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3. The doctrine of perseverance is also cross to the flesh; which is not only to begin but to hold out, not only to bid fair, and to say: “Would I had heaven,” but so to know Christ, put on Christ, and walk with Christ, so as to come to heaven. Indeed, it is no great matter to begin to look for heaven, to begin to seek the Lord, to begin to shun sin; O but it is a very great matter to continue with God's approbation: “My servant Caleb,” saith God, “is a man of another spirit, he hath followed me (followed me always, he hath continually followed me) fully, he shall possess the land.” Almost all the many thousands of the children of Israel in their generation fell short of perseverance when they walked from Egypt towards the land of Canaan. Indeed, they went to work at first pretty willingly, but they were very short-winded, they were quickly out of breath, and in their hearts they turned back again into Egypt. It is an easy matter for a man to run hard for a spurt, for a furlong, for a mile or two: Oh, but to hold out for a hundred, for a thousand, for ten thousand miles, that man that doth this, he must look to meet with cross, pain, and wearisomeness to the flesh, especially if, as he goeth, he meeteth with briars and quagmires, and other incumbrances, that make his journey so much the more painful. Nay, do you not see with your eyes daily that perseverance is a very great part of the cross? Why else do men so soon grow weary? I could point out a many, that after they have followed the ways of God about a twelvemonth, others it may be two, three, or four (some more, and some less) years, they have been beat out of wind, have taken up their lodging and rest before they have gotten half-way to heaven, some in this, some in that sin, and have secretly, nay, sometimes openly, said that the way is too straight, the race too long, the religion too holy—I cannot hold out; I can go no further. And so likewise of the other three, to wit: patience, self-denial, communion, and communication with and to the poor saints: How hard are these things? It is an easy matter to deny another man, but it is not so easy a matter to deny one's self; to deny myself out of love to God, to his Gospel, to his saints, of this advantage, and of that gain; nay, of that which otherwise I might lawfully do, were it not for offending them. That Scripture is but seldom read, and seldomer put in practice, which saith, “I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, if it make my brother to offend"; again, “We that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” But how froward, how hasty, how peevish, and self-resolved, are the generality of professors at this day! Also how little considering the poor, unless it be to say, “Be thou warmed and filled !” But to give is a seldom work; also especially to give to any poor. I tell you all things are cross to flesh and blood; and that man that hath but a watchful eye over the flesh, and also some considerable measure of strength against it, he shall find his heart in these things like unto a starting horse, that is rode without a curbing bridle, ready to start at everything that is offensive to him—yea, and ready to run away, too, do what the rider can. It is the cross which keepeth those that are kept from heaven. I am persuaded, were it not for the cross, where we have one professor we should have twenty; but this cross, that is it which spoileth all. Some men, as I said before, when they come at the cross they can go no further, but back again to their sins they must go. Others they stumble at it, and break their necks; others again, when they see the cross is approaching, they turn aside to the left hand, or to the right hand, and so think to get to heaven another way; but they will be deceived. “For all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall,” mark, “shall be sure to suffer persecution.” There are but few when they come at the cross, cry, “Welcome cross!” as some of the martyrs did to the stake they were burned at. Therefore, if you meet with the cross in thy journey, in what manner soever it be, be not daunted, and say, “Alas, what shall I do now !” But rather take courage, knowing that by the cross is the way to the kingdom. Can a man believe in Christ, and not be hated by the devil? Can he make a profession of this Christ, and that sweetly and convincingly, and the children of Satan hold their tongues? Can darkness agree with light, or the devil endure that Christ Jesus should be honored both by faith and a heavenly conversation, and let that soul alone at quiet? Did you never read that “the dragon persecuted the woman"? And that Christ saith, “In the world you shall have tribulations”? Beg of God that he would do these two things for thee: First, enlighten thine understanding; and, second, inflame thy will. If these two be but effectually done there is no fear but thou wilt go safe to heaven. One of the great reasons why men and women do so little regard the other world is because they see so little of it; and the reason why they see so little of it is because they have their understanding darkened. And, therefore, saith Paul, “Do not you believers walk as do other Gentiles, even in the vanity of their minds having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance (or foolishness) that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” Walk not as those, run not with them: alas, poor souls, they have their understandings darkened, their hearts blinded, and that is the reason they have such undervaluing thoughts of the Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation of their souls. For when men do come to see the things of another world, what a God, what a Christ, what a heaven, and what an eternal glory there is to be enjoyed; also, when they see that it is possible for them to have a share in it, I tell you it will make them run through thick and thin to enjoy it. Moses, having a sight of this, because his understanding was enlightened, “He feared not the wrath of the king, but chose rather to suffer afflictions with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. He refused to be called the son of the king's daughter,” accounting it wonderful riches to be accounted worthy of so much as to suffer for Christ, with the poor despised saints; and that was because he saw him who was invisible, and had respect unto the recompense of reward. And this is that which the Apostle usually prayeth for in his epistles for the saints, namely, “That they might know what is the hope of God's calling, and the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints; and that they might be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.” Pray, therefore, that God would enlighten thy understanding; that will be a very great help unto thee. It will make thee endure many a hard brunt for Christ; as Paul saith, “After you were illuminated ye endured a great sight of afflictions; you took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” If there be never such a rare jewel lie just in a man's way, yet if he sees it not he will rather trample upon it than stoop for it, and it is because he sees it not. Why, so it is here, though heaven be worth never so much, and thou hast never so much need of it, yet if thou see it not—that is, have not thy understanding opened or enlightened to see—thou wilt not regard at all: therefore cry to the Lord for enlightening grace and say, “Lord, open my blind eyes; Lord, take the veil off my dark heart,” show me the things of the other world, and let me see the sweetness, the glory, and excellency of them for Christ's sake. This is the first. Cry to God that he would inflame thy will also with the things of the other world. For when a man's will is fully set to do such or such a thing, then it must be a very hard matter that shall hinder that man from bringing about his end. When Paul's will was set resolvedly to go up to Jerusalem, though it was signified to him before what he should there suffer, he was not daunted at all; nay, saith he, “I am ready [or willing] not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” His will was inflamed with love to Christ; and therefore all the persuasions that could be used wrought nothing at all. Your self-willed people, nobody knows what to do with them: we used to say, “He will have his own will, do all what you can.” Indeed, to have such a will for heaven is an admirable advantage to a man that undertaketh a race thither; a man that is resolved, and hath his will fixed; saith he: “I will do my best to advantage myself; I will do my worst to hinder my enemies; I will not give out as long as I can stand; I will have it or I will lose my life; though he slay me, yet will I trust in him. I will not let thee go except thou bless me.” I will, I will, I will, O this blessed inflamed will for heaven! What is it like? If a man be willing, then any argument shall be matter of encouragement; but if unwilling, then any argument shall give discouragement. This is seen both in saints and sinners; in them that are the children of God, and also those that are the children of the devil. As, 1. The saints of old, they being willing and resolved for heaven, what could stop them? Could fire and faggot, sword or halter, stinking dungeons, whips, bears, bulls, lions, cruel rackings, stoning, starving, nakedness? “And in all these things they were more than conquerors, through him that loved them,” who had also made them “willing in the day of his power.” 2. See again, on the other side, the children of the devil, because they are not willing; how many shifts and starting-holes they will have. I have married a wife; I have a farm; I shall offend my landlord; I shall offend my master; I shall lose my trading; I shall lose my pride, my pleasures; I shall be mocked and scoffed : therefore I dare not come. I, saith another, will stay till I am older, till my children are out, till I am got a little aforehand in the world, till I have done this and that, and the other business: but, alas! the thing is, they are not willing; for, were they but soundly willing, these, and a thousand such as these, would hold them no faster than the cords held Samson, when he broke them like burnt flax. I tell you the will is all: that is one of the chief things which turns the wheel either backwards or forwards; and God knoweth that full well, and so likewise doth the devil, and therefore they both endeavor very much to strengthen the will of their servants. God, he is for making of his a willing people to serve him; and the devil, he doth what he can to possess the will and affection of those that are his with love to sin; and therefore when Christ comes close to the matter, indeed, saith he, “You will not come to me. How often would I have gathered you as a hen doth her chickens, but you would not.” The devil had possessed their wills, and so long he was sure enough of them. Oh, therefore, cry hard to God to inflame thy will for heaven and Christ: thy will, I say, if that be rightly set for heaven, thou wilt not be beat off with discouragements; and this was the reason that when Jacob wrestled with the angel, though he lost a limb, as it were, and the hollow of his thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with him, yet, saith he, “I will not,” mark, “I will not let thee go except thou bless me.” Get thy will tipped with the heavenly grace, and resolution against all discouragements, and then thou goest full speed for heaven; but if thou falter in thy will, and be not found there, thou wilt run hobbling and halting all the way thou runnest, and also to be sure thou wilt fall short at last. The Lord give thee a will and courage.

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