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exposed too often to mockery from its idle companions? The young man who is sober and chaste, is he not ridiculed for want of spirit? is not the devout man of riper years too often charged with hypocrisy ? and are not many of every age to be found who have been disliked or ill-used on account, of their piety?"

I answer that all this is very true, and a treatment like this may very possibly befall any one of us in his journey through the wilderness of the world; but still these are exceptions from St. Peter's general rule, and such exceptions will be found less numerous than they at first appear, if we distinguish those sorrows and vexations which good men endure on account of their religion, from those which they might have experienced whether they were religious or no; and those, still more, which they bring on themselves, not by their religion, but by their imprudence and their failings. Christ's kingdom is not of this world; and no promise that I can find in Scripture has been made to His followers, that they should have less than their share of the common accidents of their nature; that a ruin tottering to its foundation should necessarily remain suspended while a Christian passed beneath; that a Christian should not slip, where another man should break a limb; or that a Christian should not be stripped by robbers, or torn by wild beasts, like any other man who might pass from Jerusalem to Jericho. Christians are men, and sinful men, and they require, no less than their fellow trans

gressors, that merciful discipline of affliction and sorrow which the Almighty dispenses, more or less, to every man as He sees occasion. But how many are those who, while drinking the cup which sinners partake of at least as plentifully as themselves, are forward to claim the praise of martyrs or confessors, and to reckon up these visitations as parts of that cross which it behoves us to be ready to take up when called on!

Still more must we be careful lest the sorrows under which we groan be brought on us, not by our religion itself, but by our vanity, our ill temper, our want of common prudence, and of that serpent-like wisdom, to join which with the harmlessness of a dove should be the endeavour of every believer. Such defects as these by their nature provoke mockery, dislike, and injustice from all whose hearts are not impressed with a deep sense of their own weakness, and the necessity of bearing with the weakness of their brethren. And when a religious man shews his religion in an injudicious manner, when he makes it the occasion of judging and censuring others, or when he exhausts it in forms and trifles, (overlooking, it may be, in comparison, the weightier matters of the law while he strains out the gnat, and pays tithes of anise and cummin) though his religion might, by itself, have passed through life unnoticed, or respected, or endured, these faults will be reflected on with double severity, because they are at variance with his professed principles, and because the world, it must be

owned, will not be sorry to bring down his character to its own low level.


But do our opponents appeal to the experience of mankind? To that experience let them go Let them ask themselves whether, among their own acquaintance, their own neighbours, the public men whose lives and circumstances are known to them, there is any considerable appearance of such persecution as they apprehend, such affliction for conscience sake as is implied in their gloomy anticipations? Is the sober, the honest, the religious labourer less employed by his superiors in rank, or less thriving in the world than his godless neighbour? Among merchants, among statesmen, I will add, among the followers of the naval or military profession, will it usually be found, (for some detached and remarkable instances are no sufficient proof of the general rule) that a man's religion has done him any harm? Why, then, should we dress up the confession of our faith with these unreasonable and unnecessary terrours, or doubt that, even in this world, as well as in the world to come, and in the necessities of the present life, as well as in the one thing eternally needful, the Lord of all things may, if we seek His help, make our very enemies to love us, and those, of whom we fear that they should carry us captive, to take pity on us?

As, however, situations may arise, in which we may be called upon, we know not how soon or how suddenly, to prefer our duty to our interest, and to

suffer for righteousness sake, it is fit to keep our hearts in constant readiness for such a trial by the assurance, which should be deeply impressed on them, that such afflictions as, on this account, befall us are, by the concurrent assurances of God's words, among the surest earnests of His favour. "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you, falsely, for my sake! Rejoice, and be exceeding glad,-for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you1!" "Rejoice," saith St. Peter," inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy 2"

And the reason for such joy a little consideration will suggest to us. In the first place, such persecutions, wherever they recur, are so many fulfilments of our Saviour's prophecy that men should thus deal with His followers for His name's sake; and they are, in consequence, so many confirmations of our faith in Him, and so many fresh grounds of hope that, as the sorrows which He foretold have come true, the far greater joys which He has promised, will, in like manner, come true also. No other religion which the world has known was announced with such forebodings. The pretenders to inspiration have usually, if not uniformly, amused their followers with hopes of unmixed success and

1 St. Matt. v. 11, 12.

21 St. Peter iv. 13.

universal extension; and the failure of their hopes has demonstrated the folly of their assumptions.

Our Lord promised His people affliction first, and weight of glory afterwards. The affliction has arrived, yea, in a great measure, has passed away; the glory will therefore follow!

Secondly, since God has shown afflictions to be so precious in His sight, as to conduct His only Son through the same thorny passage to His present exaltation of Majesty, we may well feel ourselves honoured in being made to resemble Him, even in the circumstances of His humiliation; and that we are thought worthy to be His companions in working, by the same means, the same glorious will of His and our Almighty Father. The soldier who sleeps on the bare field of battle, feels elevated in his spirit so that his general lies no softer; and shall not we in our necessities, sometimes think with a holy joy that, even in these things, God hath made us like His Son?

Thirdly, when we recollect, that the greater our sufferings are now, and the more courageously we pass through them, the more our faith is proved, our love rendered brighter, and the more exceeding weight of glory and reward is, for Christ's sake, laid up for us hereafter, may we not rejoice in our distress as a pledge of God's gracious designs in our favour, as a gate to greater eminence and far higher seats in His kingdom, than are to be attained by an easier entrance? Strange things are told in the early Christian writers of the glories

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