Acacia John Bunyan - Online Library
By J O H N.B U N Y A N.
L O N D O N,
Printed for Benjamin Alsop, at the
Angel and Bible in the Poultry, 1684.
Published four years before John Bunyan's death.
ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR.
THIS valuable treatise was first published in a pocket volume in 1684, and has onlybeen reprinted in Whitfield's edition of Bunyan's works, 2 vols. folio, 1767.
No man could have been better qualified to give advice to sufferers for righteousness'sake, than John Bunyan: and this work is exclusively devoted to that object. Shutup in a noisome jail, under the iron hand of persecution, for nearly thirteen years,in the constant fear of being hanged as a malefactor, for refusing conformity tothe national liturgy, he well knew what sufferings were, and equally well did heknow the sources of consolation. It was wisely ordered by Divine Providence, thatbefore the king pardoned him, he had a legal return under the hand and seal of thesheriff of Bedfordshire, certifying the reasons of this frightful imprisonment. Thisis entered in the minutes of the Privy Council on the 8th and 15th of May, 1672;and it proves that he was thus cruelly punished for "being at conventicles fornonconformity" and for no other cause. In this "Advice" we find hisopinion on the origin of persecution—the instruments—the motives—its cruelty—withcautions, counsels, and support to the persecuted. He considers persecution a strangeanomaly,—"The reason is that Christianity is a harmless thing—that be it neverso openly professed it hurts no man."
Simple-hearted, honest John, thou dreamest. What wouldest thou have thought of asystem by which all would have been taught to tag their laces and mend their ownpots and kettles? What would have become of thy trade as a brazier? Christianityteaches all mankind not to trust in those empirics who profess to cure souls forPeter's pence, tithes, mortuaries, and profits; but to go by themselves to the GreatPhysician, and he will pour in his wine and oil, his infallible remedies for a sin-sicksoul, without money and without price. To Bunyan this was not only harmless to others,but the most boundless mercy that God could bestow upon man. What could be more destructiveto the hierarchy of popes, cardinals, and papal nuncios of the Latin, with the patriarchs,archimandrites, and papas of the Greek churches? A system by which all their servicesare dispensed with, and priestly and prelatic pride is leveled with the dust. Canwe wonder that those who preached the holy, humbling, self-denying doctrines of thecross, were persecuted to the death? Bunyan's opinion is, that Satan is the authorof persecution, by which he intended to root out Christianity. The whirlwind andthe tempest drives away those who are not rooted and grounded in the faith, someof whom may have stood like stately cedars until the trying time of trial came. Butthe humble Christian in such a season takes deeper root—a stronger grasp. Faith,his anchor, is sure and steadfast; it enters eternity and heaven, where Satan canfind no entrance to disturb its hold. In persecution, men are but the devil's tools,and little think that they are doing his drudgery.
The man of God declares the truth in plain terms, "No one is a Christian excepthe is born of God by the anointing of the Holy One." Carnal men cannot endurethis; and then "the game begins," how such troublesome fellows may be putout of the way, and their families be robbed of their possessions to enrich the persecutors."The holy places, vestures, gestures—the shows and outward greatness of falsereligion, are in danger." Their sumptuous ceremonies, glorious ornaments, new-fashioned carriages, "will fall before the simplicity and majesty of truth."The Christian falls out with sin at home, and then with sinful ceremonies in divineworship. With him all that is not prescribed in the word of God is forbidden. Sentimentslike these are a blow at the root of superstition with all its fraudful emoluments.Hence the storms of persecution which fall on the faithful followers of Christ. Antichristdeclares the excellency of human inventions to supply what he considers defects inGod's system.
Such is the mad folly of the human heart! Dust and ashes find fault with a systemwhich is the perfection of wisdom, mercy, and love. And such their infatuation, that"none must be suffered to live and breathe that refuseth conformity thereto."Mr. Bunyan's cautions and counsels are full of peace— "submission to the powersthat be." Pray for the persecutor— return good for his evil. He is in the handof God, who will soon level him with the dust, and call his soul to solemn judgment.Although the sufferer's cause is good, do not run yourself into trouble—Christ withdrewhimself—Paul escaped by being lowered down the city wall in a basket. If they persecuteyou in one city, flee to another. "A minister can quickly pack up and carryhis religion with him, and offer what he knows of his God to another people."God is the support of his persecuted ones. "His power in holding up some, hiswrath in leaving of others; his making of shrubs to stand, and his suffering of cedarsto fall; his infatuating of the counsels of men, and his making of the devil to outwithimself; his giving of his presence to his people, and his leaving of his foes inthe dark; his discovering the uprightness of the hearts of his sanctified ones, andlaying open the hypocrisy of others, is a working of spiritual wonders in the dayof his wrath, and of the whirlwind and storm." "Alas! we have need of thesebitter pills at which we so much winch and shuck.
The physician has us in hand. May God by these try and judge us as he judges hissaints, that we may not be condemned with the world." Such were the feelingsof John Bunyan after his long sufferings; they are the fruits of a sanctified mind.Reader, great are our mercies—the arm of the persecutor is paralysed by the extensionof the knowledge of Christ. Still we have to pass through taunts and revilings, andsometimes the loss of goods; but we are saved from those awful trials through whichour pilgrim forefathers passed. May our mercies be sanctified, and may grace be bestowedupon us in rich abundance, to enable us to pity and forgive those sects who, in abye-gone age, were the tools of Satan, and whose habitations were full of cruelty.—GEO. OFFOR.
TO THE CHRISTIAN READER.
BELOVED, I thought it convenient, since many at this day are exposed to sufferings,to give my advice touching that to thee. Namely, that thou wouldest take heed tothyself, and keep thy soul diligently, and not suffer thyself to be entangled inthose snares that God hath suffered to be laid in the world for some. Beware of "men"in the counsel of Christ "for they will deliver you up" (Matt 10:17). Keepthou therefore within the bounds of uprightness and integrity towards both God andman: for that will fortify, that will preserve thee, if not from, yet under the rageof men, in a comfortable and quiet frame of heart. Wherefore do that, and that only,that will justify thy innocency, and that will help thee, not with forced speech,but with good conscience, when oppressed, to make thy appeals to God, and to theconsciences of all men.
This is the advice that, I thank God, I have taken myself: for I find that thereis nothing, next to God and his grace by Christ, that can stand one in such stead,as will a good and harmless conscience.
I hope I can say that God has made me a Christian: and a Christian must be a harmlessman, and to that end, must embrace nothing but harmless principles. A Christian'sbusiness, as a Christian, is to believe in Jesus Christ, and in God the Father byhim; and to seek the good of all about him, according as his place, state and capacityin this world will admit, not meddling with other men's matters, but ever followingthat which is good.
A Christian is a child of the kingdom of God, and that kingdom, take it as it beginsin grace, or as it is perfected in glory, is not of this world but of that whichis to come: and though men of old, as some may now, be afraid of that kingdom: yetthat kingdom will hurt no man, neither with its principles, nor by itself. To instancesomewhat, Faith in Christ: what harm can that do? A life regulated by a moral law,what hurt is in that? Rejoicing in spirit for the hope of the life to come by Christ,who will that harm? Nor is the instituted worship of our Lord of any evil tendency,Christianity teaches us also to do our enemies good, to "Bless them that hateus, and to pray for them that despitefully use us and persecute us," and whatevil can be in that? This is the sum of the Christian religion, as by the word maybe plainly made appear: wherefore I counsel thee to keep close to these things, andtouch with nothing that jostleth therewith.
Nor do thou marvel, thou living thus, if some should be so foolish as to seek thyhurt, and to afflict thee, because thy works are good (1 John 3:12,13). For thereis need that thou shouldest at sometimes be in manifold temptations, thy good andinnocent life notwithstanding (1 Peter 1:6). For, to omit other things, there aresome of the graces of God that are in thee, that as to some of their acts, cannotshew themselves, nor their excellency, nor their power, nor what they can do: butas thou art in a suffering state. Faith and patience, in persecution, has that todo, that to shew, and that to perform, that cannot be done, shewed, nor performedany where else but there. There is also a patience of hope; a rejoicing in hope,when we are in tribulation, that is, over and above that which we have when we areat ease and quiet. That also that all graces can endure, and triumph over, shallnot be known, but when, and as we are in a state of affliction. Now these acts ofour graces are of that worth and esteem with God, also he so much delighteth in them:that occasion through his righteous judgment, must be ministered for them to shewtheir beauty, and what bravery  there is in them.
It is also to be considered that those acts of our graces, that cannot be put forth,or shew themselves in their splendour, but when we Christianly suffer, will yieldsuch fruit to those whose trials call them to exercise, that will, in the day ofGod, abound to their comfort, and tend to their perfection in glory (1 Peter 1:7;2 Cor 4:17).
Why then should we think that our innocent lives will exempt us from sufferings,or that troubles shall do us such harm? For verily it is for our present and futuregood that our God doth send them upon us. I count therefore, that such things arenecessary for the health of our souls, as bodily pains and labour are for [thehealth of] the body. People that live high, and in idleness, bring diseases uponthe body: and they that live in all fullness of gospel-ordinances, and are not exercisedwith trials, grow gross, are diseased and full of bad humours in their souls. Andthough this may to some seem strange: yet our day has given us such an experimentalproof of the truth thereof, as has not been known for some ages past.
Alas! we have need of those bitter pills, at which we so winch and shuck: andit will be well if at last we be purged as we should thereby. I am sure we are butlittle the better as yet, though the physician has had us so long in hand. Some badhumours may possibly ere long be driven out: but at present the disease is so high,that it makes some professors fear more a consumption will be made in their pursesby these doses, than they desire to be made better in their souls thereby. I seethat I still have need of these trials; and if God will by these judge me as he judgeshis saints, that I may not be condemned with the world, I will cry, Grace, gracefor ever. The consideration also that we have deserved these things, much silencesme as to what may yet happen unto me. I say, to think that we have deserved themof God, though against men we have done nothing, makes me lay my hand upon my mouth,and causes me to hold my tongue. Shall we deserve correction? And be angry becausewe have it! Or shall it come to save us? and shall we be offended with the hand thatbrings it! Our sickness is so great that our enemies take notice of it; let themknow too that we also take our purges patiently. We are willing to pay for thosepotions that are given us for the health of our body, how sick soever they make us:and if God will have us pay too for that which is to better our souls, why shouldwe grudge thereat? Those that bring us these medicines have little enough for theirpains: for my part, I profess, I would not for a great deal, be bound, for theirwages, to do their work. True, physicians are for the most part chargeable, and theniggards are too loth to part with their money to them: but when necessity says theymust either take physic, or die: of two evils they desire to choose the least. Why,affliction is better than sin, and if God sends the one to cleanse us from the other,let us thank him, and be also content to pay the messenger.
And thou that art so loth to pay for thy sinning, and for the means that puts theeupon that exercise of thy graces, as will be for thy good hereafter: take heed oftempting of God lest he doubleth this potion unto thee. The child, by eating of rawfruit, stands in need of physic, but the child of a childish humour refuseth to takethe potion, what follows but a doubling of the affliction, to wit, frowns, chides,and further threatenings and a forcing of the bitter pills upon him. But let me,to persuade thee to lie down and take thy potion, tell thee, it is of absolute necessity,to wit, for thy spiritual and internal health. For, First, Is it better that thoureceive judgment in this world, or that thou stay for it to be condemned with theungodly in the next? Second, Is it better that thou shouldest, as to some acts ofthy graces, be foreign, and a stranger, and consequently that thou shouldest losethat far more exceeding, and eternal weight of glory that is prepared as the rewardthereof? or that thou shouldest receive it at the hand of God, when the day shallcome that every man shall have praise of him for their doings? Third, And I say again,since chastisements are a sign of sonship, a token of love: and the contrary a signof bastardy, and a token of hatred (Heb 12:6-8; Hosea 4:14). Is it not better thatwe bear those tokens and marks in our flesh that bespeak us to belong to Christ,than those that declare us to be none of his? For my part, God help me to chooserather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures ofsin for a season: and God of his mercy prepare me for his will.
I am not for running myself into sufferings, but if godliness will expose me to them,the Lord God make me more godly still: for I believe there is a world to come. But,Christian reader, I would not detain thee from a sight of those sheets in thy hand:only let me beg of thee, that thou wilt not be offended either with God, or men,if the cross is laid heavy upon thee. Not with God, for he doth nothing without acause, nor with men, for they are the hand of God: and will they, nill they; they are the servants of God to thee for good (Psa 17:14; Jer 24:5). Take thereforewhat comes to thee from God by them, thankfully. If the messenger that brings itis glad that it is in his power to do thee hurt, and to afflict thee; if he skipsfor joy at thy calamity: be sorry for him; pity him, and pray to thy Father for him:he is ignorant and understandeth not the judgment of thy God, yea he sheweth by thishis behavior, that though he, as God's ordinance, serveth thee by afflicting of thee:yet means he nothing less than to destroy thee: by the which also he prognosticatesbefore thee that he is working out his own damnation by doing of thee good. Lay thereforethe woeful state of such to heart, and render him that which is good for his evil;and love for his hatred to thee; then shalt thou shew that thou art acted by a spiritof holiness, and art like thy heavenly Father. And be it so, that thy pity and prayerscan do such an one no good, yet they must light some where, or return again, as shipscome loaden from the Indies, full of blessings into thine own bosom.
And besides all this, is there nothing in dark providences, for the sake of the sightand observation of which, such a day may be rendered lovely, when it is upon us?Is there nothing of God, of his wisdom and power and goodness to be seen in thunder,and lightning, in hailstones? in storms? and darkness and tempests? Why then is itsaid, he "hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm" (Nahum 1:3).And why have God's servants of old made such notes, and observed from them such excellentand wonderful things. There is that of God to be seen in such a day as cannot beseen in another. His power in holding up some, his wrath in leaving of others; hismaking of shrubs to stand, and his suffering of cedars to fall; his infatuating ofthe counsels of men, and his making of the devil to outwit himself; his giving ofhis presence to his people, and his leaving of his foes in the dark; his discoveringthe uprightness of the hearts of his sanctified ones, and laying open the hypocrisyof others, is a working of spiritual wonders in the day of his wrath, and of thewhirlwind and storm.
These days! these days are the days that do most aptly give an occasion to Christians,of any, to take the exactest measures and scantlings of ourselves. We are apt toovershoot, in days that are calm, and to think ourselves far higher, and more strongthan we find we be, when the trying day is upon us. The mouth of Gaal and the boastsof Peter were great and high before the trial came, but when that came, they foundthemselves to fall far short of the courage they thought they had (Judg 9:38). Wealso, before the temptation comes, think we can walk upon the sea, but when the windsblow, we feel ourselves begin to sink. Hence such a time is rightly said to be atime to try us, or to find out what we are, and is there no good in this? Is it notthis that rightly rectifies our judgment about ourselves, that makes us to know ourselves,that tends to cut off those superfluous sprigs of pride and self-conceitedness, wherewithwe are subject to be overcome? Is not such a day, the day that bends us, humblethus, and that makes us bow before God, for our faults committed in our prosperity?and yet doth it yield no good unto us? we cold not live without such turnings ofthe hand of God upon us. We should be overgrown with flesh, if we had not our seasonablewinters. It is said that in some countries trees will grow, but will bear no fruit,because there is no winter there. The Lord bless all seasons to his people, and helpthem rightly to behave themselves, under all the times that go over them.
Farewell. I am thine to serve thee in the gospel,
ADVICE TO SUFFERERS.
"WHEREFORE LET THEM THAT SUFFER ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD, COMMIT THE KEEPINGOF THEIR SOULS TO HIM IN WELL DOING, AS UNTO A FAITHFUL CREATOR"—1 PETER 4:19.
This epistle was written to saints in affliction, specially those of the circumcision,for whom this Peter was an apostle. And it was written to them to counsel, and comfortthem in their affliction. To counsel them as to the cause, for which they were inafflictions, and as to the right management of themselves, and their cause, undertheir affliction. To comfort them also both with respect to their present help fromGod, and also with reference to the reward that (they faithfully continuing to theend) should of God be bestowed upon them: all which we shall have occasion, moredistinctly, to handle in this following discourse.
The text is a conclusion, drawn from the counsel and comfort which the apostle hadafore given them in their suffering state. As who should say, my brethren, as youare now afflicted, so sufferings are needful for you, and therefore profitable andadvantageous: wherefore be content to bear them. And that you may indeed bear themwith such Christian contentedness, and patience as becomes you; commit the keepingof your souls to your God as unto a faithful Creator. "Let them that sufferaccording to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him [in well doing,]as unto a faithful Creator."
In this conclusion, therefore, we have three things very fit for sufferers to concernthemselves with. FIRST, A direction to a duty of absolute necessity. SECOND, A descriptionof the persons, who are unto this, so necessary a duty, directed. THIRD, An insinuationof the good effect that will certainly follow to those that after a due manner shalltake this blessed advice.
The duty so absolutely necessary is, that sufferers "commit the keeping of theirsouls to God." The sufferers here intended, are those "that suffer accordingto the will of God." The good insinuated, that will be the effect of our truedoing of this, is, we shall find God "a faithful Creator."
[FIRST—THE DUTY TO WHICH SUFFERERS ARE DIRECTED.]
We will first begin with the duty, that sufferers are here directed to, namely, thecommitting of their souls to God. "Let them - commit the keeping of their soulsto him, in well doing."
And I find two things in it that first call for explaining before I proceed. 1. Whatwe must here understand by "the soul." 2. What by "committing"the soul to God.
1. For the first: "The soul," here, is to be taken for that most excellentpart of man, that dwelleth in the body; that immortal, spiritual substance, thatis, and will be capable of life, and motion, of sense and reason; yea, that willabide a rational being, when the body is returned to the dust as it was. This isthat great thing, that our Lord Jesus intends, when he bids his disciples in a dayof trial, fear him that can destroy both body and soul in hell (Luke 12:5). Thatgreat thing, I say, that he there cautions them to take care of. According to Peterhere, "Let them commit the keeping of their soul to him in well doing."
2. Now to "commit" this soul to God, is to carry it to him, to lift itto him, upon my bended knees, and to pray him for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, totake it into his holy care, and to let it be under his keeping. Also, that he willplease to deliver it from all those snares that are laid for it, betwixt this andthe next world, and that he will see that it be forthcoming, safe and sound, at thegreat and terrible judgment, notwithstanding so many have engaged themselves againstit. Thus David committed his soul to God, when he said "Arise, O Lord, disappointhim, cast him down: deliver my soul, O Lord, from the wicked, which is thy sword"(Psa 17:13). And again, "Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me: O Lord, make hastto help me. Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul todestroy it" (Psa 40:13,14).
Thus, I have shewed you what the soul is, and what it is to commit the soul to God.This then is the duty that the apostle here exhorteth the sufferers to, namely, tocarry their soul to God, and leave it with him while they engage for his name inthe world. Now from the apostle's exhortation to this great duty, I will draw thesefollowing conclusions.
Conclusion First, That when persecution is raised against a people, there is a designlaid for the ruin of those people's souls. This, I say, doth naturally follow fromthe exhortation. Why else, need they to commit the keeping of their souls to God.For by this word, "Unto God to keep them," is suggested; there is thatwould destroy them, and that therefore persecution is raised against them. I am notso uncharitable, as to think, that persecuting men design this. But I verily believethat the devil doth design this, when he stirs them up to so sorry a work. In timesof trial, says Peter, "your adversary the devil walketh about as a roaring lion,seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
Alas! men in their acts of this nature, have designs that are lower, and of a moreinferior rank. Some of them look no higher than revenge upon the carcass; than thespoiling of their neighbour of his estate, liberty, or life; than the greateningof themselves in this world, by the ruins of those that they have power to spoil.Their "possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sellthem say, Blessed be the Lord, for I am rich" (Zech 11:5).
Ay! But Satan will not be put off thus: it is not a bag of money, or the punishingof the carcass of such a people, that will please or satisfy him. It is the soulthat he aims at; the ruin of the precious soul that he hath bent himself to bringto pass. It is this therefore that Peter here hath his heart concerned with. As,who should say, My brethren, are you troubled and persecuted for your faith? lookto it, the hand of Satan is in this thing, and whatever men drive at by doing asthey do, the devil designs no less than the damnation of your souls. Ware hawk, saiththe falconer, when the dogs are coming near her: especially if she be too much mindingof her belly, and too forgetful of what the nature of the dog is. Beware Christian,take heed Christian; the devil is desirous to have thee. And who could better givethis exhortation than could Peter himself. Who for not taking heed as to this verything, had like by the devil to have been swallowed up alive: as is manifest to themthat heedfully read, and consider how far he was gone, when that persecution wasraised against his Master (Luke 22).
When a tyrant goes to dispossess a neighbouring prince of what is lawfully his own:the men that he employeth at arms to overcome, and get the land, they fight for half-crowns,and the like, and are content with their wages: But the tyrant is for the kingdom,nothing will serve him but the kingdom. This is the case: Men when they persecute,are for the stuff, but the devil is for the soul, nor will any thing less than thatsatisfy him. Let him then that is a sufferer "commit the keeping of his soulto God:" lest stuff, and soul, and all be lost at once.
Conclusion Second, A second conclusion that followeth upon these words, is this:That sufferers, if they have not a care, may be too negligent as to the securingof their souls with God, even when persecution is upon them. For these words, asthey are an instruction, so they are an awakening instruction; they call as to peoplein danger; as to people, not so aware of the danger; or as unto a people that forget,too much, that their souls, and the ruin of them, are sought after by Satan, whentrouble attends them for the gospel sake. As, who should say, when troubles are uponyou for the gospel's sake, then take heed that you forget not to commit your soulsto the keeping of God. We are naturally apt with that good man Gideon, to be threshingout our wheat, that we may hide it from the Midianites (Judg 6:11). But we are notso naturally apt to be busying ourselves to secure our souls with God. The reasonis, for that we are more
flesh than spirit, and because the voice of the world makes a bigger sound in ourcarnal mind, than the word of God doth. Wherefore Peter, here, calls upon us as uponmen of forgetful minds, saying, Let them that suffer according to the will of God,have a care of their souls, and take heed, that the fears of the loss of a littleof this world, do not make them forget the fear of the losing of their souls. Thatsufferers are subject to this, may appear by the stir and bustle that at such a timethey make to lock all up safe that the hand of man can reach, while they arecold, chill, remiss, and too indifferent about the committing of their soul to Godto keep it. This is seen also, in that many, in a time of trouble for their profession,will study more to deceive themselves by a change of notions, by labouring to persuadetheir consciences to admit them to walk more at large, by hearkening to opinionsthat please and gratify the flesh, by adhering to bad examples, and taking evil counsels,than they will to make straight steps for their feet: and to commit the keeping oftheir souls to God. What shall I say, have there not been many, that so long as peacehas lasted, have been great swaggerers for religion, who yet so soon as the sun haswaxed warm, have flagged, have been discontented, offended, and turned away fromhim that speaketh from heaven? All which is because men are naturally apt to be moreconcerned for their goods, carnal peace, and a temporal life, than they are aboutsecuring of their souls with God. Wherefore I say, these words are spoken to awakenus to the consideration of soul-concerns, and how that should be safely lodged underthe care, protection, and mercy of God, by our committing of it to him, for thatpurpose, by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Conclusion Third, Another conclusion that followeth upon this exhortation, is this:That persecution doth, sometimes, so hotly follow God's people, as to leave themnothing but a soul to care for. They have had no house, no land, no money, no goods,no life, no liberty, left them to care for. ALL IS GONE BUT THE SOUL. Goods havebeen confiscated, liberty has been in irons, the life condemned, the neck in a halter,or the body in the fire. So then all, to such, has been gone, and they have had nothingleft them to care for, but their soul. "Let them commit the keeping of theirsoul to God." This conclusion, I say, doth naturally flow from the words. Forthat the apostle here doth make mention only of the soul, as of that which is left,as of that which yet remains to the sufferer of all that ever he had. Thus they servedChrist; they left him nothing but his soul to care for. Thus they served Stephen;they left him nothing but his soul to care for, and they both cared for that, "Father,into thy hands I commend my spirit," said Jesus (Luke 23:46). And, "LordJesus, receive my spirit," said Stephen (Acts 7:59). As for all other things,they were gone. They parted the very clothes of Christ among themselves before hisface, even while he did hang pouring out his life before them, upon the tree. "Theyparted my garments among them," said he, "and upon my vesture did theycast lots" (Matt 27:35; Mark 15:24; John 19:24). This also has oftentimes beenthe condition of later Christians, all has been gone, they have been stripped ofall, nothing has been left them but "soul" to care for. Job said that hehad escaped with the skin of his teeth; and that is but a little: but he doth notescape with so much, that loses all that he has, life and all, we now except thesoul. But,
Conclusion Fourth, Another thing that followeth from the words is this; namely, Thatwhen the devil and wicked men have done what they could, in their persecuting ofthe godly; they have yet had their souls at their own dispose.  They have notbeen able to rob them of their souls, they are not able to hurt their souls. Thesoul is not in their power to touch, without the leave of God, and of him whose soulit is. "And fear not them," saith Christ, "which kill the body, butare not able to kill the soul" (Matt 10:28). This, I say, lies clear also inthe text; for the exhortation supposes, that whatever the sufferers, there made mentionof, had lost, they had yet their souls at their own dispose. Let them that suffer,even to the loss of goods, liberty, or life, "commit the keeping of their soulsto God." As, who should say, though the enemy hath reached them to their all,and stripped them of their all, yet I know, that their soul is not among that all:For their soul is yet free from them, at liberty, and may be disposed of, even asthe sufferer will. Wherefore, let him commit the keeping of his soul to God, lesthe also through his negligence or carelessness be also spoiled of that. The sufferer,therefore, hath his soul at his own dispose, he may give that away to God Almighty,in spite of all that the devil and the world can do. He may, indeed, see men partinghis land, his household stuff, yea, his very raiment among themselves, but they cannotso dispose of his soul. They "have no more that they can do" (Luke12:4).
Conclusion Fifth, Another conclusion that followeth from these words is this, Thata man, when he is a sufferer, is not able to secure his own soul from the hand ofhell by any other means, but by the committing of the keeping thereof to God. Doyou suffer? Are you in affliction for your profession? Then keep not your soul inyour own hand, for fear of losing that with the rest. For no man "can keep alivehis own soul" (Psa 22:29). No, not in the greatest calm; no, not when the lionis asleep: how then should he do it at such a time, when the horrible blast of theterrible ones shall beat against his wall. The consideration of this was that thatmade holy Paul, who was a man upon whom persecution continually attended, commithis soul to God (Acts 20:22-24; 2 Tim 1:12). God, as I shall shew you by and by,is he, and he alone that is able to keep the soul, and deliver it from danger. Manis naturally a self-deceiver, and therefore is not to be trusted, any farther thanas the watchful eye of God is over him. But as to his soul, he is not to be trustedwith that at all, that must be wholly committed to God, left altogether with him;laid at his feet, and he also must take the charge thereof, or else it is gone, willbe lost, and will perish for ever and ever. Wherefore it is a dangerous thing fora man that is a sufferer, to be a senseless man, as to the danger that his soul isin, and a prayerless man, as to the committing of the keeping of it to God. For hethat is such, has yet his soul, and the keeping thereof, in his own deceitful hand.And so has he also that stays himself upon his friends, upon his knowledge, the promiseof men, or the mercy of his enemies, or that has set in his mind a bound to himself,how far he will venture for religion, and where he will stop. This is the man thatmakes not God his trust, and that therefore will surely fall in the day of his temptation.Satan, who now hunteth for the precious soul to destroy it, has power, as well aspolicy, beyond what man can think. He has power to blind, harden, and to make insensible,the heart. He also can make truth in the eyes of the suffering man, a poor, little,and insignificant thing. Judas had not committed the keeping of his soul to God,but abode in himself, and was left in his tabernacle: and you by and by see whata worthy price he set upon himself, his Christ, and heaven, and all. All to him wasnot now worth thirty pieces of silver.
And as he can make truth in thy esteem to be little, so he can make sufferings great,and ten times more terrible, than he that hath committed the keeping of his soulto God shall ever find them. A jail shall look as black as hell, and the loss ofa few stools and chairs, as bad as the loss of so many bags of gold.  Death forthe Saviour of the world, shall seem to be a thing both unreasonable and intolerable.Such will choose to run the hazard of the loss of a thousand souls, in the way ofthe world, rather than the loss of one poor, sorry, transitory life for the holyWord of God. But the reason, as I said, is, they have not committed the keeping oftheir soul to God. For he that indeed has committed the keeping of his soul to thatgreat one, has shaken his hands of all things here. Has bid adieu to the world, tofriends, and life: and waiteth upon God in a way of close keeping to his truth, andwalking in his ways, having counted the cost, and been persuaded to take what cupGod shall suffer the world to give him for so doing.
Conclusion Sixth, Another conclusion that followeth from these words, is, That Godis very willing to take the charge and care of the soul (that is committed unto him)of them that suffer for his sake in the world. If this were not true, the exhortationwould not answer the end. What is intended by, "Let him commit the keeping ofhis soul to God," but that the sufferer should indeed leave that great carewith him; but if God be not willing to be concerned with such a charge, what bottomis there for the exhortation? But the exhortation has this for its bottom, thereforeGod is willing to take the charge and care of the soul of him that suffereth forhis name in this world. "The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and noneof them that trust in him shall be desolate" (Psa 34:22; 1 Sam 25:28,29). None,not one that committeth his soul to God's keeping in a way of well doing, but shallfind him willing to be concerned therewith.
Ay, this, saith the sufferer, if I could believe this, it would rid me of all myfears. But I find myself engaged for God, for I have made a profession of his name,and cannot arrive to this belief that God is willing to take the charge and careof my soul. Wherefore I fear, that if trials come so high, as that life, as wellas estate, must go, that both life, and estate, and soul, and all will be lost atonce.
Well, honest heart, these are thy fears, but let them fly away, and consider thetext again, "Let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keepingof their souls to him, - as unto a faithful Creator." These are God's words,Christ's words, and the invitation of the Holy Ghost. When, therefore, thou readestthem, be persuaded that thou hearest the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost,all of them jointly and severally speaking to thee and saying, Poor sinner, thouart engaged for God in the world, thou art suffering for his Word: leave thy soulwith him as with one that is more willing to save it, than thou art willing he should:act faith, trust God, believe his Word, and go on in thy way of witness-bearing forhim, and thou shalt find all well, and according to the desire of thy heart at last.True, Satan will make it his business to tempt thee to doubt of this, that thy waybe made yet more hard and difficult to thee. For he knows that unbelief is a soul-perplexingsin, and makes that which would otherwise be light, pleasant, and easy, unutterablyheavy and burdensome to the sufferer. Yea, this he doth in hope to make thee at last,to cast away thy profession, thy cause, thy faith, thy conscience, thy soul, andall. But hear what the Holy Ghost saith again: "He shall spare the poor andneedy, and shall save the souls of the needy. He shall redeem their soul from deceitand violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight" (Psa 72:13,14).These words also are spoken for the comfort of sufferers, ver. 12. "For he shalldeliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper."Wherefore, let them that are God's sufferers, pluck up a good heart; let them notbe afraid to trust God with their souls, and with their eternal concerns. Let themcast all their care upon God, for he careth for them (1 Peter 5:7).
But I am in the dark.
I answer, never stick at that. It is most bravely done, to trust God with my soulin the dark, and to resolve to serve God for nothing, rather than give out. Not tosee, and yet to believe, and to be a follower of the Lamb, and yet to be at uncertainty,what we shall have at last, argues love, fear, faith, and an honest mind, and givesthe greatest sign of one that hath true sincerity in his soul. It was this that madeJob and Peter so famous, and the want of it that took away much of the glory of thefaith of Thomas (Job 1:8-10,21; Matt 19:27; John 20:29). Wherefore believe, verily,that God is ready, willing, yea, that he looks for, and expects that thou who arta sufferer shouldest commit the keeping of thy soul to him, as unto a faithful Creator.
Conclusion Seventh. Another conclusion that followeth from these words is this, namely,That God is able, as well as willing, to secure the souls of his suffering saints,and to save them from the evil of all their trials, be they never so many, divers,or terrible. "Let him commit the keeping of his soul to God," but to whatboot, if he be not able to keep it in his hand, and from the power of him that seeksthe soul to destroy it? But "my Father which gave them me," saith Christ,"is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand"(John 10:29). So then there can be no sorrow, affliction, or misery invented, bywhich the devil may so strongly prevail, as thereby to pluck the soul out of thehand of him who has received it, to keep it from falling, and perishing thereby.The text therefore supposeth a sufficiency of power in God to support, and a sufficiencyof comfort and goodness to embolden the soul to endure for him: let Satan break out,and his instruments too, to the greatest degree of their rage and cruelty.
1. There is in God a sufficiency of power to keep them that have laid their soulat his foot to be preserved. And hence he is called the soul-keeper, the soul-preserver,(Prov 24:12) "The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preservethee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul" (Psa 121:5-7). "The sunshall not smite thee": that is, persecution shall not dry and wither thee awayto nothing (Matt 13:6,21). But that notwithstanding, thou shalt be kept and preserved,carried through and delivered from all evil. Let him therefore commit the keepingof his soul to him, if he is in a suffering condition, that would have it securedand found safe and sound at last. For,
(1.) Then thine own natural weakness, and timorousness shall not overcome thee.—Forit shall not be too hard for God. God can make the most soft spirited man as hardas an adamant, harder than flint, yea harder than the northern steel. "Shalliron break the northern iron and the steel?" (Jer 15:12). The sword of him is[used] in vain that lays at a Christian, when he is in the way of his duty to God:if God has taken to him the charge and care of his soul, he can shoe him with brass,and make his hoofs of iron (Deut 33:25). "He can strengthen the spoiled againstthe strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress" (Amos 5:8;Eze 13:9).
He can turn thee into another man, and make thee that which thou never wast. TimorousPeter, fearful Peter, he could make as bold as a lion. He that at one time was afraidof a sorry girl, he could make at another to stand boldly before the council (Matt26; Acts 4:13). There is nothing too hard for God. He can say to them that are ofa fearful heart, "Be strong, fear not" (Isa 35:4). He can say, Let theweak say I am strong; by such a word, by which he created the world (Zech 12:8).
(2.) Thine own natural darkness and ignorance shall not cause thee to fall; thy wantof wit he can supply.—He can say to the fools, be wise; not only by way of correction,but also by way of instruction too. He "hath chosen the foolish things of theworld to confound the wise; - yea, things which are despised, - and things whichare not, hath God chosen to bring to nought things that are" (1 Cor 1:27,28).Wisdom and might are his: and when, and where he will work, none can at all withstandhim. He can give thee the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of hisSon (Eph 1:17). Yea, to do this, is that which he challengeth, as that which is peculiarto himself. "Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understandingto the heart?" (Job 38:36). And that he will do this that he hath promised,yea, promised to do it to that degree, as to make his, that shall be thus concernedfor him, to top, and overtop all men that shall them oppose. I, saith he, "willgive you a mouth and wisdom, that all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsaynor resist" (Luke 21:15).
(3.) Thine own doubts and mistrusts about what he will do, and about whither thoushalt go, when thou for him hast suffered awhile, he can resolve, yea, dissolve,crush, and bring to nothing.—He can make fear flee far away: and place heavenly confidencein its room. He can bring invisible and eternal things to the eye of thy soul, andmake thee see that in those things in which thine enemies shall see nothing, thatthou shalt count worth the loss of ten thousand lives to enjoy. He can pull suchthings out of his bosom, and can put such things into thy mouth; yea, can make theechoose to be gone, though through the flames, than to stay here and die in silkensheets. Yea, he can himself come near and bring his heaven and glory to thee. TheSpirit of glory and of God resteth upon them that are but reproached for the nameof Christ (1 Peter 4:14). And what the Spirit of glory is, and what is his restingupon his sufferers, is quite beyond the knowledge of the world, and is but littlefelt by saints at peace. They be they that are engaged, and that are under the lashof Christ; they are they, I say, that have it and that understand something of it.
When Moses went up the first time into the mount to God, the people reproached himfor staying with him so long, saying, "As for this Moses, - we wot not whatis become of him" (Exo 32:1). Well, the next time he went up thither, and camedown, the Spirit of glory was upon him; his face shone, though he wist it not, tohis honour, and their amazement (Exo 34:29-35). Also while Stephen stood before thecouncil to be accused, by suborned men, "All that sat in the council, lookingsteadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel" (Acts6:15). Those that honour God, he will honour, yea, will put some of his glory uponthem, but they shall be honoured. There is none can tell what God can do. He canmake those things that in themselves are most fearful and terrible to behold, themost pleasant, delightful, and desirable things. He can make a jail more beautifulthan a palace; restraint, more sweet by far than liberty. And "the reproachof Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt" (Heb 11:26). It is saidof Christ, That "for the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross,despising the shame" (Heb 12:2). But,
2. As there is in God a sufficiency of power to uphold, so there is in him also asufficiency of comfort and goodness to embolden us: I mean communicative comfortand goodness. Variety of, and the terribleness that attends afflictions, call, notonly for the beholding of things, but also a laying hold of them by faith and feeling;now this also is with God to the making of HIS to sing in the night. Paul and Silassang in prison, the apostles went away from the council rejoicing, when they hadshamefully beaten them for their preaching in the temple (Acts 5). But whence camethis but from an inward feeling by faith of the love of God, and of Christ, whichpasseth knowledge? Hence he says to those under afflictions, "Fear none of thosethings which thou shalt suffer" (Rev 2:10). There are things to be suffered,as well as places to suffer in; and there are things to be let into the soul forits emboldening, as well as things to be showed to it (Rom 5:5).
Now the things to be suffered are many, some of which are thus counted up: "Theywere tortured, - had cruel mockings and scourgings; - they were stoned, were sawnasunder, were slain with the sword, - were tempted; - they wandered about in sheep-skins,and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented" (Heb 11:35-37). Theseare some of the things that good men of old have suffered for their profession ofthe name of Jesus Christ. All which they were enabled by him to bear, to bear withpatience; to bear with rejoicing; "knowing in themselves that they had in heavena better, and an enduring substance" (Heb 10:32-34). And it is upon this accountthat Paul doth call to mind the most dreadful of his afflictions, which he sufferedfor the gospel sake with rejoicing; and that he tells us that he was most glad, whenhe was in such infirmities. Yea, it is upon this account that he boasteth, and vauntethit over death, life, angels, principalities, powers, things present, things to come,height, depth, and every other creature: for he knew that there was enough in thatlove of God, which was set on him through Christ, to preserve him, and to carry himthrough all (2 Cor 12:9,10; Rom 8:37-39). That God has done thus, a thousand instancesmight be given; and that God will still do thus, for that we have his faithful promise(Isa 43:2; 1 Cor 10:13).
To the adversaries of the church these things have also sometimes been shewed, totheir amazement and confusion. God shewed to the king of Babylon that he was withthe three children in the fiery furnace (Dan 3:24). God shewed to the king of Babylonagain, that he would be where HIS were, though in the lion's den (6:24).
Also, in later days, whoso reads Mr. Fox's Acts and Monuments, will also find severalthings to confirm this for truth. God has power over all plagues, and therefore caneither heighten, or moderate and lessen them at pleasure. He has power over fire,and can take away the intolerable heat thereof. This those in the Marian days couldalso testify, namely, Hauks and Bainham, and others, who could shout for joy, andclap their hands in the very flames for joy. God has power over hunger, and can moderateit, and cause that one meal's meat shall go as far as forty were wont to do. Thisis witness in Elias, when he went for his life to the mount of God, being fled fromthe face of Jezebel (1 Kings 19:8). And what a good night's lodging had Jacob whenhe fled from the face of his brother Esau: when the earth was his couch, the stonehis pillow, the heavens his canopy, and the shades of the night his curtains(Gen 27:12-16).
I can do all things, said Paul, through Christ strengthening me. And again, I takepleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distressesfor Christ's sake. But how can that be, since no affliction for the present seemsjoyous? I answer, though they be not so in themselves, yet Christ, by his presence,can make them so: for then his power rests upon us. When I am weak, saith he, thenI am strong; then Christ doth in me mighty things: for my strength, saith Christ,is made perfect in weakness; in affliction, for the gospel sake.
For when my people are afflicted and suffer great distress for me, then they havemy comforting, supporting, emboldening, and upholding presence to relieve them: aninstance of which you have in the three children and in Daniel, made mention of before.But what, think you, did these servants of the God of Jacob feel, feel in their souls,of his power and comforting presence when they, for his name, were suffering of therage of their enemies,—while, also, one, like the Son of God, was walking in thefire with the three; and while Daniel sat and saw that the hands of the angels weremade muzzles for the lions' mouths.
I say, was it not worth being in the furnace and in the den to see such things asthese? O! the grace of God, and his Spirit and power that is with them that sufferfor him, if their hearts be upright with him; if they are willing to be faithfulto him; if they have learned to say, here am I, whenever he calls them, and whateverhe calls them to. "Wherefore," when Peter saith, "let them that sufferaccording to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing,as unto a faithful Creator." He concludes, that how outrageous, furious, merciless,or cruel soever the enemy is, yet there, with him, they shall find help and succour,relief and comfort; for God is able to make such as do so, stand.
Conclusion Eighth. We will now come to touch upon that which may more immediatelybe called the reason of this exhortation; for, although all these things that havebeen mentioned before may, or might be called reasons of the point, yet there arethose, in my judgment, that may be called reasons, which are yet behind. As,
1. Because, when a man has, by faith and prayer, committed the keeping of his soulto God, he has the advantage of that liberty of soul to do and suffer for God thathe cannot otherwise have. He that has committed his soul to God to keep is rid ofthat care, and is delivered from the fear of its perishing for ever. When the Jewswent to stone Stephen they laid their clothes down at a distance from the place,at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul, that they might not be a cumber or atrouble to them, as to their intended work. So we, when we go about to drive sinout of the world, in a way of suffering for God's truth against it, we shouldlay down our souls at the feet of God to care for, that we may not be cumbered withthe care of them ourselves; also, that our care of God's truth may not be weakenedby such sudden and strong doubts as will cause us faintingly to say, But what willbecome of my soul? When Paul had told his son Timothy that he had been before thatlion Nero, and that he was at present delivered out of his mouth, he adds, And theLord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenlykingdom. He shall and will. Here is a man at liberty, here are no cumbersome fears.But how came the apostle by this confidence of his well-being and of his share inanother world? Why, "he had committed the keeping of his soul to God,"compare 2 Timothy 1:12 with 4:18. For to commit the keeping of the soul to God, ifit be done in faith and prayer, it leaves, or rather brings this holy boldness andconfidence into the soul.
Suppose a man in the country were necessitated to go to London, and had a great chargeof money to pay in there; suppose, also, that the way thither was become exceedingdangerous because of the highwaymen that continually abide therein,—what now mustthis man do to go on his journey cheerfully? Why, let him pay in his money to suchan one in the country as will be sure to return it for him at London safely. Why,this is the case, thou art bound for heaven, but the way thither is dangerous. Itis beset everywhere with evil angels, who would rob thee of thy soul, What now? Why,if thou wouldest go cheerfully on in thy dangerous journey, commit thy treasure,thy soul, to God to keep; and then thou mayest say, with comfort, Well, that careis over: for whatever I meet with in my way thither, my soul is safe enough: thethieves, if they meet me, can not come at that; I know to whom I have committed mysoul, and I am persuaded that he will keep that to my joy and everlasting comfortagainst the great day.
This, therefore, is one reason why we should, that suffer for Christ, commit thekeeping of our souls to God; because a doubt about the well-being of that will bea clog, a burden, and an affliction to our spirit: yea, the greatest of afflictions,whilst we are taking up our cross and bearing it after Christ. The joy of the Lordis our strength, and the fear of perishing is that which will be weakening to usin the way.
2. We should commit the keeping of our souls to God, because the final conclusionthat merciless men do sometimes make with the servants of God is all on a sudden.They give no warning before they strike. We shall not need here to call you to mindabout the massacres that were in Ireland, Paris, Piedmont, and other places, wherethe godly, in the night before they were well awake, had, some of them, their heartblood running on the ground. The savage monsters crying out, Kill, kill, from oneend of a street or a place to the other. This was sudden; and he that had not committedhis soul to God to keep it was surely very hard put to it now; but he that had doneso was ready for such sudden work. Sometimes, indeed, the axe, and halter, or thefaggot is shewed first; but sometimes, again, it is without that warning. Up, saidSaul to Doeg, the Edomite, and slay the priests of the Lord (1 Sam 22:11,18,19).Here was sudden work: fall on, said Saul, and Doeg fell upon them, "and slewon that day four score and five persons that did wear a linen ephod." "Nob,also, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men andwomen, children and sucklings," &c. Here was but a word and a blow. Thinkestthou not, who readest these lines, that all of these who had before committed theirsoul to God to keep were the fittest folk to die?
"And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to bebrought" (Mark 6:27). The story is concerning Herod and John the Baptist: Herod'sdancing girl had begged John the Baptist's head, and nothing but his head must serveher turn; well, girl, thou shalt have it. Have it? Ay, but it will be long first.No; thou shalt have it now, just now, immediately. "And immediately he sentan executioner, and commanded his head to be brought."
Here is sudden work for sufferers; here is no intimation beforehand. The executionercomes to John; now, whether he was at dinner, or asleep, or whatever he was about,the bloody man bolts in upon him, and the first word he salutes him with is, Sir,strip, lay down your neck, for I am come to take away your head. But hold, stay;wherefore? pray, let me commit my soul to God. No, I must not stay; I am in haste:slap, says his sword, and off falls the good man's head. This is sudden work; workthat stays for no man; work that must be done by and by; immediately, or it is notworth a rush. I will, said she, that thou give me, by and by, in a charger, the headof John the Baptist. Yea, she came in haste, and hastily the commandment went forth,and immediately his head was brought.
3. Unless a man commits the keeping of his soul to God, it is a question whetherhe can hold out and stand his ground, and wrestle with all temptations. "Thisis the victory, - even our faith"; and "who is he that overcometh the world,but he that believeth?" And what encouragement has a man to suffer for Christ,whose heart cannot believe, and whose soul he cannot commit to God to keep it? Andour Lord Jesus intimates as much when he saith, "Be thou faithful unto deathand I will give thee a crown of life." Wherefore saith he thus? but to encouragethose that suffer for his truth in the world, to commit the keeping of their soulsto him, and to believe that he hath taken the charge and care of them. Paul's wisdomwas, that he was ready to die before his enemies were ready to kill him. "Iam now ready," saith he, "to be offered and the time of my departure isat hand" (2 Tim 4:6).
This is, therefore, a thing of high concern; to wit, the committing of the soul toGod to keep it. It is, I say, of concern to do it now, just now, quickly, whetherthou art yet engaged or no; for it is a good preparatory to, as well as profitablein, a time of persecution: consider it, I say. The apostle Paul saith that he andhis companions were bold in their God, to profess and stand to the word of God (1Thess 2:2). But how could that be if they had the salvation of their souls to seek,and that to be sure they would have had, had they not committed the keeping of theirsouls to him in well-doing?
Quest. But what is committing of the soul to God?
Answ. I have, in general, briefly spoken to that already, and now, for thy furtherhelp, we will a little enlarge. Wherefore,
(1.) To commit is to deliver up to custody to be kept. Hence prisoners, when sentto the jail, are said to be committed thither. Thus Paul, "haling men and women,committing them to prison" (Acts 8:3). And thus Joseph's master committed allhis prisoners to him, to his custody, to be kept there according to the law (Gen39:22).
(2.) To commit, is not only to deliver up to custody, but to give in charge; thatthat which is committed be kept safe, and not suffered to be lost (Luke 16:11). ThusPaul was committed to prison, the jailor being charged to keep him safely (Acts 16:23).
(3.) To commit, is to leave the whole disposal, sometimes, of that which is committedto those to whom such thing is committed. Thus were the shields of the temple committedto the guard (1 Kings 14:27) And Jeremiah to the hands of Gedaliah (Jer 39:14).
And thus thou must commit thy soul to God and to his care and keeping. It must bedelivered up to his care and put under his custody. Thou mayest also, though I wouldspeak modestly, give him a charge to take the care of it. "Concerning my sons[and concerning my daughters] and concerning the work of my hands, command ye me"(Isa 45:11). Thou must also leave all the concerns of thy soul and of thy being aninheritor of the next world wholly to the care of God. He that doth this in the waythat God has bid him is safe, though the sky should fall. "The poor committethhimself unto thee, thou art the helper of the fatherless" (Psa 10:14).
And for encouragement to do this, the Lord has bidden us, the Lord has commandedus, the Lord expecteth that we should thus do. Yea, thou art also bidden to committhy way unto him (Psa 37:5). Thy work unto him (Prov 16:3). Thy cause unto him (Job5:8). Thy soul to him, and he will take care of all. And if we do this, as we should,God will not only take care of us and of our souls in the general, but that our workand ways be so ordered that we may not fail in either. "I have trusted,"said David, "in the Lord, therefore I shall not slide" (Psa 26:1).
Before I leave this, I will speak something of the way in which this commitment ofthe soul to God must be; and that is, "in a way of well-doing." Let themcommit the keeping of their souls to him "in well-doing"; or, in a wayof well-doing. That is, therefore, the course that a godly man should be found in,at, in, and after he hath committed his soul to God to keep. And, as the apostlesays in another place, this is but a "reasonable service" (Rom 12:1). Forif God be so gracious as to take care of my soul at my request, why should not Ialso be so gracious as to be found in a way of well-doing at his bidding? Take care,master, of me for meat and wages, and I will take care, master, that thy work shallbe faithfully done. This is honest, and thus should Christians say to God: and hethat heartily, in this, shall mean as he saith, shall find that God's ways shallbe strength unto him.
A Christian is not to commit his soul unto God to keep, and so to grow remiss, carnal,negligent, cold, and worldly; concluding as if he had now bound God to save him,but sets himself at liberty whether he will longer serve him in trying and troublesometimes or no. He must commit the keeping of his soul to him "in well-doing."He may not now relinquish God's cause, play the apostate, cast off the cross, andlook for heaven notwithstanding. He that doth thus will find himself mistaken, andbe made to know at last that God takes the care of no such souls. "If any mandraws back," saith he, "my soul shall have no pleasure in him." Wherefore,he that committeth the keeping of his soul to God must do it in that way which Godhas prescribed to him, which is in a way of well-doing. Alas! alas! there is neversuch a word in it; it must be done in a way of "well-doing." You must thinkof this that would commit your souls to God in suffering and troublesome times. Youmust do it in well-doing.
"In well-doing," that is, in persevering in ways of godliness, both withrespect to morals and also instituted worship. Thou, therefore, that wouldest haveGod take care of thy soul, as thou believest, so thou must do well; that is, do goodto the poor, to thy neighbour, to all men, especially to the household of faith.Benjamin must have a Benjamin's mess; and all others, as thou art capable, must feeland find the fruit of thy godliness. Thou must thus serve the Lord with much humilityof mind, though through many difficulties and much temptation.
Thou must also keep close to gospel worship, public and private; doing of those thingsthat thou hast warrant for from the word, and leaving of that or those things forothers that will stick to them—that have no stamp of God upon them. Thou must befound doing of all with all thy heart, and if thou sufferest for so doing, thou mustbear it patiently. For what Peter saith to the women he spake to, may be appliedto all believers, "whose daughters ye are," saith he, meaning Sarah's,"as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement" (1 Peter3:6).
So then, the man that has committed his soul to God to keep has not at all disengagedhimself from his duty, or took himself off from a perseverance in that good workthat, under a suffering condition, he was bound to do before. No; his very committingof his soul to God to keep it has laid an engagement upon him to abide to God inthat calling wherein he is called of God. To commit my soul to God, supposes my sensiblenessof hazard and danger; but there is none [no danger] among men when the offence ofthe cross is ceased. To commit my soul to God to keep, concludes my resolution togo on in that good way of God that is so dangerous to my soul, if God taketh notthe charge and care thereof. For he that saith in his heart, I will now commit mysoul to God, if he knows what he says, says thus: I am for holding on in a way ofbearing of my cross after Christ, though I come to the same end for so doing as hecame to before me. This is committing the soul to him in well-doing. Look to yourselves,therefore, whoever you are that talk of leaving your souls with God, but do liveloose, idle, profane, and wicked lives. God will not take care of such men's souls;they commit them not unto him as they should. They do but flatter him with theirlips and lie unto him with their tongue, and think to deceive the Lord; but to nopurpose. "He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption."It is he that sows to the Spirit that shall "reap life everlasting" (Gal6:7,8).
[SECOND—A DESCRIPTION OF THE PERSONS WHO ARE DIRECTED TO COMMIT THE KEEPING OF THEIRSOULS TO GOD.]
I shall now come to the second thing contained in the text, namely, to give you amore distinct description of the men that are thus bid to commit the keeping of theirsouls to God. And they are thus described: they that "suffer according to thewill of God." "Let them that suffer according to the will of God committhe keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator."
Two things are here to be inquired into. FIRST, What the apostle here means by thewill of God. SECOND, What suffering according to the will of God is.
FIRST, For the will of God, it is divers ways taken in the scriptures; as, sometimes,for electing, justifying, sanctifying acts of God; sometimes for faith, good life,and sometimes for suffering for his name (Rom 9; Eph 1:11; John 7:17; 1 John 3:23;1 Thess 4:3; Matt 7:21). But, by will of God here we must, First, Understand HISLAW AND TESTAMENT. Second, HIS ORDER AND DESIGNMENT.
[THE WILL OF GOD MEANS HIS LAW AND TESTAMENT.]
First, By his will I understand his law and testament. This is called the revealedwill of God, or that by which he has made himself, and how he will be worshiped,known unto the children of men. Now, I, understanding these words thus, must, beforeI go further, make this distinction, to wit, that there is a difference to be putbetwixt them that suffer for the breach and those that suffer for keeping of thislaw and testament; for though both of them may suffer by the will of God, yet theyare not both concerned in this text. A malefactor that suffereth for his evil deedsthe due punishment thereof, suffereth, as other texts declare, according to the willof God. But, I say, this text doth not concern itself with them; for both this textand this epistle is writ for the counsel and comfort of those that suffer for keepingthe law and testament of God; that suffer for well- doing (1 Peter 3:13,14,17; 4:13,14).
The man then that is concerned in this advice is he that suffereth from the handsof men for keeping of the word of God; and this is he that has licence, leave, yea,a command to commit the keeping of his soul to God in well-doing, as unto a faithfulCreator. We will a little enlarge upon this.
[What it is to suffer according to the will of God, or his law and testament.]
He that keepeth the word of God is such an one that has regard to both the matterand manner thereof. The matter is the truth, the doctrine contained therein; themanner is that comely, godly, humble, faithful way of doing it which becomes a manthat has to do with the law and testament of God; and both these are contained inthe text. For, first, here is the will of God to be done; and then, secondly, tobe done according to his will. "Let them that suffer according to his will":which words, I say, take in both matter and manner of doing. So then, the man thathere we have to do with, and to discourse of, is a man that, in the sense now given,suffereth. That which makes a martyr, is suffering for the word of God after a rightmanner; and that is, when he suffereth, not only for righteousness, but for righteousness'sake; not only for truth, but of love to truth; not only for God's word, but accordingto it, to wit, in that holy, humble, meek manner as the word of God requireth. Aman may give his body to be burned for God's truth, and yet be none of God's martyrs(1 Cor 13:1-3). Yea, a man may suffer with a great deal of patience, and yet be noneof God's martyrs (1 Peter 2:20). The one, because he wanteth that grace that shouldpoise his heart, and make him right in the manner of doing; the other, because hewanteth that word of the Holy One that alone can make his cause good, as to matter.It is, therefore, matter and manner that makes the martyr; and it is this man thatis intended in the text which is aforesaid described. So then, they that suffer forthe law and testament of God in that holy and humble manner that the Word requires,they are they that, by this Word of God, are commanded to commit the keeping of theirsouls to God.
From this consideration, two things present themselves to our sight. 1. That a manmay be a Christian, and suffer, and yet not suffer, in the sense last given, accordingto the will of God. 2. There have been, and may yet be a people in the world thathave, and may suffer in the sense of the apostle here, according to the will of God.
[1. A Christian may suffer, but not in the sense of the apostle, according to thewill of God.]
A few words to the first of these, namely, that a man may be a Christian, and suffer,and yet not suffer, in the sense of the apostle in the text, "according to thewill of God." He may be a Christian and yet not suffer as a Christian. He maywant the matter, or, he may want the manner, of suffering as a Christian.
This is evident from what this apostle suggests in several places of this epistle.For,
Saith he, "If ye be buffeted for your faults" (1 Peter 2:20). This supposeththat a Christian may so be; for he speaketh here to the same people, unto whom hespeaketh in the text, though he putteth them not under the same circumstance, assuffering for well-doing. If ye be buffeted for your faults, for what God's wordcalls faults, what thank have you from God, or good men, though you take it patiently?
So again, "For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well-doing,than for evil-doing" (1 Peter 3:17). Here it is plainly supposed that a Christianman may suffer for evil-doing, yea, that the will of God may be, that he should sufferfor evil- doing. For God, if Christians do not well, will vindicate himself by punishingof them for their doing ill. Yea, and will not count them worthy, though they behis own, to be put among the number of those that suffer for doing well.
Again, "But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer,or as a busybody in other men's matters" (1 Peter 4:15). These are cautionsto Christians to persuade them to take heed to themselves, their tongues and theiractions, that all be kept within the bounds of the Word. For it would be a foolishthing to say, that these are cautions to persuade to take heed of that, into whichit is not possible one should fall. It is possible for Christians to suffer for evil-doing,and therefore let Christians beware; it is possible for Christians to be broughtto public justice for their faults, and therefore let Christians beware. It is possiblefor Christians to suffer justly by the hand of the magistrate, and therefore letChristians beware. This also is insinuated in the text itself, and therefore letChristians beware.
The causes of this are many, some of which I shall now briefly touch upon.
(1.) Sin is in the best of men: and as long as it is so, without great watchfulness,and humble walking with God, we may be exposed to shame and suffering for it. Whatsin is it that a child of God is not liable to commit, excepting that which is thesin unpardonable? Nor have we a promise of being kept from any other sin, but oncondition that we do watch and pray (Matt 26:41).
(2.) It is possible for a Christian to have an erroneous conscience in some things,yea, in such things as, if God by his grace prevents not, may bring us to publicjustice and shame. Abishai, though a good man, would have killed the king, and thatof conscience to God, and love to his master (1 Sam 26:7,8). And had David deliveredhim up to Saul for his attempt, he had in all likelihood died as a traitor. Peterdrew his sword, and would have fought therewith, a thing for which he was blamedof his Master, and bid with a threatening, to put it up again (Matt 26:52). Besides,oppression makes a wise man mad; and when a man is mad what evils will he not do?Further, The devil, who is the great enemy of the Christians, can send forth suchspirits into the world as shall not only disturb men, but nations, kings, and kingdoms,in raising divisions, distractions and rebellions. And can so manage matters thatthe looser sort of Christians may be also dipped and concerned therein. In Absalom'sconspiracy against his father, there were two hundred men called out of Jerusalemto follow him, "and they went in their simplicity, not knowing any thing"(2 Sam 15:11). I thank God I know of no such men, nor thing: but my judgment tellsme, that if Christians may be drawn into fornication, adultery, murder, theft, blasphemyor the like, as they may; why should it be thought impossible for them to be drawnin here. Wherefore I say again, watch and pray, fear God, reverence his Word, approveof his appointments, that you may be delivered from every evil work and way.
I said afore that the will of God may be, that a Christian should suffer as an evil-doer;but then it is because he keepeth not within the bounds of that, which is also calledthe will of God. The will of God is, that sin should be punished, though committedby the Christians; punished according to the quality of transgressions: and thereforeit is that he hath ordained magistrates. Magistrates, to punish sin, though it bethe sin of Christians. They are the ministers of God, revengers, to execute wrath,the wrath of God upon them that do evil (Rom 13). Wherefore, though the Christianas a Christian is the only man at liberty, as called thereunto of God; yet his libertyis limited to things that are good: he is not licensed thereby to indulge the flesh.Holiness and liberty are joined together, yea our call to liberty, is a call to holiness.Seek, and you shall find, that a quiet and peaceable life, in our respective places,under the government, is that which we should pray for, to wit, that we may withoutmolestation, if it were "the will of God," spend our days in all godlinessand honesty among our neighbours. See 1 Timothy 2:1-8; 1 Peter 2:13-17.
[First. Caution to Christians as Christians.] —I would improve this a little, andfirst, to Christians as Christians: beware the cautions, that are here presentedto you, be not neglected by you. The evils are burning hot, as hot as a red hot iron.It is the greatest blemish that can be to a Christian, to suffer as an evil- doer.To say nothing of the reproach that such do bring to the name of Christ, their Lord;to his law, their rule; and to the Christian profession, which should be their glory:the guilt and shame that evil actions will load the conscience with at such a time,can hardly be stood under. The man that suffereth as an evil-doer, and yet weareththe name of a Christian, what stumbling blocks doth he lay in the way of the ignorantin a kingdom? The devil told them before, that a Christian was a mischievous man;and to suffer for evil-doing, confirms them in that belief.
Consider also the difficulties that surely such must meet with in the last minutesof their life. For can it be imagined but that such an one must have combats andconflicts at the last, who carry in their consciences the guilt and condemnationthat is due to their deeds, to the place which magistrates have appointed for themto receive the reward of their works at. Such an one bereaves not only his own soulof peace, and his name of credit, but himself of life, his friends of all cause ofrejoicing, and casteth reproach upon religion, as he is stepping out of the world.What shall I say, Christians as Christians have other things to do than to concernthemselves in evil things, or to meddle in other men's matters. Let us mind our ownbusiness, and leave the magistrate to his work, office and calling among men also.
I speak now to them that are not by the king called to that employ. A Christian assuch has enough to do at home, in his heart, in his house, in his shop, and the like.But if thou must needs be meddling, consider what place, office, calling or relation,God has put thee in, and busy thyself by the rule of the Word to a conscientiousperformance of that. Nor shalt thou want dignity, though thou art but a private Christian.Every Christian man is made a king by Christ (Rev 5:10). But then, his dominion assuch, doth reach no further than to himself. He has not dominion over another's faith(2 Cor 1:24). His office is to govern, and bridle, and keep under, himself; to watchover himself, and to bring his body into subjection to the will of God. The weaponsthat he has for this purpose are not carnal, but spiritual, and mighty through God.Let him govern then, if he will be a governor, his whole man by the Word. Let himbring down, if he must be bringing down, his own high imaginations, and every highthing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. If he must be a warrior, lethim levy war against his own unruly passions, and let him fight against those luststhat war against his soul (2 Cor 10:3-5; Gal 5:17; James 3:3-8; 1 Peter 2:11).
I say therefore, if thou wilt needs be a ruler, thou hast a tongue, rule that; lusts,rule them; affections, govern them; yea, thou hast excellent graces, manage them,cherish, strengthen and replenish them according to the mind of that great one whohas bestowed such power to rule, upon thee. Mortify therefore your members whichare upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence,and covetousness, which is idolatry (Col 3:5). Nor do I think that murmuring, shrinking,wincing, complaining, and the like, when men, governors, lay a yoke upon our necks,flow from any thing else, but love to our flesh, and distrust of the faithfulnessof God to manage men, things, and actions for his church. The powers that be areordered as well as ordained of God. They are also always in God's hand, as his rodor staff for the good and benefit of his people. Wherefore we ought with all meeknessand humbleness of mind to accept of what our God by them shall please to lay uponus (1 Peter 5:6). By what I now say, I do not forbid groaning and crying to God underaffliction. I speak against striving to deliver ourselves from the affliction. Andsince men are, as I said, the rod, staff or sword in God's hand, we should applyourselves unto him in faith in a way of prayer, intercession, supplication and givingof thanks for governors. For since they are sent of God, they must needs come withsome good in their hand for us, also our prayers may make them more profitable tous. And this we ought to do without wrath and doubting; for this is that which isgood, and acceptable unto God (1 Tim 2).
Besides, it is a sign that we forget ourselves when we complain for the punishmentof our sins. If we look into ourselves, and ways, we shall see cause of more heavystripes than yet God by men has laid upon us. What sin has yet been suppressed byall that has happened to us: if pride, covetousness, looseness, treacherous dealing,schisms, and other things, redressed by all the affliction that we have had? Yea,do we not grow worse and worse? Wherefore then should we complain? Where is repentance,reformation, and amendment of life amongst us? Why, then, do we shrink and winch.For my part, I have ofttimes stood amazed both at the mercy of God, and the favourof the Prince towards us; and can give thanks to God for both: and do make it myprayer to God for the king, and that God will help me with meekness and patienceto bear whatever shall befall me for my professed subjection to Christ, by men.
We are bid, as I said afore, to give thanks to God for all men, for kings, and forall that are in authority. Because, as I said, there is no man with whom we haveto do, we doing as we should, but he bringeth some good thing to us, or doth somegood thing for us. We will now descend from them that are supreme in authority, andwill come to inferior men: and suppose some of them to act beyond measure, cruelly.What? Can no good thing come to us out of this? Do not even such things as are mostbitter to the flesh, tend to awaken Christians to faith and prayer, to a sight ofthe emptiness of this world, and the fadingness of the best it yields? Doth not Godby these things ofttimes call our sins to remembrance, and provoke us to amendmentof life? how then can we be offended at things by
which we reap so much good, and at things that God makes so profitable for us?
Doth not God, ofttimes, even take occasions by the hardest of things that come uponus, to visit our souls with the comforts of his Spirit, to lead us into the gloryof his word, and to cause us to savour that love that he has had for us, even frombefore the world began, till now. A nest of bees and honey did Samson find, evenin the belly of that lion that roared upon him. And is all this no good? or can webe without such holy appointments of God? Let these things be considered by us, andlet us learn like Christians to kiss the rod, and love it.
I have thought, again, my brethren, since it is required of us that we give thanksto God for all these men, it follows that we do with quietness submit ourselves underwhat God shall do to us by them. For it seems a paradox to me, to give thanks toGod for them, that yet I am not willing should abide in that place that God has setthem in for me. I will then love them, bless them, pray for them, and do them good.I speak now of the men that hurt me as was hinted afore. And I will do thus, becauseit is good so to do, because they do me good by hurting of me, because I am calledto inherit a blessing, and because I would be like my heavenly Father. "Thereforeif mine enemy hunger, let me feed him; if he thirst, let me give him drink"(Matt 5:43-48; 1 Peter 3:9; Rom 12:17-20). (1.) We must see good in that, in whichother men can see none. (2.) We must pass by those injuries that other men wouldrevenge. (3.) We must shew we have grace, and that we are made to bear what othermen are not acquainted with. (4.) Many of our graces are kept alive by those verythings that are the death of other men's souls.
Where can the excellency of our patience, of our meekness, of our long-suffering,of our love, and of our faith appear, if it be not under trials, and in those thingsthat run cross to our flesh? The devil, they say, is good when he is pleased. ButChrist and his saints, when displeased.
Let us therefore covet to imitate Christ and the scripture saints. Let us shew outof a good conversation, our works with meekness of wisdom. Let us take heed of admittingthe least thought in our minds of evil, against God, the king, or them that are underhim in employ, because, the cup, the king, all men, and things are in the hand ofGod (Psa 75:8; Prov 8:15; 21:1; Lam 3:37). And he can make them better to us, thanif they were as our flesh desireth they should.
I have often thought that the best Christians are found in the worst of times: andI have thought again, that one reason why we are no better, is because God purgesus no more (John 15). I know these things are against the grain of the flesh, butthey are not against the graces of the Spirit. Noah and Lot, who so holy as they,in the day of their affliction? Noah and Lot, who so idle as they in the day of theirprosperity? I might have put in David too, who, while he was afflicted, had waysof serving God that were special; but when he was more enlarged, he had ways thatwere not so good. Wherefore the first ways of David are the ways that God has commended:but the rest of his ways, such as had not pre-eminence (2 Chron 17:3).
We have need of all, and of more than all that has yet befallen us: and are to thankGod, since his word and patience have done no more good to us, that he hath appointedmen to make us better. Wherefore for a conclusion, as we are to receive withmeekness the engrafted word of God, so also we are with patience to bear what God,by man, shall lay upon us. O that saying of God to them of old, "Why criestthou for thine affliction? thy sorrow is incurable for the multitude of thine iniquity:because thy sins were increased, I have done these things unto thee" (Jer 30:15).We have need to consider of, and to sit still and be quiet, and reverence the ordinanceof God: I mean affliction. And until we can in truth get hither in our spirits, Ineither look to find very right Christianity amongst us, nor much of God among professors.When I think of Mordecai, and Daniel, yea, and of David too, and of the behaviourof them all with respect to the powers that they were under, I cannot but think thata sweet, meek, quiet, loving, godly submission unto men for the Lord's sake, is anexcellent token of the grace of God in us. But,
[Second Caution to Weak Christians.] —As I cannot but condemn the actions of suchChristians as have been touched before, so I would caution weak Christians not tobe offended with true religion for the miscarriages of their fellows. There are twothings that are very apt to be an occasion of offence to the weak: one is, when thecross attends religion; the other is, when others that profess religion do sufferfor evil-doing. To both these I would say this:—
1. Though the cross, indeed, is grievous to the flesh, yet we should with grace bearup under it, and not be offended at it.
2. And as to the second, though we should and ought to be offended with such miscarriage;yet not with religion, because of such miscarriage. Some, indeed, when they see thesethings, take offence against religion itself; yea, perhaps, are glad of the occasion,and so fall out with Jesus Christ, saying to him, because of the evils that attendhis ways, as the ten tribes said to Rehoboam, the son of Solomon the king, "Whatportion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse; to yourtents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David," (1 Kings 12:16); and sogo quite away from him, and cleave no more unto him, to his people, or to his ways:but this is bad. Shun, therefore, the evil ways of Christians, but cleave to theway that is Christian: cast away that bad spirit that thou seest in any, but holdfast to thy Head and Lord. Whither canst thou go? the Lord Jesus has the words ofeternal life (John 6:68). Whither wilt thou go? there is not salvation in any other(Acts 4:12). Take heed, therefore, of picking a quarrel with Jesus Christ, and withhis ways, because of the evil-doings of some of his followers. Judas sold him, Peterdenied him, and many of his disciples went back and did walk no more with him; butneither himself nor his ways were the worse for that. Beware, therefore, that thoutruly distinguish between the good ways of Jesus Christ and the evil ways of themthat profess him; and take not an occasion to throw away thy own soul down the throatof hell, because others have vilely cast away their lives by transgressing of thelaw of God. Nay, let other men's faults make thee more wary; let other men's fallsmake thee look better to thy goings: shun the rock that he that went before theedid split his ship against; and cry to God to lead thee in a path that is plain andgood, because of thy observers.
Further, Let not opposite Christians rejoice when they see that evil hath taken theirbrother by the heel. Hate the garment, the thing that is bad, and by which the name,and fame, and life of thy brother is so vilely cast away, thou shouldest; and takegood heed lest it also touch thee, but yet thou shouldest pity thy brother, mournfor his hard hap, and grieve that a thing so much unbecoming Christianity shouldbe suffered to show the least part of itself among any of those that profess thegospel.
Directions for the shunning of suffering for evil-doing, are they that come nextto hand.
Direction 1. Therefore, wouldest thou not suffer as an evil-doer, then take heedof committing of evil. Evil courses bring to evil ends; shun all appearance of evil,and ever follow that which is good. And if ye be followers of that which is good,who will harm you (1 Peter 3:13)? Or if there should be such enemies to goodnessin the world as to cause thee for that to suffer, thou needest not be ashamed ofthy suffering for well-doing, nor can there be a good man, but he will dare to ownand stand by thee in it. Yea, thy sufferings for that will make thee happy, so thatthou canst by no means be a loser thereby.
Direction 2. Wouldest thou not suffer for evil-doing, then take heed of the occasionsof evil. Take heed of tempting company. Beware of men, for they will deliver theeup. There have been men in the world that have sought to make themselves out of theruins of other men. This did Judas, and some of the Pharisees (Matt 10:17; Luke 20:19,20).Take heed to thy mouth: "A fool's mouth calleth for strokes,—and his lips arethe snare of his soul" (Prov 18:7). Take heed of indulging, and hearkening tothe ease of the flesh, and of carnal reasonings, for that will put thee upon wickedthings.
Direction 3. Wouldest thou not suffer as an evil-doer, then take heed of hearingof any thing spoken that is not according to sound doctrine: thou must withdraw thyselffrom such in whom thou perceivest not the words of knowledge. Let not talk againstgovernors, against powers, against men in authority be admitted; keep thee far froman evil matter. My son, says Solomon, fear thou the Lord, and the King, and meddlenot with those that are given to change.
Direction 4. Wouldest thou not suffer as an evil-doer, addict not thyself to playwith evil,  to joke and jest, and mock at men in place and power. Gaal mockedat Abimelech, and said, Who is Abimelech that we should serve him? But he paid forhis disdainful language at last (Judg 9). I have heard of an innkeeper here in England,whose sign was the crown, and he was a merry man. Now he had a boy, of whom he usedto say, when he was jovial among his guests, This boy is heir to the crown, or thisboy shall be heir to the crown; and if I mistake not the story, for these words helost his life. It is bad jesting with great things, with things that are God'sordinance, as kings and governors are. Yea, let them rather have that fear, thathonour, that reverence, that worship, that is due to their place, their office, anddignity. How Paul gave honour and respect unto those that were but deputy-kings andheathen magistrates, will greatly appear, if you do but read his trials before themin the book called, The Acts of the Apostles. And what a charge both he and Peterhave left behind them to the churches to do so too, may be found to conviction, ifwe read their epistles.
Direction 5. Wouldest thou not suffer for evil-doing, then take heed of being offendedwith magistrates, because by their state acts they may cross thy inclinations. Itis given to them to bear the sword, and a command is to thee, if thy heart cannotacquiesce with all things with meekness and patience, to suffer. Discontent in themind sometimes puts discontent into the mouth; and discontent in the mouth doth sometimesalso put a halter about the neck. For as a man, by speaking a word in jest may forthat be hanged in earnest; so he that speaks in discontent may die for it in sobersadness. Adonijah's discontent put him upon doing that which cost him his life (1Kings 2:13,23). Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offendthem; for they are subjected to the will and foot of God.
Direction 6. But, above all, get thy conscience possessed yet more with this, thatthe magistrate is God's ordinance, and is ordered of God as such: that he is theminister of God to thee for good, and that it is thy duty to fear him, and pray forhim, to give thanks to God for him, and to be subject to him as both Paul and Peteradmonish us; and that not only for wrath, but for conscience sake (Rom 13:5). Forall other arguments come short of binding the soul, where this argument is wanting;until we believe that of God we are bound thereto. I speak not these things, as knowingany that are disaffected to the government; for I love to be alone, if not with godlymen, in things that are convenient. But because I appear thus in public, and knownot into whose hands these lines may come, therefore thus I write. I speak it alsoto show my loyalty to the king, and my love to my fellow-subjects; and my desirethat all Christians should walk in ways of peach and truth.
[2. That Christians may, and have, suffered according to the will of God.]
I come now to the second thing propounded to be spoken to, as to suffering, whichis this.—That there have been, and yet may be, a people in the world that have, andmay, suffer in the sense of the apostle here, according to the will of God, or forrighteousness' sake.
That there have been such a people in the world, I think nobody will deny, becausemany of the prophets, Christ, and his apostles, thus suffered. Besides, since theScriptures were written, all nations can witness to this, whose histories tell atlarge of the patience and goodness of the sufferers, and of the cruelty of thosethat did destroy them. And that the thing will yet happen, or come to pass again,both Scripture and reason affirm.
First, Scripture. The text tells us, That God hath put enmity betwixt the woman andher seed, and the serpent and his seed (Gen 3:15). This enmity put, is so fixed thatnone can remove it so, but that it still will remain in the world. These two seedshave always had, and will have, that which is essentially opposite to one another,and they are "the spirit of truth and the spirit of error" (1 John 4:6),sin and righteousness (3:7,8), light and darkness (1 Thess 5:5). Hence "an unjustman is an abomination to the just; and he that is upright in the way is abominationto the wicked" (Prov 29:27). So that unless you could sanctify and regenerateall men, or cause that no more wicked men should any where be in power for ever,you cannot prevent but that sometimes still there must be sufferers for righteousness'sake. "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution"(2 Tim 3:12).
Second, To prove this by reason is easy. The devil is not yet shut up in the bottomlesspit—Antichrist is yet alive. The government in all kingdoms is not yet managed withsuch light, and goodness of mind, as to let the saints serve God, as he has said,whatever it is in some. And until then there will be in some places, though for mypart I cannot predict where, a people that will yet suffer for well-doing, or forrighteousness' sake.
In order to a right handling of this matter, I shall divide this head into thesetwo parts—A. Show you what it is to suffer for well-doing, or for righteousness.B. Show you what it is to suffer for righteousness' sake. I put this distinction,because I find that it is one thing to suffer for righteousness, and another to sufferfor righteousness' sake.
[A. What it is to suffer for righteousness.]
To begin with the first, namely, to show you what it is to suffer for righteousness.Now that may be done either passively or actively.
1. Passively, as when any suffer for righteousness without their own will, or consentthereto. Thus, the little children at Bethlehem suffered by the hands of bloody Herod,when they died for, or in the room and stead of, Jesus Christ (Matt 2:16). Everyone of those children died for righteousness, if Christ is righteousness; for theydied upon his account, as being supposed to be he himself. Thus also the childrenof Israel's little ones, that were murdered with their parents, or otherwise, becauseof the religion of them that begat and bare them, died for righteousness. The samemay be said concerning those of them that suffered in the land of the Chaldeans uponthe same account. I might here also bring in those poor infants that in Ireland,Piedmont, Paris, and other places, have had their throats cut, and their brains dashedout against the walls, for none other cause but for the religion of their fathers.Many, many have suffered for righteousness after this manner. Their will, nor consent,has been in the suffering, yet they have suffered for religion, for righteousness.And as this hath been, so it may be again; for if men may yet suffer for righteousness,even so, for ought I know, even in this sense, may their children also.
Now, although this is not the chief matter of my text, yet a few words here may dono harm. The children that thus suffer, though their own will and consent be notin what they undergo, may yet, for all that, be accepted as an offering unto theLord. Their cause is good; it is for religion and righteousness. Their hearts donot recoil against the cause for which they suffer; and although they are children,God can deal with them as with John the Baptist, cause them in a moment to leap forjoy of Christ; or else can save them by his grace, as he saveth other his elect infants,and thus comprehend them, though they cannot apprehend him; yea, why may they notonly be saved, but in some sense be called martyrs of Jesus Christ, and those thathave suffered for God's cause in the world? God comforted Rachel concerning her childrenthat Herod murdered in the stead, and upon the account of Christ.
He bids her refrain herself from tears, by this promise, that her children shouldcome again from the land of the enemy, from death. And again, said he, Thy childrenshall come again to their own border; which I think, if it be meant in a gospel sense,must be to the heavenly inheritance. Compare Jeremiah 31:15- 17 with Matthew 2:18.
And methinks this should be mentioned, not only for her and their sakes, but to comfortall those that either have had, or yet may have, their children thus suffer for righteousness.None of these things, as shall be further showed anon, happen without the determinatecounsel of God. He has ordered the sufferings of little children as well as thatof persons more in years. And it is easy to think that God can as well foresee whichof his elect shall suffer by violent hands in their infancy, as which of them shallthen die a natural death. He has saints small in age as well as in esteem or otherwiseand sometimes the least member of the body suffereth violence, as well as the heador other chief parts. And although I desire not to see these days again, yet methinksit will please me to see those little ones that thus have already suffered for Jesus,to stand in their white robes with the elders of their people, before the throne,to sing unto the Lamb.
2. Actively. But to pass this, and to come to that which is more directly intendedto be spoken to, namely, to show you who doth actively suffer for righteousness.And,
(1.) It is he that chooseth by his own will and consent to suffer for it. All sufferingthat can be called active suffering, must be by the consent of the will; and thatis done when a man shall have sin and suffering set before him, and shall choosesuffering rather than sin. He chose "rather to suffer affliction with the peopleof God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season" (Heb 11:25). And again,They did not accept of deliverance, that is, of base and unworthy terms, "thatthey might obtain a better resurrection" (verse 35).
Indeed, no man can force a Christian to suffer as a Christian, without his own consent.All Christians are sufferers of will and consent. Hence it is said, they must takeup their cross, by which taking up, an act of their will is intended (Matt 10:38;16:24). So again, "Take my yoke upon you," which also intends an act ofthe will (11:29). This, therefore, is the first thing that I would present you with.Not that an act of the will is enough to declare a man a sufferer for righteousness,it standing alone; for a man, through the strength of delusion, and the power ofan erroneous conscience, may be willing to suffer for the grossest opinions in theworld. But I bring it to show that actual suffering for righteousness must also beby the consent of the will—the mind of the man must be in it.
(2.) He that suffereth for righteousness thus, must also have a good cause. A goodcause is that which is essential to suffering for righteousness. A good cause, whatis that? Why, verily, it is the truth of God, either in the whole of it, as containedin the Scriptures of truth, or in the parts of it, as set before me to believe, ordo, by any part of that holy Word. This may be called the matter for which one suffereth;or, as it is called in another place, "the word of righteousness" (Heb5:13). It may also be called the form of sound doctrine, or the like. Because withoutthis Word, the matter and nature of God's truths cannot be known. Pilate's question,"What is truth?" will still abide a question, to those that have not, orregard not the Word, the rule of righteousness (John 18:38). See then that thy causebe good, thou that wouldest know what it is to suffer for righteousness; step notan hair's breadth without the bounds of the Word of truth; also take heed of misunderstanding,or of wringing out of its place, any thing that is there. Let the words of the uprightstand upright, warp them not, to the end they may comply in show with any crookednotion. And to prevent this, take these three words as a guide, in this matter tothee. They show men their sins, and how to close with a Saviour; they enjoin mento be holy and humble; they command men to submit themselves to authority. And whateveris cross to these, comes from ignorance of, or from wresting, the rule of righteousnessout of its place.
But more particularly, the word of righteousness—thy cause, within the bounds ofwhich thou must keep, if thou wilt suffer for righteousness, is to be divided intotwo parts. (1.) It containeth a revelation of moral righteousness. (2.) It containetha revelation of evangelical righteousness. As for moral righteousness, men seldomsuffer; only, for that. Because that is the righteousness of the world, and that,simply as such, that sets itself up in every man's conscience, and has a testimonyfor itself, even in the light of nature. Besides, there is nothing that maketh headagainst that; but that which every man is ashamed, by words to plead for, and thatis immorality. And this is that which Peter intends when he saith, "And if yebe followers of that which is good, who will harm you?" (1 Peter 3:13). If yebe followers of moral goodness. But if it should so happen, for the case is rare,that any man should make you sufferers because you love God, and do good to yourneighbour, happy are ye. Though I do not think that the apostle's conclusion terminatesthere. But more of these things anon.
For let a man be a good neighbour in morals; let him feed the hungry, clothe thenaked, give freely out of his purse to the poor, and do that which he would anothershould do to him; and stop there, and not meddle with the name of Christ, and heshall have but few enemies in the world. For it is not the law, but Christ, thatis the stumbling-block, and the rock of offence to men (Isa 8:14,15; Rom 9:31-33).
Wherefore, there is in God's Word a revelation of another righteousness—a righteousnesswhich is not so visible to, yea, and that suiteth not so with, the reason of manas that moral righteousness doth. Wherefore this righteousness makes men righteousin principle, and practise so, as is foreign to natural men. Hence it is said tobe foolishness to them (1 Cor 2:14). And again, "Its praise is not of men"(Rom 2:29). This righteousness is also revealed in the Scriptures, but the blindcannot see it. It is the work of the Holy Ghost in the heart, and is therefore calledthe fruits of the Spirit; and the grace, which in the head and fullness of it, isonly to be found in Christ (John 1:16; Col 1:19; 1 Tim 1:14). This righteousnessbeing planted in the heart, leads a man out by the Word of God, to seek for anotherrighteousness, as invisible to, and foreign from, the natural man, as this. And thatrighteousness is that which properly is the righteousness of Jesus Christ—a righteousnessthat standeth in his obedience to his Father's law, as he was considered a commonor public person—a righteousness which he brought into the world, not for himself,as considered in a private capacity, but for those that shall by faith venture themselvesupon him, to obtain by him life eternal (Rom 5:19; Phil 3:7-10).
Again, This closing by faith, with this righteousness thus found in Christ, and beingtaken therewith, leads me yet to another righteousness, which is instituted worship,appointed by Christ, for all his followers to be conversant in; this worship is groundedon positive precepts, and so on words of righteousness, called Christ's words, Christ'ssayings, &c.
Now, upon this bottom begins the difference betwixt the men of God and the world.For, first, by this inward principle of righteousness we come to see, and say, thatmen by nature are not Christians, what privileges soever they may account themselvespartakers thereof. But whosoever is a Christian, of God's making so, is begottenand born of God, and made a new creature by the anointing received from the HolyOne (James 1:18; John 3:3,5; 2 Cor 5:17,18; 1:21; 1 John 2:20,24,27). Now, this thesecarnal men cannot endure to hear of; because it quite excludes them, as such, froma share in the kingdom of heaven. To this, again, the Christian stands and backswhat he says by the Word of God. Then the game begins, and the men of the world arethoughtful how they may remove such troublesome fellows out of the way. But becausethe Christians love their neighbours, and will not let them thus easily die in theirsins, therefore they contend with them, both by reasonings, writings, sermons, andbooks of gospel divinity; and stand to what they say. The world, again, are angrywith these sayings, sermons, and books, for that by them they are concluded to bepersons that are without repentance, and the hope of eternal life. Here again, thecarnal world judges that these people are proud, self- willed, pragmatical, contentious,self-conceited, and so unsufferable people. The Christian yet goes on and standsto what he has asserted. Then the poor world at their last shift begins to turn,and overturn the gospel-man's sayings; perverting, forcing, stretching, and dismemberingof them; and so making of them speak what was never thought, much less intended bythe believer.
Thus they served our Lord; for, not being able to down with his doctrine, theybegan to pervert his words, and to make, as also they said afterwards of Luther's,some offensive, some erroneous, some treasonable, and that both against God and Caesar,and so they hanged him up, hoping there to put an end to things. But this is butthe beginning of things; for the Christian man, by the word of the gospel, goes furtherwith his censure. For he also findeth fault with all that this man, by the abilityof nature, can do for the freeing himself from the law of sin and death. He condemnshim by the Word, because he is in a state of nature, and he condemneth also whatever,while in that state, he doth, as that which by no means can please God (Rom 14:23;Heb 11:6). This now puts him more out; this is a taking of his gods away from him.This is to strip him of his raiment, such as it is, and to turn him naked into thepresence of God. This, I say, puts him out and out. These wild-brained fellows, quotehe, are never content, they find fault with us as to our state; they find fault withus as to our works, our best works. They blame us because we are sinners, and theyfind fault with us, though we mend; they say, by nature we are no Christians, andthat our best doings will not make us such. What would they have us do? Thus, therefore,they renew their quarrel; but the Christian man cannot help it, unless he would seethem go to hell, and saying nothing. For the Word of God doth as assuredly condemnman's righteousness, as it doth condemn man's sin; it condemneth not man's righteousnessamong men, for there it is good and profitable (Job 35:6-8), but with God, to savethe soul, it is no better than filthy rags (Isa 64:6).
Nor will this Christian man suffer these carnal ones to delude themselves with achange of terms; for the devil, who is the great manager of carnal men in thingsthat concern their souls, and in the plea that they make for themselves, will helpthem to tricks and shifts to evade the power of the Word of God. Teaching them tocall the beauties of nature grace, and the acts of natural powers the exercise ofthe graces of the Spirit, he will embolden them also to call man's righteousnessthe righteousness of Christ, and that by which a sinner may be justified in the sightof God from the law. These tricks the Christian sees, and being faithful to God'struth, and desiring the salvation of his neighbour, he laboureth to discover thefallacy of, and to propound better terms for this poor creature to embrace, and venturehis soul upon; which terms are warranted by the New Testament, a stranger to whichthe natural man is. But, I say, the things which the Christian presseth, being soforeign to nature, and lying so cross to man's best things, are presently judgedby the natural man to be fables or foolishness (1 Cor 2:14). Wherefore here again,he takes another occasion to maintain his strife, and contention against the righteousman; raising of slanders upon him, and laying things to his charge that he understandethnot; charging also his doctrine with many grievous things. Namely, that he holdeththat man was made to be damned; that man's righteousness is no better than sin; thata man had as good to do ill as well; that we may believe, and do what we list; thatholiness pleaseth not God; and that sinning is the way to cause grace to abound.Besides, say they, he condemneth good motions, and all good beginnings of heart toGod-ward; he casteth away that good we have, and would have us depend upon a justiceto save us by, that we can by no means approve of. And thus the quarrel is made yetwider between the men of the world and Christian man. But there is not a stop puthere.
For it is possible for the carnal man to be beaten out of all his arguments for himselfand his own things, by the power and force of the Word; and to be made to consentto what the Christian has said as to the notion of the truth. I must not speak thisof all. But yet the breach doth still abide; for that yet there appears to be nomore with the man, but only the notion of things. For though the notion of thingsare those that of God are made the means of conveying of grace into the heart, yetgrace is not always with the notion of things; the Word ofttimes standeth in man'sunderstanding alone, and remaineth there, as not being accompanied with such graceas can make it the power of God to salvation. Now, when it is thus with the soul,the danger is as great as ever, because there is a presumption now begotten in theheart that the man is in a saved condition,—a presumption, I say, instead of faith,which puffeth up, instead of enabling the soul after a godly manner to depend uponGod for mercy through Christ. This is called the word of them that are puffed up;the word only, because not accompanied with saving grace (1 Cor 4:19; 8:1; 1 Thess1:5).
This the Christian also sees, and says it is too weak to conduct the soul to glory.And this, indeed, he says, because he would not that his neighbour should come shorthome. But neither can this be borne; but here again, the natural man with his notionof things is offended; and takes pet against his friend, because he tells him thetruth, and would that he so should digest the truth, that it may prove unto him eternallife. Wherefore he now begins to fall out again, for as yet the enmity is not removed;he therefore counts him an unmerciful man, one that condemneth all to hell but himself;and as to his singularity in things, those he counteth for dreams, for enthusiasms,for allegorical whimsies, vain revelations, and the effects of an erroneous judgment.For the Lord has put such darkness betwixt Egypt and Israel, as will not suffer themto come together. But this is not all.
For it is possible for these carnal men to be so much delighted in the notion ofthings, as to addict themselves to some kind of worship of Christ, whose notionsof truth have by them been received. And because their love is yet but carnal, andbecause the flesh is swelling, and is pleased with pomp and sumptuousness, therefore,to show how great an esteem such have for Christ, whom they are now about to worship,they will first count his testament, though good, a thing defective, and not of fullnesssufficient to give, in all particular things, direction how they should, to theirown content, perform their glorious doctrine. For here and there, and in anotherplace, cry they, there is something wanting. Here, say they, is nothing said of thoseplaces, vestures, gestures, shows, and outward greatness that we think seemly tobe found in and with those that worship Jesus. Here wants sumptuous ceremonies, gloriousornaments, new fashioned carriages,  all which are necessary to adorn worshipwithal.
But now here again, the truly godly, as he comes to see the evil of things, makethhis objections, and findeth fault, and counts them unprofitable and vain (Isa 29;Matt 15; Mark 7). But they again, seeing the things they have made are the very excellenciesof human invention, and things added as a supplement to make up what, and wherein,as they think, that man that was faithful over his own house as a son was defective.They are resolved to stand upon their points, and not to budge an inch from the thingsthat are so laudable, so necessary, so convenient, and so comely; the things thathave been judged good, by so many wise, learned, pious, holy, reverend, and goodmen. Nay, if this were all, the godly would make a good shift; but their zeal isso great for what they have invented, and their spirits so hot to make others couchand bend thereto, that none must be suffered to their power to live and breathe,that refuseth to conform thereto. This has been proved too true, both in France,Spain, Germany, Italy, and other places; and upon this account it is that persecutionhas been kept alive so many hundred years in some places against the church of God.
From what has been said as to these things, this I collect as the sum—First, Thatman by nature is in a state of wrath and condemnation (Eph 2:1-4; John 3:18). Secondly,That the natural man, by all his natural abilities, is not able to recover himselffrom this his condemned condition (John 6:44; Eph 1:19,20). Thirdly, That a man mayhave right notions of gospel things, that hath no grace in his heart (1 Cor 13:2,3).Fourthly, That to add human inventions to Christ's institutions, and to make themof the same force and necessity, of the same authority and efficacy, is nought; andnot to be subjected to (Isa 29:13; Matt 15:8,9; Mark 7:6,7).
So then, he that saith these things, saith true; for the Scriptures say the same.This, then, is a good cause to suffer for, if men will that I shall suffer for sayingso; because it is that which is founded upon the Word of God; and the Word is theground and foundation of all true doctrine. Let him, then, that believeth what ishere discoursed, and that liveth soberly and peaceably in this belief among his neighbours,stand by what he hath received, and rejoice that he hath found the truth. And ifany shall afflict or trouble him for holding of these things, they afflict or troublehim for holding to good things; and he suffereth at their hands because his causeis good.
And such an one may with boldness, as to this, make his appeal to the Bible, whichis the foundation of his principles, and to God the author of that foundation, ifwhat he holds is not good. He may say, "Lord, I have said, that man by natureis in a state of condemnation, and they make me suffer for that. Lord, I have assertedthat man, by all his natural abilities, is not able to recover himself from thishis condemned state, and they make me suffer for that. Lord, I have said that a naturalman may have right notions of the gospel, and yet be without the saving grace thereof,and they make me suffer for that. Lord, I cannot consent that human inventions anddoctrines of men should be joined with thy institution as matters of worship, andimposed upon my conscience as such, and they make me suffer for that. Lord, I ownthe government, pray for my superiors, live quietly among my neighbours, give toall their dues, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, relieve the afflicted, and showmyself, by my faith and life, to be a true Christian man, and yet my neighbours willnot let me alone. True, I cannot comply with all that some men would have me complywith; no more did Daniel, no more did Paul; and yet Daniel said, that he had to theking done no hurt (Dan 6:22), and Paul said, 'neither against the law of the Jews,neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended anything at all'"(Acts 25:8).
For he that keeps within the compass of God's Word, hurts no man, gives just offenceto no man, though he complieth not with all that are modes and ways of worship inthe world. Nor can this appeal be judged injurious, if it be not attended with intercessionsagainst them that hate us. But we will pass this, and come to a second thing.
(3.) As he that suffereth for righteousness must have a good cause, so he that sufferethfor righteousness must have a good call.
A man, though his cause be good, ought not by undue ways to run himself into sufferingfor it; nature teaches the contrary, and so doth the law of God. Suffering for atruth ought to be cautiously took in hand, and as warily performed. I know that thereare some men that are more concerned here than some; the preacher of the Word isby God's command made the more obnoxious man, for he must come off with a woe, ifhe preaches not the gospel (1 Cor 9:16). He, therefore, I say, doth and ought moreto expose himself than other Christians are called to do. Yet it behoveth him alsoto beware, because that Christ has said to him, "Behold, I send you forth assheep, or lambs, in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmlessas doves" (Matt 10:16; Luke 10:3). A man is not bound by the law of his Lord,to put himself into the mouth of his enemy. Christ withdrew himself; Paul escapedthe governor's hands, by being let down in a basket over the wall of the city (2Cor 11:32,33). And Christ hath said, If they persecute you in one city, flee ye toanother. If they will not let me preach here, I will take up my Bible, and be gone.Perhaps this is because I must preach in some other place. A minister can quicklypack up, and carry his religion with him, and offer what he knows of his God to anotherpeople (Acts 13:44-47). Nor should a minister strive, I think, with the magistratefor place, or time. But let him hearken to hear what God shall say by such opposition.Perhaps the magistrate must drive thee out of this place, because the soul is inanother place that is to be converted, or helped by thy sermon today. We must alsoin all things, show ourselves to be such as by our profession we would that men shouldbelieve we are, to wit, meek, gentle, not strivers, but take our Lord and our brethrenthe prophets for our examples.
But I will not here presume to give instructions to ministers; but will speak a fewwords in the general about what I think may be a sufficient call to a man to sufferfor righteousness.
First, Every Christian man is bound by God's Word to hold to, or stand by his profession,his profession of faith, and to join to that profession an holy godly life; becausethe Apostle and High priest of his profession is no less a one than Christ Jesus(Heb 3:1; 10:23). This by Christ himself is expressed thus, Let your light so shine(Matt 5:16). No man lighteth a candle to put it under a bushel. Let your loins begirded about, and your lights burning (Luke 12:35). And Paul bids the Philippianshold forth the word of life (Phil 2:16).
And more particularly, by all this, this is intended, that we should hide our faithin Christ from no man, but should rather make a discover of it by a life that willdo so; for our profession, thus managed, is the badge, and the Lord's livery, bywhich we are distinguished from other men. So then, if, while I profess the truthof Christ, and so walk as to make my profession of it more apparent, I be made asufferer for it, my call is good, and I may be bold in God and in my profession.This, Peter intends when he saith, "But and if ye suffer for righteousness"sake, happy are ye, and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; but sanctifythe Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man thatasketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:14,15).Here, then, is a call not to meddle with the other, but to mind our own business;to walk in our Christian profession, and to adorn it with all good works; and ifany man will meddle with me, and ask me a reason of the hope that I have, to giveit him with meekness and fear, whatever follows thereupon. This, Peter should havedone himself there, where he denies his Master thrice.
The reason is, for that Christianity is so harmless a thing, that, be it never soopenly professed, it hurts no man. I believe that Christ will save me; what hurtis this to my neighbour? I love Christ because he will save me; what hurt is thisto any? I will for this worship Christ as he has bid me; what hurt is this to anybody?I will also tell my neighbours what a loving one my Christ is, and that he is willingto be good to them as he has been good to me; and what hurt is this to the governorof a kingdom? But and if any man will afflict me for this, my cause is good, andalso my call to stand full godly to my profession.
Secondly, There is sometimes a call to suffer for righteousness, even from the voiceof necessity. That is, either when, by my silence, the truth must fall to the ground;or when, by my shrinking, the souls of other men are in danger. This, I say, is acall to suffer even by the voice of necessity. The case may be when God's ways maybe trodden under foot; yea, his Word, and ways, and name, and people, and all. ThusGoliath did do, for several days together (1 Sam 17), and vaunted in his doing; andthere was not a man, no, not in Israel, that durst answer him a word. And now wasthe spirit of David stirred in him, and he would put his life in his hand, and givethis man an answer; and he saw there was reason for it—necessity gave him a call.Is there not a cause, saith he, lies bleeding upon the ground, and no man of heartor spirit to put a check to the bold blasphemer? I will go fight with him; I willput my life in my hand; if I die, I die.
Consider also what Daniel did when the law was gone out to forbid, for thirty days,petitioning any god or man, save the king only. At that time, also, not a man ofIsrael peeped (Dan 6:7). Now necessity walks about the streets, crying, Who is onthe Lord's side? Who, &c. And Daniel answers, I am, by opening of his window,and praying, as at other times, three times a day, with his face towards Jerusalem(verse 10). He heard this voice of necessity, and put his life in his hand, and compliedwith it, to the hazard of being torn in pieces by the lions.
Much like this was that of the three children; for when that golden image was setup, and worship commanded to be done unto it, not one, that we read of, durst standupright when the time was come that bowing was the sign of worship. Only the threechildren would not bow: it was necessary that some should show that there was a Godin heaven, and that divine worship was due alone to him (Dan 3:10-12). But they runthe hazard of being turned to ashes, in a burning fiery furnace, for so doing. Butnecessity has a loud voice, and shrill in the ears of a tender conscience: this voicewill awake jealousy and kindle a burning fire within, for the name, and cause, andway, and people, of the God of heaven.
Thirdly, There is sometimes a call to suffer for righteousness by the voice of providence.That is, when, by providence, I am cast for my profession into the hands of the enemiesof God and his truth; then I am called to suffer for it what God shall please tolet them lay upon me. Only, for the making of my way more clear in this matter, Iwill deliver what I have to say, with a caution or two. 1. Thou must take heed thatthy call be good to this or that place, at which, by providence, thou art deliveredup. 2. Thou must also take heed that, when thou art there, thou busiest thyself innothing but that that good is. 3. Thou must also take heed that thou stay there nolonger than while thou mayest do good or receive good there. 4. Thus far a man isin the way of his duty, and therefore may conclude that the providence of God, underwhich now he is, is such as has mercy and salvation in the bowels of it, whatsoeveris by it, at the present, brought upon him.
Christ Jesus, our Lord, though his death was determined, and of absolute necessity,and that chiefly for which he came into the world, chose rather to be taken in theway of his duty than in any other way or anywhere else. Wherefore, when the hourwas come, he takes with him some of his disciples, and goeth into a garden, a solitaryplace, to pray; which done, he sets his disciples to watch, and falleth himself toprayer. So he prays once; he prays twice; he prays thrice: and he giveth also gooddoctrine to his disciples. And now, behold, while he was here, in the way of hisduty, busying himself in prayer to God, and in giving of good instruction to hisfollowers, upon him comes Judas and a multitude with swords and staves, and weapons,to take him; to which providence he, in all meekness, submits, for he knew that byit he had a call to suffer (Matt 26:36-47).
In this way, also, the apostles were called to suffer, even while they were in theway of their duty. Yea, God bid them go into the temple to preach, and there deliveredthem into the hands of their enemies (Acts 4:1-3; 5:20-26).
Be we in the way of our duty, in the place and about the work unto which we are calledof God, whether that work be religious or civil, we may, without fear, leave theissue of things to God, who only doth wonderful things. And he who lets not a sparrowfall to the ground without his providence, will not suffer a hair of our head toperish but by his order (Luke 12:6,7). And since he has engaged us in his work, ashe has if he has called us to it, we may expect that he will manage, and also bearus out therein; either so as by giving of us a good deliverance by way of restorationto our former liberty and service for him, or so as to carry us well out of thisworld to them that, under the altar, are crying, How long, holy and true: nor shallwe, when we come there, repent that we suffered for him here. Oh! how little do saints,in a suffering condition, think of the robes, the crowns, the harps, and the Sonthat shall be given to them; and that they shall have when they come upon mount Zion(Rev 6:11; 14:1-7).
Fourthly, There is sometimes a call to suffer for righteousness by an immediate andpowerful impulse of the Spirit of God upon the heart. This, I say, is sometimes,and but sometimes; for this is not God's ordinary way, nor are many of his servantscalled after this manner to suffer for righteousness. Moses was called thus to sufferwhen he went so often unto Pharaoh with the message of God in his mouth. And "heendured, as seeing him who is invisible" (Heb 11:25-27).
Paul was called thus to suffer, and he obeyed, and went, and performed that work,according to the will of God. This kind of call Paul calls a binding, or a beingbound in the Spirit, because the Holy Ghost had laid such a command upon him to doso, that he could not, by any means, get from under the power of it. "And now,behold," saith he, "I go bound in the Spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowingthe things that shall befal me there" (Acts 20:22). For he that is under thiscall has, as I said, bonds laid upon his spirit, which carry him to the place wherehis testimony is to be borne for God; nor shall he, if he willingly submits and goes,as Paul did, but have an extraordinary presence of God with him, as he. And see whata presence he had; for after the second assault was given him by the enemy, even"the night following, the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul;for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also atRome" (Acts 23:11). Thus God meeteth his people in their service for him, whenhe calls them aloud to do great service for him. The power of such a call as this,I say, is great, and men of ordinary spirits must needs give place thereto, and leavea man thus bound to the God that thus has bound him. All the help such can affordhim is to follow him with our prayers, not to judge him or grieve him, or lay stumbling-blocksbefore him. No; they must not weep nor mourn for him, so as to make him sorrowful(Acts 21:12-14).
His friends may suggest unto him what is like to attend his present errand, as Agabusdid by the Spirit to Paul when he took his girdle and bound himself therewith, toshow him how his enemies should serve him whither he went. "Thus said the HolyGhost," said he, "so shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneththis girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles" (Acts 21).But if this call be indeed upon a man, all sorrow is turned into joy before him;for he is ready, not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the nameof the Lord Jesus (Acts 21:13).
Instances, also, of later times might be given of a call extraordinary to sufferfor righteousness. For many, in the first three hundred years' persecution, whennobody knew what they were, would boldly come up to the face of their enemies andtell what they were, and suffer for what they professed, the death. I remember, also,the woman who, when her friends were gone before to suffer, how she came runningand panting after, for fear she should not come thither time enough to suffer forJesus Christ.
But I will give you an instance of later times, even in the beginning of Queen Elizabeth'sreign, of an Hertfordshire man that went as far as Rome to bear his testimony forGod against the wickedness of that place. This man, when he was arrived there, andhad told them wherefore he was come, they took and condemned him to death, to wit,to be burned for an heretic. Now he was to ride from the prison to the place of executionupon an ass, with his face to the beast's tail, and was to be stripped from the shouldersto the waist, that he might be tormented all the way he went with burning torchescontinually thrust to his sides; but he, nothing at all afraid, spake in his exhortationto the people to fly from their sin and idolatry; he would also catch hold of thetorches and put them to his sides, to show how little he esteemed the worst thatthey could do. Also, when he was come to the place of execution, he suffered theresuch cruelty, with so unconcerned a mind, and with such burning zeal for God's truth,testified against them while he could speak; that, all amazed, his enemies cried,he could not have suffered as he did but by the help of the devil. His name I havenow forgot, but you will find it, with the story at large, in the third volume ofActs and Monuments, at the 1022 page.  But we will pass this, and come to oursecond particular, namely,
[B. What it is to suffer for righteousness' sake.]
To show when it may be said a man doth not only suffer for righteousness, but alsofor righteousness' sake.
To suffer for righteousness' sake must be either with the intention of the persecutoror else of the persecuted. The persecutor, whatever the person's suffering is, ifhe afflicteth this person for a supposed good that he thinketh he hath or professeth,he make him suffer for righteousness' sake. So that, in this sense, a man that hathno grace may not only suffer for righteousness, but also for righteousness' sake.But this I intend not, because the text is not concerned with it.
The thing, therefore, now intended to be spoken to, is this, namely, when a man maybe said to suffer what he suffereth upon a religious account, of love to, or forthe sake of, that good that he finds in the truths of God, or because his heart isjoined and espoused to the good of the truths that he professeth; not that thereis any thing in any truth of God that is not good; but a man may profess truth, notfor the sake of the goodness that is in it, but upon a remote account. Judas professedtruth, not of love to the truth, but of love to the bag, and to the money that wasput therein. Men may profess for a wife, for a trade, for friendship, or becauseprofession is at such a time or in such a place, in fashion. I wish that there wereno cause to say this. Now there is not any of these that profess the truth for thetruth's sake, that profess the truth of love to it; nor shall they, should they sufferas professors, never so long, never so much, never so grievously, be counted of Godamong them that suffer for righteousness' sake; that is, of unfeigned love to righteousness.Wherefore, that I may show you who may be said to suffer for righteousness' sake,I will propound and speak to several things.
1. Then, he that suffereth in the apostle's sense, for well-doing, or for righteousness'sake, sets his face against nothing but sin. He resisteth unto blood, striving againstsin. Sin is the object of his indignation, because it is an enemy to God, and tohis righteous cause in the world (Heb 12:3,4). Sin, I say, is that which such a mansingleth out as his opposite, as his antagonist, and that against which his heartis set. It is a rare thing to suffer aright, and to have my spirit, in my suffering,bent only against God's enemy—sin; sin in doctrine, sin in worship, sin in life,sin in conversation. Now then, he that suffereth for righteousness' sake has singledout sin to pursue it to death, long before he comes to the cross. It is sin, alas,and his hatred to it that have brought him into this condition. He fell out withsin at home, in his own house, in his own heart, before he fell out with sin in theworld, or with sin in public worship. For he that can let sin go free and uncontrolledat home within, let him suffer while he will, he shall not suffer for righteousness'sake. And the reason is, because a righteous soul, as the phrase is, 2 Peter 2:8,has the greatest antipathy against that sin that is most ready to defile it, andthat is, as David calls it, one's own iniquity, or the sin that dwelleth in one'sown flesh. I have kept me, says he, from mine iniquity, from mine own sin. Peoplethat are afraid of fire are concerned most with that that burneth in their own chimney;they have the most watchful eye against that that is like to burn down their ownhouse first.
He also that suffereth for righteousness' sake, doth it also because he would notthat sin should cleave to the worship of God; and, indeed, this is mostly the causeof the sufferings of the godly. They will not have to do with that worship that hathsinful traditions commixed with God's appointments, because they know that God isjealous of his worship; and has given a strict charge that all things be done accordingto the pattern showed to us in the mount. He knows also that God will not be withthat worship, and those worshippers, that have not regard to worship by the ruleof the testament of Christ. He is also against the sin that is apt to cleave to himselfwhile he standeth in the presence of God. I will wash mine hands in innocency, sowill I compass thine altar, O Lord. This man also chooses to be in the practicalparts of worship, if possible, for he knows that to have to do about holy thingssincerely is the way to be at the remotest distance from sin. He chooses also tobe with those holy ones that are of the same mind with him against sin; for he knowsthat two are better than one, and that a threefold cord is not easily broken. Whereforelook to yourselves, you that do, or may be called to suffer for religion: if youbend not yourselves against sin, if to be revenged of sin be not the cause of yoursuffering, you cannot be said to suffer for righteousness' sake. Take heed, therefore,that something else be not an inducement to thee to suffer. A man may suffer to savewhat he has: there is credit also and an applause; there is shame to conform; thereis carnal stoutness of spirit; there is hatred of persecutors and scorn to submit;there is fear of contempt and of the reproach of the people, &c. These may bemotives and arguments to a suffering state, and may really be the ground of a man'sbeing in the jail; though he cries out in the meanwhile of popery, of superstition,and idolatry, and of the errors that attend the common modes of the religions ofthe world. I charge no man as though I knew any such thing by any; but I suggestthese things as things that are possible, and mention them because I would have sufferershave a care of themselves; and watch and pray, because no man can be upright herethat is not holy, that cannot pray, and watch, and deny himself for the love thathe has to righteousness. I said it before, and will say it again, it is a rare thingto be set in downrightness of heart against sin.
2. Is it for the sake of righteousness that thou sufferest? Then it is because thouwouldest have righteousness promoted, set up, and established in the world; alsothou art afflicted at those advantages that iniquity gets upon men, upon things,and against thyself. "I beheld," said David, "the transgressors, andwas grieved; because men kept not thy word" (Psa 119:158). And again, Theseare they that mourn for the abominations that are done among men (Eze 9:4). Thereis a great deal of talk about religion, a great deal of pleading for religion, namely,as to the formalities of this and the other way. But to choose to be religious,that I might be possessed with holiness, and to choose that religion that is mostapt to possess me with it, if I suffer for this, I suffer for righteousness' sake.Wherefore say thus to thy soul, thou that art like to suffer for righteousness, Howis it with the most inward parts of my soul? What is there? What designs, desires,and reachings out are there? Why do I pray? Why do I read? Why do I hear? Why doI haunt and frequent places and ordinances appointed for worship? Is it because Ilove holiness? would promote righteousness, because I love to see godliness showitself in others, and because I would feel more of the power of it in myself? Ifso, and if thou sufferest for thy profession, thou sufferest, not only for righteousness,but also for righteousness' sake. Dost thou thus practise, because thou wouldestbe taught to do outward acts of righteousness, and because thou wouldest provokeothers to do so too? Dost thou show to others how thou lovest righteousness, by takingopportunities to do righteousness? How is it, dost thou show most mercy to thy dog, or to thine enemy, to thy swine, or to the poor? Whose naked body hast thouclothed? Whose hungry belly hast thou fed? Hast thou taken delight in being defraudedand beguiled? Hast thou willingly sat down by the loss with quietness, and been asif thou hadst not known, when thou hast been wronged, defamed, abused, and all becausethou wast not willing that black-mouthed men should vilify and reproach religionupon thy account (1 Cor 6:7)?
He that loveth righteousness will do thus, yea, and do it as unto God, and of tendernessto the Word of God which he professeth. And he that thinks to make seeing men believe,that when he suffereth, he suffereth for righteousness' sake, and yet is void inhis life of moral goodness, and that has no heart to suffer and bear, and put up,and pass by injuries in his conversation among his enemies at home, is deceived.
There are some Scriptures that are as if they were out of date among some professors,specially such as call for actual holiness and acts of self-denial for God; but itwill be found, at the day of judgment, that they only are the peculiar people thatare "zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14). God help us, it is hard now topersuade professors to come up to negative holiness, that is, to leave undone thatwhich is bad; and yet this of itself comes far short of ones being found in practicalgoodness.
But this is the man that suffereth, when he suffereth for righteousness' sake, thatmakes it his business, by all lawful means, according to the capacity that God hasput him in, to promote, set up, and establish righteousness in the world; I say thisis the man that suffereth for righteousness' sake, that suffereth for so doing; andI am sure that a life that is moral, when joined to the profession of the faith ofthe things that are of the Spirit of God, is absolutely necessary to the promotingof righteousness in the world. Hence Peter tells them that suffer for righteousness'sake, that they must have "a good conscience"—a good conscience towardsGod, towards men, towards friends, towards enemies (1 Peter 3:14-16; Acts 24:16;23:1). They must have a good conscience in all things, being willing, ready, desirousto live honestly, godly, and righteously in this world, or else they cannot, thoughthey may suffer for the best doctrine under heaven, suffer for righteousness' sake(Heb 13:18). Wherefore,
3. Is it for righteousness' sake that thou sufferest? then thy design is the ruinof sin. This depends upon what was said before; for he that strives against sin,that seeks to promote righteousness, he designs the ruin of sin. "Be not,"said Paul to the suffering Romans, "overcome of evil, but overcome evil withgood" (Rom 12:21). To overcome evil with good is a hard task. To rail it down,to cry it down, to pray kings, and parliaments, and men in authority to put it down,this is easier than to use my endeavour to overcome it with good, with doing of good,as I said before. And sin must be overcome with good at home, before thy goodcan get forth of doors to overcome evil abroad.
Abraham overcame evil with good, when he quieted the discontent of Lot and his herdsmen,with allowing of them to feed their cattle in the best of what God had given him(Gen 13:7,8).
David overcame evil with good, when he saved the life of his bloody enemy that wasfallen into his hand; also when he grieved that any hurt should come to them thatsought nothing so much as his destruction. "They rewarded me," saith he,"evil for good, to the spoiling of my soul. But as for me, when they were sick,my clothing was sackcloth. I humbled my soul with fasting, I behaved myself as thoughhe had been my friend or brother; I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth forhis mother." This is to overcome evil with good (Psa 35:12-14).
Job saith concerning his enemy, that he did not rejoice when evil found him; "neitherhave I," said he, "suffered my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul."He means he did the quite contrary, and so overcame evil with good (Job 31:29,30).
Elisha overcame evil with good, when he received the men that came for his life,and had them where he might feast, and comfort them, and sent them home in peaceto their master (2 Kings 6:19-23).
The New Testament also is full of this, both in exhortations and examples, In exhortationswhere it is said, resist not evil, that is, with evil, but overcome evil with good(Prov 24:29). "But whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to himthe other also.—And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.Give to him that asketh thee; and from him that would borrow of thee, turn not thouaway.—Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you,and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be thechildren of your Father which is in heaven, for he maketh his sun to rise on theevil, and on the good - on the just, and on the unjust" (Matt 5:39-45). "Blessthem that persecute you: bless and curse not" (Rom 12:14). "Not renderingevil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing; knowing that yeare thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing" (1 Peter 3:9; Rom 12:14).This is righteousness—these are righteous courses. And as these are preceptivelypropounded, so they were as practically followed by them that were eminently godlyin the primitive church.
"We are fools for Christ's sake," said Paul, "we are despised, weare hungry, thirsty, naked, and buffeted.—Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted,we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the earth, andare the offscouring of all things unto this day" (1 Cor 4:10-13). This is overcomingof evil with good, and he that has chosen to himself that religion that teaches thesethings, and that loves that religion because it so teacheth him; if he sufferethfor it, he suffereth for righteousness' sake.
4. He that suffereth for righteousness' sake, will carry righteousness whithersoeverhe goes. Neither the enemy, nor thy sufferings, shall be able to take righteousnessfrom thee. Righteousness must be thy chamber mate, thy bed companion, thy walkingmate: it is that without which thou wilt be so uncouth, as if thou couldest not live(Psa 26: 25:21).
Paul in his sufferings would have righteousness with him, for it must be as it werehis armour-bearer; yea, his very armour itself (2 Cor 6:7). It is an excellent sayingof Job, "I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my judgment was as a robeand a diadem. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame; I was a fatherto the poor," &c. (Job 29:11-16). "Princes," said David also,"did sit and speak against me, but thy servant did meditate in thy statues"(Psa 119:23). A man that loves righteousness doth as Abraham did with his Sarah,carry it every where with him, though he goes, because of that, in danger of hislife. Righteousness! It is the only intimate that a Christian has. It is that bywhich he takes his measures, that with which he consults, with respect to what hedoth, or is to do, in the world. "Thy testimonies," said David also, "aremy delight, and my counsellors." The men of my counsel, in the margin (Psa 119:24).
David! He was the man of affliction; the suffering man in his day; but in all placeswhere he came, he had righteousness, the law and godly practice with him. It washis counsellor, as he was a man, a saint, a king. I dare say, for the man that suffersrighteousness to be rent away from him by the violence and rage of men, and thatcasts it away, as David did Saul's armour, that he may secure himself; he has nogreat love for righteousness, nor to the cross for righteousness' sake. "Myrighteousness I hold fast," said Job, "and will not let it go: my heartshall not reproach me so long as I live" (Job 27:6). What? part with righteousness!A righteous Lord! A righteous Word! A righteous profession! A righteous life! tosleep in a whole skin: the Lord forbid it me, and all that he has counted worthyto be called by his name. Let us carry it with us from the bed to the cross, andthen it shall carry us from thence to the crown. Let it be our companion to prisonand death, then shall we show that we are lovers of righteousness, and that we chooseto suffer for righteousness' sake.
5. Dost thou suffer for righteousness' sake? why then, thy righteousness is not diminished,but rather increased by thy sufferings. Righteousness thriveth best in affliction,the more afflicted, the more holy man; the more persecuted, the more shining man(Acts 6:15). The prison is the furnace, thy graces are the silver and the gold; wherefore,as the silver and the gold are refined by the fire, and so made more to show theirnative brightness, so the Christian that hath, and that loveth righteousness, andthat suffereth for its sake, is by his sufferings refined and made more righteous,and made more Christian, more godly (Zech 13:9). Some, indeed, when they come there,prove lead, iron, tin, and at the best, but the dross of silver; and so are fit fornothing, but there to be left and consumed, and to bear the badge, if ever they comefrom thence, of reprobate silver from the mouth and sentence of their neighbours(Eze 22:18-22; Jer 6:28-30). But when I, says Job, am tried, "I shall come forthas gold" (Job 23:10).
When Saul had cast one javelin at David, it made him walk wisely in all his ways.But when he added to his first fury, plots to take away his life, then David behavedhimself yet more wisely (1 Sam 18:10-30). The hotter the rage and fury of men areagainst righteous ways, the more those that love righteousness grow therein. Forthey are concerned for it, not to hide it, but to make it spangle; not to extinguishit, but to greaten it, and to show the excellency of it in all its features, andin all its comely proportion. Now such an one will make straight steps for his feet,"let that which is lame be turned out of the way" (Heb 12:13). Now he showsto all men what faith is, by charity, by self-denial, by meekness, by gentleness,by long-suffering, by patience, by love to enemies, and by doing good to them thathate us; now he walketh upon his high places. Yea, will not now admit that so slovenlya conversation should come within his doors, as did use to haunt his house in formertimes. Now it is Christmas, now it is suffering time, now we must keep holy dayevery day. The reason is, for that a man, when he suffereth for Christ, is set upona hill, upon a stage, as in a theatre, to play a part for God in the world. And youknow when men are to play their parts upon a stage, they count themselves, if possible,more bound to circumspection; and that for the credit of their master, the creditof their art, and the credit of themselves. For then the eyes of every body are fixed,they gape and stare upon them (Psa 22:17). And a trip here is as bad as a fall inanother place. Also now God himself looks on. Yea, he laugheth, as being pleasedto see a good behaviour attending the trial of the innocent.
(1.) He that suffereth for righteousness' sake suffereth for his goodness, and heis now to labour by works and ways to convince the world that he suffereth as suchan one. (2.) He that suffereth for righteousness' sake has many that are weak tostrengthen by his sweet carriages under the cross, wherefore he had need to exceedin virtue. (3.) He also is by well-doing to put to silence the ignorance of foolishmen, he had need be curious and circumspect in all his actions. (4.) He is to comein, and to be a judge, and to condemn, by his faith and patience in his sufferings,the world, with his Lord and fellows, at the appearing of Jesus Christ; he had needbe holy himself. This, therefore, is the fit sign of suffering for righteousness'sake (1 Cor 6:1-5; Heb 11:7; 2 Thess 1:5,6; 1 Peter 4:3-5).
6. He that suffereth, not only for righteousness, but also for righteousness' sake,will not exchange his cause, though for it in a jail, for all the ease and pleasurein the world. They that suffered for righteousness' sake of old, were tempted beforethey were sawn asunder (Heb 11). Tempted, that is, allured, to come out of theirpresent sufferings, and leave their faith and profession in irons behind them. Temptedwith promises of promotion, of ease, of friendship, of favour with men. As the Devilsaid to Christ, so persecutors of old did use to make great promises to sufferers,if they would fall down and worship. But his is alone as if they should say, Butcher,make away with your righteousness, and a good conscience, and you shall findthe friendship of the world. For there is no way to kill a man's righteousness butby his own consent. This, Job's wife knew full well, hence she tempted him to layviolent hands upon his own integrity (Job 2:9).
The Devil, nor men of the world can kill thy righteousness or love to it, but bythy own hand; or separate that and thee asunder, without thine own act. Nor willhe that doth indeed suffer for the sake of it, or of love he bears thereto, be temptedto exchange it for the goods of all the world. It is a sad sight to see a man thathas been suffering for righteousness, restored to his former estate, while the righteousnessfor which he suffered, remains under locks and irons, and is exposed to the scorn,contempt, reproach of the world, and trodden under the foot of men. "Itis better," said Paul, "for me to die, than that any man should make myglorying void." And it had been a hundred times better for that man, if he hadnever known the way of righteousness, than after he has known it, to turn from theholy commandment delivered unto him.
The striving is, in persecution, for righteousness; to wit, whether it shall be setup, or pulled down. The sufferer, he is for setting up, and the persecutors are forpulling down. Thus they strive for the mastery. Now, if a man stands by his righteousness,and holds fast his good profession, then is righteousness set up; nor can it, solong, be pulled down. Hence, so long a man is said to overcome; and overcome he doth,though he be killed for his profession. But if he starts back, gives place, submits,recants, or denieth any longer to own that good thing that he professed, and exposedhimself to suffering for; then he betrays his cause, his profession, his conscience,his righteousness, his soul, and all; for he has delivered up his profession to bemurdered before his face: A righteous man falling down before the wicked, is as atroubled fountain, and a corrupt spring (Prov 25:26). But this, I hope, will nothe do that loveth righteousness, and that suffereth for righteousness' sake. I donot say but that a man may slip here, with Peter, Origen, Hierom, Cranmer, Baynham,Ormis, and other good folk; but be he one of the right kind, a lover of righteousnessindeed, he will return, and take revenge upon himself in a godly way, for so ungodlya fact.
7. He that suffereth not only for righteousness, but also for righteousness sake,is not so wedded to his own notions as to slight or overlook the good that is inhis neighbour. But righteousness he loves wherever he finds it, though it be in himthat smiteth him (Psa 141:5). Yea, he will own and acknowledge it for the only thingthat is of beauty and glory in the world. With the excellent in the earth is allsuch a man's delight. Wherefore I put a difference betwixt suffering for an opinionand suffering for righteousness; as I put a difference between suffering for righteousnessand suffering for righteousness' sake.
If righteousness, if the stamp of God, if divine authority, is not found upon thatthing which I hold, let men never suffer for it under the notion of righteousness.If sin, if superstition, if idolatry, if derogation from the wisdom of Christ, andthe authority and perfection of his Word, be not found in, nor joined to that thingthat I disown in worship, let me never open my mouth against it. I had rather fallin with, and be an associate of a righteous man that has no true grace, than witha professor that has no righteousness. It is said of the young man, though he wentaway from Christ, that he looked upon him and loved him (Mark 10:17-22). But it isnot said that ever he loved Judas. I know that the righteousness for which a goodman suffereth, is not then embraced of the world, for that at such a time it is undera cloud. But yet there is righteousness also in the world, and wherever I see it,it is of a high esteem with me. David acknowledged some of his enemies to be morerighteous than he acknowledged some of his servants to be (2 Sam 4:9- 11; 3:31-35).It is a brave thing to have righteousness, as righteousness, to be the top-piecein mine affections. The reason why Christ was anointed with the oil of gladness abovehis fellows, was, because he loved righteousness, and hated iniquity more than they(Heb. 1:9). Love to righteousness flows from golden graces, and is that, and thatonly, that can make a man capable of suffering, in our sense, for righteousness'sake.
8. He that suffereth not only for righteousness, but also for righteousness' sake,will take care that his sufferings be so managed with graciousness of words and actions,that it may live when he is dead; yea, and it will please him too, if righteousnessflourishes, though by his loss. Hence it is that Paul said, he rejoiced in his suffering,Colossians 1:24; namely, because others got good thereby. And that he said, "Yea,and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoicewith you all" (Phil 2:17). But why rejoice in this? Why, because though hissufferings were to the distressing of his flesh, yet they were to the refreshing,comfort, and stability of others. This was it also that made him jostle with thefalse brethren among the churches; to wit, "that the truth of the gospel mightcontinue with them" (Gal 2:5).
When a man shall run the hazard of the ruin of what he has, and is, for righteousness,for the good and benefit of the church of God; that man, he managing himself by therule, if he suffers for so doing, suffers not only for righteousness, but also forrighteousness' sake. "I endure all things," said Paul, "for the elect'ssake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternalglory" (2 Tim 2:10). Here was love, you will say, to persons; and I will sayalso, to things; to all the righteousnesses of God that are revealed in the world,that all the elect might enjoy them to their eternal comfort and glory, by ChristJesus. For "whether we be afflicted," says he, "it is for your consolationand salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which wealso suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation"(2 Cor 1:6).
The end of a man and his design, if that be to promote righteousness, he using lawfulmeans to accomplish it, is greatly accepted of God by Christ; and it is a sign heis a lover of righteousness; and that if he suffereth for so doing, he sufferethnot for well-doing, only as to matter of fact, but also for his love to the goodthing done, and for its sake.
I have now done with that first head that was to be spoken to, as touching the lawand testament; which we have said was to be understood of the will of God spokenof in the text: "Let them that suffer according to the will of God," thatis, according to his law and testament. Now we have showed what it is to suffer accordingto that; we come to another thing, namely:—
[THE WILL OF GOD MEANS HIS ORDER AND DESIGNMENT.]
Second, That by the will of God, we also understand his order and designment. Forthe will of God is active, to dispose of his people, as well as preceptive, to showunto us our duty. He then that suffers for righteousness' sake, as he suffers forthat which is good as to the matter of it, and as he suffers for that which is good,after that manner as becomes that truth for which he suffereth; so he that thus suffereth,suffereth by the order and designment of God. That, then, is the next thing thatis to be spoken to, namely:—
God is the great orderer of the battle that is managed in the world against antichrist.Hence that battle is called, "The battle of that great day of God Almighty"(Rev 16:14). It is not what enemies will, nor what they are resolved upon, but whatGod will, and what God appoints; that shall be done. This doctrine Christ teachethwhen he saith, "Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one ofthem is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows" (Luke 12:6,7).He speaks in the verses before of killing, and bids them that they should not beafraid for that. "Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that haveno more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, whichafter he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him."Then he leads them to the consideration of this, that the will of God governs, anddisposes of his [people] to suffering; as well as declares to them for what, andhow they should suffer, saying, "Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings,"&c.
Also in Isaiah 8:9,10 and in Isaiah 2:12,13, you have in sum the same thing insertedagain. But we will not stay upon proof, but will proceed to demonstration hereof.
Pharaoh said he would, ay, that he would, but he could not touch so much as a threador a rag of Israel, because the will of God was in that thing contrary to him. Saulsaid that he would have David, and to that end would search for him among the thousandsof Judah; but David was designed for another purpose, and therefore Saul must gowithout him (1 Sam 23:25) Rabshakeh said that he was come from Assyria to Jerusalemto make "Judah eat their own dung, and drink their own piss" (Isa 36:12).But God said he should not shoot an arrow there. And it came to pass as God had said(Isa 37:33; 2 Kings 18; 2 Chron 28). Jeremiah and Baruch's enemies would have killedthem, but they could not, for God hid them. How many times had the Jews a mind tohave destroyed Jesus Christ; but they could not touch a hair of his head until hishour was come.
Those also that bound themselves in a curse, that they would neither eat nor drinkuntil they had killed Paul, were forced to be foresworn, for the will of God wasnot that Paul should die as yet (Acts 23:12). This therefore should be well consideredof God's church, in the cloudy and dark day. "All his saints are in thy hand"(Deut 33:3). It is not the way of God to let the enemies of God's church do whatthey will; no, the Devil himself can devour but "whom he may" (1 Peter5:8). And as no enemy can bring suffering upon a man when the will of God is otherwise,so no man can save himself out of their hands when God will deliver him up for hisglory. It remaineth, then, that we be not much afraid of men, nor yet be foolishlybold; but that we wait upon our God in the way of righteousness, and the use of thosemeans which his providence offereth to us for our safety; and that we conclude thatour whole dispose, as to liberty or suffering, lieth in the will of God, and thatwe shall, or shall not suffer, even as it pleaseth him. For,
First, God has appointed WHO shall suffer. Suffering comes not by chance, or by thewill of man, but by the will and appointment of God. "Let no man," saidPaul, "be moved by these afflictions; for yourselves know that we are appointedthereunto" (1 Thess 3:3). We are apt to forget God when affliction comes, andto think it a strange thing that those that fear God should suffer indeed (1 Peter4:12). But we should not, for we suffer by the will and appointment of God. Hencethey under the altar were bid to rest for a while, even until their fellow-servantsalso, and their brethren that should be killed— mark that—"should be killed,as they were, should be fulfilled" (Rev 6:11). Wherefore, suffering for righteousnessand for righteousness' sake, is by the will of God. God has appointed who shall suffer.That is the first.
Second, As God has appointed who shall suffer, so he has appointed WHEN they shallsuffer for his truth in the world. Sufferings for such and such a man are timed,as to when he shall be tried for his faith. Hence, when Paul was afraid, at Corinth,that the heathens would fall about his ears, the Lord spake to him by night in avision, saying, "Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace; for I amwith thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee" (Acts 18:9,10). His timeof suffering was not yet come there. It is also said concerning Jesus Christ, thateven then when "they sought to take him, no man laid hands on him, because hishour was not yet come" (John 7:30). The times, then, and the seasons, even forthe sufferings of the people of God, are not in the hands of their enemies, but inthe hand of God; as David said, "My times are in thy hand." By the willof God, then, it is that such shall suffer at, but not until, that time. But,
Third, As God has appointed who and when, so he has appointed WHERE this, that, orthe other good man shall suffer. Moses and Elias, when they appeared on the holymount, told Jesus of the sufferings which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. Jerusalemwas the place assigned for Christ to suffer at; also, there must the whole of hissufferings be accomplished (Luke 9:30,31). The saints are sprinkled by the hand ofGod here and there, as salt is sprinkled upon meat to keep it from stinking. Andas they are thus sprinkled, that they may season the earth; so, accordingly, wherethey must suffer is also appointed for the better confirming of the truth. Christsaid, it could not be that a prophet should "perish out of Jerusalem" (Luke13:33). But why could it not be that they should perish other where? Were there noenemies but in Jerusalem? Were there no good men but at Jerusalem? No, no; that wasnot the reason. The reason was, for that God had appointed that they should sufferthere. So then, who, when, and where, is at the will of God, and they, accordingly,are ordered by that will.
Fourth, As God has appointed who, when, and where, so he has also appointed WHATKIND of sufferings this or that saint shall undergo, at this place and at such atime. God said that he would show Paul beforehand how great things he should sufferfor his sake (Acts 9:16). And it is said that Christ did signify to Peter beforehand"by what death he should glorify God" (John 21:19). When Herod had beheadedJohn the Baptist, and when the Jews had crucified Christ, it is said that they hadbut fulfilled what was "written of them" (Mark 9:13; Acts 13:29). Our sufferings,as to the nature of them, are all writ down in God's book; and though the writingseem as unknown characters to us, yet God understands them very well. Some of themthey shall kill and crucify, and some of them they shall scourge in their synagogue,"and persecute them from city to city" (Matt 23:34). Shall God, think you,say, some of them they shall serve thus, and some of them they shall do so to; andyet not allot which some to this, and which to that, and which to the other trial?
Doubtless our sufferings fall by the will of God unto us, as they fell of old uponthe people of Jerusalem. It was appointed by God who of them should die of hunger,who with sword, who should go into captivity, and who should be eaten up of beasts(Jer 15:2,3). So is the case here, namely, as God has appointed who, when, where,and the like, so he has, also, what manner of sufferings this or that good man shallundergo for his name. Let it then be concluded, that hitherto it appears, that thesufferings of saints are ordered and disposed by the will of God. But,
Fifth, As all this is determined by the will of God, so it is also appointed FORWHAT TRUTH this or that saint shall suffer this or that kind of affliction. Everysaint has his course, his work, and his testimony, as is allotted him of God (Mark13:34). John had a course, a testimony to fulfil for God (Acts 13:25), and so hadholy Paul (2 Tim 4:6,7), and so has every saint: also, he that is to suffer has histruth appointed him to suffer for. Christ had a truth peculiar to himself to bearwitness to in a way of suffering (Mark 14:61,62). John had a truth peculiar to himselfto bear witness to in a way of suffering (Mark 6:17,18). Stephen had also a truth,divers from them both, to which he bare a holy testimony, and for which he bravelydied (Acts 7:51-53).
If you read the book of Acts and Monuments, you may see a goodly variety as to this;and yet in all a curious harmony. Some are there said to suffer for the Godhead,some for the manhood, some for the ordinances of Christ, and some laid down theirlives for the brethren. And thus far we see that he that suffers for righteousness'sake, suffers, in this sense, according to the will of God.
Sixth, As it is appointed who, when, where, what kind, and for what truth, by thewill of God, this and that saint should suffer; so also it is appointed BY WHOSEHAND this or that man shall suffer for this or that truth. It was appointed thatMoses and Israel should suffer by the hand of Pharaoh. And for this very purpose,said God, have I raised thee up, that is, to be a persecutor, and to reap the fruitsthereof (Exo 9:16). It was also determined that Christ should suffer by the handof Herod and Pontius Pilate; "For of a truth," said they, "againstthy holy child Jesus - both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and thepeople of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counseldetermined before to be done" (Acts 4:27).
These are great instances, from which we may gather how all these things are orderedfrom thence down hitherto. For if a sparrow falls not to the ground without God,she shall not be killed without God; not by he knows not who. And if a Christianman is better than many sparrows, it follows, that God concerns himself more with,for, and about him than with, for, or about many sparrows. It follows, therefore,in right reason, that as the person who is appointed to be the sufferer, so the personswho are appointed to be the rod and sword thereby to afflict withal. Thus far, therefore,the will of God is it that ordereth and disposeth of us and of our sufferings.
Seventh, As all these pass through the hand of God, and come not to us but by hiswill, so HOW as also LONG is really determined as any of them all. It is not in man,but God, to set the time how long the rod of the wicked shall rest upon the lot ofthe righteous. Abraham must be informed of this. "Abraham," says God, "knowof a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shallserve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years" (Gen 15:13). Sothe thraldom of Israel in Babylon was not only in the general appointed, but thetime prefixed, how long (Jer 25:11,12; 29:10). The time of the beast's reign andof the witnesses walking in sackcloth are punctually fixed, and that beyond whichthey cannot go (Rev 11, 12, 13).
I know these are generals, and respect the church in the bulk of it, and not particularpersons. But, as was hinted afore, we must argue from the greater to the lesser,that is, from four hundred years to ten days, from ten days to three, and so fromthe church in general to each particular member, and to the time and nature of theirsufferings (Rev 2:10; Hosea 6:2; Acts 23:11).
And thus, in a word or two, I have finished the first two parts of the text, andshowed you what there is in Peter's counsel and advice; and showed you also, to whomhis advice is given: in which last, as you see, I have showed you both what the willof God is, and what to suffer according to it. And particularly, I have, in a fewwords, handled this last, to show you that our sufferings are ordered and disposedby him, that you might always, when you come into trouble for his name, not staggernor be at a loss, but be stayed, composed, and settled in your minds, and say, "Thewill of the Lord be done" (Acts 21:14). I will also say unto you this by theway, that the will of God doth greatly work, even to order and dispose of the spiritsof Christians, in order to willingness, disposedness, readiness, and resignationof ourselves to the mind of God. For with respect to this were those words last recitedspoken. Paul saw that he had a call to go up to Jerusalem, there to bear his testimonyfor Christ and his gospel; but those unto whom he made know his purpose entreatedhim, with much earnestness, not to go up thither, for that, as they believed, itwould endanger his life. But he answereth, What, mean ye to weep, and to break myheart? for I am ready, not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for thename of the Lord Jesus. And when he would not be persuaded, says Luke, we ceased,saying, "The will of the Lord be done."
From what has been thus discoursed, many things will follow; as,
1. That the rod, as well as the child, is God's; persecutors, as well as the persecuted,are his, and he has his own designs upon both. He has raised them up, and he hasordered them for himself, and for that work that he has for them to do. Hence Habakkuk,speaking of the church's enemies, saith, "Thou hast ordained them for judgment;and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction" (Hab 1:12). And,therefore, they are in other places called the rod of God's anger; his staff (Isa10:5), his hand; his sword (Psa 17:13,14).
Indeed, to be thus disposed of, is a sad lot; the lot is not fallen to them in pleasantplaces, they have not the goodly heritage; but the judgments of God are a great deep.The thing formed may not say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Tobe appointed, to be ordained, to be established to be a persecutor, and a troublerof God's church—O tremendous judgment! O amazing anger!
Three things the people of God should learn from hence.
(1.) Learn to pity and bewail the condition of the enemy; I know thou canst not alterthe counsel of God; appointed they are, established they are for their work, anddo it they must and shall. But yet it becomes them that see their state, and thattheir day is coming, to pity and bewail their condition, yea, and to pray for themtoo; for who knows whether it is determined that they should remain implacable tothe end, as Herod; or whether they may through grace obtain repentance of their doings,with Saul. And I say again, if thy prayer should have a casting hand in the conversionof any of them, it would be sweet to thy thoughts when the scene is over.
(2.) Never grudge them their present advantages. "Fret not thyself because ofevil men, neither be thou envious at the workers of iniquity" (Prov 24:19).Fret not, though they spoil thy resting-place. It is God that has bidden them doit, to try thy faith and patience thereby. Wish them no ill with what they get ofthine; it is their wages for their work, and it will appear to them ere long thatthey have earned it dearly. Their time is to rejoice but as in a moment, in whatthus is gotten by them; and then they, not repenting, are to perish for ever, liketheir own dung (Job 20:5-7). Poor man, thou that hast thy time to be afflicted bythem, that thy golden graces may shine the more, thou art in the fire, and they blowthe bellows. But wouldest thou change places with them? Wouldest thou sit upon theirplace of ease? Dost thou desire to be with them (Prov 24:1)? O rest thyself contented;in thy patience possess thy soul, and pity and bewail them in the condition in whichthey are.
(3.) Bless God that thy lot did fall on the other side, namely, to be one that shouldknow the truth, profess it, suffer for it, and have grace to bear thee up thereunder,to God's glory, and thy eternal comfort. This honour have not all his saints; allare not counted worthy thus to suffer shame for his name. Do this, I say, thoughthey get all, and leave thee nothing but the shirt on thy back, the skin on thy bones,or an hole in the ground to be put in (Heb 11:23-26).
2. Labour to be patient under this mighty hand of God, and be not hasty to say, Whenwill the rod be laid aside? mind thou thy duty, which is to let patience have itsperfect work. And bear the indignation of the Lord, because thou hast sinned againsthim, until he please to awake, to arise, and to execute judgment for thee (Micah7:9). But to pass this.
Are things thus ordered? then this should teach us that there is a cause.
The rod is not gathered without a cause; the rod is fore- determined, because thesin of God's people is foreseen, and ofttimes the nature of the sin, and the angerof the Father, is seen in the fashion of the rod. The rod of my anger, saith God.A bitter and hasty nation must be brought against Jerusalem; an enemy fierce andcruel must be brought against the land of Israel. Their sins called for such a rod,for their iniquities were grievous (Hab 1:6).
This should teach us with all earnestness to be sorry for our sins, and to do whatwe can to prevent these things, by falling upon our face in a way of prayer beforeGod. If we would shorten such days, when they come upon us, let us be lovers of righteousness,and get more of the righteousness of faith, and of compliance with the whole willof God into our hearts. Then I say, the days shall be shortened, or we fare as well,because the more harmless and innocent we are, and suffer, the greater will our wages,our reward, and glory be, when pay-day shall come; and what if we wait a little forthat?
These things are sent to better God's people, and to make them white, to refine themas silver, and to purge them as gold, and to cause that they that bear some fruit,may bring forth more: we are afflicted, that we may grow (John 15:2). It is alsothe will of God, that they that go to heaven should go thither hardly or with difficulty.The righteous shall scarcely be saved. That is, they shall, but yet with great difficulty,that it may be the sweeter.
Now that which makes the way to heaven so strait, so narrow, so hard, is the rod,the sword, the persecutor, that lies in the way, that marks where our haunt is, thatmars our path, digs a pit, and that sets a net, a snare for us in the way (1 Sam23:22; Job 30:12-14; Psa 9:15; 31:4; 35:7; 119:110; 140:5; 142:3).
This, I say, is that which puts us to it, but it is to try, as I said, our graces,and to make heaven the sweeter to us. To come frighted and hard pursued thither,will make the safety there the more with exceeding gladness to be embraced. And Isay, get thy heart yet more possessed with the power of godliness; that the loveof righteousness may be yet more with thee. For this blessedness, this happiness,he shall be sure of, that suffereth for righteousness' sake.
3. Since the rod is God's as well as the child, let us not look upon our troublesas if they came from, and were managed only by hell. It is true, a persecutor hasa black mark upon him, but yet the Scriptures say that all the ways of the persecutorare God's (Dan 5:23). Wherefore as we should, so again we should not, be afraid ofmen: we should be afraid of them, because they will hurt us; but we should not beafraid of them, as if they were let loose to do to us, and with us, what they will.God's bridle is upon them, God's hook is in their nose: yea, and God has determinedthe bounds of their rage, and if he lets them drive his church into the sea of troubles,it shall be but up to the neck, and so far it may go, and not be drowned (2 Kings19:28; Isa 37:29; 8:7,8). I say the Lord has hold of them, and orders them; nor dothey at any time come out against his people but by his licence and commission howfar to go, and where to stop. And now for two or three objections:—
1. Object. But may we not fly in a time of persecution? Your pressing upon us, thatpersecution is ordered and managed by God, makes us afraid to fly.
Answ. First, having regard to what was said afore about a call to suffer; thou mayestdo in this even as it is in thy heart. If it is in thy heart to fly, fly: if it bein thy heart to stand, stand. Any thing but a denial of the truth. He that flies,has warrant to do so; he that stands, has warrant to do so. Yea, the same man mayboth fly and stand, as the call and working of God with his heart may be. Moses fled(Exo 2:15), Moses stood (Heb 11:27). David fled (1 Sam 19:12), David stood (24:8).Jeremiah fled (Jer 37:11,12), Jeremiah stood (38:17). Christ withdrew himself (Luke9:10), Christ stood (John 18:1-8). Paul fled (2 Cor 11:33), Paul stood (Acts 20:22,23).
There are therefore few rules in this case. The man himself is best able to judgeconcerning his present strength, and what weight this or that argument has upon hisheart to stand or fly. I should be loath to impose upon any man in these things;only, if thou fliest, take two or three cautions with thee:—
(1.) Do not fly out of a slavish fear, but rather because flying is an ordinanceof God, opening a door for the escape of some, which door is opened by God's providence,and the escape countenanced by God's Word (Matt 10:23).
(2.) When thou art fled, do as much good as thou canst in all quarters where thoucomest, for therefore the door was opened to thee, and thou bid to make thy escape(Acts 8:1-5).
(3.) Do not think thyself secure when thou art fled; it was providence that openedthe door, and the Word that did bid thee escape: but whither, and wherefore, thatthou knowest not yet. Uriah the prophet fled into Egypt, because there dwelt menthat were to take him, that he might be brought again to Jerusalem to die there (Jer26:21).
(4.) Shouldest thou fly from where thou art, and be taken in another place; the mostthat can be made of it—thy taking the opportunity to fly, as was propounded at first—canbe but this, thou wast willing to commit thyself to God in the way of his providence,as other good men have done, and thy being now apprehended has made thy call clearto suffer here or there, the which before thou wert in the dark about.
(5.) If, therefore, when thou hast fled, thou art taken, be not offended at God orman: not at God, for thou art his servant, thy life and thy all are his; not at man,for he is but God's rod, and is ordained, in this, to do thee good. Hast thou escaped?Laugh. Art thou taken? Laugh. I mean, be pleased which way soever things shall go,for that the scales are still in God's hand.
(6.) But fly not, in flying, from religion; fly not, in flying, for the sake of atrade; fly not, in flying, that thou mayest have ease for the flesh: this is wicked,and will yield neither peace nor profit to thy soul; neither now, nor at death, norat the day of judgment.
2. Object. But if I fly, some will blame me: what must I do now?
Answ. And so many others if thou standest; fly not, therefore, as was said afore,out of a slavish fear; stand not, of a bravado. Do what thou dost in the fear ofGod, guiding thyself by his Word and providence; and as for this or that man's judgment,refer thy case to the judgment of God.
3. Object. But if I be taken and suffer, my cause is like to be clothed with scandals,slanders, reproaches, and all manner of false, and evil speakings; what must I do?
Answ. Saul charged David with rebellion (1 Sam 22:8,13). Amos was charged with conspiringagainst the king (Amos 7:10). Daniel was charged with despising the king; and soalso were the three children (Dan 6:13; 3:12). Jesus Christ himself was accused ofperverting the nation, of forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and of saying thathimself was Christ a king (Luke 23:2). These things therefore have been. But,
(1.) Canst thou, after a due examination of thyself, say that as to these thingsthou art innocent and clear? I say, will thy conscience justify thee here? Hast thoumade it thy business to give unto God the things that are God's, and unto Caesarthe things that are his, according as God has commanded? If so, matter not what menshall say, nor with what lies and reproaches they slander thee, but for these thingscount thyself happy. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you - and shall say allmanner of evil against you falsely (lying) for my sake (saith Christ). Rejoice, andbe exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they theprophets which were before you (Matt 5:11,12). Comfort thyself therefore in the innocencyof thy soul, and say, I am counted a rebel, and yet am loyal; I am counted a deceiver,and yet am true (1 Sam 24:8- 12, 2 Cor 6:8). Also refer thy cause to the day of judgment;for if thou canst rejoice at the thoughts that thou shalt be cleared of all slandersand evil speakings then, that will bear up thy heart as to what thou mayest suffernow. The answer of a good conscience will carry a man through hell to heaven. Countthese slanders part of thy sufferings, and those for which God will give thee a reward,because thou art innocent, and for that they are laid upon thee for thy profession'ssake. But if thou be guilty, look to thyself; I am no comforter of such.
[THIRD, THE GOOD EFFECT OF COMMITTING THE SOUL TO GOD'S KEEPING.]
I come now to speak to the third and last part of the text, namely, of the good effectthat will certainly follow to those that, after a due manner, shall take the adviceafore given. "Let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit thekeeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator."
Two things from the last clause of the text lie yet before us. And they are theyby which will be shown what good effect will follow to those that suffer accordingto the will of God, and that commit their souls to his keeping. 1. Such will findhim to themselves a Creator. 2. They will find him a faithful Creator. "Letthem commit the keeping of their souls to him, as unto a faithful Creator."
In this phrase, a Faithful Creator, behold the wisdom of the Holy Ghost, how fitlyand to the purpose he speaketh. King is a great title, and God is sometimes calleda King; but he is not set forth by this title here, but by the title of a Creator;for it is not always in the power of a king to succour and relieve his subjects,that are suffering for his crown and dignity. Father is a sweet title—a title thatcarrieth in it an intimation of a great deal of bowels and compassion, and God isoften set forth also by this title in the holy Scriptures. But so he is not here,but rather as a Creator. For a father, a compassionate father, cannot always help,succour, or relieve his children, though he knows they are under affliction! Oh!but a Creator can. Wherefore, I say, he is set forth here under the title of Creator.
FIRST, A Creator! nothing can die under a Creator's hands. A Creator can sustainall. A Creator can, as a Creator, do what he pleases. "The Lord, the everlastingGod, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary" (Isa40:28).
The cause of God, for which his people suffer, had been dead and buried a thousandyears ago, had it not been in the hand of a Creator. The people that have stood byhis cause had been out of both as to persons, name, and remembrance, had they notbeen in the hand of a Creator. Who could have hoped, when Israel was going in, eveninto the mouth of the Red Sea, that ever his cause, or that people, should have revivedagain. A huge host of the Egyptians were behind them, and nothing but death beforeand on every hand of them; but they lived, they flourished, they outlived their enemies,for they were in the hand of a Creator.
Who could have hoped that Israel should have returned again from the land, from thehand, and from under the tyranny of the king of Babylon? They could not deliver themselvesfrom going thither, they could not preserve themselves from being diminished whenthey came there, their power was gone, they were in captivity, their distance fromhome was far, their enemies possessed their land, their city of defence was ruined,and their houses burned down to the ground; and yet they came home again: there isnothing impossible to a Creator.
Who could have thought that the three children could have lived in a fiery furnace?that Daniel could have been safe among the lions? that Jonah could have come hometo his country, when he was in the whale's belly? or that our Lord should have risenagain from the dead? But what is impossible to a Creator?
This, therefore, is a rare consideration for those to let their hearts be acquaintedwith that suffer according to the will of God, and that have committed the keepingof their souls to him in well-doing. They have a Creator to maintain and uphold theircause, a Creator to oppose its opposers. And hence it is said, all that burden themselveswith Jerusalem "shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth begathered together against it" (Zech 12:3).
SECOND, A Creator! A Creator can not only support a dying cause, but also faintingspirits. For as he fainteth not, nor is weary, so "he giveth power to the faint,and to them that have no might he increaseth strength" (Isa 40:29). He is theGod of the spirits of all flesh, and has the life of the spirit of his people inhis own hand. Spirits have their being from him; he is the Father of spirits. Spiritsare made strong by him, nor can any crush that spirit that God the Creator will uphold.
Is it not a thing amazing to see one poor inconsiderable man, in a spirit of faithand patience, overcome all the threatenings, cruelties, afflictions, and sorrows,that a whole world can lay upon him? None can quail him, none can crush him,none can bend down his spirit. None can make him to forsake what he has receivedof God—a commandment to hold fast. His holy, harmless, and profitable notions, becausethey are spiced with grace, yield to him more comfort, joy, and peace, and do kindlein his soul so goodly a fire of love to, and zeal for God, that all the waters ofthe world shall never be able to quench.
Ay, say some, that is because his is headstrong, obstinate, and one that will hearno reason. No, say I, but it is because his spirit is in the hand, under the conductand preservation, of a Creator. A Creator can make spirits, uphold spirits, and makeone spirit stronger to stand, than are all the spirits of the world to cast down.To stand, I say, in a way of patient enduring in well-doing, against all that hellcan do to suppress.
THIRD, A Creator! A Creator can bring down the spirits that oppose, and make themweak and unstable as water. The Lord, the everlasting God, the Creator of the endsof the earth, fainteth not, nor is weary; there is no searching of his understanding.He gives power to the faint, and to those that have no might, he increaseth strength;now mark, even the young shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterlyfall. A Creator can dash the spirits of the enemies with fear. God can put them infear, and make them know that they are men and not God, and that their horses areflesh and not spirit. When the enemy came to take Jesus Christ, their spirits fainted,their hearts died in them; they went backwards, and fell to the ground. They hadhard work to strengthen their spirits to a sufficiency of boldness and courage, thoughthey brought halberts, and staves, and swords, and weapons with them, to take a nakedman (John 18:3-7).
And although this is that which is not so visible to the world as some other thingsare, yet I believe that God treads down the spirits of men in a day when they afflicthis people, oftener than we are aware of, or than they are willing to confess. Howwas the hostile spirit of Esau trod down of God, when he came out to meet his poornaked brother, with no less than four hundred armed men? He fainted before his brother,and instead of killing, kissed him (Gen 33:4). How was the bloody spirit of Saultrod down, when David met him at the mouth of the cave, and also at the hill Hachilah(1 Sam 24; 26)? God is a Creator, and as a Creator, is a spirit maker, a spirit reviver,a spirit destroyer; he can destroy body and soul in hell (Luke 12:5).
FOURTH, A Creator! As a Creator, he is over all arts, inventions, and crafts of menthat are set on work to destroy God's people, whether they be soldiers, excellentorators, or any other whatsoever; we will single out one—the smith, that roaringfellow, who with his coals and his bellows makes a continual noise. "I havecreated the smith," said God, "that bloweth the coals in the fire, andthat bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster todestroy" (Isa 54:16). The smith, what is he? I answer, an idol maker, a promoterof false worship, and one that makes instruments of cruelty, therewith to help tosuppress the true [worship] (Isa 41:7; 44:12; 46:6).
"I have created the smith," saith God, "that bloweth the coals inthe fire." The idol inventor, the idol maker, the supporter of idol worship,he is my creature, saith God, to teach that he has power to reach him, and to commandhis sword to approach him at his pleasure, notwithstanding his roaring with his bellows,and his coals in the fire. So then, he cannot do what he will in the fire, nor withhis idol when he has made it; the instrument, also that he makes for the defenceof his idol, and for the suppressing of God's true worship, shall not do the thingfor the which it is designed by him. And so the very next verse saith: "No weaponthat is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise againstthee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of theLord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord" (Isa 54:17). And thetext saith moreover, I have created the waster to destroy. The waster, what is that?Why, the smith makes an idol, and God has made the rust; the smith makes a sword,and God has made the rust. The rust eats them up, the moth shall eat them up, thefire shall devour them. "The wicked," saith the Psalmist, "have drawnout the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slaysuch as be of upright conversation. Their sword shall enter into their own heart,and their bows shall be broken" (Psa 37:14,15).
All this can God do, because he is a Creator, and none but God can do it. Whereforeby this peculiar title of Creator, the apostle prepareth support for suffering saints,and also shows what a good conclusion is like to be made with them that suffer forrighteousness' sake, according to his will; and that commit the keeping of theirsouls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
FIFTH, A Creator! A Creator can make such provision for a suffering people, in allrespects, as shall answer all their wants. Have they lost their peace with the world?Have they no more peace with this world? Why, a Creator can make, create peace, cancreate peace, peace; peace with God, and peace with his conscience; and that is betterthan all the peace that can be found elsewhere in the world (Isa 57:19). Have theylost a good frame of heart? Do they want a right frame of spirit? Why, though thisis to be had no where in the world, yet a Creator can help them to it (Psa 51:10).Have they lost their spiritual defence? Do they lie too open to their spiritual foes?Why, this a Creator can help. "And the Lord will create upon every dwellingplace of Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shiningof a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence." (Isa4:5)
This is the work of the Spirit; for though the Spirit itself be uncreated, yet allthe holy works of it in the heart are verily works of creation. Our new man is acreation; our graces are a creation; our joys and comforts are a creation (2Cor 5:17,18; Eph 4:24; Isa 65:17-19). Now a creation none can destroy but a Creator;wherefore here is comfort. But again, God hath created us in Christ Jesus; that isanother thing. The sun is created in the heavens; the stars are created in the heavens;the moon is created in the heavens. Who can reach them, touch them, destroy them,but the Creator? Why, this is the case of the saint; because he has to do with aCreator, he is fastened to Christ; yea, is in him by an act of creation (Eph 2:10),so that unless Christ and the creation of the Holy Ghost can be destroyed, he issafe that is suffering according to the will of God, and that hath committed thekeeping of his soul to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
And this I would have you consider moreover; the man that suffereth according tothe will of God, committeth not such a soul to this Creator as dwells in carnal men—anaked soul, a graceless soul, a soul that has nothing in it but sin; but he commitsa converted soul, a regenerate soul, a soul adorned, beautified, and sanctified,with the jewels, and bracelets, earrings, and perfumes of the blessed Spirit of grace.And I say again, this is the work of a Creator, and a Creator can maintain it inits gallantry,
FOOTNOTE? "Gallantry"; splendour of appearance, grandeur, nobleness.—Ed.
and he will do so, but he will put forth acts of creating power for it every day.
SIXTH, A Creator! He that can create can turn and alter any thing, to what himselfwould have it. He that made "the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadowof death into the morning" (Amos 5:8), he can "make the wilderness a poolof water, and the dry land springs of water" (Isa 41:18). Our most afflictedand desolate conditions, he can make as a little haven unto us; he can make us singin the wilderness, and can give us our vineyards from thence (Hosea 2:14,15). Hecan make Paul sing in the stocks, and good Rowland Taylor dance as he goeth to theburning stake. Jails, and mocks, and scourgings, and flouts and imprisonments, andhunger, and nakedness, and peril, and sword, and dens, and caves, and rocks, andmountains, God can so sweeten with the honey of his Word, and make so famous forsituation by the glory of his presence, and so rich and fruitful by the communicationsof the Holy Ghost, and so easy by the spreading of his feathers over us, that weshall not be able to say, that in all the world a more commodious place, or comfortablecondition, can be found. Some have know this, and have been rather ready to covetto be here, than to shun and fly from it, as a most unsavoury condition. 
All these things, I say, God doth as a Creator. He hath created antipathies, andhe can make antipathies close, and have favour one for another. The lion and thecalf, the wolf and the lamb, the little boy and the cockatrice's den he can reconcile,and make to be at agreement. So, sufferings and the saint; the prison and the saint;losses, crosses, and afflictions, and the saint: he can make to lie down sweetlytogether.
SEVENTH, A Creator! A Creator can make up all that thou hast or shalt lose for thesake of thy profession by the hands of the children of men, be they friends, relations,a world, life, or what you can conceive of.
1. Hast thou lost thy friend for the sake of thy profession? Is the whole world setagainst thee for thy love to God, to Christ, his cause, and righteousness? Why, aCreator can make up all. Here, therefore, is the advantage that he hath that sufferethfor righteousness' sake. Jonathan, the very son of bloody Saul, when David had lostthe help of all his own relations, he must fall in with him, stick to him, and lovehim as he loved his own soul (1 Sam 18:1-3). Obadiah, Ahab's steward, when the saintswere driven even under ground by the rage of Jezebel the queen, he is appointed ofGod to feed them in caves and holes of the earth (1 Kings 18:13). Yea, the very ravencomplied with the will of a Creator to bring the prophet bread and flesh in the morning,and bread and flesh at night (17:6). When Jeremiah the prophet was rejected of all,yea, the church that then was, could not help him; he was cast into the dungeon,and sunk to a great depth there in the mire. God the Creator, who ruleth the spiritsof all men, stirred up the heart of Ebed-melech the Ethiopian both to petition forhis liberty, and to put him out of the dungeon by the help of thirty men (Jer 38:7-13).These now, as Christ says, were both fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and asa loving wife or child (Matt 19:29).
2. Hast thou, for the sake of thy faith and profession thereof, lost thy part inthe world? Why, a Creator can make thee houses as he did for the midwives of Egypt(Exo 1:20,21), and can build thee a sure house as he did for David his servant, whoventured all for the love that they had to the fear of God and his way (2 Sam 7).David was thrust out of Saul's house, and driven from his own, and God opened theheart of Achisch the king of Gath to receive him, and to give him Ziklag. David,when under the tyranny of Saul, knew not what to do with his father and his mother,who were persecuted for his sake, but a Creator inclined the heart of the king ofMoab to receive them to house and harbour (1 Sam 27:5; 22:3,4).
3. Is thy life at stake—is that like to go for thy profession, for thy harmless professionof the gospel? Why, God the Creator is Lord of life, and to God the Lord belong theissues from death. So then, he can, if he will, hold thy breath in thy nostrils,in spite of all the world; or if he shall suffer them to take away this for his glory,he can give thee another ten times as good for thy comfort. "He that lovethhis life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it untolife eternal" (John 12:25).
4. Is thy body to be disfigured, dismembered, starved, hanged, or burned for thefaith and profession of the gospel? Why, a Creator can either prevent it, or, sufferingit, can restore it the very same to thee again, with great and manifold advantage.He that made thee to be now what thou art, can make thee to be what thou never yetwast. It doth not yet appear what we shall be, further than only by general words(1 John 3:2; Phil 3:21).
EIGHTH, A Creator! Peter sets him before us here as a Creator, because he would haveus live upon him as such; as well as upon his grace, love, and mercy. In Job's daythis was bewailed, that none or but a few said, "Where is God my maker, whogiveth songs in the night?" (Job 35:10).
Creator, as was hinted before, is one of God's peculiar titles. It is not given tohim above five or six times in all the Book of God; and usually, when given him,it is either to show his greatness, or else to convince us that of duty we oughtto depend upon him; and not to faint, if he be on our side, for or under any adversity,according as we are bidden in the text: "Let them that suffer according to thewill of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithfulcreator." Shall God display his glory before us under the character and titleof a Creator, and shall we yet fear man? Shall he do this to us when we are undera suffering condition, and that on purpose that we might commit our souls to himin well- doing, and be quiet, and shall we take no notice of this? "Who artthou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of manwhich shall be made as grass; and forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretchedforth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth?" &c. (Isa 51:12,13).
Had God concealed himself, as to his being a Creator, yet since he presenteth himselfunto us by his Word under so many excellent titles as are given to no other God besides,methinks it should make us bold in our God; but when, for our relief, he shall addto all other that he verily is a Creator, this should make us rest in hope indeed.
Every nation will have confidence for their own gods, though but gods that are madewith hands—though but the work of the smith and carpenter; and shall not we trustin the name of the Lord our God, who is not only a God, but a Creator and formerof all things (Micah 4:5), consequently, the only living and true God, and one thatalone can sustain us? We therefore are to be greatly blamed if we overlook the ground,such ground of support and comfort as presenteth itself unto us under the title ofa Creator; but then most of all, if, when we have heard, believed, and known thatour God is such, we shall yet be afraid of a man that shall die, and forget the Lordour maker. We, I say, have heard, seen, known, and believed, that our God is theCreator. The heavens declare his glory, and the firmament showeth his handy-work,and thus he has showed unto us "his eternal power and Godhead" (Rom 1:20).
Behold, then, thou fearful worm, Jacob, the heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars;behold the earth, the sea, the air, the fire, and vapours. Behold, all living things,from leviathan and behemoth to the least that creepeth in the earth and waters. Yea,behold thyself, thy soul, thy body, thy fashion, thy building, and consider; thyGod hath made even all these things, and hath given to thee this being; yea, andall this also he made of that which doth not appear (Heb 11:1-3). This is that whichthou art called to the consideration of by Peter, in the text; when he letteth fallfrom his apostolical meditation that thy God is the Creator, and commandeth thatthou, in thy suffering for him according to his will, shouldest commit the keepingof thy soul to him as unto a faithful Creator.
He that has the art thus to do, and that can do it in his straits, shall never betrodden down. His God, his faith; his faith, his God, are able to make him stand.For such a man will thus conclude, that since the Creator of all is with him, whatbut creatures are there to be against him? So, then, what is the axe, that it shouldboast itself against him that heweth therewith? or the saw, that it should magnifyitself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against himthat lifteth it up; or as if the staff should lift up itself as if it were not wood(Isa 10:15). Read also Isaiah 40:12-31, and then speak, if God as Creator is nota sure confidence to all the ends of the earth that trust in, and wait upon him.As Creator, he hath formed and upholdeth all things; yea, his hands have formed thecrooked serpent, wherefore he also is at his bay (Job 26:13). And thou hast madethe dragon in the sea; and therefore it follows that he can cut and wound him (Isa51:9), and give him for meat to the fowls, and to the beasts inheriting the wilderness(Psa 74:13,14), if he will seek to swallow up and destroy the church and people ofGod (Eze 29:3,4).
NINTH, A Creator is God! the God unto whom they that suffer according to his willare to commit the keeping of their souls— the Creator. And doth he take charge ofthem as a Creator? Then this should teach us to be far off from being dismayed, asthe heathens are, at his tokens; for our God, the Lord, is the true God, the livingGod, the King of eternity (Jer 10:1,2,10). We should tremblingly glory and rejoicewhen we see him in the world, though upon those that are the most terrible of hisdispensations. God the Creator will sometimes mount himself and ride through theearth in such majesty and glory, that he will make all to stand in the tent doorsto behold him. O how he rode in his chariots of salvation when he went to save hispeople out of the land of Egypt! How he shook the nations! Then "his glory coveredthe heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. And his brightness was as thelight; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power.Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. He stood,and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlastingmountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting."Then said the prophet, "I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtainsof the land of Midian did tremble. Was the Lord displeased against the rivers? wasthine anger against the rivers? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst rideupon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation?" (Hab 3:3-8).
So David: "The earth shook and trembled," said he; "the foundationsalso of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth. There went up a smokeout of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet. And herode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind. He madedarkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thickclouds of the skies. At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed,hail stones and coals of fire. The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highestgave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire. Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scatteredthem; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them. Then the channels of waterswere seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord,at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils" (Psa 18:7-15).
These are glorious things, though shaking dispensations. God is worthy to be seenin his dispensations as well as in his Word, though the nations tremble at his presence."Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down,"saith the prophet, "that the mountains might flow down at thy presence!"(Isa 64:1). We know God, and he is our God, our own God; of whom or of what shouldwe be afraid? (Psa 46). When God roars out of Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem,when the heavens and the earth do shake, the Lord shall be the hope of his people,and the strength of the children of Israel (Joel 3:16).
Every man stayeth up, or letteth his spirit fail, according to what he knoweth concerningthe nature of a thing. He that knows the sea, knows the waves will toss themselves:he that knows a lion, will not much wonder to see his paw, or to hear the voice ofhis roaring. And shall we that know our God be stricken with a panic fear, when hecometh out of his holy place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity?We should stand like those that are next to angels, and tell the blind world whoit is that is thus mounted upon his steed, and that hath the clouds for the dustof his feet, and that thus rideth upon the wings of the wind: we should say untothem, "This God is our God for ever and ever, and he shall be our guide evenunto death."
Our God! the Creator! He can turn men to destruction, and say, Return, ye childrenof men. When our God shows himself, it is worth the while to see the sight, thoughit costs us all that we have to behold it. Some men will bless and admire every rascallyjuggler that can but make again that which they only seem to mar, or do somethingthat seems to outgo reason; yea, though they make thunderings and noise in the placewhere they are, as though the devil himself were there. Shall saints, then, likeslaves, be afraid of their God, the Creator; of their own God, when he rendeth theheavens, and comes down? When God comes into the world to do great things, he mustcome like himself—like him that is a Creator: wherefore the heavens and the earthmust move at his presence, to signify that they acknowledge him as such, and payhim that homage that is due to him as their God and great Creator.
We that are Christians have been trained up by his Son in his school this many aday, and have been told what a God our Father is, what an arm he has, and with whata voice he can thunder; how he can deck himself with majesty and excellency, andarray himself with beauty and glory; how he can cast abroad the rage of his wrath,and behold every one that is proud, and abase him (Job 40:9-11). Have we not talkedof what he did at the Red Sea, and in the land of Ham many years ago, and have weforgot him now? Have we not vaunted and boasted of our God both in church, pulpit,and books; and spake to the praise of them that, instead of stones, attempted todrive antichrist out of the world with their lives and their blood; and are we afraidof our God? He was God, a Creator, then; and is he not God now? and will he not beas good to us as to them that have gone before us? or would we limit him to appearin such ways as only smile upon our flesh; and have him stay, and not show himselfin his heart-shaking dispensations until we are dead and gone? What if we must gonow to heaven, and what if he is thus come down to fetch us to himself? If we havebeen wise as serpents, and innocent as doves—if we can say, Neither against the lawof the Jews, neither against the temple, nor against Caesar, have we offended anythingat all, of what should we be afraid? Let heaven and earth come together, I dare saythey will not hurt us.
Our Lord Jesus, when dilating upon some of the great and necessary works of our Creator,puts check beforehand to all uncomely fears; to such fears as become not the faithand profession of a Christian. "Brother," saith he, "shall deliverup the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise upagainst their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated ofall men for my name's sake." What follows? (verse 28), "Fear them not";and again, in verse 31, "Fear ye not" (Matt 10:21,22).
So again (Matt 24): "Nation shall rise against nation - there shall be famines,pestilences, and earthquakes, &c. They shall deliver you up to be afflicted,and shall kill you.—Many shall be offended, and shall betray one another.—And manyfalse prophets shall arise, and deceive many." And yet for all this we are bidnot to be afraid, for all these things, with all other are ordered, limited, enlargedand straitened, bounded and butted by the will, and hand, and power of that God untowhom Peter bids us commit the keeping of our souls, as unto a faithful Creator (verse7-11; Mark 13:5-9). To wait for God in the way of his judgments doth well becomea Christian.
To believe he loves us when he shows himself terrible to us, is also very much becomingof us. Wherefore has he given us grace? Is it that we should live by sense? Whereforehas he sometimes visited us? Is it that our hearts might be estranged from him, andthat we still should love the world? And I say again, wherefore has he so plainlytold us of his greatness, and of what he can do? Is it not that we might be stillwhen the world is disturbed; and that we might hope for good things to come out ofsuch providences that, to sense, look as if themselves would eat up and devour all?
Let us wait upon God, walk with God, believe in God, and commit ourselves, our soul,our body, to God, to be kept. Yea, let us be content to be at the disposal of God,and rejoice to see him act according to all his wondrous works. For this is a posturehighly becoming them that say of God he is their Father, and that have committedthe keeping of their souls to him as unto a Creator. A comely thing it is for thesoul that feareth God, to love and reverence him in all his appearances. We shouldbe like the spaniel dog, even lie at the foot of our God, as he at the foot of hismaster; yea, and should be glad, could we but see his face, though he treads us downwith his feet.
Ay, says one son, so I could, if I thought this high God would regard me, and takenotice of my laying of my soul at his foot, while I suffer for his Word and truthin the world. Why, do but see now how the Holy Ghost, for our help, doth hedge upthat way in at which unbelief would come, that there might, as to this, be no roomleft for doubting. For as he calleth the God unto whom we are bid to commit the keepingof our soul, a Creator, so he saith that he is A CREATOR THAT IS FAITHFUL. "Letthem commit the keeping of their souls unto him in well-doing, as unto a faithfulCreator"—a Creator that will concern himself with the soul committed to histrust, and that will be faithful to it, according to all that he has promised.
This, therefore, of God's faithfulness being added to his might and power, is initself a ground of great support to those that have in a way of well-doing committedthemselves, their souls, to him to keep. A Creator; what is it that a Creator cannotdo? A faithful Creator; what is it that one that is faithful will not do, that is,when he is engaged? And now he is engaged, because thou hast committed thy soul tohim to keep, and because he has bid thee do so. Let them commit the keeping of theirsoul to him, as unto a faithful Creator. I have sometimes seen an unfaithful manengaged, when a thing has been committed to him to keep. A man that is a thief, acheater, a defrauder, will yet be faithful to him that will commit a charge to himto keep. And the reason is, because, though he can steal, cheat, defraud, withoutbeing taken notice of; yet he must be seen and known, if he be false in that whichis committed to him to keep. I know the comparison is odious, yet such have beenmade by a holier mouth than mine, and as the case may be, they may be aptest of allto illustrate that which a man is about to explain. Hark what the unjust judge saith,says the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 18).
To commit thy soul to God is to trust him with it; to commit thy soul to God is toengage him to look to it. And if he should not be faithful now, he will not be soin any case. For himself has bidden thee do it; he has also promised to keep it,as has been already showed in the former part of this discourse. Besides, he is heresaid to be faithful—to be a faithful Creator. He challenges this of faithfulnessto himself alone: "Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar" (Rom 3:4).This, therefore, doth still help to encourage them that would be faithful to him,to commit the keeping of our soul to him. A faithful man will encourage one much;how much more should the faithfulness of God encourage us?
Here, therefore, we have a closing word indeed; a word to wrap up the text with thatis as full of good as the sun is of light. What can be fitter spoken? What can beadded? What now is wanting to the help of him that has committed his soul to Godto keep it while he is suffering according to his will in the world? He is engaged,as I said, by that act; thou hast committed thy soul to him to keep; he is engagedby his own Word; he has bidden thee commit thy soul to him to keep. He is engagedby his declaring of himself to be faithful; for that has encouraged thee to committhy soul to him to keep. Besides, he has promised to do it; he has sworn to do it.
"For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater,he sware by himself, saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying Iwill multiply thee. And so, after he had patiently endured, (as thou must do,) heobtained the promise. For men verily swear by the great: and an oath for confirmationis to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew untothe heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: thatby two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might havea strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set beforeus: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and whichentereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, evenJesus, made an High-priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec" (Heb 6:13-20).
Thus you see what ground we have who suffer according to the will of God, and thathave committed the keeping of our souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithfulCreator. Here, therefore, I might make a stop and conclude as to this advice; butnow we are in, we will proceed a little further, and will fall upon three or fourmore particulars.
First, then, He will be faithful to us in this: He will keep us from those allurementsof the world that a suffering saint is subject to. They that suffer have other kindsof temptations upon this account than other Christians have. The liberty of others,while they are in bonds, is a temptation to them. The peace of others, while theyare in trouble, is a temptation to them. The enjoyments of others, while their housesare empty and their goods taken away, while their own water is sold unto them, andwhile they are buying their own wood, is a great temptation to them (Lam 5:4). Andthis temptation, were it not that we have to do with a God that is faithful, wouldassuredly be a great snare unto them. But "God is faithful, who will not sufferyou to be tempted," as to this, "above that ye are able" (1 Cor 10:13).
Nay, a suffering man has not only these things lying before him as a temptation,but perhaps the wife of the bosom lies at him, saying, O do not cast thyself away;if thou takest this course, what shall I do? Thou has said thou lovest me; now makeit manifest by granting this my small request. Do not still remain in thine integrity.Next to this come the children, all which are like to come to poverty, to beggary,to be undone for want of wherewithal to feed, and clothe, and provide for them fortime to come. Now also come kindred, and relations, and acquaintance; some chide,some cry, some argue, some threaten, some promise, some flatter, and some do all,to befool him for so unadvised an act as to cast away himself, and to bring his wifeand children to beggary for such a thing as religion. These are sore temptations.
Next to those come the terrors of men, the gripes of the laws, the shadow of death,and no man can tell what. All which are sufficient to pull a man from the gates oflife, were he there, if the faithful Creator stands not to him. "But God isfaithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but willwith the temptation make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."—"ButGod is faithful." It saith not, that thou art: but "God is faithful"—tohis Son, to whom he has given thee; to his promise, the which he has given thee;to his cause, to which he has called thee; and to thy soul, the which thou hast committedto his trust, and the which he also has taken the charge of, as he is a faithfulCreator.
"And will not suffer thee to be tempted." How, not tempted? No; not abovewhat thou art able. He that tempts thee doth not at all consider thy strength, soas to stop when he sees thou art weak; he would have thee overthrown, for thereforeit is that he tempteth thee. But God will not suffer that, because he is faithful,and because thou hast committed the keeping of thy soul unto him in well-doing, asunto a faithful Creator. "Not tempted above that ye are able." He saithnot, above that ye are well able. Indeed, thy strength shall be proportioned to thetemptation, but thou mayest have none over and above to spare; thou shalt not havea bigger load than God will give thee shoulders to bear. Christ did bear his burden,but it made him cry out, and sweat as it were great drops of blood, to carry it.Bear thy burden thou shalt, and not be destroyed by it; but perhaps thou mayest sometimesroar under it by reason of the disquietness of thy heart. "But he will withthe temptation make a way of escape." "With the temptation," not withoutit; thou must be tempted, and must escape too. "With the temptation." Assure as Satan is licensed, so sure he is limited; and when Satan has ended all thetemptation, he shall depart from thee (Luke 4:13). "He will with the temptation"—bysuch a managing of it as shall beak its own neck. God can admit Satan to tempt, andmake the Christian wise to manage the temptation for his own escape.
"Make a way." It may be thou seest no way of escape. It may be there isno way—no way in all the world, to escape. Well; but God can make a way. When Israelwas hemmed in at the Red Sea, there was as then no way—no way in all the world, toescape. O! but God made a way, and a pathway too, and that through the mighty waters(Exo 15:8,16; Psa 106:9; 78:13). He will make a way with the temptation, or "willwith the temptation make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." Theseare the words of the Holy Ghost, who is God; and they are spoken, yea, committedto record for this very purpose, that those that are under affliction might committhe keeping of their soul to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator. Thatis the first.
Second, He will also be faithful to us as to this: He will give us a competent measureof wisdom, that in our suffering condition we may in all things be made able to manageour state with discretion. We are perhaps weak of natural abilities, parts of utterance,or the like; and our adversaries are learned, eloquent, and ripe of parts. Thou hastthe disadvantage on thy side, and they have what the world can afford to encouragethem; thou art weak of spirit, they are bold and strong. The great and the mightyare with thy enemies, but on thy side there is no comforter (Eccl 4:1).
Why now here is, as to this, and to what else can it be objected, the faithfulnessof God engaged. First, in a general promise; I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee(Heb 13:5,6). Secondly, we have an invitation to come to this faithful God for wisdomto assist and help. For after he had said, "My brethren, count it all joy whenye fall into divers temptations - and let patience have her perfect work"; headds, "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally,and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him" (James 1:2-5). Here is more thanan invitation, here is a promise—it shall be given him; and all to show us what afaithful Creator we have committed our souls unto. Doth any lack wisdom to know howto carry it in a time of trial: let them ask it of God—of the God that is wisdomitself; let him ask it of God, the liberal giver, who giveth to all men all thatthey have, and upbraideth not for their unworthiness.
Nor doth the Holy Ghost stop here, but enlarges himself in a more particular wayto those that suffer according to the text, saying, "But when they deliver youup, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in thatsame hour what ye shall speak" (Matt 10:19).
I have often been amazed in my mind at this text, for how could Jesus Christ havesaid such a word if he had not been able to perform it? This text, therefore, declareshim to be God. It is also a proof of faithfulness to those that suffer for him.
For it is as if he should say, Try me and trust me; if I stand not by you in a dayof distress, never believe me more;—you, suffering according to the will of God,and committing your souls to him in well-doing; "I will give you a mouth andwisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay or resist,"for so he has it in Luke 21:15. Here is no consideration of what capacity the peoplemight be of, that were to be persecuted; but what matters what they are? if fools,it is no matter; if wise, it helpeth nothing. A mouth and wisdom is to be given;that of itself shall do. And this is according to that other scripture mentionedafore, where it saith, "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper;and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn"(Isa 54:17). Although it may happen in this, as in the former temptation, the deviland his agents may give the saints, in their pleading for the truth, their belliesfull both of cross answers, equivocations, sophistications, wrong glosses and erroneousinterpretations; but truth shall prevail, shall turn the scale, and bear away thevictory.
Third, He will also be faithful to us in this: we shall not want spiritual supportto help us to bear up under our particular parts of suffering. I do not say thatthou shalt be comforted all the while; but I say he will be to thee so faithful asto comfort thee under those thodes, gusts, blasts, or battering storms that beatagainst thy wall (Isa 32:2).
Look then what present degrees or aggravating appearances are in thy afflictions;to such a degree shalt thou at times be supported. For as surely as ever the Spiritof God moved Samson at times in the camp of Dan, when he lay against the Philistines;so will the Spirit of God move in and upon thee to comfort and to strengthen thee,whilst thou sufferest for his name in the world. As our afflictions abound for Christ,so shall our consolations abound by him (2 Cor 1:5). I have observed that God laysthis, that he useth to comfort his people in a time of sufferings, as an aggravationof sin upon them that did use to shuck and shrink under sufferings. "I,"saith he, "even I, am he that comforteth you; who art thou that thou shouldestbe afraid of a man that shall die" (Isa 51:12)?
"God," says the wise man, "hath set the one over against the other,"the day of adversity and the day of prosperity, "to the end that man shouldfind nothing after him" to complain of (Eccl 7:14). For as certainly as thereis a time to mourn, so certainly there is a time to rejoice: set, I say, for themthat suffer for God's cause according to God's will (Eccl 3:4).
There are several degrees of suffering for righteousness; there is the scourge ofthe tongue, the ruin of an estate, the loss of liberty, a jail, a gibbet, a stake,a dagger. Now, answerable to these are the comforts of the Holy Ghost prepared, liketo like, part proportioned to part, only the consolations are said to abound (2 Cor1).
But the lighter the sufferings are, the more difficult it is to judge of the comfortsof the Spirit of God, for it is common for a man to be comfortable under sufferingswhen he suffereth but little, and knows also that his enemy can touch his flesh,his estate, or the like, but little: I say, it is common for such a man to be comfortablein his sufferings, from the consideration that his enemies can touch him no further.And this may be the joy of the flesh—the result of reason, and may be very much,if not altogether, without a mixture of the joy of the Holy Ghost therewith. Themore deep, therefore, and the more dreadful the sufferings are, the more clearlyare seen the comforts of the Spirit, when a man has comfort where the flesh is dead,stirreth not, and can do nothing. When a man can be comfortable at the loss of all—whenhe is under the sentence of death, or at the place of execution—when a man's cause,a man's conscience, the promise, and the Holy Ghost, have all one comfortable voice,and do all, together with their trumpets, make one sound in the soul; then the comfortsare good, of the right kinds, of God and his Spirit.
I told you before that there are several degrees of sufferings; wherefore it is notto be expected that he that suffers but little should partake of the comforts thatare prepared for them that suffer much. He that has only the scourge of the tongue,knows not what are the comforts that are prepared for him that meets with the scourgeof the whip. And how should a man know what manner of comforts the Holy Ghost dothuse to give at the jail and the gibbet, when himself, for righteousness, never wasthere?
But whether this or the other Christian knows it, God has his consolations for hissuffering people; and those, too, such as are proportioned to the nature or degreeof their sufferings; the which shall assuredly be made appear to them that shallafter a godly manner stick to his truth, and trust him with their souls. Joseph wascast into prison; but God was with him. John was banished into the isle called Patmos,for the Word of God; but what revelations of God had he there! even such as he wasa stranger to all his life before: this, therefore, is to be well heeded. For itis a demonstration of the faithfulness of God to those that, suffering accordingto his will, do commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto afaithful Creator.
Fourth, He will also be faithful to us in this: He will not let the sharpness, norkeenness, nor venom of the arrows of the enemies of his people, reach so far as todestroy both body and soul at once; but he will preserve them, when what can be doneis done, to his eternal kingdom and glory, is a marvellous thing; but it must beso, because God has called them to it. Therefore, after Peter had told them thatthe devil their adversary sought to devour them, and had bidden them resist him,steadfast in the faith, he saith, "But the God of all grace, who hath calledus unto his eternal [kingdom and] glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffereda while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you" (1 Peter 5:10).
The truth is, persecution of the godly was, of God, never intended for their destruction,but for their glory, and to make them shine the more when they are beyond this valleyof the shadow of death. Indeed, we ofttimes, when we are persecuted, do feel theterrors of our adversaries in our minds. But it is not because they can shoot themthither, nor because they of themselves have power to reach so far, but we, likefools, by our ignorance and unbelief, do admit them thither.
No suffering, nor inflicter of suffering, can reach the peace of the sufferer withouthis own consent. This is provision of God's making; yea, and if through our follytheir terror is admitted to touch us, yet since we are not our own, but are boughtwith a price, we are not so at our own dispose, but that God will have the buttingand bounding of their rage, as also a power to uphold and support our spirits. WhenI said my foot slipped, thy mercy, O Lord, help me up. And the reason why, by God'sordinance, the spirit is not to be touched in suffering, is, because that is it thatis to sustain the infirmity of the sufferer; therefore God will have the spirit ofhis servants kept sound, and in good health (Prov 18:14; Isa 57:16). The room, therefore,and the ground that the enemy has to play upon, is the body and outward substanceof the people of God, but the spirit is reserved, for the reason hinted before, andalso that it might be capable of maintaining of communion with God. And how elsecould they obey that command that bids them rejoice in tribulation, and glorify Godin the fires? as it is (Rom 12; Isa 24:15).
But, I say, if they have not power to touch, much less to destroy body and soul forever. The body is God's, and he gives that to them to destroy; the spirit is God's,and he keeps that to himself, to show that he has both power to do with us what hepleases, and that he will recover our body also out of their hand; for if the spiritlives, so must the body, when men have done what they can therewith. This is theargument of our Lord Jesus Christ himself (Luke 20:37,38). Therefore the faithfulnessof God not only is, but also will be seen, by them that dare trust him, till thenext world, to his glory and their eternal comfort.
We will now conclude with a short word by way of USE. You see how I have opened thetext, and what hath naturally followed thereupon; from the whole of which may begathered:—
Use First, That the people of God are a suffering people—a people subject to troublefor their faith and profession. The reason is, besides what hath been said already,because the power of truth is in their hearts, and shows itself in their lives— athing which the devil and the world can by no means abide. He that is born afterthe flesh persecuteth him that is born after the Spirit (Gal 4:29). For they cannotagree in religion; the godly are so devout and the other are so profane, that theycannot do. Not but that God's people, as they are commanded, are willing to let themalone; but the other they cannot bear that they should serve God as they have said(Matt 15:14), and hence ariseth persecution. The world also would have the religionof the godly to be counted false—a thing that the others can by no means endure,but will stand by and maintain, yet in all peaceable manner, their own ways beforethem, whatever it costs.
The Christian and the carnal professor are like those two harlots that you read ofin the book of Kings, who strove for the living child, whose it should be, whosecontest could not be decided until it came to the sword of the king (1 Kings 3).O, but when the sword was drawn, under a show as if the living child must now becut in two, then the true mother was known from the false; for her bowels yearnedupon her son (verse 26,27). The world, what show soever they have for religion, andhowever they urge it, that the truth is with them, have no yearning of bowels forit. Let it be neither mine nor thine, said she, but divide it; but the woman whosethe living child was, had not a heart to say so. Religion may lie and die in a ditchfor all those that are given to their sins; nor doth their zeal appear, except whenthey are gripping of the godly for his faith towards God. Bowels, yearning of bowelsover God's condemned religion, is only found in the souls of those who own God hasmade it.
Use Second, Is it so? Are God's people a suffering people? Then this should informthem that will be religious, to prepare themselves for what is like to attend themfor their religion. To prepare, I say, not with carnal weapons, but with the gracesof the Spirit of God; that will help them with meekness and patience to endure. Sitdown then, I say, and count up the cost, before for religion thou engagest too far;lest thou take upon thee to meddle with that which thou wilt not know what to dowith in the end (Prov 25:8; Luke 14:25-30).
Many there be that are faulty here; they have taken upon them to profess, not consideringwhat they have taken in hand may cost them. Wherefore, when troubles come indeed,then they start and cry. This they like not, because they looked not for it; andif this be the way to heaven, let who will go on in it for them. Thus they take offence,and leave Christ's cause and people to shift for themselves in the world (Matt 13:20,21).
Use Third, But let God's people think never the worse of religion, because of thecoarse entertainment it meeteth with in the world. It is better to choose God andaffliction than the world, and sin, and carnal peace. It is necessary that we shouldsuffer, because that we have sinned. And if God will have us suffer a little whilehere for his Word, instead of suffering for our sins in hell, let us be content,and count it a mercy with thankfulness.
"The wicked is reserved to the day of destruction: they shall be brought forthto the day of wrath" (Job 21:30). How kindly, therefore, doth God deal withus, when he chooses to afflict us but for a little, that with everlasting kindnesshe may have mercy upon us (Isa 54:7,8). And "it is better, if the will of Godbe so, that ye suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing" (1 Peter 3:17).
Use Fourth, Look not, therefore, upon the sufferings of God's people for their religion,to be tokens of God's great anger. It is, to be sure, as our heavenly Father ordersit, rather a token of his love; for suffering for the gospel, and for the sincereprofession of it, is indeed a dignity put upon us—a dignity that all men are notcounted worthy of. Count it, therefore, a favour that God has bestowed upon theehis truth, and graces to enable thee to profess it, though thou be made to sufferfor it (Acts 5:41). Thou mightest have been a sufferer for thy sins in hell, butthou art not; but contrariwise art, perhaps, suffering for conscience to God; thisis a dignity. For that thou dost thus by virtue of a heavenly gift, on the behalfof Christ, for the gospel's sake, and according to the will of God. This is a dignitythat a persecutor shall not be counted worthy of, until he first convert to Christ(Phil 1:29).
Use Fifth, Take thy affliction with meekness and patience, though thou endurest griefwrongfully. "For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God enduregrief, suffering wrongfully" (1 Peter 2:19). Lay thy hand, then, upon thy mouth,and speak not a word of ill against him that doth thee wrong; leave thy cause andthy enemy to God; yea, rather pray that his sin may not be laid to his charge; wherefore,as I said before, now show thyself a good man, by loving, pitying, praying for, andby doing good, as thou art commanded, to them that despitefully use thee (Matt 5:44).I know thy flesh will be apt to huff, and to be angry, and to wish, would thou mightestrevenge thyself. But this is base, carnal, sensual, devilish; cast, therefore, suchthoughts from thee, as thoughts that are not fit for a Christian's breast, and betakethee to those weapons that are not carnal. For the artillery of a Christian is theWord, faith, and prayer; and in our patience we must possess our souls (2 Cor 10:5;Luke 21:16-19).
Use Sixth, Be much in the consideration of the all-sufficiency of thy Father, whosecause thou hast espoused, whose Word thou hast chosen for thy heritage, and whosepaths thou delightest to walk in. I say, be much in considering how all the worldis sustained by him, and that all life and breath is in his hand, to continue ordiminish as he pleases. Think with thyself also how able he is to rescue thee fromall affliction, or to uphold thee in it with a quiet mind. Go to him continually,as to a fountain of life that is open for the supply of the needy. Remember also,if he comes not at thy call, and comforteth thee not so soon as thou desirest, itis not of want of love or compassion to thy soul, but to try thy graces, and to showto the fallen angels that thou wilt serve God for nought, rather than give out. Also,if it seemeth to thee, as if God took no care of thee to help thee, but that he hathrather turned thee over to the ungodly; count this also as a sign that he delightsto see thee hold fast his name, though thou art laid under the greatest of disadvantages."If the scourge slay suddenly, [that is more than it hath done to thee,] hewill laugh at the trial of the innocent" (Job 9:23).
It is a great delight to our God to see his people hold fast their integrity, andnot to deny his name, when under such cloudy dispensations and discouraging circumstances.And considerations that thy thus doing is pleasing in his sight through Christ, willbe a support unto thee. God sees thee, though thou canst not now see him, and heobserveth now thy way, though darkness is round about him; and when he hath triedthee, thou shalt come forth like gold.
Use Seventh, Take heed of setting of thyself a bound and period to thy sufferings,unless that period be the grave. Say not to thy afflicters, Hitherto, and no further,and here shall your proud waves be stayed. I say, take heed of doing thus, for fearGod should let them go beyond thee. For a man is not prepared to suffer, furtherthan he thinketh the enemy may be permitted to go. Hence Christ sets their boundsat the loss of life, and no nearer. So then, so far as they go beyond thee, so farthey will find thee unprovided, and so not fortified for a reception of their onsetwith that Christian gallantry which becomes thee. Observe Paul; he died daily, hewas always delivered unto death, he despaired of life; and this is the way to beprepared for any calamity. When a man thinks he has only to prepare for an assaultby footmen, how shall he contend with horses? Or if he looks no further than to horses,what will he do at the swellings of Jordan (Jer 12:5)? Wherefore, set thine enemiesno bounds: say not, They shall not pursue me to the death; have the sentence of deathin thyself. For though they may but tick and toy with thee at first, their swordmay reach thy heart-blood at last. The cat at play with the mouse is sometimes afit emblem of the way of the wicked with the children of God. Wherefore, as I said,be always dying; die daily: he that is not only ready to be bound, but to die, isfit to encounter any amazement.
Use Eighth, If thine enemies would, or do, put thee under a cloud, if they wrap theeup in a bear's skin, and then set the dogs upon thee, marvel not at the matter; thiswas Joseph's, David's, Christ's, Stephen's portion, only be thou innocent; say nothing,do nothing that should render thee faulty; yea, say and do always that that shouldrender thee a good neighbour, a good Christian, and a faithful subject. This is theway to help thee to make with boldness thy appeals to God; this is the way to emboldenthy face against the faces of thine enemies; this is the way to keep thy consciencequiet and peaceable within thee; and this is the way to provoke God to appear forthy rescue, or to revenge thy blood when thou art gone. And do this because it isthy duty—we must fear God and honour the king—and because this is the way to makethe rock of thy enemies hard: few men have that boldness as to say, This I do againstyou, because you profess Christ. When they persecuted the Lord himself, they saidto him, "For a good work we stone thee not" (John 10:33). Religion thatis pure is a hot thing, and it usually burns the fingers of those that fight againstit; wherefore it is not common for men to oppose religion under its own naked complexion:wherefore the Jews sought to fasten other matters upon Christ to kill him for them;though the great spite they had against him was for his doctrine and miracles. Itwas for envy to that that they set themselves against him, and that made them inventto charge him with rebellion and treason (Matt 27:18; Luke 23:2).
Use Ninth, Wherefore it becomes all godly men to study to be quiet, to mind theirown business, and as much as in them lies, to be at peace with all men; to owe noman any thing but love. Pray, therefore, for all that are in authority; pray forthe peace of the country in which thou dwellest; keep company with holy, and quiet,and peaceable men. Seek by all good ways the promotion of godliness, put up injuries,be good to the poor, do good against evil, be patient towards all men; for "thesethings are good and profitable unto men" (Titus 3:8).
Be not inclining to injure men behind their backs, speak evil of no man, reproachnot the governor nor his actions, as he is set over thee; all his ways are God's,either for thy help or the trial of thy graces. Wherefore he needs thy prayers, notthy revilings; thy peaceable deportment, and not a troublesome life. I know thatnone of these things can save thee from being devoured by the mouth of the sons ofBelial (1 Kings 21:12,13). Only, what I say is duty, is profitable, is commendable,is necessary; and that which will, when the devil has done his worst, render theelovely to thy friends, terrible to thine enemies, serviceable in thy place as a Christian,and will crown the remembrance of thy name, to them that survive thee, with a blessing;"The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot"(Prov 10:7).
Use Tenth, I will conclude, then, with a word to those professors, if there be anysuch, that are of an unquiet and troublesome spirit. Friends, I may say to you, asour Lord said once to his disciples, "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye areof." To wish the destruction of your enemies doth not become you. If ye be bornto, and are called, that you may inherit a blessing, pray be free of your blessing:"Bless, and curse not." If you believe that the God whom you serve is supremegovernor, and is also wise enough to manage affairs in the world for his church,pray keep fingers off, and refrain from doing evil. If the counsel of Gamaliel wasgood when given to the enemies of God's people, why not fit to be given to Christiansthemselves? Therefore refrain from these men, and let them alone. If the work thatthese men do is that which God will promote and set up for ever, then you cannotdisannul it; if not, God has appointed the time of its fall.
A Christian! and of a troublesome spirit; for-shame, forbear; show, out of a goodconversation, thy works, with meekness of wisdom; and here let me present thee withthree or four things.
1. Consider, That though Cain was a very murderer, yet God forbade any man's meddlingwith him, under a penalty of revenging his so doing upon his own head sevenfold."And the Lord said unto him, Therefore, whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shallbe taken on him sevenfold" (Gen 4:15). But why not meddle with Cain, since hewas a murderer? The reason is, because he persecuted his brother for righteousness'sake, and so espoused a quarrel against God; for he that persecutes another for righteousness'sake sets himself against God, fights against God, and seeks to overthrow him. Now,such an one the Christian must let alone and stand off from, that God may have hisfull blow at him in his time. Wherefore he saith to his saints, and to all thatare forward to revenge themselves, Give place, stand back, let me come, leave suchan one to be handled by me. "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rathergive place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saiththe Lord" (Rom 12:19). Wherefore the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any findinghim should slay him. You must not, indeed, you must not avenge yourselves of yourenemies. Yea, though it was lawful once so to do, it is not lawful now. Ye have heardthat it hath been said to them of old time, Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hatethine enemy; but I say, said our Lord, Love them, bless them, do good to them, andpray for them that hate you (Matt 5:43,44).
2. Consider, Revenge is of the flesh,—I mean this our revenge of ourselves; and itproceeds from anger, wrath, impatience under the cross, unwillingness to suffer,from too much love to carnal ease, to estates, to enjoyments, to relations, and thelike. It also flows from a fearful, cowardly spirit; there is nothing of greatnessin it, except it be greatness of untowardness. I know there may, for all this, bepretences to justice, to righteousness, to the liberty of the gospel, the suppressingof wickedness, and the promoting of holiness; but these can be but pretences, or,at best, but the fruits of a preposterous zeal. For since, as has been often saidin this treatise, the Lord hath forbidden us to do so, it cannot be imagined thathe should yet animate any to such a thing by the Holy Ghost and the effects of thegraces thereof. Let them, then, if any such be, that are thus minded, be countedthe narrow-spirited, carnal, fleshly, angry, waspish-spirited professors—the professorsthat know more of the Jewish than of the Christian religion, and that love ratherto countenance the motions, passions, and gross motions of and angry mind, that withmeekness to comply with the will of a heavenly Father. Thou art bid to be like untohim, and also thou art showed wherein (Matt 5:45-48).
There is a man hates God, blasphemes his name, despises his being; yea, says thereis no God. And yet the God that he carrieth it thus towards doth give him his breakfast,dinner, and supper; clothes him well, and when night comes, has him to bed, giveshim good rest, blesses his field, his corn, his cattle, his children, and raiseshim to high estate.  Yea, and this our God doth not only once or twice, but untilthese transgressors become old; his patience is thus extended, years after years,that we might learn of him to do well.
3. Consider, A professor! and unquiet and troublesome, discontented, and seekingto be revenged of thy persecutors; where is, or what kind of grace hast thou got?I dare say, they, even these in which thou thus actest, are none of the graces ofthe Spirit. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, long- suffering, gentleness,goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law; but wrath, strife,seditions, traitors, and inventors of evil things are reckoned with the worst ofsins, and sinners, and are plainly called the works of the flesh (Rom 1:29-31; 2Tim 3:3,4; Gal 5:19-21).
But I say, where is thy love to thine enemy? where is thy joy under the cross? whereis thy peace when thine anger has put thee upon being unquiet? Where is thy long-suffering?for, as thou actest, not ought but thy waspishness can be seen. Where, also, is thysweet, meek, and gentle spirit? and is goodness seen in thy seeking the life or thedamage of thy enemy? Away, away; thy graces, if thou hast any, are by these, thypassions, so jostled up into corners, and so pent for want of room and liberty toshow themselves, that, by the Word of God, thou canst not be known to be of the rightkind, what a noise soever thou makest.
A Christian, when he sees trouble coming upon him, should not fly in the face ofthe instrument that brings it, but in the face of the cause of its coming. Now thecause is thyself, thy base self, thy sinful self, and thy unworthy carriages towardsGod under all the mercy, patience, and long-suffering that God has bestowed uponthee, and exercised towards thee. Here thou mayest quarrel and be revenged, and sparenot, so thou take vengeance in a right way, and then thou wilt do so when thou takestit by godly sorrow (2 Cor 7:10,11).
A Christian, then, should bewail his own doings, his own unworthy doings, by whichhe has provoked God to bring a cloud upon him, and to cover him with it in anger.A Christian should say, This is my wickedness, when a persecutor touches him; yea,he should say it, and then shut up his mouth, and bear the indignation of the Lord,because he has sinned against him. "Thy way and thy doings have procured thesethings unto thee; this is thy wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reachethunto thine heart" (Jer 4:18).
4. Consider, What conviction of thy goodness can the actions that flow from sucha spirit give unto observers? None at all; yea, a spirit of unquietness under sufferings,and that seeketh to be revenged of those that do, for thy faith and the professionthereof, persecute thee, is so far off of giving conviction to beholders that thouart right, that it plainly tells them that thou art wrong. Even Julian the apostate,when he had cast away whatever he could of Christ, had this remaining with him—thata Christian ought to take with patience what affliction fell upon him for his Master'ssake; and would hit them in the teeth with an unbecoming behavior, that complainedor that sought redress of them that had abused them for their faith and godly profession.What will men say if you shrink and winch, and take your sufferings unquietly, butthat if you yourselves were uppermost, you would persecute also? Much more have theyground to say so, when you will fight lying on your backs. Be quiet, then, and ifthine enemy strike thee on one check, turn to him the other; and if he also revileand curse thee, down upon thy knees and pray for him. This is the way to convincethy observers that thou art a godly man. Father, forgive them, for they know notwhat they do, was one of those things that convinced the centurion that Jesus wasa righteous man; for he stood by the cross to watch and see how Jesus carried itin these his sufferings, as well as to see execution done (Matt 27:54; Luke 23:34-47).
5. Consider, A professor, unquiet and turbulent under sufferings, and seeking hisown revenge, cannot be a victor over what he should, nor a keeper of God's commandments.
(1.) How can he be a victor over himself that is led up and down by the nose by hisown passions? There is no man a Christian victor but he that conquers himself, buthe that beats down and keeps under this body, his lusts, his passions, in the firstplace. Is he that is led away with divers lusts a victor? Is he that is a servantto corruption a victor? And if he that is captivated by his anger, wrath, passion,discontent, prejudice, &c., be not led away by them, I am under a mistake. Sothen, to quarrel with superiors, or with any that are troublesome to thee for thyfaith and thy profession, bespeaks thee over-mastered and captive, rather than amaster and a conqueror.
(2.) The same may be said upon the second head. He keepeth not the commandments ofGod; for those teach him other things, as I have also showed. The great gospel commandsterminate in self-denial; but if self-revenge is self-denial, I am besides the Book.Christ, in the book of the Revelation, sets him that keeps the commandments of Goda great way off from him that taketh and smiteth with the sword: "He that killethwith the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faithof the saints" (Rev 13:10). That is, in that they forbear to do thus, and quietlysuffer under those that thus take it and afflict the godly with it. Again, "Hereis the patience of the saints, here are they that keep the commandments of God andthe faith of Jesus" (14:12). A patient continuing in well- doing; and if sufferingfor righteousness be well-doing, then a patient continuing in that, as in other things,is the way to keep God's commandments (Rom 2:7).
So that, I say, he keepeth not God's commandments that is angry with his enemies,and that seeks to be revenged of him that doth him ill. You know the subject I amupon. "The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God" (James 1:20).Wherefore, professors, beware, and take heed to your spirits, and see that you letnot out yourselves under your sufferings in such extravagancies of spirit againstyour enemies as is no way seemly nor convenient.
6. Consider, Men that are unquiet and discontented, and that seek revenge upon themthat persecute them for their profession, do, by so doing, also put themselves uponthe brink of those ruins that others are further from. These men are like the flythat cannot let the candle alone until she hath burned herself in the flame. Magistratesand men in power have fortified themselves from being attacked with turbulent andunruly spirits by many and wholesome laws. And, indeed, should they not do so, oneor other, perhaps, would be quickly tempted to seek to disturb them in the due exerciseof their authority. Now the angry man, he is the fly that must be tripping and runninghimself upon the point of these laws; his angry spirit puts him upon quarrellingwith his superiors, and his quarrelling brings him, by words spoke in heat, withinthe reach of the net, and that, with the help of a few more, brings his neck to thehalter. Nor is this, whatever men think, but by the just judgment of God. "Whosoever,therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resistshall receive to themselves damnation" (Rom 13:2; Esth 2:21-23). Wherefore,let the angry man take heed; let the discontented man take heed. He that has a profession,and has not grace to know, in this matter, to manage it, is like to bring his professionto shame. Wherefore, I say, let such take heed; and the graces afore mentioned, andthe due exercise of them, are they and that which can keep us out of all such dangers.
7. Consider, And what comfort can such a man have who has, by his discontent andunruly carriages, brought himself, in this manner, to his end; he has brought himselfto shame, his profession to shame, his friends to shame, and his name to contemptand scorn. Bad men rejoice at his fall; good men cannot own him, weak men stumbleat him; besides, his cause will not bear him out; his heart will be clogged withguilt; innocency and boldness will take wings and fly from him. Though he talkethof religion upon the stage or ladder, that will blush to hear its name mentionedby them that suffer for evil-doing. Wherefore, my brethren, my friends, my enemies,and all men, what religion, profession, or opinion soever you hold, fear God, honourthe king, and do that duty to both which is required of you by the Word and law ofChrist, and then, to say no more, you shall not suffer by the power for evil-doing.
 Not equipages to ride, but dainty formalities.—Ed.
 "A good and harmless conscience"; not as the procuring cause of confidencein God's tender care of us, but as the strong evidence of our election and regeneration.—Ed.
 "Bravery"; magnificence or excellence. "Like a stately ship, withall her bravery on, and tackle trim, sails filled," &c.— Samson Agonistes.—Ed.
 "Bodily pains"; bodily industry or painstaking.—Ed.
 "Winch"; to wince or kick with impatience. "Shuck"; to shrugup the shoulders, expressive of dislike or aversion.—Ed.
 "Much"; in a great degree.
 "Will they, nill they"; nillan, a Saxon word, meaning "not will"or contrary to the will—whether with or against their will. "Need hath no law;will I, or nill I, it must be done."—Damon and Pathias, 1571.
"If now to man and wife to will and nill The self-same thing, a note of concordbe, I know no couple better can agree."—Ben Johnson.—Ed.
 How little do persecutors imagine that they are mere tools for the devil to workwith, whether they are harassing Christians by taking their goods, or are huntingdown their liberties or lives. All works together for good to the Christian, butfor unutterable woe to the persecutor. God give them repentance.—Ed.
 Wicked men sell themselves to do the devil's work. How degrading to the dignityof man! Enlisting under a foreign prince to destroy their own nation, and in so doingto destroy themselves. For an account of the atrocities and horrors of this war,read the history of the Waldenses.—Ed.
 This frequently happened. In Bedford, Nic. Hawkins attended a meeting, and wasfined two pounds; but when the harpies went to take away his goods, finding that"they had been removed beforehand, and his house visited with the small pox,the officers declined entering."—Persecution in Bedford, 1670, p. 6.—Ed.
 "Dispose"; power, disposal. "All that is mine, I leave at thydispose."—Shakespeare.—Ed.
 In Ireland, whole provinces were desolated, both by Protestants and Papists,with a ferocity scarcely credible. In England, the state awfully tormented its piousChristian subjects, to whom their Lord's words must have been peculiarly consoling:"Fear not them which kill the body." Did they suffer? How holy were theirenjoyments!—Ed.
 An awful instance occurred soon after the publication of this "Advice."John Child, a Baptist minister, one of Bunyan's friends, to escape persecution, conformed,and became terrified with awful compunction of conscience. His cries were fearful:"I shall go to hell"; "I am broken in judgment"; "I am asit were in a flame." In a fit of desperation he destroyed himself on the 15thOctober, 1684.—Ed.
 "What bottom"; what ground or foundation.—Ed.
 This identical stone is said to be in the chair on which our monarchs are crownedin Westminster Abbey.—Ed.
 In so unbounded, eternal and magnificent a mansion, well might he exclaim, "Thisis none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." Where Godmeets us with his special presence, we ought to meet him with the most humble reverence;remembering his justice and holiness, and our own meanness and vileness.—Ed.
 The only way of driving sin out of the world is to make known the Saviour. Reader,can you solve Mr. Bunyan's riddle? When fierce persecution rages—when the saintsare tormented with burning, hanging, and imprisonment—then, like Stephen, to fixour eyes upon Jesus, and the gates of heaven open to receive us, submitting withpatience to the will of God. This is the way to drive out sin.—Ed.
 How indescribably blessed is the Christian. It is true that he has to performhis pilgrimage through an enemy's country, beset with snares, pit-falls, and temptations;but in all his buffetings and storms of sorrow, his soul is safe; God is a wall offire round about it, and the glory in the midst of it. He will guide us by his counsel,and then receive us to his glory.—Ed.
 "Looser sort of Christians"; among Christians there are gradationsof character. Some are fixed upon the Saviour, and can say, "For me to liveis Christ." Such decision ensures safety and happiness; while the looser sortare subject to many sorrows and continual danger. May we press on towards the mark."Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief."—Ed.
 This truth ought to be imprinted on every heart. As the absence of darknessis light, so liberty from the thraldom of sin, and from the slavery of Satan, essentiallyinduces holiness of life. Thus holiness and liberty are joined together.—Ed.
 The whole of this beautiful passage is worthy our careful study and prayerfulobedience. Are we ambitious to govern: be it our honour to rule our own spirits andtongues. Are we for war? let it be levied upon our unruly passions. This is laudableambition. This is honourable war, producing the peace and happiness of man. Thisis real glory to God and man, the very opposite to those horrors of desolation whichgives joy among the devils of hell—the burning cities, the garments rolled in blood,the shrieks of the wounded, and the sickening miseries of the widows and orphansof the slain.—Ed.
 If this was our conduct, how soon should we get rid of our enemies: "forin so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." Who would risk suchpunishment a second time?—Ed.
 This old proverb is a very striking illustration of the words of Paul: "Benot overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."—Ed.
 The saint must be "made meet for the inheritance." If he neglectsthe means given in the Word, his Father, in mercy, "will chasten him with therod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men" (2 Sam 7:14).—Ed.
 "But if you give sin entrance at the door, It's sting will in, and maycome out not more." Bunyan's Caution.
 An equally cruel scene took place in the presence of Stow, the historian, inthe reign of Elizabeth. The bailiff of Romford coming to London, was asked by thecurate of Aldgate the news: he replied, "Many men be up in Essex," [Qu.not in bed?]. For this he was hung the next morning in front of Mr. Stow's house.How grateful ought we to be that such sanguinary laws have fled, with the dark mistsof error and cruelty, before the spreading light of the gospel.—Ed.
 They shed their blood for Him who afterwards shed his blood for them. Thesewere the infantry of the noble army of martyrs. If these infants were thus baptizedwith blood, though their own, into the church triumphant, it could be said that whatthey got in heaven abundantly compensated for what they lost on earth.—Henry.
 Nearly all Protestants agree as to the salvation of infants dying in their infancy—Topladyand the Calvinists on the ground of their being in the covenant of grace; othersbecause they had not personally transgressed; supposing that the sufferings and deathof the body is the penalty of original sin. Holy Scripture appears to settle thisquestion very satisfactorily, by requiring childlike docility as a preparation forthe Spirit's working. The language of the Saviour is, "Suffer little childrento come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God" (Luke18:16). "Such" as die in infancy— "such" adults as, with childlikesimplicity, search the Scriptures, and fly for refuge to the Saviour. "It isNOT the will of your Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones shouldperish" (Matt 18:14). "It were better for him that a milstone were hangedabout his neck, and be cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of theselittle ones" (Luke 17:2).—Ed.
 "To down with"; to receive, to swallow. "Probably it will hardlydown with any body at first hearing."—Locke.—Ed.
 "New-fashioned carriages"; not equipages to ride in, but dainty formalities."Nor in my carriage a feigned niceness shown."—Dryden. "Trades inthe carriage of a holy saint."— Shakespeare.—Ed.
 Bunyan, when sent to prison, was thus threatened: "If you do not go tochurch, or transport yourself, you must stretch by the neck for it." This ledto those painful reflections: "If I should make a scrabbling shift to clamberup the ladder, yet I should, either with quaking or other symptoms of faintings,give occasion to the enemy to reproach the way of God and his people for their timorousness."—GraceAbounding, No. 334.— Ed.
 This is a truly Bunyanish mode of expression —clear, comprehensive, quaint;but so striking as to make an indelible impression.—Ed.
 A life of faith and holiness is the Christian's badge and livery. No particularcostume, that may conceal a carnal heart— not a baptismal profession, that may bemade by a hypocrite; but it is "the hidden man of the heart," evidencedby a "meek and quiet spirit - in all holy conversations and godliness."This is the Christian's badge and livery, by which he becomes "a living epistle,known and read of all men."—Ed.
 These awful cruelties were practised upon Richard Atkins, in July, 1581. Hewent to Rome to reprove the people of idolatry. In St. Peter's Church, he knockedthe chalice out of the priest's hand, and spilt the wine; he then endeavoured toseize the host, but was prevented. For these mad pranks he suffered savage torments.—Fox,edit. 1631, vol. 3, p. 1022.—Ed.
 Every Christian must be decided in his own conscience as to the formalitiesof religion; but he who prefers talking of forms and ceremonies to communion in thesubstance, is in a melancholy state.—Ed.
 What a severe reproach it is to human nature, to see a lovely child in ragsand shoeless, running the streets, exposed to the pitiless weather, while a splendidequipage passes, in which a lady holds up her lapdog at the window to give it anairing!! Is not this a greater crime than sends many a poor wretch to the treadmill?—Ed.
 Revenge naturally rises in the mind of man under a sense of injury. To returngood for evil is one of the effects of the new birth. But while this is done, itis also our duty to petition kings and parliaments to remove evils.—Ed.
 "Forth of doors"; out of doors, public.—Ed.
 "Now it is Christmas"; instead of keeping one day in the year to commemoratethe nativity of Christ in excessive feasting, every day must be kept holy, in therecollection both of the birth and death of the Saviour. All eyes are upon the youngconvert, watching for his halting; therefore, let every day be holy.—Ed.
 A striking expression. If a man's righteousness be killed, it must be by hisown will. He must be the butcher to kill himself.—Ed.
 It is indeed sad to see professors, for the sake of paltry pelf, or to escapefrom persecution, denying the Lord Jesus. It subjects religion to scorn and contempt,and doubles the sorrows and sufferings of real Christians. Bunyan expresses himselfhere in a most admirable manner.—Ed.
 Bunyan's familiarity with these illustrious men was obtained by reading Fox'sActs and Monuments, when in prison.—Ed.
 "Quail"; to overpower. Well might the abettors of Antichrist wonderat the Christian's support under the most cruel tortures. While "looking untoJesus" and the bright visions of eternal glory, like Stephen, he can pray ofhis enemies, and tranquilly fall asleep while undergoing the most frightful sufferings.—Ed.
 "A naked man"; unarmed, or defenceless. "Had I but serv'd myGod with half the zeal I serv'd my king, he would not in mine age Have left me nakedto mine enemies." Shakespeare's Wolsey.—Ed.
 How impossible is it for a natural man to understand this new creation—a newheart, a new birth. How different is regeneration to water-baptism. How awful thedelusion to be mistaken in this, the foundation of all hope of a blessed immortality."Create in me a clean heart, O God!" How consoling the fact: "Nowa creation none can destroy but a Creator!" and "changes not, thereforewe are not consumed."— Ed.
 "O happie he who doth possesse
Christ for his fellow-prisoner, who doth gladde
With heavenly sunbeames jails that are most sad." Written on the prison wallsof the Tower of London by William Prynne.—Ed.
 "Sore temptations" poor Bunyan found them. When dragged from his hometo prison, he speaks of his poor blind daughter in language of impassioned solicitude:"Poor child, thought I, what sorrow art thou like to have for thy portion inthis world! Thou must be beaten, must beg, suffer hunger, cold, nakedness, and athousand calamities, though I cannot now endure the wind shall blow upon thee! Oh!the hardships I thought my blind one might go under would break my heart to pieces."—"The parting with my wife and poor children hath oft been to me in this placeas the pulling my flesh from my bones."— Grace Abounding, 327, 328.—Ed.
 "Thodes"; whirlwinds. This word does not occur in any English dictionaryor glossary. It gave me much trouble, and a walk of seven miles, to discover itsmeaning. It is the Saxon for noise, whirlwind, turbulence. This provincial word wasprobably derived from some Saxon tribe that settled in Bedfordshire.—Ed.
 "To shuck"; to shake violently—from which is the noun, "a pea-shuck,"the shell from which peas have been shaken.—Ed.
 How correct, but how dismal a picture is here drawn of the persecutor! God haswise and holy ends in protecting and prolonging the lives even of very wicked men."Slay them not, lest my people forget; scatter them by thy power." CompareEcclessiastes 8:10. Pity the persecutor—pray for him; but if he repent not, standoff; "God will have his full blow at him in his time," and crush him downinto misery and despair.—Ed.
 Like a multitude of passages in Bunyan's writings, this passage is exceedinglystriking. It illustrates our Lord's words in Matthew 5:44,45: "Love your enemies- that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven."—Ed.
 "Stage"; upon which many a Nonconformist stood with his head in thepillory. "Ladder" to the gallows, upon which victims suffered death byhanging.—Ed.