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thoroughly engaged another way, until it unbends of itself. Of this kind are those ecstasies of devotion and contemplative raptures which we read of as frequent with holy persons of old, and no doubt are experienced still by men of great piety and affectionate religion in their solitudes and profound contemplations; whereby, as Moses did the impure Israelites, they leave the body at the bottom of the mount, while their souls ascend to worship and converse with God.

We have divers instances of this among the virtuous heathens too, who placed their greatest happiness in it, and used themselves to it, and prepared themselves for it by the austerities of a philosophical life, in retirement from the world, its gaieties and pleasures, which the so far surpassing pleasures of the mind made them very much despise. Constantly keeping under the body, afflicting it with hunger and cold, laborious days and restless nights, treating it like what they called it, a slave, nay, a rebel, and an enemy, and longing to be rid of it, (though their notions of a future spiritual state were but very dim and imperfect,) and, in a word, inflicting upon themselves what would very well deserve the name of a persecution; and all this that they might improve their reason, and delight their mind : esteeming themselves far happier in the acquisition of learning and virtue, and the secrets of philosophy, than in the enjoyment of all the wealth and greatness and pleasures of the world and of sense. Reflecting often upon this great truth, that the happiness of a man consists in the perfection of his soul; and whatever improves and advances the felicity of that, though

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it be grievous to the body, ought to be chosen, valued, and delighted in, above all things.

And now, shall a Christian shrink from undergoing, for the sake of his Redeemer, what many a heathen has made the object of his free, cheerful choice, and professed to take the greatest satisfaction and pleasure in ? Shall not a Christian be able to bear up under hardships upon account of his religion, which assures him of an infinite reward at last for doing so, as well as a heathen, upon account of philosophy, which leaves him in great uncertainty as to any thing of that nature ? And ought he not to look upon it as a favour and a blessing to be thought worthy to suffer for the cause of God, and his Saviour, who suffered so much, and died in torments for him; as well as a heathen philosopher value himself upon the honour of being a sufferer for some particular opinions, which he erroneously calls truth? Especially when a Christian has far greater encouragement and assistance so to do; and suffering for the sake of righteousness will much more improve the mind in the highest excellencies, than all the philosophy of the heathens could, as will appear by and by.

Nor do we want abundance of noble examples of this in the blessed martyrs and confessors of the Christian church; who not only rejoiced as the apostles did, Acts v. 41, that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of their Redeemer, and to be reviled and evil spoken of for righteousness' sake; but have cheerfully entertained the greatest cruelties, rejoiced in the flames, and endured other the most exquisite torments that enraged malice

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could invent, with minds full of infinite pleasure and delight, and their mouths filled with rapturous expressions of the abundant gladness of their hearts.

No question but those holy persons were prepared, in some measure, for this heroic piece of Christianity, by accustoming themselves to heavenly contemplation, and raising their minds above the things of the world and of sense, by frequent acts of prayer, and a devotional conversation with celestial objects; whereby their thoughts would be more easily and intently fixed upon their glorious reward in heaven, when men were torturing their bodies here, and that to such a degree of abstraction, as much to take off from that quick sense of pain which otherwise they could not but have felt. And if to this we add, what was undoubtedly afforded them, a more than ordinary assistance of the Holy Spirit, imprinting such cheering thoughts, and glorious hopes, and enravishing views, with far greater force and vigour than they could possibly attain to without it; we cannot but think all this to be sufficient effectually to refresh them under, and carry them through the torments that were inflicted on them; and transport them beyond the reach of sense, and make them rejoice in those sufferings, as their happiness and glory.

Having thus proved, in general, the reasonableness and possibility of a good Christian's rejoicing, even under the cruelties of persecution, for the sake of Jesus and his truth, and thereby removed the objection of its being a thing utterly impracticable; I now proceed to shew upon what particular accounts such suffering ought to be esteemed as a blessing and matter of rejoicing; that so we may the more willingly embrace, when God shall call us to it, what is so contrary to flesh and blood : and when the days of calamity and times of trial shall come, neither life nor death, principalities nor powers, nor nakedness, nor peril, nor sword, nor any other kind of suffering, may be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And, in the first place, suffering for righteousness' sake, and the name of our blessed Redeemer, ought to be rejoiced in as a blessing, because it is the best means to exercise and improve, to try and shew us the sincerity of our patience and our faith.

For as for faith, since we are told in scripture that it overcomes the world, works righteousness, and that all the illustrious actions of those heroes in the 11th chapter to the Hebrews, of whom the world was not worthy, were performed by the power of it; and that without it, it is impossible to please God; it is of the greatest moment and concern to us, to have it lively and strong, and thoroughly exercised and proved. For if, after trial, it be found blameless and sincere, how great the satisfaction and joy, and how blessed the consequences will be, is not to be expressed; and if, on the contrary, it be found weak and staggering, and not to be depended upon, it is a happy turn to be made sensible of it, that so we may no longer trust to a broken reed, but make use of a timely endeavour, by all proper methods, to strengthen and confirm it.

Now, that a state of suffering is the truest touchstone of faith there can be no question. It is an easy matter to believe, when times are quiet and prosperous, and it is for our temporal interest to do so : but when the clouds grow black and thick, and a storm is coming on apace, and at length becomes loud and terrible, and threatens danger and destruction to such as adhere to Jesus and his truth; when, as in St. Paul's tempest in his voyage towards Rome, neither sun nor stars, no gleam of comfort in many days appears, and all hope of deliverance from the hand of man is taken away, then will be proved the truth and life of faith; which, when sincere, will receive new strength by such exercise of it, and the boisterous shakings and furious blasts of adversity will but make it take deeper root, and fix it still more firmly in the soul.

And as faith, so patience, is best, nay indeed can only be tried thoroughly by hardships and sufferings; and lies idle and useless when things are calm and easy; and no one can then say whether he has true patience or not.

For the grace of Christian patience is much more than the bearing with some temper those common, little crosses and vexations, which attend the smoothest condition of this world; it is an even, steady, resigned enduring the greatest troubles, and severest and most pungent afflictions, when God shall please to have us exercised with them; still retaining our integrity and faithfulness to God, and charity even to those who are made the instruments of so sharp a trial. And therefore since we have so much need of patience in our present militant state, that we may persevere in performing the will of God, amidst the many and great discouragements that we meet with here, so as at length to receive the promise ; that which will teach us this so excellent and necessary a virtue, and exercise and improve it, and there

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