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Another still objects, and says, "Some how or another with great difficulty, greater than I can tell, I continue unto this day; but really I do not think I can endure any longer." The best answer to this objection is to sum up the amount of it, and it is as follows: A gracious and good Lord has supported me for these twenty, thirty, or forty years; but I think I can be supported no longer: during that time I was very weak; but still I continued: now it is all over. I would ask you, Can an almighty God do no more at all?
Before concluding this discourse, we would offer some directions to saints who either are under trials now or have reason to expect them. Be well established in the truth of this and such texts, where God promises to give strength in proportion to every trial. Having God's testimony, let neither sin nor Satan weaken your faith. On God's promises you may stand as on an impregnable rock. When your trials abound, compare them with the glory that shall be revealed, and which in a little you shall fully possess; trials are short, and future happiness is without end. Think much on the great influence which present tribulations have on the future crown. They work a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Rest will always be found sweet after great hardships and severe labour. Be much in prayer, and try to possess your souls in patience. Never forget that when you are toiling and suffering on earth, Christ is interceding in heaven. Your trials in a little will all be over, and then you shall remember all the way the Lord hath led you, with joy and satisfaction.
We shall now address sinners. Whatever may be your situation, while out of Christ you are truly miserable, and objects of pity. Though you should have health and plenty, and all the happiness that this world can afford; there is a canker that lies at the root of all your enjoyments that makes you dissatisfied, restless, and impatient. There neither is nor can be peace to the wicked. You are cursed in your basket and store. The saint, oppressed and loaded with trials, is a happy person, compared with you. If on the other hand you have trials, you have no strength to bear them. The curse will weigh you down, and your own conscience will torment you. If it is difficult to bear your present troubles, how "can your heart endure or hands be strong in the day when the Lord shall deal with you?" You ought to think much about the torments of hell, and be warned to fly from the wrath to come. Be persuaded to come to Christ. He invites you. He requires no previous qualification. He came to save the chief of sinners, and he beseeches such to be reconciled. Coming to him, all the grace and strength which God promises, and the saints possess, will be yours. They are yours in the offer. Faith will put you in actual possession. Improving Christ you will sing at last with the believer, "My flesh and My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever." But if you will not come to Christ, your present sufferings, however great, will be only the beginning of sorrows, "for lo, they that are far from God shall perish."
2 TIMOTHY I. 12.
For the which cause I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
IT is appointed for all men once to die, and after death, the judgment. Death and judgment are awful in themselves, and of the last importance to every Gospel hearer. Death is the king of terrors. It will be dreadful beyond expression to all who shall feel its sting. Thrice happy they who can, on good grounds, triumph in views of it! Christ has conquered all our foes, and death among the rest. However powerful in itself, he has disarmed it to the believer. Nothing but an acquaintance with and interest in Christ can fortify the mind against the fear of death. If persons have their interest in him ascertained, instead of shrinking, they may desire death as the end of their miseries, an inlet to complete happiness, and chiefly as it introduces them into the presence of Christ, to go no more out. A desire to depart and be with Christ was the apostle's
habitual temper of mind. He was now ready to be offered up, and the time of his departure was at hand. Death in its most formidable aspect was before him; but instead of cowardice and fear, he displayed the greatest fortitude. In the text we have an account of what supported him; he knew whom he had believed, and was persuaded that he was able to keep what he had committed to him.
The happiness the Redeemer had already bestowed on him, and the crown of righteousness which he was certain was reserved for him in heaven, not only reconciled his mind to ignominy and death, but made him glory in tribulation. The same causes will produce the same effects. Christians, possessed of like precious faith, animated by the same hope, and certain about their calling and election, will, for the joy set before them, endure the cross, despising the shame. With Paul, they will triumph over death, and enter its dark isle with confidence and praise. If called to suffer in their Master's cause, they will not only be supported, but comforted, and enabled to rejoice under the severest tortures, and in the midst of the flames, knowing whom they have believed.
This is reckoned the last epistle Paul wrote. In it he warns Timothy, and every follower of Christ, of the dangers and hardships to which a public and avowed profession of the Gospel would expose them. It would render them the mark of public scorn and malice, expose them to reproach and contumely, make them the offscouring of all things, and perhaps subject them to stripes, imprisonment, and death. The apostle encourages to steadfastness from his own