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of all the servants of the Lord. All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. If they be on the Lord's side, all his enemies will certainly be their's; so that if they enter into his kingdom, it must be through much tribulation. The king himself went this way to the crown, bearing his cross; and he has assured us there is no other "Whosoever doth not bear his cross, wayand come after me, CANNOT be my disciple; he must deny himself what by nature he loves, and must love what by nature he hates: unless he live in this state of self-denial, which is to be his daily cross, he cannot live in communion with me, as one of my disciples. If he be one of the highest of them, yet he must carry his cross: for he has still a fallen nature, and its senses and appetites are always lusting against the will of God, and it is like plucking out a right eye to deny them their gratifications, and to refuse them their much coveted pleasures. He is in a body of sin and death, and must carry his cross to his grave, being liable to all the sufferings which mortality is heir to, and all the way mortified
under them, because he cannot bear them without faith, nor hold out without patience, and these graces are not of himself, but are the gift of God. He is also forced to carry another cross all his days, even the corruption of his nature, depraved in every faculty, and always inclined to evil. This is the burden and grief of the children of God, under which they all groan: and a sore and heavy burden it is, heavier for being continual, and for its always working against the grace and glory of the Lord Christ: for this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated, and appears in nothing more than in their adulterous love to their own righteousness, of which they are so doatingly fond, that after the holy Spirit has divorced them from it, and their Maker has become their husband, even the Lord their RIGHTE OUSNESS, yet still an unlawful attachment to their own righteousness remains, and is the cause of the greatest crosses, and of the heaviest trials they meet with in their way, to heaven.
Hence the cross becomes necessary for the
whole nature of fallen man, for body and soul. The sensual appetites are continually seeking their gratification in unlawful things, and the spiritual faculties are full of blind pride and self-righteousness, and know no way to the divine favour, but by their own works and goodness. The cross is indispensably needful to mortify the flesh, with its affections and lusts, and to crucify the vanity of the mind, that when it would glory it may have nothing left to glory in, but the Lord. In this light let us consider the infinite love, which appointed the outward cross for the outward man, and the inward cross for the inward man; and let us see how, by each of them, communion with God is preserved, and the believer is helped forward in his blessed journey.
The believer, exercised with the outward cross, carries it with patience, and finds it a great help to him in his walk heavenwards.
WE We call that a cross, which opposes our will. This opposition renders it painful and grievous. A very little matter, the least trifle, becomes a great cross, when our will is set much against it. How then can the believer rejoice with a heavy cross upon his back; or how can he rejoice all his days, if he must carry it to his grave? The blessed gospel discovers how this may be; and the blessed Spirit gives the experience of it for he continues to teach the doctrines of grace, and under the cross he enforces them. What has been treated of in the former chapters he now applies with life and power. The doctrines are put to the trial, and it appears that they are of God: for none could produce the effects which follow upon believing them, but an almighty arm. Faith
is tried in the fire, and the believer is convinced it is the faith of God's elect: for the promise is made good-" When thou walkest through the very fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." His love to his reconciled God is put into the fiery furnace, and it comes out, like the three children, sensible their God had been with them in the furnace, and their God had brought them out; for which marvellous instances of his love to them, their love was increased to him. This is God's way. He gives grace, and then tries it. When he has enabled the sinner, by believing, to find peace and love, then he would improve those graces by daily exercise, and if the exercise of them be very sharp and afflicting, it is only to establish the trust of his heart, and to confirm the affection of his soul more perfectly in his God. His God: Mind that. His God still. The cross is not sent to
weaken that relation. He is the same tender father to his children, when he puts it upon them, as when he takes it off; and he would have them, by faith, to experience it.