« AnteriorContinuar »
Firsts I fay, That the best Men may and often do meet with Sufferings here in this Life. This is here plainly suppos'd, for the Apostle's reckoning the present Sufferings not fit to be compar'd with our future Glory, manifestly implies, that he reckon'd upon them and so must we too, while we live here, or else we shall find our selves much out in our Reckoning: for this World is the Scene of Misery and Trouble, and no Vertue or Goodness, how great soever, can exempt us from them; yea, sometimes the greater it is, the more it exposes to Envy and Trouble. Job, the richest and best Man in the East, had a large share of them: David, a Man after God's own Heart, was more than ordinarily exercis'd with them: yea, the Son of God himself, the great Example of all Holiness and Vertue, could not have this bitter Cup pass from him, and many of his Followers and Disciples have ever since drank deep of the fame; which made the Apostle fay, All that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer Persecution. The Way to Heaven is not strew'd with Roses, but beset with Thorns, and we are thro many Tribulations to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the Way that all the Saints and Martyrs have gone before us; they endur'd the Croft before they obtain'd the Crown, and 'twill be in vain for us to hope to arrive at it any other way.
Sufferings then must be reckon'd upon here in this Life; which are sent to us, to keep us humble, to try our Pa-' tience and Constancy, to wean us from this World, and to prepare us for a better. And this will lead us,
Secondly, To the next thing suppos'd or taken for granted in these words; to wit, That there is a future Glory reserv'd as a Reward for our present Sufferings', for the Apostle's mentioning here a Glory to be reveal'd in us to crown our present Sufferings, plainly supposeth the Truth of both; and that as we now feel the one, we shall e'er long receive the other. This future Glory is express'd in Scripture, sometimes by a Kingdom, sometimes by a Crown of Righteousness, sometimes by an Inheritance immortal, undefiled, and that sadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for us: Which Happiness was only guess'd at by the wisest Heathens, who from the Afflictions of good Men, and the Prosperity of bad, concluded that there will be another Life, in which these things will be set right, when Vice shall re
L 2 ceive ceive its just Punishment, and Vertue its due Recompence of Reward.
But what they learn'd only by the faint Conjectures of natural Reason, we are better afTur'd of by the clearer Discoveries of Divine Revelation; Life and Immortality being brought to light unto us by the Gospel: where we read the Words of eternal Life, and have a full Assurance of a blessed Immortality.
'Twas this that supported the Saints and Martyrs in all Ages under all their Sufferings-, of whom we read, that they had an eye to this Recompence of Reward. Those famous Worthies, mention'd in the nth Chapter to the Hebrews, did and susser'd the great things there rehears'd, by the Strength of their Faith, and the Hopes of Glory: Yea, our Blessed Saviour himself is laid to have endur'd the Cross for the Glory that was set before him', Heb. 12. 2.
In short, Afflictions must be counted upon, and provided for whilst we are here, being not only expedient, but necessary for many great and'wise Endsj which if they attain, we may comfortably expect a happy and speedy Deliverance from them, and that they will shortly end in unspeakable Bliss and Glory: both which things are here plainly suppos'd and taken for granted.
But is this future Glory a sufficient Ballance and Compensation for the present Sufferings we here endure in hopes of it? Yes, and vastly greater ., for so the Apostle, in the
Third place, expresly tells us; I reckon (faith he) that the Sufjerings of this present time are not worthy to be compar'd with the Glory that jball be reveal'd in us. If they be put in the Ballance together, the former will be so far outweigh'd by the latter, that there is indeed no Comparison to be made between them. For the fame Apostle elsewhere tells us, that these light Afflictions, which are but for a moment, work out for tts a sar more exceeding and eternal Weight of Glory; 2Cor.4.17. where the Apostle, considering these things together, observes a vast Difference and Disproportion between them; and that chiefly in these two things:
ist, In the Weighs, they are but light Afflictions, butat* exceeding Weight of Glory.
zdly, In the Duration j the Afflictions are but for a moment, but 'tis an eternal Weight of Glory. And what Comparison can there be between the Lightness of a Feather, and the Weight of a heavy and ponderous Body?
Or Or who would compare a Moment with Eternity? And yet this and far greater is the Disproportion between the Sufferings of this present time, and the Glory that shall be reveal'd in us. The better to clear this, I fay,
isti The Lightness of Afflictions makes them unworthy to be compar'd to a Weight of Glory. I know 'tis hard to persuade any under Trouble that their Afflictions are light• , for no Chastisement for the present us joyous, hut grievous: All Sufferings are against the grain of Nature, and most Men are apt to complain of the Burden of them; but yet there are many Considerations that may alleviate the Evil, and lighten the Burden of them. As, first, by-comparing what we suffer with the much greater Punishments that we deserve, and that will mightily lessen our Sense and Opinion of it: if one that is condemn'd to die comes off with a little whipping, we account the Punishment light and easy; and if we who are sentenc'd to eternal Death, are pardon'd and preserv'd from it by a little Correction, we can have no reason to complain. Again, if we compare our Sufferings with the infinitely greater Sufferings of Christ for our fake, we may easily reckon ours to be but light and gentle Afflictions. Moreover, if we compare the Sufferings of this Life with the unspeakable Torments of the Damned in. the next, to which Sin naturally leads j we may reckon them not worthy to be nam'd or mention'd together. But lastly, if we compare the Afflictions of this Life, which upon all these accounts may be justly thought light, with that exceeding excessive Weight of Glory, which they work out for us in the next, we shall find them to vanish into nothing, less than nothing, and Vanity. But,
zdly, Not only the Lightness, but the Shortness of these Afflictions, makes them unworthy to be compar'd with the Glory to be reveal'd in us-, for these Ajfli&ions are but for a moment, but 'tis an eternal Weight of Glory that follows them. All the Sufferings we meet with here will be soon over• , Sorrow may endure^ for a Night (faith the Pfalmist) but Joy cometh in the Morning. The longest Term of their Duration is for the short space of this Life •, and if they end not sooner, Death will surely put a period to them: but this future Glory is everlasting, and knows neither End nor Decays 'tis a Kingdom that can never be mov'd, and a Crown that shall never be taken from us. And now what Comparison is there between a Minute, and the boundless Duration of Eternity? What Proportion between the lisdit Dust of the Ballance, and the heavy Globe of the Earth? or between the small Drop of a Bucket, and the whole Ocean? And yet this and much greater is the Difference and Disproportion between light momentany Afflictions, and an exceeding, excessive, and eternal Weight of Glory: where the Apostle seems to labour how to express as well as bear it; 'tis n*3-' dt xsiri$oh.bji diuviw fi/f©" <fo£« '•, which im
plies such a heavy massy Crown of Glory, that 'twill be as much as the Soul will be able to bear or stand under. And therefore the Apostle rightly reckons the Sufferings of this present time not worthy to be nam'd or compar'd with the Glory that shall be reveal'd in us•, which is enough to set all good Christians a longing for it, not to value any thing here below, whether prosperous or adverse, but to wait with Patience for the revealing of it. This we should the rather do, because, as the next words tell us, The earnest Expectation of the Creature waiteth for the Manifestation of the Sons of God. What this earnest Expectation of the Creature is, what the Manifestation of the Sons of God, and how the Creature is faid to wait for it, are Matters of some disficulty to understand, and are therefore variously expounded by Interpreters.
Some understand these things of the Gentile World, who were then expecting what would befal the Jews, whether the Son of God were truly manifested to them, or who among them should be manifested to be the true Sons-of God: for the Creature was made subject to Vanity •, that is, the Heathen World (fay they) were held in a State of Ignorance and Idolatry, which is in Scripture often call'd Vanity; and that not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in Hope: that is, this their dark and forlorn Condition was none of their own Choice, but 'twas by the Will of God, who suffer'd them to continue awhile in those Idolatries, in hopes of being better instructed and enlighten'd by the Gospel. So the next words intimate j Because the Creature it self also stall be deliver d from the Bondage of Corruption into the glorious Liberty of the Children of God: meaning, as they expound it, that the Heathens themselves should, by the Gospel or Grace of Christ, be rescu'd from the Slavery they were in to Satan and the Bondage of Idolatry, and be instated in the Rights and Privileges of the Sons and Children of God, and so be made capable of the Glory that shall be reveal'd in us. For we know (as the Apostle goes on) that the whole Creation groaneth, and travaileth in Pain together until now; that is, the whole Gentile World is as it were in Pangs or Travail ever fince Christ's Coming, in a manner ready to bring forth Sons and Children of God, being in a good Forwardness to receive the Gospel, which many of the Jews reject-. And %ot only they (faith our Apostle) but our selves also, which have the First-fruits of the Spirit; even we our selves groan within our selves, waiting for the Adoption, to wit, the Redemption of our Bodies: that is, not the Heathens only, but we Christians, who have receiv'd Christ, and enter'd upon the Profession of Faith in him, do earnestly desire and exr pest this Adoption of Sons, waiting for a Deliverance from the Servitude and Oppression of Servants, and to be translated into the glorious Liberty of the Children of God, and to receive a Redemption from all Evils by the Resurrection of the Body. This is the Sense that some put upon this obscure Passage of Holy Scripture; for which fee the Lear~ ned Dr. Hammond on the Place.
Others again, and perhaps with greater Reason, interpret this Passage not only of the Heathen World, who may hope to receive this Benefit by Christ's Coming ., but of the whole natural World, and all the Creatures in it, who by a natural Instinct may look for some share in the Benefit of it, And the reason of this Expectation may be, because the whole World hath been by Man's first Sin put beside its first and natural Establishment, into which it may perhaps have some innate Desires and Tendencies to be resior'd. For all the Creatures in it are by the first Transgression faid to be made subject to Vanity, to be put out of their due Course and Order, and made to administer to the vain Desires and corrupt Designs of Mankind; and that too against their will, and without their knowledg, being over-rul'd by a superior Power, to which they are subject, not without some hopes of being one time or other set right again: which Hopes are grounded upon this, that they having suffer'd part of the Curse for Man's Sin, when he shall be reestablish'd in Grace and Glory, they may in some measure be rescu'd and restor'd too ., according to that of Isaiah, Behold I create new Heavens and a new Earth, and the former shall not he remembred, nor come into mind; Ifa. 65.17. The Pfalmist tells us of God's renewing the Face of the Earth, which hath been deform'd by Man's Wickedness: And St. Peter speaks of new Heavens, and a new Earth, wherein dwel(eth. Righteousness. Suitable hereunto our Apostle here de
L 4 Clares,