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kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you') were seriously made, and will surely be performed, how loose must his mind be from all solicitude and anxiety! how steady a calm, how sweet a serenity will that faith spread over his soul, in regard to all worldly contingencies!
It will also beget a cheerful tranquillity of mind and peace of conscience in regard to our future state; that which St. Paul calleth all joy and peace in believing;' which the Apostle to the Hebrews termeth the confidence and rejoicing of hope;' of which St. Peter saith, Believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory :' for he that is persuaded that God (in whose disposal his fortune and felicity are) is reconciled and kindly affected toward him; that he doth concern himself in designing and procuring his salvation; that to purchase the means thereof for him, the Son of God purposely came down, and suffered death; that an act of oblivion is past, and a full remission of sins exhibited to him, if he will embrace it; that now there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus;' and that, 'being justified by faith, we have peace with God;' that blessing is his portion, and that an eternal heritage of joy is reserved for him, what ease must he find in his conscience, what comfort must possess his heart! how effectually will that of the prophet be accomplished in him, Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee !'
Again, it is faith which breedeth the courage, and upholdeth the patience requisite to support us in our spiritual course.
It doth inspire courage, prompting to attempt the bravest enterprises, disposing to prosecute them resolutely, and enabling happily to achieve them: for he that believeth himself in his undertakings backed by Omnipotence, and that, as St. Paul, ' he can do all things through Christ strengthening him,' what should he fear to set on, what difficulty should keep him off, what hazard should dismay him? he that knoweth himself, by reason of the succor attending him, infinitely to overmatch all opposition, whom should he not dare to encounter? May he not well say with David; The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of
of whom shall I be afraid?? Let all the world, let earth and hell combine to invade him, how can that mate his spirit, if he believe they cannot overthrow him, or hurt him, being secured by the invincible protection of him, to whose will all things do bow; in comparison to whom nothing is puissant, beside whom nothing is really formidable; seeing none but he can kill, none can touch the soul?
If we be armed with the spiritual panoply, having our head covered with the helmet of salvation,' our heart guarded with the breast-plate of righteousness,' our loins girt about with truth,' our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace,' all our body sheltered by the impenetrable 'shield of faith;' and wielding in our hands by faith the 'penetrant two-edged sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;' what assaults may we not sustain, what foes shall we not easily repel?
The most redoubtable enemy we have is our own flesh, which, with a mighty force of violent appetites and impetuous passions, is ever struggling with our reason, and warring against our soul; yet it faith alone dareth to resist, and is able to quell; opposing to the present delights of sense the hopes of future joy; quashing transitory satisfactions by the fears of endless torment.
The world is another powerful enemy; ever striving, by its corrupt principles, by its bad examples, by its naughty fashions, by its menaces of persecution, damage, and disgrace, by its promises of vain honor, base profit, and foul pleasure, to overthrow and undo us; but a resolute faith will defeat its attempts; for, He,' saith St. John, that is born of God, overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith:' the faith of a better world will defend us from the frowns and the flatteries of this; the riches, glories, and joys of heaven, thereby presented to our minds, will secure us from being enchanted with the wealth, splendors, and pleasures of earth.
Another fierce adversary is the cursed fiend; who ever, ' like a roaring lion, goeth about seeking to devour us,' or like a treacherous snake lieth in wait to bite us; raising panic fears to daunt and affright us; laying subtle trains of temptation to
abuse and seduce us; but him by resistance we may easily put to flight, for, Resist the devil,' saith St. James, and he will flee from you;' and how we must resist him St. Peter telleth us, 'Whom resist steadfast in faith;' and St. Paul also,‘Above all,' saith he, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one :' if we hold forth this glittering shield, it will dazzle his sight, and damp his courage; being not able to endure its lustre, or stand its opposition, he will instantly retire; fearing that by our victory over his temptations (through reliance on God's help, and adherence to his truth) our reward shall be heightened, and his torment (the torment of improsperous envy and baffled malice) · be increased.
Faith also will arm us with patience to endure whatever events shall be dispensed with alacrity and comfort; lightening the most heavy burdens imposed on us, sweetening the most distasteful occurrences incident to us: for,
He who is persuaded that by any damage here sustained for conscience toward God, he shall become a huge gainer, ceiving,' as the gospel promiseth, an hundred fold, and inheriting eternal life,' what will he not gladly lose? will he not willingly put forth all he hath in this most profitable usury? will he not, as those Hebrews did, 'take joyfully the spoiling of his goods, knowing that he hath in heaven a better and an enduring substance ?'
He who believeth that in regard to any disgrace cast on him for his virtue, he shall be honored by God, and crowned with heavenly glory, will he not in a manner be proud and ambitious of such disgrace? will he not, as the Apostles did, ' rejoice that he is counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ.'
He who trusteth that for a little pains taken in God's service, he shall receive πoλùv μiolòν, abundant wages,' far exceeding the merit of his labor, will he not cheerfully bear any toil or drudgery therein?
He who, with St. Paul, computeth that the light afflictions, which are but for a moment, are not worthy to be compared with the glories that shall be revealed;' and that those light momentary afflictions do work for us a far more exceeding
weight of glory;' will they not indeed be light unto him; will he not feel them lying on him as a few straws or feathers?
He who conceiveth our Lord's word true, that' by losing his life he shall find it,' or that death shall become to him a door into a happy immortality, would he not gladly on such terms be killed all the day long,' and 'be always delivered unto death for Jesus?'
He who by faith is assured that any disasters befalling him are not inflictions of wrath, but expressions of love toward him, by God in kindness dispensed as trials of his faith, as exercises of his virtue, as occasions of his acquiring more plentiful rewards, how can he be disgusted at them, or discomposed by them? why should he not rather accept them as favors, as felicities, with a thankful and joyful heart; counting it,' as St. James adviseth, all joy, when he falleth into divers temptations?'
In fine, it is faith alone which can plant in us that which is the root of all contentedness and all patience; a just indifference and unconcernedness about all things here: it alone can untack our minds and affections from this world, rearing our souls from earth, and fixing them in heaven; for if we are persuaded there is a state of life infinitely more desirable than the best condition here; if we believe there are things attainable by us, incomparably better than any which this world affordeth, in respect to which all these glories are but smoke, all these riches are but dirt, all these delights are but dreams, all these businesses are but triflings, all these substances are but shadows; how in our minds can we prize, how in our affections can we cleave unto these things; how then can we find in our hearts to spend on them more care or pain than is needful!
He that taketh himself here to be out of his element, that he is but a stranger and sojourner on earth,' that he hath here no abiding city,' no country, no house, no land, no treasure, no considerable interest, but that he is merely wayfaring, in passage toward his true home and heavenly country; the Jerusalem above,' whereof he is a citizen, where his grand concerns do lie, where he hath reserved for him immovable possessions
and unvaluable treasures; where he is designed to enjoy most noble privileges and most illustrious dignities in the court of the great King; how can he have his heart here sticking in this earthly clay, entangled with the petty cares, amused with the sorry entertainments of this life? how can he otherwise than with St. Paul be dead, and ' crucified to this world?' how can he withhold his mind from soaring thither in contemplation, and in affection dwelling there, whither his desires and hopes do all tend, where his joy and felicity are found, where the great objects of his esteem and love do reside?
But you will perhaps interpose, and say; These are indeed fine sayings, but where do such effects appear? who, I pray, doth practise according to these notions? where is that gallant to be found, who doth work so great exploits? where may we discern that height of piety, that tenderness of charity, that meek comportment with injuries and affronts, that clear sincerity, that depth of humility, that strictness of temperance, that perfect contentedness, and undisturbed calmness of mind, that stoutness of courage and stiffness of patience, which you talk of as the undoubted issues of faith? who is the man that with such glee doth hug afflictions, or biddeth adversity so welcome to his home? where dwell they who so little regard this world, or so much affect the other? do we not see men run as if they were wild after preferment, wealth, and pleasure? what do they else, but scrape and scramble and scuffle for these things? doth not every man moan the scantness of his lot, doth not every man flinch at any trouble, doth not every one with all his might strive to rid himself of any thing disgustful to his sense or fancy? Are not therefore such encomiums of faith mere speculations, or brave rhodomontades of divinity?
The objection, I confess, is a shrewd one; but I must reply to it you say, Where are such effects, where are such men? I ask then, where is faith, where are believers? show me the one, and I will show you the other: if such effects do not appear, it is no argument that faith cannot produce them, but a sign that faith is wanting; as if a tree doth not put forth in due season, we conclude the root is dead; if a fountain yield no streams, we suppose it dried up: Show me,' saith St. James,