Imatges de pÓgina

truft and not be afraid:" and then it follows, With joy fhall ye draw water out of the wells of falvation." Plah. Ixiv. 10. "The righteous fhall be glad in the Lord, and shall trust in him; and all the upright in heart fhall glory." 1 Pet. i. 8. Whom having not feen, we love; in whom though now we fee him' not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable; and full. of glory." Hab. iii. 17. 18. 19. &c. Thus I have given you fome account of that faith that fortifies the heart against the fear of evil.



I shall now endeavour to prove, and make it evident, that faith doth indeed infpire the foul with a holy boldness and courage, or that it is a noble antidote against thefe intimidating evils that threaten danger. And this will appear from the following particulars. The courage of faith appears,

1. From that ferenity wherewith it poffeffes the foul amidst thefe evils and dangers that threaten it with utter ruin: Pfal.. xxxii. 6. 7. "Surely in the floods of great waters, they shall not come nigh unto him: Thou art my hiding place, thou shalt preferve me from trouble: thou fhalt compafs me about with: fongs of deliverance" Pfal. xxvii. 3. 5. "Though an hofti fhould encamp against me, my heart fhall not fear.: though war fhould rife against me, in this will I be confident. For in the time of trouble he fhall hide me in his pavilion: in the fecret of his tabernacle fhall he hide me, he shall fet me up upon a rock." The man through faith, like Noah, fingst in the very midst of the waves, without fear of being swallowed up.


2. The courage of faith appears in the hard work and fervice that it will adventure on when the Lord calls. O, fays faith, when it hears God faying, “Whom fhall I fend, and who will go for us? Here am I, fend me: I can do all things through Chrift ftrengthening me:" he has promifed to bear my charges, and therefore "I will go in his ftrength," &c.

3. From the enemies and dangers that it will look in the face without being daunted. The three children, when the wrath of the king was like the roaring of a lion against them, threatening them with a burning fiery furnace feven times heated, their faith enabled them to a holy and indifferent boldness: "We are not careful to anfwer thee, O king, in this matter: the God whom we ferve will deliver us.”

4. The courage of faith appears in the bold and daring challenges that it can give to all enemies and accufers. O fays Paul, Rom. viii. 32. 33. "Who can lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?" The challenge is univerfal in refpect of all accusers, in refpect of all accufations, and in respect of all the accused; "Who can lay any thing," &c? And then you

have another challenge of faith in the clofe of that chapter, "Who shall separate us from the love of God? fhall tribulation, or diftrefs, or famine, or nakednefs, or peril?" &c.

5. From the weapons which it wields, which no other hand. but the hand of faith can manage. The "fword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," that is the weapon which faith deals with. With this weapon, Chrift the Captain of falvation teaches us to fight by his own example, Matth. iv. "Thus and thus it is written." And it is the truth and faithfulness of God in his word, that is the fhield and buckler whereby faith encounters its enemies.

6. From the battles it has fought, and the victories it has gained over the ftoutest and strongest enemies. "This is the victory whereby we overcome the world, even our faith." It refifts the devil, and makes him to flee like a coward; it prefents the blood of the Lamb, and bears witness to the truth of the word, and fo it defeats the old ferpent, Rev. xii. 11. "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their teftimony." It treads upon death as a vanquifhed enemy, "O death, where is thy fting? O grave, where is thy victory?" Thus faith puts to flight the armies of the aliens.

7. From the heavy burdens it will venture to bear upon its back, without fear of finking under the load. The crofs of Chrift is a burden that frightens the world to look to him, or own him; but faith takes it up, and takes it on, and cries, O the world is mistaken; for "his yoke is eafy, and his burden is light;" and "his commandments are not grievous. Our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, they work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."

8. From the hard and difficult paffes that faith will open. When the way feems impaffable, it fees the breaker going up before it: and therefore, though heaven, earth, and hell, itood in the way, it will clear the road of all difficulties. Pihahiroth and Baalzephon, impaffable mountains on every hand, the Red fea before, and an enraged powerful enemy behind; can there be any door of help? Yes, fays faith, only "stand still and fee the falvation of God;" and thereupon the waters divide, and a lane is made through the depths of the fea for Ifrael. If we have faith as a grain of muitard-feed, we may say to this, and that, and the other mountain, Be thou removed, and it fhall be done.

9. The courage of faith appears from the great exploits that it hath performed; for which I refer you to Heb. xi. per totum, particularly ver. 33.—35. And does not this fay, that it is a bold and courageous grace?


H h

10. From

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

10. From the trophies of victory and triumph that it wears. It takes up the trophies of Chrift's victory over fin, Satan, hell, and death; and cries, "I will be joyful in thy falvation, and in the name of our God we will fet up our banner." O, will faith fay, there lies the head of the old ferpent bruised by the feed of the woman: there lies the curfe of the law, that "hand-writing that was against us," torn by the nails of his cross; "He hath redeemed us from the curfe of the law, being made a curse for us :" there ftands the world, and its good and bad things, as a mass of mere vanity, overcome by Chrift; and therefore I will tread upon them as 66 dung and lofs, that I may win Chrift," who is all in all: there lies death and the grave, flain by the death of Jefus; and therefore I will play on the den of this lion and cockatrice, for it cannot hurt me. Thus it appears that faith is a courageous grace, which fears no evil.

III. The third thing in the general method was, to speak a little of that Chriftian fortitude and boldness which makes a believer to fear no evil. All that I fhall fay upon this fubject shall be, to offer the few following views for clearing it.

1. The feat and fubject of this Chriftian fortitude is the heart of a believer, renewed by fovereign grace; and therefore it can never be found in the heart of a natural man. Indeed we find fomething that goes under that name, but is falfely fo called, amongst natural men; a natural boldness and hardinefs of spirit to encounter dangers, yea, even death itself, in the pursuance of their defigns. The foldier, at the command of his general, will go forward in battle, though he fhould die upon the fpot: the mariner and merchant will rifk his life through ftorms and waves, without any great concern. But, alas! while a man is deftitute of the grace of God, all thefe flow only from pride, covetousness, revenge, or fome fuch reigning luft that must be maintained and fupported, or at best from the natural temper of the mind, or fome carnal ends and motives. "That which is born of the flesh, is ftill flesh." The fortitude or boldnefs that I now fpeak of, is only to be found in a heart or foul changed and renewed by the power of divine grace, the faith of God's operation (as I faid) being the very spring and root of it. And hence it is, that we fhall find this true Chriftian fortitude fometimes manifefting itself in those who, as to their natural temper, are the most timorous and faint hearted; for it makes "the feeble as David, and as the angel of God before him." God" fays to them that are of a fearful fpirit, Be ftrong, fear not ;" and then the man that quaked at the fhaking of a leaf, becomes bold as a lion. 2. Let us view the object of this Christian fortitude, or that



[ocr errors]

about which it is exerted, viz. truth and error, fin and duty. As to the concerns of a prefent life, worldlyinterests and claims, or yet matters of indifferency, which a man may do or forbear, without fin on either fide, the spirit of Chriftianity is the most yielding thing in the world. Our holy religion teaches us, as to the affairs of this life, rather than enter into litigious pleas, to quite our worldly claims; which I take to be the meaning of Chrift, when he fays, Matth. v. 40. "If any man will fue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke alfo." And as to matters of indifferency, we are to "become all things to all men, that we may gain some. If meat make my brother to offend (fays Paul), I will eat no flesh while the world ftandeth." So that, I fay, this Christian fortitude is not expreffed about these things, but about truth or error, fin or duty. Here it is that the Chriftian is to make his stand; he is to be "valiant for the truth, to contend earneftly for the faith delivered to the faints, to buy the truth." at any rate, and to fell it at no rate; no, not the leaft hair or hoof of truth is be parted with, though heaven and earth should mingle for his adhering to it, in oppofition unto these errors that have a tendency to obfcure or deftroy it. And the fame thing takes place as to the matters of fin or duty, in which we are to refift even unto blood, friving against fin, in regard the greatest of fufferings are to be chofen rather than the leaft of fins. The reafon of which is obvious, because by the one we are only expofed to the displeasure of men, but by fin we expose ourselves to the displeasure of God, and difhonour, him.

3. View this Christian courage and fortitude as to the nature of it. It takes in, I think, thefe things following.

1st, A clear and diftinct knowledge and uptaking of the truth as it is in Jefus, accompanied with a firm perfuafion and affent of the foul unto it, and experience of the power of it upon one's own foul. Without this, a man, inftead of being valiant for the truth, will, like the weather-cock, be turned afide with every wind of error or temptation.

2dly, It has in it a making the truth of God in his word the proper boundary both of his faith and practice. He will not embrace" for doctrines the commandments of men ;" no, but he will bring matters" to the law and teftimony," to be tried at that bar; for, "if they fpeak not according to these things, it is because there is no truth in them :" and whatever will not abide the trial there, he throws it away as the fpawn of hell, whatever human authority it may be fupported with. God only is Lord of the confcience, and that he will fubject to no authority but God only.

3dly, It

[ocr errors]

3dly, It has in it a tenacious adherence unto truth and duty revealed or enjoined in the word of God, and a refusing to quit it upon any confideration whatever, or whatever be the event. This is called a "keeping the word of God's patience," Rev. iii. 10.; and a "holding of the teftimony," Rev. vi. 9. "I faw under the altar the fouls of them that were flain for the word of God, and for the teftimony which they held:" a "holding faft the profeffion of our faith without wavering," Heb. x. 23. This I take to be imported in that advice that Barnabas gave unto the disciples at Antioch, "that with purpofe of heart they would cleave unto the Lord," Acts xi. 23.

4thly, This Chriftian fortitude has in it a holy contempt of all that the man can fuffer in a prefent world, in adhering to truth and duty. The man is eafy about all the world, and its frowns or flatteries, if he can have God's teftimony, and the teftimony of a good confcience. "If God be for us, (fays the man), who can be against us ?" Let devils and men. rage and roar, their wrath is bounded, it shall "praise the Lord, and the remainder of their wrath will he reftrain.” He "endures, as feeing him that is invifible." He has his eye fixed upon another world than this; and therefore he is ready to fay, "The fufferings of this prefent life are not worthy to be compared with the exceeding glory that is to be revealed: Our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, they work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are feen but at the things which are not feen: for the things which are feen, are temporal; but the things which are not feen, are eternal."

5thly, It has in it alfo a cheerfulness, alacrity, and equality of fpirit, under all the turns of a man's lot in the world in following the Lord, and adhering to his caufe and intereft: Phil. iv. 11. 12. "I have learned in whatfoever ftate I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abafed, and I know how to abound: every where, and in all things, I am instructed, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to fuffer need."

4. This Chriftian fortitude or courage hath the following properties.

it, It is diflinct as to the ground it goes upon; and fo it is quite different from a blind zeal, which does more harm than good to religion. "I bear you witnefs," fays Paul of his countrymen the Jews, "that ye have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge."

2dly, It is a holy boldness; for it fstands in opposition to sin


« AnteriorContinua »