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eternal in the heavens. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon; that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: we are confident, say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent we may be accepted of him. According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour; yet what I shall choose I wot not.
SECT. 15., And by the glorious prospect of the eternal recompense provided in heaven for us.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world". Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Wherefore, call to remembrance the former days, in which after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great sight of afflictions; partly whilst ye were made a gazing stock, both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves, that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the
promised. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen, are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal f.
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father". For ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost". So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God, for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure, which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom for which ye also suffer; seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled, rest with us; when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels'; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe, wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations; that the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ'.
I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though
after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another, though my reins be consumed within me". I suffer trouble as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sake; that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. It is a faithful saying; for if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him". For the which cause, I also suffer these things; nevertheless, I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded, that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him, against that day. I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand; I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
SECT. 16. The Apostle John's vision of the felicity to be enjoyed in the kingdom of God by them who have suffered for his sake.
I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day; and I looked, and beheld, under the altar, the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? and white robes were given unto every one of them, and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their
fellow-servants also, and their brethren that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled".
And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ; for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death ". Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus".
SECT. 17. These views have so animated the Saints, as to make them sometimes to triumph even in the greatest tribulations.
Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also, knowing that
tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong". Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord".
SECT. 18. The whole subject illustrated in the confessions, prayers, and praises of the saints.
As for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipt. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death; but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went unto the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head; I am full of confusion, therefore see thou mine affliction. Behold I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken, but I will not answer; yea twice, but I will proceed no further.