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cates, that we both shall be able to bear, and also find a way made for us to escape.
With such assurances, we may boldly say, “ The Lord is on my side, I will “ not fear what man (or Satan) can do unto me.
IV. There is farther a consideration of profit and advantage, which makes the yoke of Christ easy
The believing soul is not mercenary. He loves his Master and his service; yet it is impossible to serve God for nought. In the keeping of his commandments, there is a reward, though not of debt, yet of grace *: a great and sure reward, respecting both the life that now is and that which is to come.
Those who sincerely take up the yoke of Christ, and cleave to him in love alone, have ample compensation in the present life for all that their profession can cost them. They enjoy the testimony of a good conscience, which is compared to a continual feast. St. Paul, though a champion for free grace, and determined to glory only in the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus t, expresses a high and just value for this privilege; and that it afforded comfort, yea joy, in a time of trouble. Superadded to this, they are often favoured with the peculiar consolations of the Holy Spirit, which, though slightly esteemed by those who know them not, satisfy the soul as with marrow and fatness, and can change the voice of mourning into songs of praise in an instant I. And though these are not their constant food, yet they have real and habitual cominunion with God, from day to day, in his ordinances and providences. They live in his presence; they converse with him, and he with them; their good things are doubly pleasing, because they receive them from his hand;
* Psal. xix. 11.
+ 2 Cor. i. 12.
* Psal. Ixiii. 3.
and this thought likewise sweetens every bitter cup of affliction which he prepares for their good. The mutual intercourse and communion his people have with each other, is likewise a considerable branch of their present reward. How pleasing is it, when speaking to each other in his name, they take sweet counsel together, they are confirmed in his way, by finding how their experiences answer as face to face in a glass; and he causes their hearts to burn within them, while they are freely declaring what he has done for their souls. Lastly, they are happy in a comfortable expectation of a better world; and when the appointed time comes, death will put an end to all their troubles ; and then shall they fully know and possess the future reward which the Lord has prepared and reserved for them that love him.
This is briefly summed up by the apostle: They shall be absent from the body *, and all its inseparable evils; sin and sorrow, want, pain, and every distress that belongs to this mortal state, shall affect them no more; and, they shall be present with the Lord, whom they love. Then they shall see his face without a cloud, and share his joy without abatement or interruption ; and all this shall be for ever. When they are made pillars of the New Jerusalem t, they shall come out no more. The prospect of this makes them rejoice under all their tribulations; for they know whereto they lead, and how they will end.
“ These light " and momentary afflictions are working for them a far
more exceeding and eternal weight of glory I. From these things I hope it will appear, that the
* 2 Cor. v. 8. + Rev, iii, 12.; 1. Thess. iv. 17.
# 2 Cor. iv. 17.
yoke of Christ is easy. His people serve him because they love him ; they love his ways : he is their strength; he comforts them now, and will be their portion for
But perhaps some, whom I would willingly comfort, will rather be discouraged by this representation, and say, Alas! if it is thus, I am yet to seek: my love is so faint, my strength so feeble, my consolations so small, my obedience so imperfect, that I am afraid I have not known the easy yoke of Christ. There are therefore some other things to be taken into the account, and which are no just exception to the character our Lord here gives of his yoke.
1. The entrance, or first application of the mind to the yoke or profession of the Gospel, is seldom pleasant. Though the work of grace leads to love, it usually begins in fear. On this point we have already spoken at large. It is no pleasing state to be weary and heavy laden, to see ourselves obnoxious to a curse, and unable to escape ; yet by apprehensions of this kind the soul is prepared to embrace the yoke of Christ; and none but those who have experienced the misery of a fallen state will be truly desirous of the Gospel rest.
2. The progress is gradual. The first dawnings of grace in the heart are faint, and hardly perceptible; hence the whole process is compared to things that are very inconsiderable in their first principles. The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard-seed, which is hid and lost in the earth for a season; it is like leaven, which when cast into meal may be concealed and unnoticed for a while, but by degrees diffuses its influence through the whole mass *: It is like the corn which springs up and comes forward night and day, a man knows not how* The growth in the Christian life being thus slow and indistinct, many who aim to ascertain their interest rather by the degree than the reality of grace, are often dejected to find their attainments proceed no faster. It is indeed a humbling consideration, but ought not to rob us of the comfort arising from a believing view of what Jesus has completely wrought out for us, and of what he has promised he will infallibly perform in us, in his own good time. A deliverance from this poring into ourselves for the grounds of our hope, is a part, a considerable part, of the rest to which he invites us.
* Matth. xiii. 31-33.
3. The difficulties attendant on that course of faith and obedience, which is included in taking his yoke upon us, are many and great. While we sojourn in a wilderness state, and in a sinful nature, there will be fightings without, and fears within. It is the appointed and necessary rule of our profession, that “ through “ much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of
Godt.” All who are against him will be against us for his sake; and the evil heart of unbelief will show itself in a variety of forms, as it is acted upon by various impressions, from the things of sense and the powers of darkness. But these troubles do not arise from the spiritual yoke of Christ, but from our present situation and circumstances, and shall therefore shortly cease for ever. His ways are ways of pleasantness ; though we are sure to meet with perplexity and uneasiness, so far and so often as we wander from them into our own crooked paths. But,
4. The end is sure. “ He that endureth to the end
# Mark, iy. 27.
† Acts, xiv. 22.
« shall be saved * ;” and all who are in his way, have his promise and power engaged in their behalf, that they shall certainly endure, that he will so lead, guide, support, and strengthen them, that neither life nor death, nor things present, nor things to come, shall separate them from his lovet. Your complaints and fears, therefore, are no proof that you are not right. Go on in his name. Trust in him in whom you have believed, and be nothing terrified by your adversaries. The longer you wear the yoke, the easier you will find it.
Let each one examine himself by what has been offered. If you have not a principle of true love to Christ, and a prevailing desire to live in all holy obedience to his will, you are no Christian ; and though you may begin warmly, you will not be able to hold out, but your profession will wither away for want of root and moisture. Nor is it difficult to know whether you love
you do, you have seen your need of him, and abbor yourself in dust and ashes.
From hence likewise you may discern the difference between the religion of the Gospel, and the formal worship that many are contented with, in which the heart has no place. Remember that “God is a spirit 1.," and unless you love him, you cannot possibly please him. If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would be utterly contemned. His commandments likewise are spiritual; they extend beyond the surface of the outward conduct, and take cognisance even of the retired thoughts and intents of the heart. Many sins may be avoided, and many
duties performed, from motives and principles which not being
him or no;
* Matth, x. 22.
+ Rom, viii, 38,
I John, iv, 24