Comfort of the Promises; these are in the same rank with open Enemies, Rev. 21.8. The fearful and unbelieving are joined together.
4. Those that seek to make their worldly advantage, and the Profession of the Gospel agree further than they ever will; and when they cannot frame the World and their Conveniencies to the Gospel, they will fashion a Gospel to the World and their carnal Courses in it: It is pity such had not been of the Lord's Coun∣cel, when he first contrived and preached the Gospel, that they might have help∣ed him to some discreet and mild course, that would have served the turn for Heaven and Earth; but do what ye can, the way is narrow that leadeth to life, Mat. 7.14. Take my yoke upon you, &c. and ye shall find rest unto your souls, Matth. 11.29.
5. Those that suffer, but it is for their evil doing; these take not up the Cross of Christ, but the Cross of the Thieves: Or if a Man put himself upon needless danger, he taketh not up Christ's Cross, but his own, and so hath his amends in his own hands: Afflictions so coming may be sanctified by Repentance, good in their Use, though not in their Cause. When we suffer for our faults, we ought to bear it patiently, but we cannot suffer so chearfully, 1 Pet. 4.15. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil doer, or as a busie body in other mens matters.
3 VSE. To press us to take up the Cross, and to take heed of grudging and heartless discouragement. Now that you may so take up the Cross, see the Hand and Counsel of God in it: So it was as to Christ's Cross, Acts 2.23. Him being Page 356 delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledg of God, ye have taken, and by wic∣ked hands have crucifyed and slain: Joh. 18.11. The Cup which my Father hath given me, &c. and so as to the Christian's Cross, 1 Thes. 3.3. That no man should be mov∣ed by these afflictions, for your selves know that we are appointed thereunto. All things must obey God's appointment, and every one must yield up himself to the dispo∣sal of God: And we have Christ's Example, who took up his Cross for us, and doth not call us, but to walk in such ways as he hath trodden before us, 1 Pet. 2.21. For even hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: He hath paved the way with the blessing of his Example, whatever the Cross be: Are we Banished our Countrey? Our Lord Jesus was a stranger upon Earth, and when he was in the Cradle he was carryed into Egypt: Are you poor? you cannot be poorer than Christ, who had not where to rest his Head: Are you constrained to hard Fare? He thought a draught of Water a courtesie, Iohn 4.7. Iesus saith unto her, Give me to drink: And on the Cross they gave him Vinegar to drink, when he was athirst: Christ Preached in a Boat in the midst of the Waves: Do but read the History of Christ's Life, and the hardship he endured, and will you be scandalized at a little suffer∣ing? Are you reproached? Christ himself was called a Devil, accused of Blas∣phemy and Sedition, and you must not think to be better used than he was: Quum Christus ipse crucem & supplicia passus sit, tantùm illis pretii accessit, ut nemo istis dignus sit, saith Luther: Since Christ hath endured the Cross, there hath such a Value and Honour accrued to it thereby, that no Man is worthy to have this Honour put upon him. We bear it together with Christ, Rom. 8.26. The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉: 1 Cor. 10.13. He will with the Temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it: Such a Master may well expect chearful Servants. He will give us Peace and Comfort in all our Sufferings, Iohn 16.33. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace; in the World ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have over∣come the World: 2 Cor. 1.5. For as the Sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our con∣solation also aboundeth by Christ. Iacob when he slept, and had an heap of Stones for his Pillow, had then the Visions of God; and usually when we are taken off from the Comforts of the World, then we have the clearest manifestations of the Love of God, Rom. 5.5. The Love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us. It is an Honour for us to suffer with Christ, and for Christ, Phil. 1.29. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake: And all this, how bitter soever it be for the present, will end well, Acts 14.22. We must through many tribulations enter into the Kingdom of God. After this howling Wilderness there will be a Ca∣naan. We have had our times of good, and is it nothing to pass over so much of our time in Peace and Comfort? Iob 2.10. Shall we receive good at the hands of God, and shall we not receive evil?
4 VSE. If all that enter themselves Disciples of Christ must prepare for the Cross, then are we indeed prepared for it? You will think all this needeth not in times of Peace, when Religion is under the Covert and Protection of the Laws, and we are not called to the Afflictions of the Gospel; yet certainly such questi∣ons as these are not to be entertained coldly and carelesly. Have you prepared your shoulders for the Cross of Christ? it is necessary to put it to you,
1. Because of private Crosses, which are incident to all, such as Loss of Goods and Relations, Pains of Body, Sickness, Reproach, Contempt, and the like. There is none get out of the World without some Execises, 1 Pet. 5.9. Knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your Brethren that are in the World: Heb. 6.12. That ye be not slothful, but followers of them, who thro▪ Faith and Patience inherit the Promises. All the Heirs of Salvation have their Conflicts before they come to enjoy their Hopes. The Earth is a middle place between Heaven and Hell, and partaker of both; it is only evil that is in Hell, and only good that is in Hea∣ven; but here our State is mixed, our Afflictions are tempered with some Com∣forts, and our Comforts seasoned with some Afflictions. Earth must be Earth, and Heaven must be Heaven; here we must expect our Tryals, Iob 2.10. Shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord, and shall we not receive evil? therefore we Page 357 need to be provided; there is Good that need to be tryed, and Bad that need to be purged out.
2. Because we should be always ready to encounter the greatest difficulties: Tho' we do not always lye under Tribulations and Persecutions, yet we should be alwayes prepared, Preparatione Animi, as Ioseph prepar'd for the Years of Scarcity in the Years of Plenty. The wise Virgins had not only Oyl in their Lamps, but Oyl in their Vessels; we should not only have Grace for present use, but a∣gainst future Temptations. Now have you indeed this Preparation of Heart? and because a Man may crack and vaunt it before the Temptation cometh, let us consider who hath this Preparation of Heart, so as chearfully, willingly, and patiently to bear the Cross; and who hath it not.
1. He that is not Strict and Holy in a time of Peace, will not be chearful in a time of Trouble, Acts 9.31. Then had the Churches rest, &c. and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied: When we are not called to Passive Obedience, and Suffering, our active Obedience should be more chearfully performed. Now where is it so? Our Fathers suffered more willingly for Christ than we speak for him; they were not ashamed to dye for a Crucifyed Jesus, they endured the Fire better than we can a Frown or Scoff.
2. He that is not mortified to the World, but loveth a Flesh-pleasing Life, is but ripening himself for Apostacy, Iames 5.5. Ye adulterers, and adulteresses! know ye not that the friendship of the World is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a Friend of the World, is the Enemy of God. A fond and delicate Person, that hath a Value for Worldly Contentments, will be grieved when he cometh to part with them: He that is corrupted with Prosperity, will be dejected with Ad∣versity; but no Man is prepared but he that is Crucifyed to the World by the Cross of Christ, that liveth in a holy Weanedness in the midst of his present Enjoy∣ments, Gal. 6.14. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Iesus Christ, by whom the World is crucifyed to me, and I unto the World.
3. He that is not abounding in Charity, and willing to part with Temporal things in a way of free distribution, will be loth to part with them by constraint, and by way of Sacrifice and voluntary Surrender to God, when he calls for them. I offer this, because the Churches that were free from Persecution, are still charg∣ed with the Duty of Charity; and it is a general Precept, Gal. 6.10. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the houshold of Faith: Because he that will not part with his Superfluities wil∣lingly to God, will never part with his Substance and the main of his Estate with rejoycing, when it is made a Prey to the Violence of Men. It is irrational to think, that he that grudgeth at a Command, that requires him to part only with a little of his Temporal Conveniencies, will not storm at the Violence, when all is taken away: Iames 5.1. Go to now, ye rich Men! weep and howl for your mise∣ries that shall come upon you. There are their howling times, when that Wealth which they sat abrood upon, is taken away in an instant.
4. He that cannot digest lighter Afflictions, how will he bear greater? Ier. 12.5. If thou hast run with the Foot-men, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with Horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Iordan? The Prophet was all in a Pet, because the Men of his Town and Neighbourhood had conspired against him, and were very troublesome to him: God tells him, If thou canst not bear this, how wilt thou do when thou art exposed to greater Tryals? There are pri∣vate Persecutions, therefore Father and Mother are put into the Catalogue of things to be renounced by us, when we take to Christ, Luke 14.26. If any Man come to me, and hate not his Father, and Mother, and Wife, and Children, and Bre∣thren, and Sisters, yea and his own Life also, he cannot be my Disciple. If a Frown, and Disgrace, and loss of Preferment, be so much, how will you endure Rapine, and Torture, and all manner of Violence and Evil?
5. He that begrudgeth a little Pains for God, and counts it so tedious to Con∣verse with him a little while in Duties of Holiness, and reckons all labour too much, and is loth to strive to enter in at the strait gate, Luk. 13.24. how will he endure Torments, and expose the Body to all kind of Sufferings? Necesse est, ut ei honestum vile sit, cui corpus charum est: He that is so tender of his Ease, so de∣licate Page 358 that he cannot endure the Labours of the Gospel, how will he bear the Affli∣ctions of the Gospel? If it be irksom to put the Body to a little trouble in Pray∣er, or Meditating, or other Holy Duties, how will he rejoice in the midst of all Tribulations that shall befall him for Christ's sake? Thus you see how few are prepared for the Cross.