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make truth most odious, drawing monstrous misconsequences out of it, and belying the practices of christians, making their assemblies horrible and vile by false imputations; and thus are they often necessitated to declare the true tenor, both of their belief and lives, in confessions of faith, and remonstrances of their carriage and custom.
The very name of christians, in the primitive times, was made hateful by the foulest aspersions of strange wickednesses committed in their meetings ; and they passed credibly through with all that were not particularly acquainted with them. Thus it also was with the Waldenses; and so both were forced to publish apologies; and, as here, every one was and is bound, seasonably, to clear himself, and his brethren, and religion. Such is the expression here, be ye always ready; which intimates it was not always to be done to every one; but we, being ready to do, are to consider when, and to whom, and how far.
2. We have the matter or subject of the apology. All that they are to give account of is comprised here under this, the hope that is in you. Faith is the root of all graces, and of all obedience and holiness; and hope is so near in nature to it, that the one is commonly named for the other: for, the things that faith apprehends, and lays hold on, as present in the truth of divine promises, hope looks out for as to come in their certain performance. To believe a promise to be true before it be performed, is no other but to believe that it shall be peformed; and hope expects that.
Many rich and excellent things do the saints receive, even in this mean despised condition they have here, but their hope is rather mentioned as the subject they may speak and give account of with most advantage; both because all they receive at present is but as nothing, compared to what they hope for; and because, such as it is, it cannot be made known at all to a natural man, and is so clouded with their afflictions and sorrows. These he sees, but their VOL. II.
graces and comforts he cannot see; and therefore the very ground of higher hopes somewhat to come, though he knows not what it is, speaks more satisfaction. To hear of another life, and a happiness hoped for, any man will confess it says something, and deserves to be considered.
So, then, the whole sum of religion goes under this word, the hope that is in you, for two reasons, 1. As it terminates in hope : And, 2. as that is, by way of eminence, the hope, the most noble of all others.
1. For that it doth indeed all resolve and terminato into things to come, and leads and carries on the soul towards them by all the graces in it, and all the exercise of them, and through all services and sufferings ; still it aims at this, as its main scope, to keep that life to come in the believers's eye, till he get it in his hand; to entertain the hope of it, and bring him home to possess it. And,
2. It is eminently The hope ; therefore the Apostle calls faith the substance of thing's hoped for, that which makes them be before they be, gives a solidity and substance to them. The name of hope, in other things, scarce suits with such a meaning, but sounds a kind of uncertainty, and is somewhat airy. For, of all other hopes but this, it is a very true word, that hope is the name of an uncertain good“: But the gospel, being entertained by faith, furnishes a hope that hath substance and reality in it; and all its truth do .concentre into this, to give such a hope. There was in St. Paul's word, besides the fitness for his stratagem at that time, a truth suitable to this, where he assigns his whole cause for which he was in question, by the name of his hope of the resurrection".
And, indeed, this hope carries its own apology in it, for itself and for religion. What can more pertinently answer all exceptions against the way of godliness than this, to represent what hopes the saints have, that walk in that way. If you ask, Whither tends all this, your preciseness and singularity? Why * Spes est nomen boni incerti. SEN.
b Acts xxiii, 6.
cannot you live as your neighbours, and the rest of the world about you? Truly the reason is this, we have somewhat further to look to than our present condition, and far more considerable than any thing here; we have a hope of blessedness after time, a hope to dwell in the presence of God, where our Lord Christ is gone before us; and we know that as many as have this hope, must purify themselves even as he is pure. The city we tend to is holy, and no unclean thing shall enter into itd. The hopes we have cannot subsist in the way of the ungodly world; they cannot breathe in that air, but are choaked and stifled with it; and therefore we must take another way, unless we will forego our hopes, and ruin ourselves for company;
- But all that bustle of godliness you “ make, is' but ostentation and hypocrisy." That may be your judgment; but, if it were so, we had but a poor bargaino: They have their reward, that which they desire (to be seen of men) is given them, and they can look for no more; but we should be loath to have it so with us. That which our eye is on, is to come ; our hopes are the thing which up
We know that we shall appear before the judge of hearts, where shews and formalities will not pass: and we are persuaded, that the hope of the hypocrite shall perish'; no man shall be so much disappointed and ashamed as he; but the hope that we have inakes not ashamed. And while we consider that, so far are we from the regard of men's eyes, that, were it not we are bound to profess our hope, and avow religion, and to walk like it, even before men, we would be content to pass through altogether unseen, and desire to pass as if it were so; as regardless either of the approbation, or of the reproaches and mistakes, of men; as if there were no such thing, for it is indeed nothing.
Yea, the hopes we have make all things sweet. Therefore do we go through disgraces and sufferings with patience, yea with joy, because of that hope ni John iii. 3. d Rev. xxi. 17. e Mat. vi. f Job, viii, 13.
& Rom. v, 5.
of glory, and joy, laid up for us.
for us. A Christian can take joyfully the spoilings of his goods, knowing that he hath in heaven a better and an enduring substance".
It is, as we said, The hope. All the estate of a believer lieth in hope, and it is a royal estate; for outward things, the children of God have what he thinks fit to serve them, but those are not their
portion, and therefore he gives often more of the world to those that shall have no more hereafter: but all their flourish and lustre is but a base advantage, as a lackey's gaudy clothes, that usually make more shew than his that is heir of the estate. How often under a mean outward condition, and very despicable every way, goes an heir of glory, born of God, and so royal; born to a crown that fadeth not, an estate of hopes, but so rich and so certain hopes, that the least thought of them surpasses all the world's possesions. Men think of somewhat for present, a bird in hand, as you say, the best on it: But the odds is in this, that when all present things shall be past and swept away, as if they had not been, then shall these hopers be in eternal possession ; they only shall have all for ever, that seemed to have little or nothing here.
Oh! how much happier, to be the 'meanest expectant of the glory to come, than the sole possessor of all this world. These expectants are often held short in earthly things, and, had they the greatest abundance of them, yet they cannot rest in that ; yea, all the spiritual blessings that they do possess here, are nothing to the hope that is in them, but as an earnest-penny to their great inheritance. So, indeed, it confirms their hope, and assures it into them of that full estate, and therefore, be it never so small, they may look on it with joy, not so much regarding it simply in itself, as in relation to that which it seals and ascertains the soul of. Be it never so small, yet it is a pledge of the great glory and happiness which we desire to share in. It is the grand comfort of a christian to look often beyond all that he can possess or attain here; and as to answer others, when he is put to it concerning his hope, so to answer himself concerning all his present griefs and wants : “ I have a poor traveller's lot “ here, little friendship, and many straits, but yet I may go cheerfully homewards : For thither I shall “ come, and there I have riches and honour enough; " a palace and a crown abiding me: Here nothing “ but depth calling unto depth, one calamity and “ trouble (as waves) following another; but I have a " hope of that rest that remaineth for the people of 66 God. I feel the infirmities of a mortal state, but
h Heb. x. 34.
my hopes of immortality content me under them, “I find strong and cruel assaults of temptations “ breaking in upon me, but for all that, I have as, “ sured hope of a full-victory, and then of everlast
ing peace. I find a law in my members rebelling
against the law of my mind", the worst of all evils ; “ so much strength of corruption within me: Yet “ there is withal a hope within me of deliverance, and * I look over all to that; I lift up my head, because " the day of my redemption draws nigh'. This I dare
avow and proclaim to all, and not be ashamed to "answer, concerning this blessed hope.”
But then, 3dly, For the manner of this, it is to be done with meekness and fear. Meekness towards men, and reverent fear towards God.
1. IVith meekness. Not therefore blustering and flying out into invectives, because he hath the better on it, against any man that questions him touching this hope ; as some think themselves certainly authorised to rough speech, because they plead for truth, and are on its side. On the contrary, so much the rather study meekness, for the glory and advantage of the truth. It needs not the service of passion; yea, nothing so disserves it, as passion when set to serve it. The Spirit of truth is withal the Spirit of meekness, the dove that rested on that great champion of truth, who is the truth itself, and from him is derived to the lovers of truth, and they ought to seek i Heb. iv. 9.
k. Rom. vii, 23. "Luke xxi. 28.