« AnteriorContinuar »
This carries a strange found : But many. things might be offer'd for the Reason, why Persecution should make a man BleJJ'ed; which looks more likely to make him most ! .wretched. I will content my self with this One, Because Persecution is like the fiery Furnace, which Bfiyls Meat, Refines Silver, and Tries theGofd.. For thus the fiery Tryal, patiently endured, quite changes the Sinful, Purges the Imperfect, and Approves - the Just: So proving wonderfully Beneficial to all.
For instance, The Sinner is like Rawflesh, which ( you know, ) unless prepar'd with the Fire, is not to be eaten by men, but cast to the Dogs: So full is he of crude ill Humour), The Lust of the Flesli, which is Sensuality ; The Lust of the Eyes, which is Covetousness; and the Pride of Life, which is Ambition j that nothing can be more contrary and Loathsome to the most Holy Lord. But the Fiery Try al comes, and fetches out the Raw offensive Humours, and makes him so forget and Loath his Fleshly Lusts, his filthy Lucre, and his Proud Aspiring after Honour, that he becomes quite of another Mind and Temper.
But then, for the next, He that is free from Scandal, and the great Transgression, yet still very Imperfect,and wanting in many things j Too fond of his Flesh, still hunting after vain Pleasures, Greedy of Gain,
and not come to Loath the FoMiu of the World; He is like the Silver, that has a great deal of dross mingled with it: But when thrown into the Furnace of Persecution , and there quietly bearing the Indignation of the Lord , he finds a Separation of that dross, and the Carnal desires sailing off; and his Mind^rais'd to Contemplate and Affect the things Above. He thinks.it Time then, to Live Righteously, Soberly , and Godly in the present World; Look~ ing for the blessed Hope, and Glorious Appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jeftu Chritt.
Yet further, He that is as the Gold, grown to such a Perfection of Love, as is attainable in this Life, yet may be Try'd in the Fire of Persecution, least he fhou'd be censur'd by others, or fear'd by himself, to be but Brass. For in passing thro' the Fire, the Tryal of his Faith may be found more precious, than of Gold that perisietb, to Praijet and Honour, and Glory. 1 Pet. 1. 7. And thus, his Hopes are rais'd to be full of Immortality; and the most comfortableExpectation of everlasting Glory. For Tribulation worketh Patience; and Patience Experience ; and Experience Hope; and Hope maketb pot ashamed. Rom. J. f.
Thus the God infinitely Wise and Good, even when he may seem to Spoil and Destroy, Promotes and Advances his Friends
and ind Beloved: till he bring 'em to the Participation of his own Kingdom and Blessedness everlasting.
Now is it not strange, that so Few fhou'd ever reach to those Blessed Goods, ivhich lye open to all? When "Persecution may so easy, even every where be found; in the House, and on the Way ; In the Townj and in the Country. For where is it, that the Wicked do not Spighr, and Oppose, and Abuse those that are better than themselves? That sentence of the Apostle, who does not find it to be a certain Truth? 2 Tim. 3. 12. * All that will Live Godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer Persecution. c Even 'every one has a Fling at- the heavenly [ Passengers', that are directly bound for Je1 salem above: As all the Dogs run with o'pen mouth, after him that Gallop thro' 'the Town.
But we, as Nice Soldiers, fly the Fiery Furnace: Or being Injur'd by the maligKant Adversary, we Return as bad agen: And many times are so sar from bearing Persecution, that we are readier to Infliil it. f Like the Scoffing Ifimael, making a mock 'of the Brother, that is Holier than our 'selves: and so betraying our selvesto be * aster the Flesh, by Persecuting him that's born 'after the Spirit. Nor do there want such" Enemies of a man's own House , that will Praise him, for Avenging himself, 4and
- ThrowThrowing back the Load upon him tha cast it. Yet we are called Christians, evei while we so Despise the Commands 0 Christ.
The Fourth Path to the Kingdom of God
BEcause these things already laid dow seem to carry such Difficulty in 'en that but very few may Understand 'em, an much fewer are willing to make Exper ment of 'em j Therefore our blessed Guid points out yet another Path, and that Na: rower than all the rest, Mat* it. 12. 7/ Kingdom of Heaven suffers Violence: and ti Violent take it by force j q. d. I well unde stand how ready men will be to cry out < Paradoxes, and Hard sayings j That tr Poor should be Blessed, and the.Rich Mis rable : That we should Rejoyce in Persec tions, and Mourn under Prosperity: Neithi was I Ignorant, How few would ever 1 go Present Goods, for the fake of Futur and wish for Evils in band, that they mig Escape greater to come. But I who am tl Truth it self, neither ought, nor cou speak any thing, but what should be four most certainly True.
Now therefore have I added, That the Kingdom of Heaven cannot be Gain'd, but by some mighty Efforts; and that none but the Violent do lay hold on Eternal Life. So, Luke 18. 24. How hardly fliall they that have Riches enter into the Kingdom of God? 'Tis easier for a Camel to gi thro' a Needle' sEye.. And Mat. 7. 14. Strait .is the Gate and Narrow the Way that Wads to Life, and few there be that find it. Again, Mat. 13. 44. He compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a Treasure hid in a Field, and a Pearl of great Price; which a man cannot obtain, unless he Sell all that he has. He must Leave whatever he is Possefs'd of on Earth, to be so Enstated in the Kingdom of Heaven. -Thus Positive is he, Luk. 14. 33. Whosoever Forfaketh not all that he has, cannot be my Disciple. Now this Renunciation, Tho' we understand it but of the Mind's Preparation , and the Heart's Disengagement; yet because this Disengagement of the Heart from the 'Love of the World, and that real Preparation of the Mind to let go all Temporal things, whenever God's Glory and the Soul's Safety do require it, is no such Easy attainment, nor to be found but in very few hands; Therefore were the Parables added of one going to build a Tower, that had not wherewithal to Finish it j and of a King 'designing to make war against another King, yet wanting Equal Forts to meet