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as Justin Martyr observes of the ancient Christians,* that they inhabit their own country but as strangers ; “they have all things common with others as citizens, yet suffer all things as pilgrims; every strange region is their country, and every country a strange region. A Christian's politics are seemingly contradictory, and truly mysterious : they make a common table, yet are not polluted: they are in the flesh, but live not after the flesh: they live on earth, but have their conversation in heaven: they obey laws established, yet by their way of living go beyond laws: they love all and are persecuted by all : they are not known, yet condemned: they are killed, yet made alive: they are poor, yet enrich many: they want all things, yet abound in all things: they are disgraced, yet thereby honoured," &c. Thus he proceeds, shewing the state of Christians; which is the same now.
Oh what a mystery, yet felicity, is it to be a saint! all things are yours, though nothing were yours; a saint by covenant hath right to all, and shall have actual possession of what is for his good : the saints rule the earth, themselves being trampled on by all: they pass through the world as conquerors, and carry the spoils as trophies, along with them till death, and when death is swallowed up in victory, these blessed champions arise triumphant in glory. O Christians, study your state, know your privileges, be always triumphing in Christ: live at the rate of those mercies, make no reckoning of the world but as a footstool to raise you higher God-wards, or as a stepping-stone to pass forwards thereby, through this polluted and polluting world, heaven-wards : bless God for the least outward mercy, but be not put off with the greatest ; a little with God is enough, all things without God are nothing. Suppose you be below the higher parts of the dust of the earth in riches, power, and glory, yet you are above them in grace, true riches, and favour with the God of heaven; therein he makes amends : as the Jews have a fable that the waters terrestrial, in the beginning, took it ill to be divided from the celestial by the firmament; the Creator to pacify them promised a sacred use of
Omnia cum aliis communia habent tanquam cives, omnia patiuntur tanquam peregrini : omnis peregrina regic patria est eorum, et omnis patria est peregrina. Just. Mart. Ep. ad Diog. vid. plura. VOL. II.
them below, in the tabernacle of the covenant ; so although you are set below many in other things, yet in this you have preeminence above them, that you are interested in, and employed about these covenant mercies : this is abundant compensation. Be not discouraged, whatever you suffer here, it is not hell; whatever you lose for God, heaven will make amends; faithful is he that hath promised, who also will do it; God is yet able to pay his debts, as able and willing as to the first man that ever sought the performance of a promise : never any went away grumbling or charging God, (as some men are too justly charged) that he minds not what he saith. When David through weakness of faith began to stagger, and expostulate, saying, “ Doth his promise fail for evermore ?" he quickly checks himself with that reflection, “ But I said, this is my infirmity.”—Psal. lxxvii. 8, 10.
It would be a blessed thing (which Luther wished for *) “ that our faith were as certain and firm as the thing itself believed; but, alas, sin in the flesh doth resist the spirit, so that we cannot so firmly believe;" as he complains. The way to stability is the acting of faith—believe, and yeshall be established. As long as we consult with reason, we shall still be fluctuating. An individual's expedient for establishment, after many temptations of doubt concerning a main article of faith was, a hearty humiliation and subjection of his understanding to the obedience of faith, which brought such clear light of truth and certitude into his soul, that there remained no relics at all of dubitation. We
We may all cry out with the disciples, “Lord, increase our faith." Alas, the want of faith is the root of all actual sins and insensibleness ; yea, the want of a thorough persuasion of the reality of divine things surpasses the world. Most men do but read the gospel as a fine fiction, or a wellcomposed romance, but work not their hearts to credit these things ; a may be, or may not be, in a conjectural uncertainty, is all they arrive at: however, they do not follow home the light and persuasions they have. Alas, did persons seriously think of this, that as sure as they are men or women, as cer
• Optarim fidem tam certam et firmam esse quam et res ipsa, verum peccatum in carne resistit spiritui ut non possim firmiter credere.--Luth.
tainly as they eat and drink, work and sleep, so certainly there is a God—a Christ-grace-pardon-guilt-heaven-hell, of which they must very shortly have a full conviction. This could not but have a wonderful influence upon their hearts and lives-their affections and conversation.
O what persons should saints be, if they lived under the thorough impressions and convictions of the certainty of divine revelation !
It were a blessed effect, if all the Treatises that have of late been written might convince this profane and atheistical world of the certainty of Christianity. Many have laboured much in this with great success ; several ancient writers, as Clemens, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Tatian, Iræneus, Athenagoras, and Tertullian, have proved by demonstrative arguments the truth of the Christian religion, against Jews, Heathens, &c.;* lately, Grotius, Mornay du Plessis, and at the present day, Baxter, Stillingfleet, and others, have put their sickle into this harvest, through whom the church hath reaped precious fruit. I pretend neither to the learning or authority of those famous worthies, but insist only on the sure mercies of the covenant to raise a poor superstructure upon those solid foundations. It was the design of Luke the Evangelist, in writing his Gospel to the noble and excellent Theophilus, that “ he might be assured of the certainty of those things wherein he had been instructed.”—Luke i. 4. Such a design have I in this small piece. O that some might stand up and address the Saviour as the disciples did, “ Now we are sure that thou knowest all things ; by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.”—John xvi. 30. O sirs, be not satisfied with uncertain conjectures—endeavour to arrive at a “full assurance of understanding to the acknowledging of the mystery of God,” Col. ii. 2.-pray for the spirit of revelation, that you may both know the certainty of gospel mysteries and mercies and your own interest therein, that you may both be strong in faith and full of comfort-advance higher daily in embracing unseen things—rest not in a sceptical štoxì, or philosophical state of doubt, but strive to arrive at an ideyxos, or firm demonstration—rest your souls upon the testimony of God, as to the object of faith, and commit
• Vide Scult. Med. Patrum.
your souls to him in believing and well-doing for evidence of your state-remember that choice word, Hosea vi. 3, “ Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord; his going forth is prepared as the morning, and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.” That this and all other soul-helps may accomplish this great end of your edification, consolation, and salvation, shall be the earnest
Your soul's friend, and servant in Christ,
0. H. June 8, 1670.
This evangelical prophet acts the part of an apostolical preacher, pourtraying our dear Saviour in as lively a manner as if he wrote a history, not a prophecy; as if he saw him in the flesh and not in the type only. This chapter contains a sweet relation or revelation of the mysteries of gospel grace, a high sounding proclamation, and pathetical exhortation to the sons of men to embrace the saving benefits purchased by our Lord Jesus Christ.
This exhortation is pressed upon the consciences of men with four argunients, which are, as it were, a satisfying answer to as many tacit objections which may be made by unbelieving souls; these arguments are in the first, second, third, and fifth verses drawn from the -Freeness, fulness, security and abundance of gospel grace.
1. A person may say, alas, I am an unworthy wretch, I have nothing that can commend me to God, I have