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But this publick ease and quietnefs of the world turned into fin; and unless God did compel men to do themselves good, they would do themselves hurt. And then God broke in upon them with a flood; and destroyed that generation, that he might begin the government of the world upon a new stock, and bind virtue upon men's spirits by new obligations, endeared to them by new hopes and fears. Then God made new laws, and gave to princes the power of the sword, and men might be punished to death in certain cases, and man's life was shortened, and slavery was brought into the world. And then war began, and evils multiplied upon the face of the earth; in which it is naturally certain, that they who were most violent and injurious prevailed upon the weaker and more innocent; and every tyranny that began from Nimrod to this day, and every usurper, was a peculiar argument to shew, that God began to teach the world virtue by suffering; and that therefore he suffered tyrannies and usurpations to be in the world, and to be prosperous, and the
rights rights of men to be snatched away from their owners, that the world might be established in settled governments, and the sufferers be taught all the paffive virtues of the soul. For so God brings good out of evil, turning tyranny into the benefits of government, and violence into virtue, and sufferings into rewards. And this was the second change of the world: Personal miseries were brought in upon Adam and his posterity, as a punishment of fin in the first period; and in the second, publick evils were brought in by tyrants and usurpers, and God suffered them as the first elements of virtue, men being just newly put to school (as it were) to infant sufferings. But all this was not much.
Christ's line was not yet drawn forth; it began not to appear from what family the King of sufferings should descend, till Abraham's time; and therefore till then, there were no greater sufferings than what I have now reckoned. But when Abraham's family was chosen from among the many nations, and began to belong to God
by a special right, and he was designed to be the father of the Messiah; then God found out a new way to try him, even with a sound affliction, commanding him to offer his son Isaac ; but this was not accepted, and being intended by Abraham, was not intended by God. For this was a type of Christ, and therefore was also but a type of sufferings.
And excepting the sufferings of the old periods, and the sufferings of nature, and accidents, we see no change made for a long time after ; but God, having eftablished a law in Abraham's family, did build it upon promises of health, and peace, and victory, and plenty, and riches; and so long as they did not prevaricate from the law of their God, so long they were prosperous. But God kept a remnant of Canaanites in the land, like a rod held over them, to vex or to chastise them into obedience; in which while they persevered, nothing could hurt them. And that saying of David needs no other sense but the letter of its own expression, I have been young, and now am old, and yet I
. XIV. a State of Suffering. 265 Saw never the righteous forsaken, nor his Seed begging their bread. The godly generally were prosperous, and a good cause feldom had an ill end, and a good man never died an ill death, till the law had spent a great part of its time, and it descended towards its declension and period.
But that the great Prince of sufferings might not appear upon his stage of tragedies, without some forerunners of forrow; God was pleased to chuse out some good men, and honour them, by making them to become little images of suffering. Such as were Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Za. chariah; Shadrac, Melhec, and Abednego. And as the time drew nearer that Chrift: should be manifest, so the sufferings grew bigger and more numerous.
And that was the third period, in which the changed method of God's providence was perfected. For Christ was to do his great work by sufferings; and by sufferings was to enter into blessedness. By his suffering, he was made prince of the universal church: and as our head was, so must the members be. God made the fame covenant with us, that he did with
his most holy Son; and Christ obtained no better conditions for us than for himself ; that was not to be expected : The servant must not be above his master ; it is well, if be be as his master : If the world perfecuted him, they will also perfecute us. For though the old law was established in the promises of temporal prosperity, yet the gospel is founded in temporal adverfity. It is a covenant of sufferings and sorrows : For now the time is come, that judgement must begin at the house of God. That is the sense and design of my text; and it is intended as an antidote to the common persuasions of carnal and vicious men, who reckon nothing good but what is prosperous. For though that proposition had many degrees of truth in the beginning of the law, yet the case is now altered, and God hath established its contrary; and now every good man must look upon himself as liable to persecution, and every good cause must expect to thrive by the sufferings and patience of holy perfons; and as men do well, and suffer evil, so they are dear to God; and whom he loves most, he afflicts most, and doth this