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THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

would think that in reading Soripture we are
in the school of angels, we would be far more
careful and desirous to profit by the doctrine
which is propounded to us.

"We now see the true method of preparing
to suffer for the gospel. First, We must
have profited so far in the school of God as
to be decided in regard to true religion and
the doctrine which we are to hold; and we
must despise all the wiles and impostures of
Satan, and all human inventions, as things
not only frivolous but also carnal, inasmuch
as they corrupt Christian purity; therein
differing, like true martyrs of Christ, from
the fantastic persons who suft'er for mere
absurdities. Second, Feeling assured of the
good cause, we must be inflamed, accordingly,
to follow God whithersoever He may call us:
His Word must have such authority with us
as it deserves, and having withdrawn from
this world, w^e must feel as it were enraptured
in seeking the heavenly life.

But it is more than strange that,tho the light
of God is shining more brightly than it ever
did before, there is a lamentable want of
zeal! If the thought does not fill us with
shame, so much the worse. For we must
shortly come before the great Judge, where
the iniquity which we endeavor to hide will
be brought forward with such upbraidings
that we shall be utterly confounded. For,
if we are obliged to bear testimony to God,

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according to the measure of the knowledge
which He has given us, to what is it owing,
I would ask, that we are so cold and timor-
ous in entering into battle, seeing that God
has so fully manifested Himself at this time
that He may be said to have opened to us
and displayed before us the great treasures
of His secrets? May it not be said that we
do not think we have to do with God? For
had Ave any regard to His Majesty we would
not dare to turn the doctrine which proceeds
from Him into some kind of philosophic specu-
lation. In short, it is impossible to deny that
it is our great shame, not to say fearful con-
demnation, that we have so well known the
truth of God, and have so little courage to
maintain it!

Above all, when we look to the martyrs of
past times, well may we detest our own
cowardice! The greater part of those were
not persons much versed in Holy Scripture,
so as to be able to dispute on all subjects.
They knew that there was one God, whom
they behooved to worship and serve — that
they had been redeemed by the blood of Jesus
Christ, in order that they might place their
confidence of salvation in Him and in His
grace — and that, all the inventions of men
being mere dross and rubbish, they ought to
condemn all idolatries and superstitions. In
one word, their theology was in substance
this — There is one God who created all the

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THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

world, and declared His will to us by Moses
and the prophets, and finally bj^ Jesus Christ
and His apostles; and we have one sole Re-
deemer, who purchased us by His blood, and
by whose grace we hope to be saved : All the
idols of the world are curst, and deserve
execration.

With a system embracing no other points
than these, they went boldly to the flames,
or to any other kind of death. They did not
go in twos or threes, but in such bands that
the number of those who fell by the hands of
tyrants is almost infinite! We, on our part,
are such learned clerks that none can be more
so (so at least we think), and, in fact, so far
as regards the knowledge of Scripture, God
has so spread it out before us that no former
age was ever so highly favored. Still, after
all, there is scarcely a particle of zeal. When
men manifest such indifference, it looks as
if they were bent on provoking the vengeance
of God.

W^hat then should be done in order to inspire
our breasts with true courage? We have, in
the first place, to consider how precious the
confession of our faith is in the sight of God.
We little know how much God prizes it, if
our life, which is nothing, is valued by us more
highly. When it is so, we manifest a mar-
velous degree of stupidity. We can not save
our life at the expense of our confession with
out acknowledging that we hold it in higher

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estimation than the honor of God and the sal-
vation of our souls.

A heathen could say that ' ' It was a misera-
able thing to save life by giving up the only
things which made life desirable ! ' ' And yet
he and others like him never knew for w^hat
end men are placed in the world, and why
they live in it. It is true they knew enough
to say that men ought to follow virtue, to con-
duct themselves honestly and without re-
proach ; but all their virtues were mere paint
and smoke. We know far better what the
chief aim of life should be, namely, to glorify
God, in order that He may be our glory. When
this is not done, wo to us! And we can not
continue to live for a single moment upon the
earth without heaping additional curses on
our heads. Still we are not ashamed to pur-
chase some few days to languish here below,
renouncing eternal kingdom by separating
ourselves from Him by whose energy we are
sustained in life.

Were we to ask the most ignorant, not to
say the most brutish, persons in the world
why they live, they would not venture to
answer simply that it is to eat, and drink,
and sleep; for all know that they have been
created for a higher and holier end. And
what end can we find if it be not to honor
God, and allow ourselves to be governed by
Him, like children by good parents; so that
after we have finished the journey of this

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THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

corruptible life, we may be received into His
eternal inheritance? Such is the principal,
indeed the sole end. When we do not take it
into account, and are intent on a brutish life,
which is worse than a thousand deaths, what
can we allege for our excuse? To live and
not know why is unnatural. To reject the
causes for which we live, under the influence
of a foolish longing for a respite of some few
days, during which we are to live in the world,
while separated from God — I know not how
to name such infatuation and madness !

But as persecution is always harsh and bit-
ter, let us consider how and by what means
Christians may be able to fortify themselves
with patience, so as unflinchingly to expose
their life for the truth of God. The text
which we have read out, when it is properly
understood, is sufficient to induce us to do so.
The apostle says. Let us go forth from the
city after the Lord Jesus, bearing His re-
proach. In the first place, he reminds us,
altho the swords should not be drawn against
us nor the fires kindled to burn us, that we
can not be truly united to the Son of God
while we are rooted in this world. Where-
fore a Christian, even in repose, must always
have one foot lifted to march to battle, and
not only so, but he must have his affections
withdrawn from the world, altho his body is
dwelling in it. Grant that this at first sight
seems to us hard, still we must be satisfied

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with the words of St. Paul (I Thess. iii.),
that we are called and appointed to suffer.
As if He had said, Such is our condition as
Christians ; this is the road by which we must
go if we would follow Christ.

Meanwhile, to solace our infirmity and miti-
gate the vexation and sorrow which persecu-
tion might cause us, a good reward is held
forth: In suffering for the cause of God, we
are walking step by step after the Son of God,
and have Him for our guide. "Were it simply
said that to be Christians we must pass
through all the insults of the world boldly,
to meet death at all times and in whatever
way God may be pleased to appoint, we might
apparently have some pretext for replying
that it is a strange road to go at peradventure.
But when we are commanded to follow the
Lord Jesus, His guidance is too good and hon-
orable to be refused. Now, in order that we
may be more deeply moved, not only is it
said that Jesus Christ walks before us as our
Captain, but that we are made conformable to
His image; so St. Paul says in the eighth
chapter to the Romans that God hath ordained
all those whom He hath adopted for His
children, to be made conformable to Him who
is the pattern and head of all.

Are we so delicate as to be unwilling to en-
dure anything? Then we must renounce the
grace of God by which He has called us to
the hope of salvation. For there are two

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THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

things which can not be separated — to be
members of Christ, and to be tried by many
afflictions. We certainly ought to prize such
a conformitj^ to the Son of God much more
than we do. It is true, that in the world's
judgment there is disgrace in suffering for the
gospel. But since we know that believers are
blind, ought we not to have better eyes than
they? It is ignominy to suffer from those
who occupy the seat of justice, but St. Paul
shows us by his example that we have to
glory in scourings for Jesus Christ, as marks
by which God recognizes us and avows us
for His own. And we know what St. Luke
narrates of Peter and John (Acts v., 41) ;
namely, that they rejoiced to have been
counted worthy to suffer infamy and reproach
for the name of the Lord Jesus.

Ignominy and dignity are two opposites:
so says the world, which, being infatuated,
judges against all reason, and in this way con-
verts the glory of God into dishonor. But,
on our part, let us not refuse to be vilified
as concerns the world, in order to be honored
before God and His angels. We see what
pains the ambitious take to receive the com-
mands of a king, and what a boast they make
of it. The Son of God presents His commands
to us, and every one stands back. Tell me,
pray, whether in so doing are we worthy of
having anything in common with Him?
there is nothing here to attract our sensual

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nature, but such notwithstanding are the true
escutcheons of nobility in the heavens. Im-
prisonment, exile, evil report, imply in men's
imagination whatever is to be vituperated;
but what hinders us from viewing things as
God judges and declares them, save our un-
belief? Wherefore, let the name of the Son
of God have all the weight with us which it
deserves, that we may learn to count it honor
when He stamps His marks upon us. If we
act otherwise our ingratitude is insupportable.

Were God to deal with us according to our
desserts, would He not have just cause to
chastise us daily in a thousand ways? Nay
more, a hundred thousand deaths would not
suffice for a small portion of our misdeeds!
Now, if in His infinite goodness He puts all
our faults under His foot and abolishes them,
and instead of punishing us according to
our demerit, devises an admirable means to
convert our afflictions into honor and a special
privilege, inasmuch as through them we are
taken into partnership with His Son, must
it not be said, when we disdain such a happy
state, that we have indeed made little progress
in Christian doctrine?

Accordingly, St. Peter, after exhorting us
(I Peter iv., 15) to walk so purely in the fear
of God, as not to suffer as thieves, adulterers,
and murderers, immediately adds, that if we
must suffer as Christians, let us glorify God
for the blessing which He thus bestows upon

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us. It is not without cause he speaks thus.
For who are we, I pray, to be witnesses of the
truth of God, and advocates to maintain His
cause ? Here we are poor worms of the earth,
creatures full of vanity, full of lies, and yet
God employs us to defend His truth — an
honor which pertains not even to the angels
of heaven! May not this consideration alone
well inflame us to offer ourselves to God to be
employed in any way in such honorable serv-
ice?

Many persons, however, can not refrain
from pleading against God, or, at least, from
complaining against Him for not better sup-
porting their weakness. It is marvelously
strange, they say, how God, after having
chosen us for His children, allows us to be
trampled upon and tormented by the ungodly.
I answer : Even were it not apparent why He
does so. He might well exercise His authority
over us, and fix our lot at His pleasure. But
when we see that Jesus Christ is our pattern,
ought we not, without inquiring further, to
esteem it great happiness that we are made
like Him? God, however, makes it very ap-
parent what the reasons are for which He is
pleased that we should be persecuted. Had
we nothing more than the consideration sug-
gested by St. Peter (I Peter i., 7), we were
disdainful indeed not to acquiesce in it. He
says that since gold and silver, which are only
corruptible metals, are purified and tested by

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fire, it is but reasonable that our faith, which
surpasses all the riches of the world, should
be so tried.

It were easy indeed for God to crown us
at once without requiring us to sustain any
combats; but as it is His pleasure that until
the end of the world Christ shall reign in
the midst of His enemies, so it is also His
pleasure that we, being placed in the midst of
them, shall suffer their oppression and vi-
olence till He deliver us. I know, indeed,
that the flesh rebels when it is to be brought
to this pointy but still the will of God must
have the mastery. If we feel some repugnance
in ourselves, it need not surprize us ; for it is
only too natural for us to shun the cross. Still
let us not fail to surmount it, knowing that
God accepts our obedience, provided we bring
all our feelings and wishes into captivity,
and make them subject to Him.

When prophets and apostles went to death,
it was not without feeling some inclination
to recoil. ' ' They shall carry thee whither thou
wouldst not," said our Lord Jesus Christ to
Peter. (John xxi., 18. When such fears of
death arise within us, let us gain the mastery
over them^ or rather let God gain it; and
meanwhile, let us feel assured that we offer
Him a pleasing sacrifice when we resist and
do violence to our inclinations for the purpose
of placing ourselves entirely under His com-
mand: This is the principle war in which

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THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

God would have His people to be engaged.
He would have them strive to suppress every
rebellious thought and feeling which would
turn them aside from the path to which He
points. And the consolations are so ample
that it may well be said, we are more than
cowards if we give away!

In ancient times vast numbers of people,
to obtain a simple crown of leaves, refused no
toil, no pain, no trouble ; nay, it even cost them
nothing to die, and yet every one of them
fought for a peradventure, not knowing wheth-
er he was to gain or to lose the prize. God
holds forth to us the immortal crown by which
we may become partakers of His glory: He
does not mean us to fight at haphazard, but
all of us have a promise of the prize for
which we strive. Have we any cause then to
decline the struggle ? Do we think it has been
said in vain that if we die with Jesus Christ
we shall also live with Him? Our triumph is
prepared, and yet we do all we can to shun
the combat.

But it is said that all we teach on this sub-
ject is repugnant to human judgment. I con-
fess it. And hence when our Savior declares,
*' Blest are they which are persecuted for
righteousness' sake" (Matt, v., 10), He gives
utterance to a sentiment which is not easily
received in the world. On the contrary. He
wishes to account that as happiness which in
the judgment of sense is misery. We seem to

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ourselves miserable when God leaves us to be
trampled upon by the tyranny and cruelty
of our enemies; but the error is that we look
not to the promises of God, which assure us
that all will turn to our good. We are cast
down when we see the wicked stronger than
we, and planting their foot on our throat;
but such confusion should rather, as St. Paul
saj^s, cause us to lift up our heads. Seeing
we are too much disposed to amuse ourselves
with present objects, God in permitting the
good to be maltreated, and the wicked to
have sway, shows by evident tokens that a day
is coming on which all that is now in con-
fusion will be reduced to order. If the period
seems distant, let us run to the remedy, and
not flatter ourselves in our sin; for it is cer-
tain that we have no faith if we can not carry
our views forward to the coming of Jesus
Christ.

To leave no means which may be fitted to
stimulate us unemployed, God sets before us
promises on the one hand and threatenings
on the other. Do we feel that the promises
have not sufficient influence, let us strengthen
them by adding the threatenings. It is true
we must be perverse in the extreme not to put
more faith in the pronlises of God, when the
Lord Jesus says that He will own us as Hisi
before His Father, provided we confess Him
before men. (Matt, x., 32; Luke xii., 8.)
What should prevent us from making the

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THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

confession which He requires? Let men do
their utmost, they can not do worse than
murder us! and will not the heavenly life
compensate for this? I do not here collect
all the passages in Scripture which bear on
this subject: they are so often reiterated that
we ought to be thoroughly satisfied with them.
When the struggle comes, if three or four pas-
sages do not suffice, a hundred surely ought
to make us proof against all contrary temp-
tations.

But if God can not will us to Himself by
gentle means, must we not be mere blocks if
His threatenings also fail ? Jesus Christ sum-
mons all those who from fear of temporal
death shall have denied the truth, to appear at
the bar of God his Father, and says, that
then both body and soul will be consigned to
perdition. (Matt, x., 28; Luke xii., 5.) And
in another passage He says that He will dis-
claim all those who shall have denied Him be-
fore men. (Matt, x., 33 ; Luke xii., 10.) These
words, if we are not altogether impervious to
feeling, might well make our hair stand on
end. Be this as it may, this much is certain ;
if these things do not move us as they ought,
nothing remains for us but a fearful judg-
ment. (Heb. X., 27.) All the words of Christ
having proved unavailing, we stand convinced
of gross infidelity.

It is in vain for us to allege that pity should
be shown us, inasmuch as our nature is so

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frail; for it is said, on the contrary, that
Moses, having looked to God by faith, was
fortified so as not to yield under any tempta-
tion. Wherefore, when we are thus soft and
easy to bend, it is a manifest sign, I do not
say that we have no zeal, no firmness, but that
we know nothing either of God or His king-
dom. When we are reminded that we ought
to be united to our Head, it seems to us a fine
pretext for exemption to say that we are
men. But what were those who have trodden
the path before us? Indeed, had we nothing
more than pure doctrine, all the excuses we
could make would be frivolous; but having
so many examples which ought to supply us
with the strongest proof, the more deserving
are we of condemnation.

There are two points to be considered.
The first is, that the whole body of the Church
in general has always been, and to the end
will be, liable to be afflicted by the wicked,
as is said in the Psalms (Psalms cxxix., 1),
* ' From my youth up they have tormented me,
and dragged the plow over me from one
end to the other." The Holy Spirit there
brings in the ancient Church, in order that
we, after being much acquainted with her
afflictions, may not regard it as either new or
vexatious when the like is done to ourselves
in the present day. St. Paul, also, in quoting
from another Psalm (Rom. vii., 36; Psalm
xliv., 22), a passage which says, ''We have

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THE WORLD»S GREAT SERMONS

been led like sheep to the slaughter"; shows
that that has not been for one age only, but
is the ordinary condition of the Church, and
shall be.

Therefore, on seeing how the Church of
God is trampled upon in the present day by
proud worldlings, how one barks and another
bites, how they tortue, how they plot against
her, how she is assailed incessantly by mad
dogs and savage beasts, let it remind us that
the same thing was done in all the olden time.
It is true God sometimes gives her a truce and
time of refreshment, and hence in the Psalm
above quoted it is said, ' ' He cutteth the cords
of the wicked"; and in another passage
(Psalm cxxv., 3), **He breaks their staff, lest
the good should fall away, by being too hardly
pressed." But still it has pleased Him that
His Church should always have to battle so
long as she is in this world, her repose being
treasured up on high in the heavens. (Heb.
iii., 9.)

Meanwhile, the issue of her afflictions has
always been fortunate. At all events, God
has caused that tho she has been prest
by many calamities, she has never been com-
pletely crusht; as it is said (Psalm vii., 15),
''The wicked with all their efforts have not
succeeded in that at which they aimed. ' ' St.
Paul glories in the fact, and shows that this
is the course which God in mercy always takes.
He says (I Cor. iv., 12) that we endure tribu-

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lations, but we are not in agony; we are im-
poverished, but not left destitute; we are
persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but
we perish not ; bearing everywhere in our body
the mortification of the Lord Jesus, in order
that His life may be manifested in our mortal
bodies. Such being, as we see, the issue which
God has at all times given to the persecu-
tions of His Church, we ought to take cour-
age, knowing that our forefathers, who were
frail men like ourselves, always had the vic-
tory over their enemies by remaining firm
in endurance.

I only touch upon this article briefly to
come to the second, which is more to our pur-
pose, viz., that we ought to take advantage of
the particular examples of the martyrs who
have gone before us. These are not confined
to two or three, but are, as the apostle says
( Heb. xii., 1 ) , * ' So great a cloud of witnesses. ' '
By this expression he intimates that the num-
ber is so great that it ought, as it were, com-
pletely to engross our sight. Not to be tedi-
ous, I will only mention the Jews, who were
persecuted for the true religion, as well
under the tyranny of King Antiochus as a
little after his death. We can not allege that
the number of sufferers was small, for it
formed, as it were, a large army of martyrs.
We can not say that it consisted of prophets
whom God had set apart from common peo-
ple, for women and young children formed

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part of the band. We can not say that they
got off at a cheap rate, for they were tortured
as cruelly as it was possible to be. Accord-
ingly, we hear what the apostle says (Heb.
xi., 35), that some were stretched out like
drums, not caring to be delivered, that they
might obtain a better resurrection; others
were proved by mockery and blows, or bonds
and prisons; others were stoned or sawn as-
under ; others traveled up and down, wander-
ing among mountains and caves.

Let us now compare their case with ours.
If they so endured for the truth which was
at that time so obscure, what ought we to do
in the clear light which is now shining ? God
speaks to us with open mouth; the great gate
of the kingdom of heaven has been opened,
and Jesus Christ calls us to Himself, after
having come down to us that we might have
him, as it were, present to our eyes. What a
reproach would it be to us to have less zeal
in suffering for the gospel than those who
had only hailed the promises afar off — who
had only a little wicket opened whereby to
come to the kingdom of God, and who had
only some memorial and type of Jesus Christ ?
These things can not be exprest in a word,
as they deserve, and therefore I leave each to
ponder them for himself.

The doctrine now laid down, as it is general,
ought to be carried into practise by all Chris-
tians, each applying it to his own use accord-

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ing as may be necessary. This I say, in order
that those who do not see themselves in ap-
parent danger may not think it superfluous
as regards them. They are not at this hour
in the hands of tyrants, but how do they
know what God means to do with them here-
after? We ought therefore to be so fore-
armed that if some persecution which we did
not expect arrives, we may not be taken una-
w^ares. But I much fear that there are many
deaf ears in regard to this subject. So far


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