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grace; and the looking even to that inheritanco makes them go cheerfully through all pains and troubles here, as light and momentary, and not worth the naming in comparison of that glory that shall be revealed, Rom. viii. 16-18. In the mean time, the best and most easy condition of the sons of God, cannot satisfy them, nor stay their fighs and groans, waiting and longing for that day of their full redemptio, ib. ver. 23.
Now, this is the great rule, not only for servants, but for all the servants of God, in what estate soever, to set the Lord always before them, Psal. xvi. 8. and to study with St Paul, to have a conscience void of offence towards God and man, Acts xxiv. 16.; to eye, and to apply constantly to their actions, and their inward thoughts, the command of God; to walk by that rule abroad, and at home in their houses, and in the several ways of their calling; as an exact workman is ever and anon applying his rule to his work, and squaring it; and from conscience towards God, to do and suffer his will cheerfully in every thing, being content that he chose their condition and their trials for them; only desirous to be assured, that he hath chofen them for his own, and given them right to the glorious liberty of the fons of God, Rom. viii. 21. still endeavouring to walk in that way that leads to it; overlooking this moment, and all things in it; accounting it a very indifferent matter what is their outward ftate here in this moment, provided they may be happy in eternity. Whether we be high or low here, bond or free, it imports little, seeing all these differences will be so quickly at an end, and there shall not be so much as any track or footstep of them left with particular men.
It is so in their graves ; you may distinguish the greater from the less by their tombs, but by their dust you cannot: And with the whole world it shall be so in the end. All monuments and palaces, with cottages, shall be made fire, as our Apostle tells us, The elements fall melt with fervent heat, and the earth and all the works tberein mall be burnt up, 2 Pet. iii. 10.
Ver. 21. For even bereunto were je called ; because
Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example,
that ye pould follow his steps. 22. Who did no fin, neither was guile found in his
mouth. 23. Who when he was reviled, reviled not again ; when
be suffered, he threatened not ; but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously. THE rules that God hath set noen to live by are
universally just, and there is an universal obligation upon all men to obey them; but as they are particularly addressed to his own people in his word, they are out of question particularly bound to yield obedience, and have many peculiar persuasives to it, that extend not to others, which are therefore usually represented to them, and pressed upon them in the holy Scriptures. Thus the preface of the laws runs to Israel ; besides that, I am Jehovah, and have supreme power to give men laws, is added, I am thy God, especially thy Deliverer from slavery and bondage, and so have a peculiar right to thy obedience; so Deut. vii. 6. Thus the Apostle here urgeth this point in hand, of inoffensiveness and patience, particularly in Christian servants: But so as it fits every Christian in his station, for bereunto, says he, ye are called. Whatsoever others do, though they think this too strait a rule, yet you are tied to it by your own calling and profession, as you are Christians; and this is evidently the highest and clearest reason that can be, and of greatest power with a Christian, namely, the example of Jesus Christ himself; for Christ also suffered for us, &c.
So it is all but one entire argument, that they ought thus to behave themselves, because it is the very thing they are called to, as their conformity to
Jesus Christ, whose they profess to be, yea, with whom, as Christians, they profess themselves to be one.
Hereunto were ye called.] This, in the general, is a thing that ought to be ever before our eye, to consider the nature and end of our calling, and to endeavour in all things to suit it ; to think in every occurrence, What doth the calling of a Christian require of me in this? But the truth is, the most do not mind this ; we profefs ourselves to be Chriftians, and never think what kind of behaviour this obliges us to, and what manner of persons it becomes us to be in all holy converfation, but walk disorderly out of our rank, inordinately. You that are profane, were you called by the gospel to serve the world and your lufts, to swearing, and rioting, and voluptuousness? Hear you not the Apostle testifying the contrary, in express terms, That God bath not called us to uncleanness, but unto holiness? 1 Thef. iv. 7. You that are of proud contentious fpirits, are you suitable to this holy calling ? No, for we are called to peace, i Cor. vii. 15. says the same Apostle : But we ftudy not this holy calling, and therefore we walk so incongruously, so unlike the gospel, we lie, and do not the truth, as St John speaks, 1 John i. 6. our actions belie us.
The particular things that Christians are here faid to be called to, are suffering as their lot, and patience as their duty, even under the most unjust and undeserved sufferings.
And both these are as large as the sphere of this calling. Not only servants, and others of a mean condition, who, lying low, are the more subject to rigours and injuries, but generally all, who are called to god. liness, are likewise called to sufferings, 2Tim. iii. 12. All that will follow Chrift, must do it in his livery ; they must take up their cross. This is a very harsh and unpleasing article of the gospel to a carnal mind, but it conceals it not. Men are not led blindfold upon sufferings, and drawn into a hidden snare by the gospel's invitations : They are told very often,
that they may not pretend a surprisal, nor have any just plea for starting back again, as our Saviour tells his disciples, why he was so express and plain with them in this, Tbese things, says he, bave I told you, that you be not offended, John xvi. 1. I have shewed you the ruggedness of your way, that you may not ftumble at it, taking it to be a sinooth plain one; But then where this is spoke of, it is usually allayed with the mention of those comforts that accompany these sufferings, or that glory that follows them. The doctrine of the Apostles, which was so exactly verified in their own persons, was this, Acts xiv. 22. That through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God. An unpleasant way indeed, if you look no further, but there is a kingdom at the end of it, and the kingdom of God will transfuse pleasure into the most painful step in this way. It seems a fadcondition, that falls to the share of godly men in the world, to be eminent in forrows and troubles. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, Psal. xxxiv. 19.; but that which follows weighs them abundantly down in consolation, that the Lord himself is engaged in their afflictions, both for their deliverance out of them in due time, and, in the mean time, for their support and preservation under them; The Lord delivers them out of them all. And till he does that, he keepeth all their bones, &c. which was literally verified in the natural body of Christ, as St John observes, John xix. 36. and holds spiritually true in his mystical body. The Lord supports the spirits of believers in their troubles with such folid confolations, as are the pillars and strength of their souls, as the bones are of their body, as the Hebrew word for them imports, so be keepeth all his bones; and the desperate condition of wicked men is oppofed to this, to illustrate it, ver. 21. But evil mall say the wicked.
Thus John xvi. in the clofe, they are forewarned what to expect at the world's hands, as they were divers times before in that same sermon : But it is a
sweet testament, take it altogether, ye mall have tribulation in the world, but peace in me ; and seeing he hath jointly bequeathed these two to his followers, were it not great folly to renounce such a bargain, and to let go that peace for fear of this trouble? The trouble is but in the world, but the peace is in Him, who weighs down thousands of worlds.
So, then, they do exceedingly mistake and misreckon, that would reconcile Christ and the world, that would have the Church of Chrift, or at least themselves for their own shares, enjoy both kinds of peace together; would willingly have peace in Chrift, but are very loth to part with the world's peace; they would be Christians, but they are very ill satisfied when they hear of any thing but ease and prosperity in that estate, and willingly forget the tenor of the Gospel in this ; and so when times of trouble and sufferings come, their minds are as new and uncouth to it, as if they had not been told of it before-hand, They like better St Peter's carnal advice to Chrift, to avoid suffering, Matth. xvi. 22. than his Apoftle's doctrine to Christians, teaching them, that as he suffered, so they likewise are called to suffering. Men are ready to think as Peter did, that Chrift should favour himself more in his own body, his Church, than to expose it to so much fuffering ; and most would be of Rome's mind in this, at least in affection, that the badge of the Church should be pomp and prosperity, and not the cross; the true cross of afflictions and sufferings is too heavy and painful.
But God's thoughts are not ours; those whom he calls to a kingdom, he calls to sufferings, as the way
He will have the heirs of heaven know, they are not at home on earth, and that this is not their reft. He will not have them with the abused world fancy a happiness here, and seek a happy life in the region of death, as St Augustin says *. The reproaches and wrongs that encounter them shall ele
vate * Beatam vitam quærere in regione mortis,