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66 It is truly
- The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform these things:” a zeal inspired and produced by the Lord of Hosts in his faithful servants, will put them upon the performance of such things. Nothing has yet been proposed that is impracticable: “I mention not things of great difficulty, but such as are possible.” But Eusebius has taught me,“ noble to do great things, and yet to esteem yourself as nothing." Sirs, while pursuing such a course of actions, which have a true glory in them, and which are far more glorious than all the achievements of which those bloody plunderers whom we call conquerors have made a wretched ostentation; and, perhaps, made inscriptions, like those of Pompey on the temple of Minerva,--still humanity must crown the whole. Without this they are all nothing: nothing, without a sense that you are nothing, and a consent to be so considered. You must first, most humbly acknowledge to the great God, “ that after you have done all, you are unprofitable servants;" and make your humble confession that you have not only done that " which was your duty to do," but also, that
have fallen exceedingly short of doing your “ duty.” If God should abase you with very dark dispensations of his providence, after all your indefatigable and disinterested “ essays” to glorify him, humble yourselves before him; yet abate nothing of your exertions. Persevere, saying, my God
will humble me, yet will I glorify him. Lord, thou art righteous. Still will I do all I can to serve thy glorious kingdom. This act of humiliation is indeed comparatively easy. There is one to be demanded of you, of much greater difficulty; that is, that you humbly submit to all the discredit which God may appoint for you among men.
Your adorable Saviour was one who always “ went about doing good.” Mankind was never visited by such a benefactor: and yet we read never was any one so reviled. Had he been the worst malefactor in the world, he could not have been treated in a worse manner. He expostulated, and inquired, “ For which of my good works do you thus treat me?" Yet they persevered: they hated him, they reproached him, they murdered him. Austin very truly said, “ A sight of our Lord's cross is a certain cure for pride.” It will also be a remedy for discouragement: it will keep you from sinking, as well as from being lifted
up: conformed to your Saviour in your watchful endeavours to 5 do good," and to be “ fruitful in every good work.”
But your conformity to him yet lacks one thing; that is, to be “ despised and rejected of men;" and patiently to bear the contempt, the malice, and the abuse of a “ perverse generation.” One of the fathers, who sometimes wanted a little of this grace,
could say, “ Nothing makes us so agreeable in the sight of God and man, as to rise high by our good actions, and yet sink low in humility.”
It is an excellent thing to come to nothing in your own esteem.
hear the hopes of unfriendly men that you will come to nothing; hear it with as
much satisfaction as they can hope for it. In this sense embrace exinanition and annihilation. A person who had been a famous “ doer of good,” was much affected with the picture of a devout man, to whom a voice came down from heaven, “ What wouldst thou have me do for thee?" To which he replied, “ Nothing, Lord, but that I may be permitted to suffer contempt for thy sake.” Sirs, let it be seen somewhere else than in picture: be yourselves the reality: and thus “ let patience have its perfect work.”
I hope you have more discretion than to imagine that because you are never weary of well-doing, you will therefore be universally well spoken of. No; it will be just the contrary.
To do well, and to hear ourselves evil spoken of, is the common experience, and should be our constant expectation. And for this unreasonable thing, many reasons may be given. It will be impossible to do much good, but some persons will account themselves injured by what you do. You will unavoidably serve some interests to which others are indisposed. It is also the nature of mad men to take up strange prejudices against their best friends, and to be averse to none so much as to them.
Now we may every
where those concerning whom we are told, “ Madness is in their hearts." This will appear in their unaccountable prejudices against those who most of all seek to do them good. Then 6 he teareth me in his wrath who hateth me; he gnasheth upon me with his teeth: mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me.” A benefactor will perhaps be honoured as the
Liydians worshipped Hercules, by cursing and throwing stones. The wrath of God against a sinful and miserable world, has likewise its operation in this grievous matter. If men who are always intent on doing good, were so generally beloved and esteemed as they ought to be, they would become instruments of doing more good than the justice of heaven can yet allow to be done for such a world. The world is neither worthy of them, nor of the good which they endeavour to perform. To deprive the world of that good, mankind must be permitted to entertain a strange aversion to those persons who would fain do it. This cramps and fetters them, and defeats their excellent purposes. Nor is the devil idle on this occasion.
The man who shall do much good, will thereby do much harm to his empire. It would be surprising if the devil should not « seek to devour," or take an exquisite revenge upon such men of God. And unless God should lay an uncommon restraint upon
that " wicked one,” such is “ the power of the adversary," and so great an influence has he over the minds of multitudes, that he will powerfully and bitterly revenge himself upon any remarkable“ doer of good:” he will procure him a troop of enemies, and whole vollies of reproaches. But, O thou servant of God, by Him thou shalt “ run through a troop;" by thy God thou shalt “ leap over a wall.” We should be so far from wondering that wicked men are violently disaffected at the man who does much good; that they spread so many false reports, and write so many libels to his disadvantage, as even the incom
parable Calvin suffered from them; that we ought rather to wonder the devil does not make this world hotter than a Babylonish furnace for him: too hot for his continuing in it. Sirs, if you will do much, it is very likely that the devil may sometimes raise upon your opportunities to do good, such a horrible tempest as may threaten their utter ruin. You may fear to have your serviceableness—the “ apple of your eye” struck out: you may be driven to prayers, to tears, and to frequent fasting in secret on this account. Prostrate in the dust, you must offer up your supplications with strong crying and tears, to Him that is able to save your “opportunities of doing good from death:” you must cry out, “ O deliver my soul,” my serviceableness, “from the sword, my darling from the power of the dog !" The words of the great Baxter are to the purpose, and worthy to be introduced on this occasion:
“ The temptations and suggestions of Satan, yea, and often his external and contrived snares, are such as frequently to give men a palpable discovery of his agency.
Whence is it that such wonderful successive trains of impediments are set in the way of almost every man that intends any great and good work in the world ? I have, among men of my own acquaintance, observed such wonderful frustrations of many designed excellent works, by such strange unexpected means, such a variety of them, and so powerfully carried on, as both of itself convinced me that there is a most vehement invisible malice permitted by God to resist mankind, and to militate against all good in the world.
Let a man have any