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II. Another ground of comfort is, That if the providence of God have a particular regard to good men, and favour for them, then we may be affured, that if we be careful of our duty to God, and rely upon his goodness, and refer ourselves to his pleasure, in the final iffue and refult of things, all fhall turn to our good, and confpire in our happiness: nay, if we make the beft ufe of the evils and afflictions which befal us, and bear them as we ought, we ourselves may do a great deal to turn them to our benefit and advantage; to the bettering of our minds, and the improvement of our virtues, and the increase of our reward. And why fhould we be troubled fo much at things which may prove fo many ways beneficial to us, if it be not our own fault? which tend to our good, and will end in it, if we will but let patience have its perfect work, as St. James fhews, chap. V. II. in the inftance of Job, whofe admirable patience had a glorious end and reward, even in this world You have heard, fays he, of the patience of Job, and of the end God made with him; that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy. Job, upon a dunghil, is no whit inferior to the most glorious Prince that ever fat upon a throne. Some men have been more illuftrious, and according to the true rate and value of things, more confiderable for their patience, and courage, and conftancy of mind in great afflictions and fufferings, than, the greatest pomp and profperity in the world could poffibly have made them. Some have borne poverty, and ficknefs, and reproach, and perfecution, and exquifite pains and torments, with fo much decency, with fuch greatness of mind, and firmness of refolution, as might justly provoke the envy of the greatest and wealthieft, and to all outward appearance, the happieft per-. fons that ever were in the world. M. Antoninus was an excellent good man, and perhaps the greatest Emperor that ever was, for in his time the Roman empire was at its greatest extent; and yet it is hard to fay, whether Epictetus, whofe example I propofed before, and who lived about the fame time with this great and good Emperor, I fay, it is not eafy to fay, whether this poor man Epictetus, who was depreft into the lowest and moft afflicted condition, that human nature is al

moft

moft capable of, were not, by reafon of those admirable virtues which fhined fo brightly in that dark and difmal condition, his invincible patience, his perfect fubmiffion to the providence of God, the perpetual chearfulnefs and ferenity, the unmovable conftancy and equality of his mind, according to a right eftimation of things, the greater and more glorious perfon of the two.

So that good men are always fecure, as to the main and the effentials of happiness; under all outward afflictions and fufferings of the body, they may ftill retain a wife and virtuous mind, which is that good part which cannot be taken from them; and if they retain that, they are fure of the favour of God, and the countenance of heaven, which alone is fufficient to make any condition happy.

III. Another ground of comfort is, That if God govern the world, he can either prevent and divert the greatest evils that threaten us, or if they come upon us, he can fupport us under them, and deliver us out of them: and if we be good, and it be for our good, he will do one of these for us; either he will prevent the evil, that it fhall not come, if that be beft for us; or if affliction fall heavy upon us, he will fupport us under it; and if our ftrength be increased in proportion to the weight of our burthen, it is as well as if we had escaped it, nay perhaps much better, confidering the benefit and reward. of it. But how grievous foever it be, he can, when he pleafeth, deliver us from it; and he will do it prefently, if it be for our good; and if it be not, it is not really defirable to us to be fo foon freed from it.

Let

IV. And lastly, Which is confequent upon the former particulars, it is certain upon the whole matter, and upon the balancing of all accounts, that in every condition good men have much more caufe of comfort and joy, than of dejection and trouble. our fears be as great, and our prefent fufferings as heavy as they can, there are confiderations of fo great moment to be put into the other fcale, as will infinitely out-weigh them, and make them feem light. The confideration of our immortal duration in a future ftate, and of the endless and unfpeakable happinefs of another world, are of that folidity and weight, that thefe light

afflicti

afflictions, as the Apoftle calls them, which are but for a moment, are in no wife worthy to be compared with them.

What though our paffage through this world be ne ver fo ftormy and tempestuous, we fhall at laft arrive at a fafe port. Heaven is a fure fanctuary and retreat from all the evils and afflictions which we are liable to, and which many times purfue us fo clofe in this mortal ftate. It is but exerciling our faith and patience for a very little while, and all will be well with us; much better than if we had never been afflicted, and had been wholly exempted from all forts of fufferings in this world. We have no pretence to the crown of life, if we do not overcome; and there can be no conqueft without fome conflict.

But because the Christian religion does give us the greateft, if not the only firm affurance of the happiness of another life, which, when all is done, is the great fupport and cordial of our fainting fpirits, under the troubles and afflictions of this life, therefore I shall not now enlarge farther upon it, but refer it to the second head of my difcourfe, which I proposed to speak to in the next place, viz. What farther confiderations of com fort and fupport, faith in Chrift, and the firm belief of the Chriftian religion, do afford to good men, for the allaying and mitigating of their fears and troubles. Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe alfo in me. But this I fhall refer to fome other opportunity.

SER

S ERMON

CCXVI.

The true remedy against the troubles of life.

JOHN xiv. 1.

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe alfo in me.

The fecond fermon on this text.

Have confidered thefe words as an univerfal remedy against trouble and in fhewing what virtue and

:

First, That faith in God is a proper and most powerful means to mitigate and allay our trouble, and to fupport and quiet our minds under it.

I now proceed in the fecond place to fhew what farther confiderations of comfort and fupport, faith in Christ, and the firm belief in the Chriftian religion, do afford good men, for the allaying and mitigating of their greatest fears and troubles. Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe alfo in me. I fhall

mention thefe five.

1. Faith in Chrift, or the belief of the Chriftian religion, gives us full and perfect affurance of immortality, and of the glorious and eternal rewards of another world.

II. It promifeth to every fincere Chriftian the inward affiftance, and fupport, and comfort of God's holy Spirit, to bear up the weakness of human nature under its heavieft preffures of fear, or grief, or pain.

III. It affures us of the fpecial efficacy of our prayers with God, either for our deliverance from trouble, or for the aids and fupports of his grace under it.

IV. It propounds to us the best and most admirable pattern that ever was, of patience and conftancy of mind under the apprehenfion of approaching evils, or VOL. IX.

the

the fenfe of prefent fufferings; and of a contented and chearful fubmiffion to the will of God, in the faddeft condition to which human nature is incident.

V. It affures us of a moft compaffionate, and prevalent, and perpetual patron, and advocate, and interceffor with God for us.

I. Faith in Chrift, or the doctrine of the Chriftian religion, gives a full and perfect affurance of immortality, and of the glorious and eternal rewards of another world. Of this the world was very doubtful and uncertain before, and had but obfcure and wavering apprehenfions about it. And though the generality of mankind had naturally fome glimmering apprehenfions of another life after this, and fecret hopes and expectations of a future reward for good men that were hardly ufed in this world; yet the philofophers had wrangled and difputed the matter into fo much uncertainty, that mankind was very much staggered about it, and the doubts and difficulties that were raised about it did very much break the force, and weaken the influence of fo great and weighty a confideration.

Thus it was among the Gentiles. And under the law of Mofes, though the Jews had fuch apprehenfions of their own immortality, and of a future ftate of rewards and punishments, as natural light fuggefted to them; yet that covenant and difpenfation added but very little to the clearing of these notions, and the ftrengthening of this perfuafion in the minds of men; it did rather fuppofe it, than add any new ftrength and force to it : for under that difpenfation the eyes of men were generally fixt upon temporal promifes and threatenings: though as the time of the Meffias grew nearer, and the fufferings of that people fharper, they began to have clearer apprehenfions of a refurrection to another and better life; it being natural to men, when they are deftitute of prefent comfort, to cherish and make much of the future hopes of a better condition.

And therefore we find that the people of the Jews, when they had been long exercised with great afflictions, began to comfort and fupport themfelves with the hopes of a bleffed refurrection to a better life; as is evident from the hiftory of the feven brethren in the

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