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God and his word; but believe, that those things that are both shame and dishonour to others, are glory and honour to thee. O for a man to be able to say, “ for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain ;" it makes his face to shine like the face of an angel, and his lips to drop like the honeycomb, Acts xxviii. 20.
2. We learn also from lience, the reason why some in days before us have made light of the rage of the world; but they have laughed at destruction when it cometh, and have gone forth to meet the armed men; and with Job's liars, “ mocked at fear, and have not been affrighted, neither turned their back from the sword; the quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield,” Job. xxxix. 22, 23. but they have said among the trumpets, Ha, ha, it hath been their glory to suffer for Christ; as it is said of the saints of old, “they departed from the counsel, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name," Acts v. 41. As Paul also saith, “I will most gladly, (mark) most gladly rejoice in mine infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me," 2 Cor. xii. 9, 10. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmiries, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake, &c. Let those that suffer for theft and murder hang down their heads like a bulrush, and carry it like those that are going to hanging ; but let those whose trials are for the word of God, know, by these very things they are dignified.
3. Learn also in this to be confident, that thy sufferings have their sound and a voice before God and men: First, before God “to provoke him to vengeance, when he makes inquisition for blood," Psal. ix. 12.Gen. iv. 9, 10, 11. The blood of Abel cried until it brought down wrath upon Cain ; and so did the blood
, on heaps. Secondly, Thy blood will also have a voice before men, and that possibly for their good. The faithful Christian, in his patient suffering, knows not
what work he may do for God: who knows but thy blood may be so remembered by thy children, neighbours, and enemies, as to convince them thou wert for the truth? Yea, who knows, but their thoughts of thy resolution for Christ, to thy resisting unto blood, may have so good an effect upon some, as to persuade them to close with his ways? The three children in the fiery furnace made Nebuchadnezzar cry out, There was no God like theirs. Indeed this is hard labour, but be content, the dearer thou payest for it to win the souls of others, the greater will be thy crown, when the Lord the righteous judge shall appear; and in the mean while, thy death shall be a sacrifice pleasing to God and his saints.
“ I am now ready to be offered up."
II. The second thing that I would enquire into is this.
What it is to be " ready to be offered up?" Or how we should understand this word ready : “I am now ready to be offered up.” Which I think may be understood three manner of ways.
1. With respect to that readiness that was continually in the heart of those that hated him, to destroy him with his doctrine.
2. Or it may be understood with respect to the readiness of this blessed apostle's mind, his being ready and willing always to embrace the cross for the word's sake: or,
3. We may very well understand it, that he had done his work for God in this world, and therefore was ready
to be gone.
For the first of these : The enemies of God and his truth never want will and malice to oppose the word of God: they are also always so far forth in readiness to murder and slaughter the saints, as the prophet cries to Jerusalem, “behold the princes of Israel, every one were in thee to their power to shed blood," Ezeķ. xxii. 6. that is, they had will and malice always at hand to oppose the upright in heart. And therefore our Lord Jesus saith, they are they that kill the body;" he does not say they can do it as relating to their power, but that they do it as relating to their will, and their custom, if ler loose : and we may understand thereby, that it is no more to them to kill the people of God, than it is to butchers to kill sheep and oxen. For thougli it be indecd à truth, that God's “ hand is always safe upon the hilt of their sword,” yet by them, “ we are killed all the day long, and accounted as sheep for the slaughter," Psal. Ixiv. 22. Rom. viii. 26. that is, in their desires always, as well by their deeds, when they are let loose, as Paul's kinsman said to the captain, “ There lieth in wait for him of them more than forty men that have bound themselves in a curse, that they will neither eat nor drink until they have killed him and now are ready, looking for a promise from thee,” Acts xxiii. 12, 13, 21. And hence it is that by the word they are called dragons, lions, bears, wolves, leopards, dogs, and the like: all which are beasts of
oppose enemies, * The seed of the serpent will continually persecute the seed of the woman, by reason of the rooted enmity that rages in the hearts of the ungodly against the truth, and those who profess it. Persecutors are restless and unwearied in the prosecuting of their bloody designs and purposes : they will spare neither purse nor pains, and will stick at nothing, though ever so hazardous, so they may glut their malice, and Cesatia their revenge.
prey, and delight to live by the death of others. Paul therefore seeing and knowing that this readiness was in bis enemies to pour out his bowels to the earth, he crid out to Timothy, saying, “make thou full proof of thy ministry, for I am" now ready to be slain ; " I am now ready to be offered up."
These words thus understood may be used many ways.
1. To sbewus we live, not because of any good nature or inclination that is in our enemies towards us ; for they, as to their wills, are ready to destroy us; but they are in the hand of God, in whose hand is also our times. Wherefore, though by the will of our enemies, " we are always delivered to death, yet behold we live,” 2 Cor. vi. 10. Therefore in this sense it may be said, “where is the fury of the oppressor ? It is not in his power to dispose of, therefore here it may be said again, he is not ready to destroy,” Isa. li. 13.—The cup that God's people in all ages have drank of, even the cup of affliction and persecution, it is not in the hand of the enemy, but in the hand of God; and he, not they, poureth out of the same. So that they, with all their raging waves, have banks and bounds set to them, by which they are limited within their range, as the bcar is by his chain. “ Surely the wrath of men shall praise thee, and the remainder of wrath thou shalt restrain." Psal. lxxvi. 10.
2. This should encourage us, not to forsake the way of our Lord Jesus, when threatened by our adversaries; because they are in his chain: indeed they are ready in their wills to destroy us; but as to power and liberty to do it, that is not all to them; but who would fear to go, even by the very nose of a lion, if his chain would not buffer him to hurt us. It is too much below the spirit of a Christian to fear a man that will die; and that they that have so done, have "forgotten the Lord their ma. ker, who preserveth the hairs of their head,” Luke, xii. 7. Yea, let ine tell you, he that so doth, he feareth to trust the Lord with his life, estate and concernments, and chuseth rather to trust to himself, and that too out of God's way; and though such persons may lick themselves whole now, while they are fallen and senseless, they must count for these things again, and then they shall see, that fear of men, and to be ashamed of Christ, will load them with no light burden. Also it is an uncomely thing for any man in his profession, to be in and out with the timesand to do this when winked at by men, that they would not do if they frowned. Do such fear God? nay, they fear the fear of men, when they should sanctify the Lord himself, and let him be their dread, and let him be their fear. 3. Let the readiness that is in the enemies of God to
destroy, provoke thee to make ready also, as I said a little before; go out to meet the armed men,
" David ran to meet Goliah ;" rub up man, put on thy har
put on the whole armour of God, that thou mayest be ready,” I am now ready to be offered up, and the time of my departure is at hand :" but because this will fall in fittest under the second head, I shall there. fore discourse of it there.
The second thing considered in the words is this, that · to be ready might be understood with respect to the blessed apostle's mind, that was graciously brought over into a willingness to embrace the cross for the word's sake, and thus in other places he himself expounds it; “ I am ready,” saith he, “ not to be bound only, but to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus," Acts xxi. 13. That also implies as much, where he saith, “ I count not my life dear unto myself, so that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God,” Acts xx. 24. As the enemies then were ready and willing in their hearts, so he was ready and willing in his. This man was like to those mighty men of Solomon, that were ready prepared for the war, and waited on the king, fit to be sent at any time upon the most sharp and pinching service. A thing fitly becoming all the saints, but chiefly those that minister in the word and doctrine.
Understand the word thus, and they also teach us many things both for conviction and edification.
1. Here we see that a Christian's heart should be unclenched from this world; for he that is ready to be made a sacrifice for Christ and his blessed word, he must be one that is not entangled with the affairs of this life; how else can he please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier? Thus was it with this blessed man, he was brought to God's foot with Abraham, and crucified to this world with Christ; he had passed a sentence of death upon all earthly pleaspres and profits beforehand,