Page images
PDF
EPUB

paid him ten thousand-fold in the peace, courage, and comfort ic gave him in all the troubles of his life, which were great and wany.

Conscience must be the bearing shoulder on which the burden mustly, beware therefore it be not galled with guilt, or put out of joint by any fall into fin, it is sad bearing on such a shoulder ; inftead of bearing your burdens, you will not be able to bear its pain and anguish. To prevent this carefully observe these rules.

1. Over-awe your hearts every day, and in every place with the eye of God. This walking as before God will keep you upright, Gen xvii. 1. If you lo speak and live as those that know God sees you, such will be your uprightaess, that you will not care if all the world see you too. An artist came to Drufius, and offered to build him an house, fo contrived, that he might do what he would within doors, and no maa see him : Nay faid Drusius, fo build it that every one may fee.

2. Do no action, undertake no design, that you dare not preface with prayer; this is your rule, Phil. iv. 6. Touch not that you dare not pray for a blessing npon ; if you dare not pray, dare not to engage ; if you cannot send your prayers before, be confident, shame and guilt will follow after.

3. Be more afraid of grieving God, or wounding conscience, than of displeasing or losing all the friends you have in the world besides; look upon every adventure upon fin to escape danger to be the same thing as if you Mould link the ship to avoid one that you take to be a pirate ; or as the fatal mistake of two vials, wherein there is poison and physic.

4. What counsel you would give another, that give yourselves when the case shall be your owo ; your judgment is most clear, when interest is least felt. David's judgment was very upright, when he judged himself in a remote parable.

5. Be willing to bear the faithful reproofs of your faults from men, as the reproving voice of God; for they are no less when duly administred. This will be a good help to keep you upright, Psal. cxxxv. 23, 24. Let the righteous smite me,” &c. It is said of Sir Anthony Cope, that he shamed none so much as himself in his family-prayers, and desired the ministers of his acquaintance not to favour his faults; but tell me, said he, and spare not

6. Be mindful daily of your dying-day, and your great audit-day, and do all with respect to them. Thus keep your integrity and peace, and that will keep out your fears and ter, rors. VOL. IV.

K

Rule 9. Carefully record the experience of God's care over you, and faithfulnefs to you in all your past dangers and diftreffes, and apply them to the cure of your present fears and despondencies.

Recorded experieoces are excellent remedies, Exod. xvii. 14. " Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears " of Joshua." There were two things in that record; the victory obtained over Amalek, and the way of obtaining it by inceslaot prayer: and there are two things to be done to secure this mercy for their use and benefit in future fears, it must be recorded and rehearsed, preserved from oblivion, and seasonably produced for relief.

There are two special affistances given us against fear by ex. pericoce.

1. It abates the terror of sufferings.

2. It allifts faith in the promises. 1. Experience greatly abates the terror of sufferings, and makes them lefs formidable and scaring than other wife they would be. Fear faith, they are deep waters, and will drown us; experience faith, they are much shallower than we think; àod are safely fordable; others have, and we may pass through the Red-fea, and not be overwhelmed. Fear faith, the pains of death are unconceivable, tarp and bitter, the living little kaow what the dying feel; and to lye in a sinking prison in continual expectation of a cruel death, is an 'unsupportable 'evil: Experience contradicts all thefe falfe reports which make our hearts faint, as the second spies did the daunting stories of the first; and affures us prisons aod death are not, when we come home to them for Christ, what they feem and appear to be at a distance. Owhat a good report have those faithful men given, who have searched and tried these things! who have gone down themselves into the valley of the shadow of death, and feen what there is in a prison, and in death itself, so long as they were in fight and bearing, able by words or figos to contradict our false ootions of it. Oh what a fweet account did Pomponius Algerius give of his Tinking prison at Lyoas iš France ! dating all his letters whilft he was there, From the deteftable orchard of the Leonine prison; and when carried to Venice, io a letter from the prison there, he writes thus to his Christian friend; I shall utter that which scarce any will be lieve, I have found a nest of honey in the entrails of a lion, a para. dife of pleasure in a deep dark dungeon, in a place of forrow and death, trarquillity of hope and hfe. Oh! here it is that the Spirit of God and of glory relts upon us.

So blessed Mr. Shilpot, our own martyr, in one of his sweet

8

encouraging letters: O how my heart leaps (faith he) that! sam fo pear to eternal bliss ! God forgive me my pathankfulness

and unworthiness of fo great glory. I have fo much joy of the

reward prepared for me, the most wretched fioner, that though . I be in the place of darkpess and mouroing, yet I cannot lament,

but an night and day so joyful as though I were under no cross at all; in all the days of my life I was never fo joyful, the pame of the Lord be praised.'

Others have given the figoals agreed upon betwixt them and their friends in the midst of the flames, thereby, to the last, confirming this truth, that God makes the inside of sufferings quite another thing to what the appearance and outside of them is to feple. Thus the experience of others abates the terrors of sufferings to you; and all this is fully confirmed by the perfonal experience you yourselves have had of the supports and comforts of God, wherein foever you have conscientiously fuffered for his fake.

2. And this cannot but be a singular asliltaoce to your faith ; your own and others experiences, just like Aaron and Hur, ftay up the hands of faith on the one lide and the other, that they haog not dowo, whilft your fears, like those Amalekites, fall before you. For whar is experience, but the bringing down of the divine promiles to the test of fease and feeliog? It is our duty to believe the promises without trial and experiments, but it is easier to do it after so many trials; fo ihat your own and others -experiences, carefully recorded and seasonably applied, would be food to your faith, and a cure to many of your fears in a fuffering day

Rule 1o. You can never free yourself from finful fears, 'till you throughly believe and confider Christ's providential kingdom over all the creatures and affairs in this lower world.

Poor timorous souls! is there not a King, a fupreme Lord under whom devils and men are! hath not Chrilt the reigs of government in his hands? Mat. xxviii. 18. Phil. ii. 9, 10, 11, 12 Joho xvii. 2. Were this dominion of Chrift, and dependence of all creatures on him, well Audied and believed, it would cut off both our trust in men, and our fear of men; we should foon discero they have no power either to belp us or to hurt us, but what they receive from above. Our enemies are apt to over-rate their own power, in their pride, and we are as apt to over-rate it too in our fears. Knowejt thou not (faith Pilate to Christ) that I have power to crucify thee, and I have power to release ther! 9. d. Reluleft thou to answer -me? dost thou not ‘kuow wlio and what I am ? Yes, yes, faith Christ, I know thee well enough to be a poor impotent creature, who haft oo power at all but what is given thee from above; I know thee, and therefore do not fear thee. But we are apt to take their own boasts for truth, and believe their power to be such as they vainly vogue it to be; whereas in truth all our enemies are sustained by Christ, Col. i. 17. they are bounded and limited by Christ, Rev. ii. 10. Provideace hath its influences upon their hearts and wills immediately, Jer. XV. 11. Pfal. cvi. 46. So that they cannot do whatever they would do, but their wills as well as thelt hands are ordered by God. · Jacob was in Laban's and in Efau's hands; both hạted him, but aeither could hurt him. David was in Saul's hand, who hunted for him as a prey, yet is forced to dismiss him quietly, blessing instead of slaying him. Mélanéthon and Pomeron both fell into the hands of Charles V. than whom Christendom had not a more prudent prince, nor the church of Christ a fiercer enemy; yet he treats these great and active reformers gently, dismisseth them freely, not once forbidding them to preach or print the doctrinę which he fa much opposed and hated.

Oh Christian ! if ever thou wilt get above thy fears, fettle these things upon thy heart by faith,

1. That the reins of government are in Christ's hands; ener mies, like wild horses, may prance and tramp up and down the world, as though they would tread down all that are in their way; but the bridle of providence is in their mouths, and up: on their proud Decks, 2 Kings xix. 28. and that bridle hath a Atrong curb.

2. The care of the saints properly pertains to Chrift; he is the head of the body, Eph. i. 22, 23. our consulting head; and it were a reproach and dishonour to Christ, to fill our heads with distracting cares and fears, when we have fo wife an head to consult and contrive for us.

3. You have lived all your days upon the care of Christ hitherto; no truth is more manifest than this, that there hath been a wisdom beyond your own, that hath guided your ways, Jer. X. 23. a power above your own, that hath supported your burdeos, Psal. Ixxiii. 26. a (priog of relief out of yourselves that hath supplied all your wants, Luke xxii. 35. He hath perform. ed all things for you.

4. Jesus Christ hath secured his people by many promises to take care of them, how dangerous foever the times shall be Eccles. viii. 12. Pfal. lxxvi. 10. Amos ix. 8, 9. Rom. viii. 28. Oh! if these things were throughly believed and well improvede

1

fears could no more distract or afflict our hearts, than storms or clouds could trouble the upper region : but we forget his providences and promises, and are so justly left in the hands of our own fears to be afflicted for it.

Role Subject your carnal reasonings to faith, and keep your thoughts more under the government of faith, if ever you expect a composed and quiet heart in distracting evil times.

He that layeth aside the rules of faith, and measures all things by the rule of bis own shallow reason, will be his own bugbear; if reason may be permitted to judge all things, and to make its own inferences and conclusions from the aspects and appearan ces of second causes, your hearts shall have no rest day nor night; this alone will keep you in continual alarms. : And yet how apt are the best men to measure things by this rule, and to judge of all God's desigos and mysterious providegces by it! lo other things it is the judge and arbiter, and therefore we would make it so here too; and what it concludes and dictates we are prone to believe, because its dictates are backed and befriended by sepse, whence it gathers its intelligence and information. O quam sapiens argumentatrix fibi videtur ratio bumana ? How wife and Itrong do its arguments and conclusions seem to us! faith Luther. This carnal reason is the thing that puts us into such confusions of mind and thoughts. It is this that,

1. Quarrels with the promises, shakes their credit, and our confidence in them, Exod. v. 22, 23.

2. It is this that boldly limits the divine power, and assigos it boundaries of its own fixing, Psal. lxxviii. 20, 41..

3. It is carnal reason that draws desperate conclusions from providential appearances and aspects, i Sam. xxvii, 1. and prognosticates our ruin from them.

4. It is this carnal reason that puts us upon sinful shifts aod indirect courses to deliver and lave ourselves from danger, which do but the more perplex and entangle us, Isa. xxx. 15, 16.

5. It is mostly from our arrogant reasonings that our thoughts are discomposed and divided; from this fovotaio it is that they flow joto our hearts in multitudes when dangers are near, Pfal. xciv. 16. Psal. xlii. I.

All these mischiefs owe themselves to the exorbitant actings and intrusions of our carnal reasons; but these things ought Bot to be so, this is beside rule. For,

1. Though there be nothing in the matters of faith or provi. deace contrary to right reason, yet there are many things in

1

1

« PreviousContinue »