Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

that he would go to hell because he heard the most went that, way. Our Saviour's argument is quite contrary; Enter in at the strait gate : for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat ; Matt. vii. 13. And St. Paul's argument here to the same purpose; Many walk inordinately, therefore be ye followers of us.

We have an old saying, That cases that rarely happen are neglected of lawgivers. The news of a few enemies is entertained with scorn: many are dreadful; and call upon our best thoughts, for their preventation or resistance.

The world is apt to make an ill use of multitude : on the one side, arguing the better part by the greater; on the other side, arguing mischief tolerable because it is abetted by many. The former of these is the paralogism of fond Romanists; the other, of time-serving Politicians. There cannot be a worse, nor more dangerous sophistry, than in both these.

If the first should hold, Paganism would carry it from Christianity; for it is, at least, by just computation, five to one: folly from wisdom; for, surely, for every wise man, the world hath many fools : outward calling should carry it from election; for many are called, few are chosen : Hell from Heaven ; for strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leadeth unto life. Thou shalt not follow á multitude to do evil, saith God: but, if any have a mind to do so, and shall please himself with company in sinning, let him consider what abatement of torment it will once be to him, to be condemned with many. Woe is me! that shall rather aggravate his misery : the rich glutton in hell would have his brethren sent to, that his torment might not be increased with the accession of theirs.

If the latter should take place, that, which heightens evils, should plead for their immunity : so none but weak mischiefs should receive opposition : strong thieves should live; only some poor pettylarcons and pilferers should come to execution : nothing should make room for justice, but imbecility of offence. Away with this base pusillanimity. Rather, contrarily, by how much more head wickedness hath gotten, so much more need it had to be topped, A true herculean justice in governors and states is for giants and monsters. A right Sampson is for a whole host of Philistines. The mountains must be touched till they smoke; yea, till they be levelled. Set your faces, ye that are men in authority, against a whole faction of vice; and, if ye find many opposites, the greater is the exercise of your fortitude, and the greater shall be the glory of your victory. It was St. Paul's encouragement, that which would have disheartened some other, a large door and effectual is opened to me, and there are many adversaries; 1 Cor. xvi. 9. And if these devils can say, My name is Legion, for we are many; let your powerful commands cast them out, and send them, with the swine into the deep, and thence into their chains.

2. These Many sit not still, but walk : they are still in MOTION; motion, whether natural or voluntary.

Natural : so walking is living ; to Bowtiv. Thus we walk, even while we sit, or lie still. Every minute is a new pace. Neither can any thing stop our passage: whether we do something or no, thing, we move on, by insensible steps, toward our long bome: we can no more stand still, than the heavens, thạn time. Oh, that we could be ever looking to the house of our age; and so walk on, in this vale of tears, that we may once rest for ever!

Voluntary: so the wicked ones walk, like their setter the Devil, who came from compassing the Earth ; Job i. 7. Wickedness is seldom other than active. It is with evil as with the contagion of pestilence; those, that are tainted, long to infect others. False teachers make no spare of their travails by sea or land to make a proselyte. Could sin or heresy be conjured into a circle, there. were the less danger: now, they are so much more mischievous, as they are more erratical. How happy should it be, since they will needs be walking, that, by the holy vigilancy of power and authority, they may be sent to walk their own rounds in the regions of darkness!

Yet, further : walking implies an ordinary trade of life. It is not a step, or one pace, that can make a walk; but a proceeding on, with many shiftings of our feet. It is no judging of a nian, by some one action. Alas, the best man that is may perhaps step aside, by the importunity of a temptation; and be miscarried into some odious act. Can you have more pregnant instances, than David, the man after God's own heart; and Peter, the prime disciple of our Saviour? But this was not the walk of either : it was but a side-step: their walk was in the ways of God's commandment, holy and gracious. No; look what the course of men's lives are, what their usual practice; and, according to that, judge of them. If they be ordinary swearers, profane scoffers, drunkards, debauched persons, their walk is in an ill way to a most fearful end : pity them : 'la. bour to reclaim them; and to stop them, that they fall not into the precipice of hell. But, if their course of life be generally holy and conscionable, it is not a particular miscarriage, that can be a just ground of the censure of an inordinate walking, which our Apostle passes here upon these mis-living Philippians; Many walk.

3. This for their Motion : their QUALITY follows; Enemies to the Cross of Christ.

What an unusual expression is this! Who can but hate every thing that concurs to the death of a friend; whether agents or instruments ? And what was the Cross, but the engine of the death of him, whom if we love not hest, we love not at all ? Surely, we love thee not, O Saviour, if we can look with any other than angry eyes, at Judas, Pilate, the Cross, Nails, Spear, or whatever else was any way accessary to thy murder. They were thine enemies, that raised thee to the Cross : how can they be other than thy friends, that are enemies to that thy most cruel and indign crucifixion? When we consider these things, in themselves, as wood and metal, we know they are harmless; but if, from what they are in themselves, we look at them with respect to men, to thee, we soon find why to hate, why to love them. We hate them, as they

were employed by men against thee; we love them, as they were improved by thee for man: as the instruments of men's malice and cruelty against thee, we hate them; we love them, as they were made by thee the instruments of our redemption. Thy Cross was thy death: it is thy death that gives us life; so as, therefore, we cannot be at once enemies of the Cross, and friends of thee Crucified.

As Christ himself, so the Cross of Christ hath many false friends ; and even those are no other than enemies. Unjust favours are no less injurious than derogations. He, that should deify a Saint, should wrong him as much, as he, that should devilize him. Our Romanists exceed this way, in their devotions to the Cross; both in overmultiplying and in over-magnifying of it. Had the wood of the Cross grown, from the day that it was first set in the earth till now, and borne Crosses; that, which Simon of Cyrene once bore, could not have filled so many carts, so many ships, as that, which is now in several parts of Christendom given out and adored for the True Cross of Christ. Yet the bulk is nothing to the virtue ascribed to it: the very wood, which is a shame to speak, is by them sainted and deified. Who knows not that stale hymn and unreasonable rhyme of

dra crucis, lampas lucis, sola salus hominum :

Nobis pronum fac patronum, quem tulisti dominum. Wherein the very tree is made a mediator to him, whom it bore; as very a Saviour as he that died upon it. And who knows not, that, by these bigots, an active virtue is attributed, not only to the very wood of the Cross, but to the airy and transient form and representation of it? A virtue of sanctifying the creature, of expelling devils, of healing diseases : conceits, grossly superstitious, which the Church of England ever abhorred, never either practised or countenanced; whose cross was only commemorative and commonitive, never pretended to be any way efficacious, and therefore as far different from the Romish cross, as the fatal tree of Christ from that of Judas. Away then with this gross and sinful foppery of our Romanists; which proves them not the friends, but the flatterers of the Cross : Aatterers, up to the very pitch of idolatry, And can there be a worse enemy than a flatterer? Fie on this fawning and crouching hostility to the Cross of Christ. Such friendship to the altar is a defiance to the sacrifice.

For these Philippian Pseudapostles, two ways were they Enemies to the Cross of Christ ; in their Doctrines, in their Practice. In Doctrine: while they joined circumcision and other legalities with the Cross of Christ'; 'so, by a pretended partnership, detracting from the virtue and power of Christ's death : thus they were enemies to Christ's Cross as his. In Practice : following a loose and voluptuous course; pampering themselves, and shifting off persecution for the Gospel : thus they were enemies to the Cross of Christ, as theirs.

Truth hath ever one face. There are still two sorts of enemies to the Cross; the Erroneous, the Licentious: the erroneous in judgment, that will be inter-commoning with Christ in the virtue and efficacy of his passion; the licentious in life, that despise and annihilate it.

In the first, how palpable enemies are they to the Cross of Christ, that hold Christ's satisfaction upon the Cross imperfect without ours! Thus the Romish Doctors profess to do. Their Cardinal passes a flat non expiat upon it, boldly : Temporalem pænam totam, nisi propria satisfactione cooperante, non erpiat. lib. iv. de Pænit. c. 14. 5. Neque vero. “ Our penal works," saith Suarez, “are pro. perly a payment for the punishment of our sin." And which of the Tridentine Faction says otherwise? What foul hypocrisy is this, to creep and crouch to the very image of the Cross; and, in the mean time, to frustrate the virtue of it! Away with these hollow and hostile compliments. How happy were it for them, if the Cross of Christ might have less of their knees, and more of their hearts; without which, all their adorations are but mockery ! Certainly, the partnership of Legal observations was never more enemy to Christ's Cross, than that of human satisfactions. For us; God forbid, that we should rejoice in any thing, but in the Cross of Christ, with St. Paul. Our profession roundly is, The Cross is our full redeniption : let them that show more say so much; else, for all their ducking and cringing, they shall never quit themselves of this just charge, that they are the Enemies of the Cross of Christ.

The Licentious, secondly, are Enemies to the Cross of Christ : and those of two sorts; whether Carnal-Revolters, or LooseLivers.

The first; in shifting off persecution, by conforming themselves to the present world. They will do any thing, rather than sutler; caring more for a whole skin, than a sound soul: mere slaves of the season, whose poesy is that of Optatus; Omnia pro tempore, nihil pro veritate ; “ All for the time, nothing for the truth.” Either ditty will serve; Ilosanna, or Crucifige. Such was that infamous Ecebötius : such was Spira: such those, in the primitive times, that, with Marcellinus, would cast grains of incense into the idol's fire, to shun the fire of a tyrant's fury: such as will bow their knees to a breaden God, for fear of an inquisitor's fly; and kiss the toe of a living idol, rather than hazard à suspicion. The world is full of such shutflers. Do ye ask how we know? I do not send you to the Spanish trade, or Italian travels, or Spa-waters. The tentative Edict of Constantius descried many false hearts : and the late relaxation of penal laws for religion discovered many a turncoat. God keep our great inen upright! If they should swerve, it is to be feared the truth would find but a few friends. Blessed be God, the times profess to patronize true religion. If the wind should turn, how many, with that noted time-server, would be ready to say, Cuntrmus Domino, &e. Let us sing unto the Lord a new song. There is no Church lightly without his weathercock. For us, my Beloved ,

not be

more

we know not what we are reserved for. Let us sit down, and count what it may cost us: and, as those, who would carry some great weight upon a wager, will be every day heaving at it to inure themselves to the burden, before they come to their utmost trial; so let us do to the Cross of Christ : let us be every day lifting at it in our thoughts, that, when the time comes, we may comfortably go away with it. It was a good purpose of Peter, though I should die with thee I will not deny thee: but it was a better grounded resolution of St. Paul, I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die for the Name of the Lord Jesus; Acts xxi. 13. Let us, in an humble confidence of God's mercy in upholding us, fix upon the same holy determination; not counting our life dear unto us, so as we may finish our course with joy. Thus we shall

friends to the Cross of Christ, than the Cross will be to us : for, if we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him.

Besides carnal revolters, Loose Livers pour shame upon the Cross. Christ's Cross is our redemption ; redemption is from sin and death : while therefore we do wilfully sin, we do, what in us lies, frustrate the Cross, and make a mock of our redemption. Every true Christian is, with St. Paul, crucified together with Christ; Gal. ii. 20. His sins are fastened upon that tree of shame and curse with his Saviour. The misliving Christian, therefore, crucifies Christ again. Each of his willing sins is a plain despite to his Redeemer. The false tongue of a professor gives in evidence against the Son of God: the hypocrite condemns Christ, and washes his hands: the proud man strips him, and robes him with purple: the distrustful plats thorns for the head of his Saviour: the drunkard gives him vinegar and gall to drink : the oppressor drives nails into his hands and feet: the blasphemer wounds him to the heart. Woe is me! what a heavy case are these men in! We cannot but think those, that offered this bodily violence to the Son of God, were highly impious. “ Oh,” thou sayest, “ I would not have been one of them, that should have done such a fact, for all the world :" but, O Man, know thou, that if thou be a wilful sinner against God in these kinds, thou art worse than they. He, that prayed for his first crucifiers, curseth his second: they crucified him in his weakness; these, in his glory: they fetched him from the garden to his Cross; these pull him out of Heaven.

4. Surely, they cannot be more enemies to the Cross of Christ, than Christ is to them; who by him shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power ; 2 Thess. i. 9. as it also follows in my Text, whose END is destruction.

A woeful condition, bevond all thoughts; like unto that hell wherein it is accomplished, whereof there is no bottom. Had the Apostle said only, whose end is death, the dooin had been heavy: but that is the common point whereat all creatures touch, in their last passage, either way; and is indeed the easiest piece of this vengeance.

It were well for wilful sinners, if they might die; or, if

« ZurückWeiter »