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of trouble? The fame promifes we find in the New Teftament. All things fhall work together for good to them that love God. God is faithful who hath promifed, that he will not fuffer you to be tempted above what ye are able, but will with the temptation make a way to escape. And to mention no more; hold fast the profeffion of your faith without wavering, he is faithful that hath promised, viz. to fupport you under fufferings, and to reward them.
Thus much for the first point, namely, that when men do fuffer truly for the caufe of religion, they may with confidence commit themselves to the more peculiar care of the divine providence.
The fupport of good men, under their fufferings for religion.
I PETER iv. 19.
Wherefore let them that fuffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their fouls to him in well-doing, as unto à faithful Creator.
The fecond fermon on this text,
Rom thefe words I propofed to confider thefe three points:
First, That when men do fuffer really and truly for the cause of religion, they may with confi dence commit themselves (their lives, and all that is dear to them) to the peculiar and more efpecial care of the divine providence.
Secondly, This we may do always, provided that we be careful of our duty, and do what is required on our part; and that neither to avoid fufferings,' nor to rescue ourselves out of them, we do any thing contrary to our duty and a good confcience; for
this is the meaning of committing ourselves to God in well-doing.
.. Thirdly, To fhew what ground of comfort and encouragement the confideration of God, under the notion of a faithful Creator, does afford to us, under all our fufferings for a good caufe and a good confcience.
The first of thefe points I have treated on at large in my former difcourfe. I proceed now to the
Second, Namely, when in all our fufferings for the caufe of religion, we may with confidence and good affurance, commit ourselves to the peculiar and more efpecial care of God's providence; this is to be underftood, always provided that we be careful of our duty, and do what is required on our part; and that neither to avoid fufferings, nor to rescue ourselves out of them, we do any thing contrary to our duty and a good confcience. And this I told you was the meaning of committing ourselves to God in welldoing; for if we either neglect our duty, or step out of the way of it, by doing things contrary to it, the providence of God will not be concerned to bear us out in fuch fufferings. So that in our fufferings for the cause of God and religion, to commit ourselves to him in well-doing, may reasonably comprehend in it thefe following particulars:
1. Provided always, that we neglect no lawful means of our prefervation from fufferings or our deliverance out of them. In this cafe men do not commit themselves to the providence of God, but caft themselves out of his care and protection; they do not truft God, but tempt him, and do as it were try whether he will stand by us, when we defert ourfelves, and bring us out of trouble, when we would take no care, would ufe no endeavours to prevent it. If we will needlefly provoke trouble, and run ourfelves upon fuffering, if we will neglect ourselves, and the lawful means of our prefervation; if we will give up, and part with thofe fecurities of our religi on, which the providence of God, and the laws of our country have given us; if we ourselves will help to pull down the fence which is about us; if we will
difarm ourselves, and by our own act expofe ourfelves naked and open to danger and fufferings; why fhould we think.in this cafe, that God will help us, when we would not help ourselves by thofe lawful ways which the providence of God hath put into our hands?
All truft in God, and dependence upon his providence, does imply, that we join prayer and endeavour together; faith in God, and a prudent and diligent ufe of means: If we lazily truft the providence of God, and fo caft all our care upon him, as to take none at all ourfelves, God will take no care of us. In vain do we rely upon the wisdom and goodness, and power of God; in vain do we imporfune, and tire heaven with our prayers, to help us against our enemies and perfecutors, if we ourselves will do nothing for ourselves: In vain do we hope that God will maintain and defend our religion against all the fecret contrivances and open affaults of our enemies, if we, who are united in the profeffion of the fame religion, and in all the effentials of faith and worship, will for fome fmall differences in leffer matters, which are of no moment, in comparifon of the things wherein we are agreed: I fay, if for fuch flight matters, we will divide and fall out among ourselves; if when the enemy is at the gates, we will fill purfue our heats and animofities, and will madly keep open thofe breaches, which were. foolishly made at firft; what can we expect, but that the common enemy fhould take the advantage, and enter in at them; and whilft we are fo unfeasonably and fenfelefly contending with one another, that they hould take the opportunity which we give them to deftroy us all.
2. Provided likewife that we do not attempt our prefervation or deliverance from fuffering, by evil and unlawful means: We must do nothing that is contrary to our duty, and to a good confcience; nor comply with any thing, or lend our helping hand thereto, that apparently tends to the ruin of our religion, neither to divert nor put off fufferings for the prefent, nor to refcue ourselves from under them; VOL. V. R
because we cannot with confidence commit ourselves to the providence of God, but in well-doing.
This is an eternal rule, from whence we must in no cafe depart, that men must do nothing contrary to the rules and precepts of religion, no, not for the fake of religion itself: We must not break any law of God, nor difobey the lawful commands of lawful authority, to free ourselves from any fufferings whatsoever; becaufe the goodness of no end can fanctify evil means, and make them lawful: We must not speak deceitfully for God, nor lie, no, not for the truth; nor kill men, though we could thereby do God and religion the greatest fervice. And though all the cafuifts in the world fhould teach the contrary doctrine (as they generally do in the church of Rome) yet I would not doubt to oppofe to all thofe, the fingle authority of St. Paul, who exprefly condemns this principle, and brands it for a damnable doctrine, that evil may be done by us that good may come. Rom. iii. 8. And not as we be flanderoufy reported, and as fome affirm that we fay, let us do evil that good may come, whose damnation is juft. St. Paul, it seems, looked upon it as a moft devilish calumny, to infinuate that the Chriftian religion gives the leaft countenance to fuch damnable doctrines and doings as thefe; and pronounceth their damnation to bejuft, who either teach any fuch principle, as the doctrine of Christianity, or practife according to it.
Let thofe look to it, who teach, that a right intention, and a good end, will render things, which are otherwise evil and unlawful, not only lawful to be done by us, but in many cases meritorious; efpecially where the good of the church, and the extirpation of herefy are more immediately concerned. Of this nature are the doctrines of equivocation and mental refervation, and the lawfulness of fuch artificial ways of lying, to avoid the danger of the law, when they are brought before heretical magiftrates; and this is the common doctrine of the most learned cafuifts of all orders in the church of Rome. And fuch likewife are their doctrines, of the lawfulness of extirpating hereticks, by the moft barbarous and
bloody means, and of breaking faith with them, though given by Emperors and Princes, in the moft publick and folemn manner, both which are the avowed doctrines of their general councils, and have frequently been put in practice, to the deftruction of many millions of Chriftians, better and more righteous than themselves. But we have not fo learned Chrift, who have heard him, and been taught by him as the truth is in Jefus. They who are rightly inftructed in the Chriftian religion, are fo far from thinking it lawful to do any thing that is evil, to bring others under fuffering, that they do not allow it in any cafe whatfoever, no, not for the caufe of God and religion, and to free themselves from the greatest fufferings that can be inflicted upon them.
3. Provided also, that we do truft the providence of God, and do indeed commit ourselves to it; relying upon his wisdom and goodness, and entirely fubmitting and refigning up ourfelves to his will and difpofal, both as to the degree and the duration of our lufferings; believing that he will do that for us which upon the whole matter, and in the final iffue and refult of things, will be beft for us. That bleffing, wherewith Mofes the man of God bleffed the people of Ifrael before his death, doth belong to good men in all ages be loveth his people, and all his faints are in his hand, Deut. xxxiii. 3. Innumerable are the promises in fcripture concerning the merciful providence and goodness of God,towards those who trust in him, and hope in his mercy, Pfal. xxxii. 10. Many forrows fhall be to the wicked: but he that trufteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about. Pfal. xxxiii. 18, 19, 20, 21, 22. Behold the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him; upon them that hope in his mercy to deliver their foul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our foul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield. For our heart fhall rejoice in him: because we have trufted in his holy name. Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in thee. Pfal. xxxiv. 22. The Lord redeemeth the foul of his fervants: and none of them that trust in him shall be defolate. Psal, xxxvii.