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that he would fit and prepare us for every condition SE R M.
CCXVIII. which he hath designed to bring us into; and that he would teach us to demean ourselves in it as we ought; that he would consider our frailties, and “ lay no "greater load of aßiction upon us, than he will give “ us grace and strength to bear;" that if he sees it good to exercise any of us with amfictions and sufferings in any kind, he would make us “ able to stand in that “ evil day, and when we have done all to stand.”
And if instead of vain murmurings, and complaints, and terrifying ourselves with fears of what may never happen, we would, after the example of holy David, “ betake ourselves to prayer,” and by this means engage the providence of God for our protection from evil, or for our support under it ; we should certainly do much better for ourselves, and contribute much more, than we can do any other way, to the prevention of any evil that we can fear, or to the mitigating or shortening of it, as to God's infinite wisdom and goodness shall seem best.
And let us always be mindful of that caution which our Saviour gives to his disciples, that they might always be in a due preparation for the coming of our LORD to judgment, Luke xxi. 34, 35, 36. “ Take “ heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be “overcharged with furfeiting and drunkenness, and " the cares of this life, and so that day come upon
you unawares. For as a snare shall it come upon all “ them that dwell upon the face of the whole earth. “ Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may “ be accounted worthy to escape all these things that “ shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of “ man.” This caution and counsel does proportionably hold, as to our preparation for any other evil day of affliction and suffering in this world ; that we
SER M. should beware of sensuality, and an inordinate love to CCXVIII
, the things of this world, and care about thein ; because these soften and effeminate our spirits, and render them unfit for the day of adversity : and that we should watch and pray;" because these are the best preparations against an evil day, and perhaps may prevent it, at least as to ourselves, if God think it fit for us, and count us worthy to escape it.
To conclude then this whole discourfe. In all our fears and troubles, in all afflictions and adversities that may happen to us in this world, let us “encourage “ ourselves in the LORD our God, the Father of mer
cy, and the God of all consolation ;” and in his blessed Son Jesus Christ our Lord, “the high
priest of our profession, and the author and finisher " of our faith ; whom God hath exalied far above all “ principalities and powers, and every name that is “ named, not only in this world, but in that which “ is to come, and hath given him to be head over all
things to his church ;” remembring that we and all our concerninents are in the hands of his providence, where we are infinitely safer than in any counfel and wisdom of our own. And if after all, it be the will of God to exercise any of us with more than ordinary trials, “to lay affliction upon our loins, and “ to suffer men to ride over our heads,” as the pfalmist expresseth it ; let us, as St. Peter exhorts, “cam“ mit the keeping of our souls to kim in well-doing, “as to a faithful creator, who is able to keep that 56 which is committed to him, and to preserve us to “ his heavenly kingdom ;” which let us all humbly and earnestly beg, for the sake of Jesus Christ : “ to whom with the Father and the holy Ghost, be - all honour and glory, might, majesty, and domi"nion, now and for ever."
Of the nature of faith in general.
H E B. xi. 6.
E R M. to our better understanding of thém, we will CÇXIX. take into consideration the design of this epistle, that the first so we may see more clearly the relation that these fermon on words have to the foregoing discourse. Who the penman of this epistle was I fall not tell you, because I do not know, nor is it much material to know it; but whoever wrote it, he had this very good design in the writing of it, to persuade the Jews to hold fast the profession of the gospel, notwithstanding all the sufferings and persecutions it expoled them to. And to this purpose he shews at large, what prerogatives the gospel hath above the legal administration. " The law was given by the disposition of an
gels, in the hand of a mediator,” that is, Mofes : but the gospel is revealed to us by the Son of God; á person not only above Mofes, who was a mere man; but above angels. The gospel is the substance and reality of the types and ceremonies, and the very good things themselves, that were obscurely represented by those shadows. It is a testament established upon better promises, the clear promises of eternal life, which were but darkly revealed in the old testament, that being established either solely or principally upon temporal promises: and it is a perfect and complete dispensation, that hath in it all things requisite
SER M. to attain it's end, and therefore fhall never stand in
need of any farther change or alteration. These are the heads of those arguments which the author of this epistle does largely discourse upon.
Now the gospel having in these respects the advantage of the legal dispensation, the apostle doth all along in this epistle earnestly exhort the Jews to a constant profession and stedfast belief of the gospel, and not to turn back from christianity to judaism, which was a far less perfect institution. Ch. ii. 1. “ There“fore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the “ things which we have heard, left at any time we “ should let them Nip, aupare pouãuer, lest we should “ fall away,” so the word may be rendered. And ch. iii. 12. “ Take heed, brethren, left there be in “ any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing “ from the living God.” And ch. iv. 1. “Let us " therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of en“ tring into his relt, any of you should seem to come “ short of it.” And ch. x. 23. “Let us hold fast the
profession of our faith without wavering.”
After which he declares the danger of apoftasy, or falling off from the belief and profession of the gospel which they had entertained : v. 26. “ for if we fin “ wilfully after we have received the knowledge of “ the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin." He tells them they would be fhrewdly tempted to apoftasy by the reproaches, afflictions and persecutions that they would meet withal : but the promises of the gospel were sufficient to support and bear up good men under these, if they were but firmly persuaded of the truth of them ; and though they did not for the prefent receive the things promised, yet a firm belief of them would carry them through all sufferings, and make them hold out under them. “ The just shall live " by faith.” v. 38.
And having mentioned the power of faith, that is, SERM.
CCXIX. of a confident persuasion of the truth and reality of the promises of the gospel to support men under sufferings, he gives an account how faith uses to have this influence, ver, 1. “ faith is the substance of things “ hoped for," so we render the word uitóçaris: but it might be much better rendered, both according to the frequent use of it in the septuagint, and in the new testament, “ a confidence of things hoped “ for,” that is, a confident expectation of things hoped for, or a firm persuasion that our hopes will not be frustrated. And as this is more agreeable to the scope and design of the apostle, so likewise to the common acceptation of this word in the new testament, for which I will appeal to two places. 2 Cor.
“ That we be not put to shame in this confi“ dence of boasting,” v TĂ utroçese TauTn. The other text is in this epist. ch. iii. 14. “ that we hold “ fast the beginning of our confidence, tha pxhv UTOGhoews, which is of the very same sense with wapproiz, at the 6th ver. “ If we hold fast the con
fidence wapinoiav, and rejoicing of the hope firm “ unto the end. And the evidence of things not seen,
freyx, the conviction,” as being convinced, or persuaded of the truth of those things, for which we have no ocular or sensible demonstration. Now if faith in the promises of the gospel do persuade us and give us satisfaction that we shall receive a reward, which will outweigh and countervail our present sufferings, then faith is likely to support us under sufferings.
And that this is no strange thing which the apostle speaks of faith, he shews that in all ages faith hath been the principle of all holy and heroick actions, By it the elders obtained a good report ; it is that