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the Lord of glory, (infinitely excellent in dignity SERM. and virtue,) did so readily embrace, did so con- XLII. tentedly endure such extremities of penury, hardship, disgrace, and pain, how can we refuse them, or repine at them? Can we pretend to a better lot than he received, or presume that God must deal better with us than he did with his own dearest Son? Can we be displeased at a conformity to our Lord and Master? Can we, without shame, affect to live more splendidly, or to fare more deliciously than he chose to do? Shall we fret or wail, because our desires are crossed, our projects defeated, our interests anywise prejudiced; whenas his most earnest desires and his most painful endeavours had so little of due and desired success; when he was ever ready, and had so constant occasion to say, Let not my will be done? Can we despise that state of meanness and sorrow which he, from the highest sublimities of glory and beatitude, was pleased to stoop unto? Can we take ourselves for the want of any present conveniences or comforts to be wretched, whenas the fountain of all happiness was destitute of all such things, and scarce did ever taste any worldly pleasure? Are we fit or worthy to be his disciples, Luke xiv. if we will not take up his cross and follow him; if 23.8 we will not go to his school, (that school wherein he xvi. 24. is said himself to have learnt obedience,) if we will Heb. v. 8. not con that lesson which he so loudly hath read out, and transcribe that copy which he so fairly hath set before us? Can we pretend to those great benefits, those high privileges, those rich and excellent rewards, which he hath attained for us, and which he Heb. ii. 9, proposeth to us, if we will not go on toward them Phil. ii. 9.
SERM. in that way of patience which he hath trod before us?
Heb. xii. 3.
Can we also, if we consider him that endureth such contradiction of sinners, be transported with any wrathful or revengeful passion, upon any proQuam gra vocation from our brethren? Can we hope or wish for better usage from men than our Lord did ever find? Can we be much displeased with any man for nolle, cum thwarting our desires or interests, for dissenting
vis causa sit hominis Christiani servum pati
sit Domi- from our conceits, for crossing our humours, whenas
Cypr. Ep. he, to whom all respect and observance was due, 56. did meet with so little regard or compliance in any way; continually did encounter repulses, disappointments, oppositions from the perverse and spiteful world? Can we be very jealous of our credit, or furious when our imaginary honour (honour that we never really deserved or can justly claim, being guilty of so many great faults and sins) is touched with the least disgraceful reflection, if we do well observe and mind, that the most truly, and indeed only honourable personage (only honourable, because only innocent person) that ever was, had his reputation aspersed by the most odious reproaches which deepest envy and malice could devise, without any grievous resentment, or being solicitous otherwise to assert or clear it than by a constant silence? Can we be exasperated by every petty affront, (real or supposed,) when the most noble, most courteous, most obliging person that ever breathed upon earth was treacherously exposed to violence by his own servant, shamefully deserted by his own most beloved friends, despitefully treated by those whom he never had offended, by those upon whom he had
heaped the greatest benefits, without expressing any SERM. anger or displeasure against them, but yielding many signal testimonies of tenderest pity and love toward them? Can we see our Lord treated like a slave and a thief, without any disturbance or commotion of heart; and we vile wretches, upon every slight occasion, swell with fierce disdain, pour forth reproachful language, execute horrible mischief upon our brethren? He indeed was surrounded with injuries and affronts; every sin, that since the foundation of things hath been committed, was an offence against him and a burden upon him; (God laid Isa. liii. 6. upon him the iniquities of us all ;) so many declared enemies, so many rebels, so many persecutors, so many murderers he had as there have lived men in the world; for every sinner did in truth conspire to his affliction and destruction; we all in effect did betray him, did accuse him, did mock, did scourge, did pierce, and crucify him; yet he forgave all offences, he died for all persons; while we were yet Rom. v. 6, enemies, yet sinners, he died for us, to rescue us from death and misery: and shall we not then, in imitation of him, for his dear sake, in gratitude, respect, and obedience to him, be ready to bear the Rependainfirmities of our brethren, to forgive any small tientiam, wrongs or offences from them; whatever they do to nobis ipse ? dependit. us, to love them, and do them what good we can If so admirable a pattern of patience and meekness Pat. 16. so immense cannot, what is there that can oblige or move us? I conclude with those doxologies to our so patient and meek Redeemer :
mus illi pa
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive Apoc. v. power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Blessing, and
SERM. honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that XLII. sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever
Apoc. i. 5, 6.
Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
1 THESS. V. 16.
REJOICE evermore! O good apostle, how ac- SERM. ceptable rules dost thou prescribe! O blessed God, XLIII. how gracious laws dost thou impose! This is a rule, to which one would think all men should be forward to conform; this is a law, which it may seem strange that any man should find in his heart to disobey: for what can any soul desire more than to be always on the merry pin, or to lead a life in continual alacrity? Who readily would not embrace a duty, the observance whereof is not only pleasant, but pleasure itself? Who is so wild as to affect a sin, which hath nothing in it but disease and disgust?
That joy should be enjoined, that sadness should be prohibited, may it not be a plausible exception against such a precept, that it is superfluous and needless, seeing all the endeavours of men do aim at nothing else but to procure joy and eschew sorrow; seeing all men do conspire in opinion with Solomon, that a man hath nothing better under the sun than Eccl. viii. 15. ii. 24. -to be merry. Were it not rather expedient to re-iii. 12, 22. commend sober sadness, or to repress the inclinations v. 18, 26. of men to effuse mirth and jollity?