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ments to judge concerning the reasonableness of a proposi tion. But therefore let him consider and love it, because it is useful and necessary, profitable and gracious: and when he is once in love with it, and then also renews his love to it, when he feels the need of it, he is an interested person, and for his own sake will never let it go, and pass into the shadows of doubting, or the utter darkness of infidelity. An act of love will make him have a mind to it; and we easily believe what we love, but very uneasily part with our belief, which we for so great an interest have chosen, and entertained with a great affection.
5. Let the sick person be infinitely careful, that his faith be not tempted by any man, or any thing; and when it is in any degree weakened, let him lay fast hold upon the conclusion, upon the article itself, and by earnest prayer beg of God to guide him in certainty and safety. For let him consider, that the article is better than all its contrary or contradictory, and he is concerned, that it be true, and concerned also, that he do believe it: but he can receive no good at all, if Christ did not die, if there be no resurrection, if his creed hath deceived him; therefore all that he is to do, is to secure his hold, which he can do no way but by prayer and by his interest. And by this argument or instrument it was, that Socrates refreshed the evil of his condition, when he was to drink his aconite. "If the soul be immortal, and perpetual rewards be laid up for wise souls, then I lose nothing by my death but if there be not, then I lose nothing by my opinion; for it supports my spirit in my passage, and the evil of being deceived cannot overtake me, when I have no being." So it is with all, that are tempted in their faith. If those articles be not true, then the men are nothing; if they be true, then they are happy: and if the articles fail, there can be no punishment for believing; but if they be true, my not believing destroys all my portion in them, and possibility to receive the excellent things which they contain. By faith we quench the fiery darts of the devil: but if our faith be quenched, wherewithal shall we be able to endure the assault? Therefore seize upon the article, and secure the great object, and the great instrument, that is, the hopes of par don and eternal life through Jesus Christ; and do this by:
all means, and by any instrument, artificial or inartificial, by argument or by stratagem, by perfect resolution or by discourse, by the hand and ears of premises or the foot of the conclusion, by right or by wrong, because we understand it ; or because we love it, super totam materiam; because I will, and because I ought; because it is safe to do so, and because it is not safe to do otherwise; because if I do, I may receive a good; and because if I do not, I am miserable; either for that I shall have a portion of sorrows, or that I can have no portion of good things, without it.
Acts of Faith, by way of Prayer and Ejaculation, to be said by sick men, in the days of their Temptation.
Lord, whither shall I go? thou hast the words of eternal life. John, vi. 68.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, &c.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, &c.
Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. Mark, ix. 24.
I know and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself: for whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord's. Rom. xiv. 14. 7, 8.
If God be for us, who can be against us? Rom. viii. 31–34. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him give us all things?
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died; yea, rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God; who also maketh intercession for us.
If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins. 1 John, ii. 1, 2.
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation,
that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. 1 Tim. i. 15.
O grant that I may obtain mercy, that in me Jesus Christ may shew forth all long-suffering, that I may believe in him to life everlasting.
I am bound to give thanks unto God alway, because God hath from the beginning chosen me to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth, whereunto he called me by the gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thess. ii. 13, 14. 16, 17.
Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God even our Father which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation, and good hope through grace, comfort my heart, and stablish me in every good word and work.
The Lord direct my heart into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. 2 Thess. iii. 5.
O that our God would count me worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in me, and I in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thess. i. 11, 12.
Let us who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another. 1 Thes. v. 8-10. 12.
There is no name under heaven, whereby we can be saved, but only the name of the Lord Jesus. Acts, iv. 12. And every soul which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Acts, iii. 23.
God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of Jesus Christ. Gal. vi. 14. I desire to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Cor. ii. 2. For to me to live is
Phil. i. 21.
Christ, and to die is gain. Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of? Isa. ii. 22. But the just shall live by faith. Hab. ii. 4.
Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God,
John, xi. 27. the Saviour of the world, John, iv. 42, the resurrection and the life; and he that believeth in thee, though he were dead, yet shall he live. John, xi. 25. 40.
Jesus said unto her, Said I not to thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory. through our Lord Jesus Christ. Lord, make me steadfast and unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord: for I know that my labour is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Cor. xv. 55-58.
The Prayer for the Grace and strengths of Faith.
O holy and eternal Jesus, who didst die for me and all mankind, abolishing our sin, reconciling us to God, adopting us into the portion of thine heritage, and establishing with us a covenant of faith and obedience, making our souls to rely upon spiritual strengths, by the supports of a holy belief, and the expectation of rare promises, and the infallible truths of God: O let me for ever dwell upon the rock, leaning upon thy arm, believing thy word, trusting in thy promises, waiting for thy mercies, and doing thy commandments; that the devil may not prevail upon me, and my. own weaknesses may not abuse or unsettle my persuasions, nor my sins discompose my just confidence in thee and thy eternal mercies. Let me always be thy servant and thy disciple, and die in the communion of thy church, of all faithful people. Lord, I renounce whatsoever is against thy truth; and if secretly I have, or do believe, any false proposition, I do it in the simplicity of my heart and great weakness; and if I could discover it, would dash it in pieces by a solemn disclaiming it: for thou art the way, the truth, and the life. And I know, that whatsoever thou hast declared, that is the truth of God and I do firmly adhere to the religion thou hast taught, and glory in nothing so much as that I am a Christian, that thy name is called upon me. O my God, though I die, yet will I put my trust in thee. In thee, O Lord, have I trusted; let me never be confounded. Amen.
Of the practice of the grace of Repentance in the
MEN generally do very much dread sudden death, and pray against it passionately; and certainly it hath in it great inconveniences accidentally to men's estates, to the settlement of families, to the culture and trimming of souls, and it robs a man of the blessings, which may be consequent to sickness, and to the passive graces and holy contentions of a Christian, while he descends to his grave without an adversary or a trials: and a good man may be taken at such a disadvantage, that a sudden death would be a great evil, even to the most excellent person, if it strikes him in an unlucky circumstance. But these considerations are not the only ingredients into those men's discourse, who pray violently against sudden deaths; for possibly, if this were all, there may be in the condition of sudden death something to make recompence for the evils of the over-hasty accident. For certainly, it is a less temporal evil to fall by the rudeness of a sword, than the violences of a fever, and the axe is much a less affliction than a strangury; and though a sickness tries our virtues, yet a sudden death is free from temptation: a sickness may be more glorious, and a sudden death more safe. The deadest deaths are best, the shortest and least premeditate, so Cæsar said: and Pliny called a short death the greatest fortune of a man's life. For even good men have been forced to an indecency of deportment by the violences of pain': and Cicero observes concerning Hercules, that he was broken in pieces with pain even then, when he sought for immortality by his death, being tortured with a plague, knit up in the lappet of his shirt. And therefore as a sudden death certainly loses the rewards of a holy sickness, so it makes, that a man shall not so much hazard and lose the rewards of a holy life.
But the secret of this affair is a worse matter: men live
g Descendisti ad Olympia, sed nemo præter te: coronam babes, victoriam non babes.
h Mitiùs ille perit, subitâ qui mergitur undâ,
Quàm sua qui liquidis brachia lassat aquis.-Ovid. Etiam innocentes mentiri cogit dolor. k Ipse illigatus peste interimor textili.