Imatges de pÓgina

? Say unto you, That it

innocent characters? How many religious ones, priests, and wives who appeared throughout their lives to serve God, and who perhaps slipped or fell but once, are under eternal punishment?—

The justice of God, to all certainty, views every sin with the same eye: it alike hates and condemns sin in whatever person it is found. Do we not here then see the unspeakable mercy of God, in not eternally destroying us who so often deserved it? And what, I ask you, can we suffer in our whole life that is equal to their eternal punishment? We, however, after so many sins are still unpunished and preserved. And if we do not affectionately regard, or if we lightly esteem these mercies of God, it is ingratitude, and we are in a certain hardened state of insensible unbelief,

Moreover, we may here consider the infidels, Gentiles, Jews, and infants ; who, if they had been blessed with the advantages that we have enjoyed, would not have been in hell, but in heaven; and would have committed far less sins. For this view Christ also sets before us, Matt. xi., “ Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have 'repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. Woe unto thee, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, thou shalt be brought down to hell, for if the mighty works which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom it would have shall be more more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee."

We here then see how much praise and love are due unto our ever blessed God, under every evil that comes upon us; when we bear in mind, that it is but as one spark of those evils which we deserve; which evils Job compares to the sea, and to the sand upon the sea-shore.



great mul

Here, we are to set before our eyes the titude of our adversaries and of evil men; and to consider first of all, how many evils there are that they have not brought upon our bodies, our property, our fame, and upon our souls, which they would have done, had not the overruling hand of God put it out of their power. And the higher any one is in station and rank, and the more widely he rules, to the more snares, plots, stratagems, revilings, and temptations of these adversaries is he exposed. In all which, he may see and know, that the hand of God is most conspicuously with him. But what wonder is it if we be touched now and then? mj But still, we are not to view the evils and miserable state of these men, so as to exult over them; but, that we may suffer with them; for they are exposed to all the same evils that we are ; as may be plainly seen in the preceding VIEWS. But they are more wretched than we are in this they are out of our society both corporal and spiritual. For the evils that we suffer are nothing to be compared to their state. They are under sin and unbelief, under the wrath of God, under the power of the devil

, and in the most wretched slavery to ungodliness and iniquity: so that, if the whole world should rise up and curse them, it could not imprecate on their heads greater curses than those under which they now lie.

If we seriously weigh all these things, we shall at once 'see, how distinguished a blessing the Almighty confers upon us, in permitting us. to endure some trifling inconvenience of our poor body, in faith, in the kingdom of Christ, and in the service of God: which inconvenience, in the midst of such a profusion of blessings, ought not indeed to be felt. Nay, the misery of the above-mentioned wretched creatures should appear such in the eyes of a Christian and a God.

fearing man, that he ought to consider his own troubles as joys. Hence, Paul exhorts the Philippians, chap. ii., that each of them should consider the things of another and not his own. And, (says he,)“ Let this mind be in

you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Who, being in the form of God—took upon him the form of a servant,” &c. That is, he, with the most pious affection, took upon him our form and bore our evils as if they were his own; and so laid aside, and emptied himself of, himself and his own blessings, that he was found altogether in the likeness of man; considering nothing beneath him, and being fully immersed in our evils.

Under the influence of this affection, and moved by the view of this example, the saints also are led to pray for the wicked; even for those of them who are their enemies, and to do all things after the example of Christ; and, forgetting the injuries and the acts of injustice done them, to consider only how they can deliver them from their evils; with which, they are far more deeply affected than with their own corporal evils : as Peter saith of Lot, 2 Pet. ii., “ That righteous man dwelling among them, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds.

You see, therefore, what a depth of evils is here opened up, and what an occasion is given for pitying and sympathizing; and also, of forgetting our own light afflictions; and moreover, of considering the love of God in permitting us to suffer such trivial evils, in comparison with what they have to endure. And the reason why we are so little affected with these things, is, because the eye of our heart is not sufficiently cleared to see the dreadful shame and misery of the man who is lying under sin; that is, separated from God and possessed by the devil.

For, who is there so steeled, who could not faint away at the miserable sight of those who lie at the doors of our churches, and at the corners of our streets, with their faces, noses, and eyes eaten up by disease, and with all the rest of their limbs so consumed by wounds and filth, that the mind might be horror-struck at the

sight of them, and the senses recoil at beholding them? And, to what would God lead us by setting before us these pitiable objects of our flesh and brotherhood? but, that he might thereby open the eyes of our mind, to see how far more dreadful a spectacle the soul of the sinner exhibits, even though he himself should be clothed in purple and gold, and be even in the midst of roses and lilies, like a son of Paradise ? And how many sinners are there in the world compared to one of these poor, filthy, and diseased creatures? — It is when we think nothing either of the magnitude or multitude of these infinite evils in our neighbours, that we are led to imagine, that every little evil that comes upon us is the only, or the greatest, evil there is.

But further-grant it to be necessary, that they should, as to corporal evils, be in a worse condition than ourselves : yet, supposing they had, and could obtain, all that they could wish for, what could they enjoy that is sweet or truly happy, while their conscience is unable to find rest? Is there any evil more dreadful than the biting sting of conscience? For Isaiah saith, chap. lvii., “ The wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” In such, therefore, you may see fulfilled that scripture, Deut. xxviii., “ The Lord "shall give thee a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind. And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night; and shalt have none assurance of thy life. In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even ! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning ! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes wherewith thou shalt see."

In a word, if any man should see all the evils of the wicked, whether they were his friends or his enemies, and rightly think of them, he would not only forget all his own evils, and consider his own afflictions as nothing, but would break out like Moses and the apostle Paul, requesting “ to die ” for their sakes, and

to be “

accursed from Christ," and to be “ blotted out of the book of life," that they might be delivered. For it was with this zeal and ardent love that Christ died for ùs, and descended into hell; leaving us an example, that we should be so concerned for the evils of others, that we should forget ourselves, yea bring evils upon ourselves for their sakes.



On the right hand are our friends : and, that our evils ought to be mitigated by theirs, Peter also teaches, 1 Epist. V., “Resist the devil strong in the faith; knowing, that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” Hence, the church requests in her prayers, that, being provoked to emulation by the examples of the saints, we should imitate their fortitude under sufferings. And she sings of what torments all the saints endured that they might obtain the martyrs' crown.

From the words and canticles of the church, we understand, that the festivals, memorials, churches, altars, names, and images of the saints were therefore held in honour and multiplied, that we might be animated by their examples to the enduring of those evils which they suffered. And, if they be held in honour to any other end besides this, the whole of that worship is nothing but superstition. For there are many who celebrate all these things to the intent that they might not endure those evils, which the saints, by their example and memorý, teach us to endure; and that they might not become like unto those whose festivals they celebrate, that they might be made like unto them.

But the Apostle, Heb. xii. handles this part of our consolation most beautifully, where he says,

“ Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the

« AnteriorContinua »