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that a strait one: if with much pressure we can get through, and leave but our superfluous rags, as torn from us in the crowd, we are happy. He that made heaven, hath on purpose thus framed it: wide, when we are entered, and glorious, narrow and hard in the entrance; that, after our pain, our glory might be sweeter.
And if beforehand you can climb up thither in your thoughts, look about you, you shall see no niore palms than crosses ; you shall see none crowned but those who have wrestled with crosses and sorrows, to sweat, yea, to blood, and have overcome. All runs here to the overcomer ; and overcoming implies both fighting and success. Gird up your loins therefore, and strengthen your weak knees; resolve to fight for heaven, to suffer fighting, to persist in suffering; so persisting you shall overcome, and overcoming you shall be crowned. Oh reward truly great, above desert, yea, above conception ! A crown for a few groans! an eternal crown of life and glory, for a short and momentary suffering! How just is St. Paul's account, that “ the afflictions of this present life are not worthy of the glory which shall be showed unto us?” O Lord, let me smart, that I may reign; uphold thou me in smarting, that thou mayest hold me worthy of reigning. It is no matter how vile I be, so I may be glorious. What say you, would you not be afflicted ? Whether had you rather mourn for a while, or for ever? One must be chosen ; the election is easy. Whether had you rather rejoice for one fit, or always ? You would do both. Pardon me, it is a fond covetousness, and idle singularity, to affect it. What! that you alone may fare better than all God's saints ? that God should strew carpets for your nice feet only, to walk into your heaven, and make that way smooth for you, which all patriarchs, prophets, evangelists, confessors, Christ himself, have found rugged and bloody! · Away with this self-love, and come down, you ambitious sons of Zebedee; and ere you think of sitting near the throne, be content to be called unto the cup. Now is your trial: let your Saviour see how much of his bitter potion you can pledge; then shall you see how much of his glory he can afford you. Be content to drink of his vinegar and gall, and you shall drink new wine with him in his kingdom.
TO SIR GEORGE FLEETWOOD.
On the Remedies of Sin, and Motives to avoid it. THERE is none, either more common or more troublesome guest, than sin. Troublesome, both in the solicitation of it, and in the remorse. Before the act, it wearies with a wicked importunity; after the act, it torments us with fears, and the painful gnawings of an accusing conscience. Neither is it more irksome to men than odious to God; who, indeed, never hated any thing but it; and for it, any thing. How happy were we, if we could be rid of it! This must be our desire, but cannot be our hope, so long as we carry this body of sin and death about us : yet, (which is our comfort,) it shall not carry us, though we carry it: it will dwell with us, but with no command; yea, with no peace: we grudge to give it house-room; but we hate to give it This our Hagar will abide
ere she be turned out of doors : she shall go at last; and the seed of promise shall inherit alone. There is no unquietness good, but this; and in this case, quietness cannot stand with safety: neither did ever war more truly beget peace, than in this strife of the soul.
Resistance is the way to victory; and that, to an eternal peace and happiness. It is a blessed care, then, how to resist sin, how to oid it; and such as I am glad to teach and learn. As there are two grounds of all sin, so of the avoidance of sin; love and fear: these, if they be placed amiss, cause us to offend; if right, are the remedies of evil. The love must be of God; fear, of judgment.
As he loves much, to whom much is forgiven ; so he that loves much, will not dare to do that which
may need forgiveness. The heart that hath felt the sweetness of God's mercies, will not abide the bitter relish of sin: this is both a stronger motive than fear, and more noble: none but a good heart is capable of this grace; which whoso hath received, thus powerfully repels temptations.
Have I found my God so gracious to me, that he hath denied me nothing, either in earth or heaven; and shall not I so much as deny my own will for his sake? Hath my dear Saviour bought my soul at such a price, and shall he not have it? Was he crucified for my sins, and shall I by my sins crucify him again? Am I his, in so many bonds, and shall I serve the devil ? O God! is this the fruit of thy beneficence to me, that I should wilfully dishonour thee? Was thy blood so little worth, that I should tread it under my feet ? Doth this become him that shall be once glorious with thee? Hast thou prepared heaven for me, and do I thus prepare myself for heaven? Shall I thus recompense thy love, in doing that which thou hatest ? Satan hath no dart (I speak confidently) that can pierce this shield : Christians are indeed too often surprised ere they can hold it out; there is no small policy in the suddenness of temptation; but if they have once settled it before their breast, they are safe, and their enemy hopeless. Under this head, therefore, there is sure remedy against sin, by looking upwards, backwards, into ourselves, forwards. Upwards, at the glorious majesty and infinite good. ness of that God whom our sin would offend, and in whose face we sin; whose mercies and whose holiness are such, that if there were no hell we would not offend. Backwards, at the manifold favours whereby we are obliged to obedience. Into ourselves, at that honourable vocation wherewith he hath graced us, that holy profession we have made of his calling and grace, that solemn vow and covenant whereby we have confirmed our profession; the gracious beginnings of that Spirit in us, who is grieved by our sins, yea, quenched. Forwards, at the joy which will follow upon our forbearance; that peace of conscience, that happy expectation of glory, compared with the momentary and unpleasing delight of a present sin. All these, out of love. Fear is a retentive, as necessary, not so ingenuous. It is better to be won than to be frighted from sin; to be allured, than driven. Both are little enough in our proneness to evil. Evil is the only object of fear. Herein, therefore, we must terrify our stubbornness with both evils—of loss, and of sense; that, if it be possible, the horror of the event may countervail the pleasure of the temptation. Of loss : remembering that now we are about to lose a God; to cast away all the comforts and hopes of another world ; to rob ourselves of all those sweet mercies we enjoyed; to thrust his Spirit out of doors (who cannot abide to dwell within the noisome stench of sin); to shut the doors of heaven against ourselves. Of sense : that thus we give Satan a right in us, power over us, advantage against us; that we make God to frown upon us in heaven; that we arm all his good creatures against us on earth; that we do as it were take God's hand in ours, and scourge ourselves with all temporal plagues, and force his curses upon us and ours; that we wound our own consciences with sins, that they may wound us with everlasting torments; that we do both make a hell in our breasts beforehand, and open the gates of that bottomless pit, to receive us afterwards; that we do now cast brimstone into the fire, and, lest we should fail of tortures, make ourselves our own fiends. These, and whatever other terrors of this kind, must be laid to the soul; which, if they be thoroughly urged to a heart not altogether incredulous, well may a man ask himself, how he dare sin? But if neither this sun of mercies, nor the tempestuous winds of judgment, can make him cast off Peter's cloak of wickedness, he must be clad with confusion as with a cloak, according to the psalmist.