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objects to exercise our charity upon in this time of the general fufpension of trade and business, from an apprehenfion of approaching troubles; by reason whereof, both the numbers and neceffities of our poor are greatly and daily increafed among us; and befides the poor of our own nation, God hath fent us great numbers from abroad, I mean those who are fled hither for fhelter, from that violent form of perfecution which hath lately fallen upon them for the cause of our common religion. According to the compaffion we thew to them, we may expect that God will either preserve us from the like fufferings, or gracioufly fupport us under them. What do we know, but that God is now trying us, and hath purposely put this opportunity into our hands, of preventing, or mitigating, or thortening our own fufferings, according as we extend our charity and pity to thofe who have fuffered fo deeply for the cause of God, and his truth?

7. Provided in the laft place, and above all, that we be fincere in our religion, and endeavour to be univerfally good, and holy in all manner of converfation, and to abound in all the fruits of righteousnefs, which are by Jefus Chrift, to the praise and glory of God. This is the largeft fenfe of well-doing, and the moft neceffary of all the reft, to prepare us for fufferings, and to give us courage and conftancy under them; and likewife to engage the providence of God to a tender care of us, and concernment for us, if he fhall fee it fit to bring us into a state of suffering,

But if we live in open contempt and violation of God's laws, if we make no confcience of our ways and actions, we cannot poffibly have any wellgrounded truft and confidence in God, for he hates all the workers of iniquity, and his providence fets itself against them for evil. Bad men draw many mifchiefs and inconveniencies upon themselves, as the natural confequences of their actions; but befides this, the vengeance of God haunts and pursues evil-doers, and his juft providence many times involves them in many difficulties and dangers, befides and beyond the natural courfe of things: Upon

the

the wicked (fays David) he will rain fnares: So that as ever we expect the comfortable effects of the divine care and providence, we must live in a dutiful obedience to God's holy will and laws.

Bad men may make a profeffion of the true religion, and may in fome fort believe it, though they do not live according to it; and yet perhaps for all this, out of a mere generofity and obftinacy of mind, they cannot bear to be threatned and terrified out of the profeffion of the truth; and will endure a great deal of trouble and inconveniencies, before they will renounce it; knowing themfelves to be fo far in the right that they stand for the truth, and hoping perhaps thereby to make fome amends for their bad practice. But when all is done, nothing gives a man true courage and refolution, like the teftimony of our own hearts, concerning our own fincerity, and the confcience of well-doing. And on the contrary, he that hath not the refolution and patience to mortify his lufts, and to restrain his appetites, and to fubdue his irregular paffions for the fake of God and religion, will not easily bring himself to fubmit to great fufferings upon that account. There is confiderable difficulty in the practice of religion, and the refolute courfe of a holy life; but furely it is much easier to live as religion requires we fhould do, than to lay down our lives for it; and (as I have told you upon another occafion) he that cannot prevail with himself to live a faint, will much more hardly be perfuaded to dy a martyr. I pro

ceed to the

Third point, namely, what ground of comfort and encouragement the confideration of God, under the notion of a faithful Creator, does afford to us under all our fuffering for a good confcience and a good caufe. Let them that fuffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their fouls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator. And in this I fhall be very brief.

And this is a firm ground of comfort and encou ragement to us, under all our fufferings for God, to confider him as the author of our beings, or, as it is

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expreffed in the text, as a faithful Creator; one that is not fickle and inconftant in his affection and. kindness to his creatures; but is true to his own defign, and will not abandon and forfake the work of his own hands: So great a benefit as that of our beings, freely conferred upon us, is but an earnest of God's further kindness to us, and future care of us; if by our ill carriage towards him, we do not render ourselves unworthy and incapable of it. That we are God's creatures, is a demonstration that he hath a kindness for us: If he had not, he would never have made us; as it is excellently faid in the Wif dom of Solomon, chap. xi. 23, 24. Thou haft mercy upon all, for thou loveft all the things that are, and abhorret nothing which thou haft made: For never wouldst thou have made any thing, if thou hadst hated it. And ver. 26. Thou spareft all, for they are thine, O Lord, thou lover of fouls.

To whom then may we with fo much confidence commit ourselves, as to him who freely gave us our being? From whom may we expect fo tender a regard and confideration of our cafe, and all the cir cumstances of it, as from this great founder and benefactor? For he that made us knows our frame, and whereof we are made, and how much we are able to bear; he confiders our ftrength, or rather our weakness, and what courage and refolution he hath endued us withal, and what comfort and fupport we ftand in need of in the day of tribulation. And as they who make armour, are wont to try that which they think to be good and well tempered with a ftronger charge, not to break and hurt it, but to prove and praife it: So God exerciseth those whom he hath fitted and tempered for it, with manifold temptations, that the trial of your faith, as St. Pe ter expreffeth it, 1 Pet. i. 7. being much more precious than of gold tried in the fire, may be found unto praife, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jefus Chrift.

So that this confideration that we are God's creatures, does (as I may fay) oblige him in faithfulnefs to his own act, and in confequence of his bring

ing us into being at firft, to be concerned for us afterwards, fo as never to abandon us, nor quite to take away his loving kindness and mercy from us; till we are good for nothing, and do in a manner ceafe to be what he made us, that is, reasonable creatures. A perfon or people must have proceeded to the utmost degree of degeneracy, when God will confider them no longer as his creatures, nor fhew any pity or favour to them; things must be come to extremity, when God deals thus with us, as he threatned the people of Ifrael, Ifa. xxvii. 11. When the boughs are withered, they shall be broken off, and jet on fire; for it is a people of no understanding: Therefore he that made them, will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them, will fhew them no fa

vour.

And now I have done with the three points which I propofed to handle from this text, and the discourse which I have made upon them, does all along apply itself, by directing us how we ought to commit ourfelves to the providence of God, in all cafes of danger and fuffering, efpecially for the caufe of God, and his truth, viz. in the faithful difcharge of our duty and a good confcience, and by a firm trust and confidence in the wifdom and goodnefs of the divine providence; not doubting but that he who made us, and knows our frame, will have a tender care of us, and not fuffer us to be tempted above what we are able.

And as to our prefent danger, and that terrible ftorm which threatens us, let us pray to God, if it be his will, to divert it; but if otherways he hath determined, to fit and prepare us for it. And let us be fervent and earneft in our prayers to him, not that he is moved by our importunity, but that we may thereby be qualified and made fit to receive the mercy which we beg of him.

And let us take this occafion to do that which we fhould have done without it, to break off our fins by repentance, and to turn every one of us from the evil of our ways; that hereby we may render God propitious to us, and put ourfelyes under the more imme

diate care and protection of his providence, that we may prevent his judgments, and turn away his wrath and difpleasure from us, as he did once from a great and finful city and people, upon their fincere humiliation and repentance, Jonah iii. 10. where it is faid of the people of Nineveh, that God faw their works, that they turned from their evil way, and God repented of the evil that he had faid that he would do unto them, and he did it not. Above all, let us be fin cere in the profeffion of our religion, and confcientious in the practice of it; nothing will bear us up under great trials and fufferings, like the testimony of à good confcience, void of offence towards God and towards men.

I will conclude this whole discourse with those apoftolical bleffings and prayers, Col. i. 10, 11. That ye may walk worthy of the Lord, unto all pleafing, being fruitful in every good work, ftrengthened with all might according to his glorious power, unto all patience, and long-fuffering, with joyfulness. And 2 Theff. ii. 16, 17. Now our Lord Jefus Chrift himfelf, and God even our Father, who hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting confolation, and good, hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

VOL. V.

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