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ACTs xxi. 13. Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep, and to break my heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but ayo to

I die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jejus.

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Wherein the text is opened, and the doctrine propounded.

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THE Divine providence is not more signally discovered in

governing the motions of the clouds, than it is in dil 45 poling and ordering the spirits and motions of the ministers of the the gospel, who, in a myftical sense, are fruitful clouds, to di penfe the showers of gospel-blessings to the world. The motion of the clouds is aut spontaneous, but they move as they

FIF are moved by the winds; neither can gospel-ministers chule their own stations, and govern their own motions, but multgy when and where the Spirit and providence of God directs and guides them; as will evidently appear in that dangerous voyag to Jerusalem in which the apostle was at this time engaged in Acts xx. 2 2. “And now, behold, I go bound in the Spirit to “ Jerufalem,” [bound in the Spirit :] Alluding to the watery

"la pours which are bound up in clouds, and conveyed according to the motions of the winds. This journey was full of danger; Paul foresaw his bufoess was not only to plant the gospel at Jerusalem with his doctrine, but to water it also with his blood

; but so effectually was his will determined by the will of God that he chearfully complies with his duty therein, whatsoerer difficulties and daogers did attend it.

And indeed it was his great advantage, that the will of God sa was so plainly, and convincingly revealed to him touching this matter ; for no fouder did he employ himself to obey this call of God, but he is presently assaulted by many strong tempta tions to decline it.

The first rub he met in his way, was from the disciples of Tyre, who pretending to speak by the Spirit, said unto Paul, that he should not go up to Jerusalem, Acts xxi. 4. The Lord by this trying the spirit of his apostle much, as he did the inte young prophet coming from Judea to Bethel, 1 Kings xiii. 18.00 but nor with like success.

His next discouragement was at Caesarea, where Agabus (whom Dorotheus affirms to be of the seventy-two disciples, and had before prophesied of the famine in the reign of Claudius,

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which accordingly came to pass) takes Paul's girdle, and biodiog his own hands and feet with it, faid, “ Thus faith the Holy " Ghost, so shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that own“eth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the « Gentiles,” Acts xxi. 11. And surely he was not ignorant what he must expect whenever he should fall into their hands; yet neither could this'affright him from his duty.

But then, last of all, he meeteth with the forest trial from his dearest friends, who fell upon him with passiogate intreaties, and many tears, beseeching him to decline thar journey: 0 they could not give up such a minister as Paul was ! this even melted him down, and almost broke his heart, which yet was easier to do, than to turn him out of the path of obedience : Where, by the way, we may note two things :

First, That divine precept, not providence, is to rule out our way of duty

Secondly, That po hindrances, or discouragements, whatfoever, will justify our neglect of a koowo duty.

All these rubs he passes over ; all these discouragements he overcame, with this heroic and truly Christian resolution in the text ;

" What mean ge to weep, and to break my heart? For “ I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem, " for the game of the Lord Jesus.” lo which words we have,

1. A loving and geotle rebuke.

2. A quieting and calming argument. First, He lovingly and gently rebukes their food and inordiDate forrow for his departure, in these words, What mean ye to weep, and to break

my

heart? As if he should say, What meao these passionate intreaties, and tempting tears? To what porpose is all this a-do? They are but fo many faares of Satan, to turn my heart out of the way of obedience : You do as

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you lies to break my heart ; let there be no more of this, I beseech you.

. Secondly, He labours to charm their uoruly passions with a very quieting and calming arguinent; For I am ready, &c. STOPWş sya, parate habeo. I am prepared, and fitted for the greatest sufferings which thall befal me in the pursuit of my duty; be it a prison, or be it death, I am provided for either : Liberty is dear, and life much dearer, but Chrift is dearer than either.

But what was there in all this, to satisfy them whose trouble it was to see him fo forward ? Let the words be confidered,

much as

and we shall find divers things in them to fatisfy and quiet their hearts, and make them willing to give him up.

First, I am ready; that is, God hath fitted and prepared my heart for the greatest fufferings ; this is the work of God: fleth and blood would never be brought to this, were not all its interests and iocligations fubdued, and over-ruled by the Spirit of God. What do ye therefore in all this, but work against the design of God, who hath fitted and prepared my heart for this service?

Secondly, I am ready; that is, my will and resolution ttande in a full bent, my heart is fixed, you caonor therefore ftudy to do me a greater injury, than to difcompose and disorder my heart again, by casting fuch temptations as these in my way, to cause the Aesh to rebel, and the enemy that is within to renew his opposition,

Thirdly, I am ready; that is, my heart is fo fixed to follow the call of God, whatever shall befal me, that all your lears and intreaties to the contrary are but cast away; they cannot alter my fixed purpose ; you had as good be quiet, and chearfully re. sign me to the will of God.

Thus you see the equipage and preparation of Paul's fpirit to receive both bonds and death for Chrilt at Jerusalem ; this made him victorious over the temptations of friends, and the malice and cruelty of his enemies : By this readiness, and preparation of his miod, he was carried through all, aod coabled to finish his course with joy. From hence the observation is, Doct. That it is a blessed and excellent thing, for the people

of God to be prepared, and ready for the hardeft fervices,

and work of sufferings, to which the Lord may call them. This is that which every gracious heart is reaching after, praying, and thriving to obtain; but ah! how few will attain it! Certainly there are not many among the multitudes of the pru. feflors of this generation, that can say as Paul here did, “ I am ready to be bound, or to die for Chrift."

CH A P. II.
Shews, that although God takes no delight in afflicting his people

yet he sometimes exposeth them to great and grievous suffer-
ings; with a brief account why, and how he calls them there.
unto.
HE mercies and compassions of God over his people,

are exceeding great and tender, Pfal, cij. 13. “ Like as " a father pitieth his children, to the Lord pitiech them that

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" fear him.” He delights not in afflictiog and grieving them, Lam. iii. 33. “ He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the “ children of men.” The scripture intimates to us a seeming conflict betwixt the justice and mercy of God, when he is about to deliver up his people ioto their enemies haods, Hosea xi. 8,9 “ How shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? How shall I deliver “ thee, Irael? How shall I make thee as Adma? How all

set thee as Zeboim ? Mine heart is turned within me, my repeatings are kindled together.” Which thews us with what reluctance, and great unwillingness the Lord goes about such a work as this. The work of judgment is his Arange work, it pleases him better to execute the milder attribute of mercy towards his children. Hence we find, when he is preparing to exe. cute his judgments, that he delays the execution as long as the hoaour of his name, and safety of his people will permit, Jer. xliv. 2 3. He bears till he can bear no longer : he often curos away his wrath from them, Pfal. Ixxviii. 38, 39. He tries them by lel fer judgmeats, and gentler corrections, to prevent greater, Amos iv. 6. Wheo his people are humbled uoder the threatego! ings of his wrath, his heart is melted into compassion to them, Jer. xxxi. 17,, 20. aod whenever his mercy prevails against judgment, it is with joy and triumph, Jam. ii. 13. Mercy rejoiceth against judgment,

For he feels his own tender compaffions yerning over them ; he foreseeth, and is no way willing to gratify the insulting pride of his, aod their enemies. Deut. xxxii. 26, 27. I laid I * would scatter them into corners, I would make the remem• brance of them to cease from among men, were it not that I “ feared the wrath of the enemy, left their adversarics should “ behave themselves frangely,” de.

Yet all this, potwithstanding, it often falls out, by the provocations of his fons and daughters, that the Lord gives them up into the hands of their enemies for the correction of their evils, and the manifestation of his own glory. Seneca, though a heathen, could say, that God loves his people with a mascu. line love, not with a womanish indulgence, and tenderness: 18 need require, they shall be in heavinels through manifold temptations, 1 Pet. i. 6. He had rather their hearts should be heavy poder adversity, thap vaio and careleis uoder prosperity; the choicest spirits have been exercised with the Tharpelt fufferings, and those that now shine as stars in heaven, have been trode under foot as dung on the earth, 1 Cor. iv. 11, 12, 13. Unto this present hour we both hunger and thirst, and are • Aaked, and buffcted, and have ao certain dwelling-place,

"! and labour, working with our own hands; being reviled we “ blets, being perfecuted we suffer it, being defamed we intreat; “ we are made as the filth of the world, and the off-scouring of “ all things up to this day." The eleventh chapter to the Hebrews is a compendium of the various and grievous sufferings of the primitive saints: “ They were tortured, they were fawn “ afvader, were tempted, were Nain with the sword, they “ wandered about in Meep-skins and goat-skios, being afflicted, “ destirule, tormenred, of whom the world was not worthy; “ they wandered in deserts, and is mountains, in dens, and “ caves of the earth." And fioce the earth hath dried up those rivers of precious blood, whereof the facred records make men. tion, what feas of Chriftians blood have fioce those days been Thed by bloody perfecutors ? Histories intom us, that is the ten primitive perfecutions, so many of the faints and martyrs of Jesus Christ have been Nain, as that you may allow five thousand a day to every day in the whole year. Those bloody emperors {ported themselves with the deaths of God's deareft faints; many precious Christians were burnt by night at Rome, to serve as torches to light their enemies in their passage through the Atreets; eight huodred thousaod martyrs are mentioned within the fpace of thirty years, fince the Jesuits arose out of the bottomless pit.

To what grievous sufferings did the Lord give up those precious fervants of Christ, the Waldenses, and Albigeples, who received the light of reformation about the year 1260, when the fogs of Antichristiao darkness had overspread the earth! a people found io judgment, as appears by their letters, catechisms, and confeffions, which are extant; a people of a fimple, plain, and inoffensive behaviour : Yet, with what fury and rage did that impious pope Pius persecute them to destruction ! driving them into the woods and mountains, except the aged, and children that could not flee, who were murdered in the way: Some famished in the caves, and clefts of the rocks ; others en. dured the rack for eight hours together ; some beaten with iron rods, others thrown from the tops of high towers, and dalhed to pieces.

What bloody shambles, and Naughter-houles, have France, Irelaod, and England, been made by popish cruelty! More might be related out of each story, than a tender-hearted reader is able to bear the rehearfal of. But what God hath done, he

may do again : We are not better than our fathers, dismal clouds of indignation are gathering over our heads, charged with double destruction ; should the Lord please to make them

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