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is almost wholly taken up in recounting it; and himself has given us an epitome of his sufferings, 2 Cor. xi. 23, &c.; and at last he suffered martyrdom under Nero, by the sword. Now, how necessary extraordinary assistance and support from above was to carry them through such severe trials as these, is evident at first sight; they being more than enough to sink the greatest natural courage that was not kept up by divine comforts and refreshments. And should these champions of the Christian cause have failed, what the fate of their followers would have been is easy to imagine. Wherefore God upheld them with his almighty arm, and with his right hand he strengthened them.

And as these extraordinary effusions of the blessed Spirit were in those early times necessary for the apostles ; so was it likewise necessary that divers other believers should then partake of them also.

For the number of the apostles being so small that they could not possibly in their own persons preach the gospel in every place, nor be long resident where they had preached it, new conversions still requiring their presence to confirm and settle matters of government and the like; and it being thereupon necessary that many others should be employed in the ministry, to dress and water what they had planted, and take due care of its growth and improvement, and likewise to plant where the apostles themselves could not come ; and since those other persons so employed were to publish the gospel in foreign barbarous nations, and to meet with the like difficulties and opposition as the apostles did ; it was necessary that they also should be endowed with the like powers and abilities, and have the

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same supports, to enable them to discharge their ministry with the like resolution and success.

It was by these means that the gospel, from such small and unpromising beginnings, in so short a time made such a wonderful progress as it did, and that against the utmost endeavours of wicked men and devils to hinder it, and make it come to nothing.

Thus did this little inconsiderable seed, as it appeared at first, soon shoot up and grow into a stately tree, and, like the tree of life in the midst of the garden of God, spread its salutary branches far and wide; and has now taken so deep and firm a root, that all the powers of hell, with all their storms and underminings, shall never be able to prevail against it.

Immediately after the apostles had received those extraordinary inspirations and gifts of the Holy Ghost, St. Peter's first sermon converted three thousand souls; and the kingdom of God daily increased to a miracle, and the number of disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company even of the priests were obedient to the faithy,

And what vast numbers of Christians were there in a short time at Corinth, at Antioch, in Macedonia and Ephesus, and even in Rome itself, the chief seat of the prince of darkness, where the disciples were so remarkably zealous, that their faith was spoken of throughout the world?. Every place was in a few years filled with Christians; no cruelty or barbarity towards them could stop the progress of the gospel; the blood of the martyrs made the church still more fruitful; and at the end of three centuries, no long space for so great a change, the whole Roman empire, which was the greatest part of the then known y Acts vi. 7.

z Rom. i. 8.

world, became believers in a crucified Saviour. And now is verified the saying of the malicious Pharisees, Behold, the world is gone after hima. According to the prophecy of David long before, His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. All kings shall fall down before him ; all nations shall do him service : his name shall be continued as long as the sun ; and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed. And blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who only doth wonderful things; blessed be his glorious name for ever : and let the whole earth be filled with the majesty of his gloryb.

And since our holy religion is thus evidently from above, and by the almighty power and peculiar blessing and providence of God, the sound of the gospel hath reached even to us; and we of this remote part of the world, from the place where it was at first planted, are so happy as to be members of the church of Christ; let it be our care to live as such, and walk worthy of our holy profession: that this divine leaven may influence our whole soul, and the seeds of Christian virtue grow mightily, and thrive and flourish in our hearts, and bring forth fruit in all our conversation.

Religion is an active principle, and must needs be so, the chief ingredient of it being a sincere love of God above all things; and love is always a busy, working passion, and employs all the powers and faculties of the whole man in doing what may render him most acceptable to the dear object of his love.

Let it be seen then, that we have souls full of this love of God and our compassionate Saviour, by dea John xii. 19.

b Psalm lxxii.

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voting ourselves entirely to their service; and that, and that alone, will demonstrate the truth of our religion. For it is as impossible that any man should be truly religious, and not heartily make it his business to recommend himself to the divine object of his worship by a diligent performance of what he hath required of him, and told him will be grateful to him; as it is for a man to behave himself with indifference and a neglectful disregard towards one he passionately loves. A man may behave himself civilly, and with due outward respect, and give a compliment now and then to those he has but little real value or esteem for, and there is an end; but he feels himself quite otherwise affected towards those that have won his heart, for whom he thinks he can never do enough, and is always contriving how he may please them best, and in whose company and conversation is his chief delight.

And therefore it is plain that man's religion is no more than compliment, who, when he has paid his outward respects to God and his Redeemer, and addressed himself to them in the usual forms, in a cold, customary manner, as he sees others do, thinks he has done his duty, and concerns himself no further: there is no hearty affection in this, none of those warmths which glow in the breasts of those that have truly devoted themselves to him; and where there are those warmths within, those affectionate emotions of soul towards him, as our chief good, every power and faculty will be set on work in an easy, unforced, natural way, to express that exceeding love we have for him, so as may be most likely to gain his gracious acceptance, and be most satisfactory to ourselves.

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For true affection will shew itself by something more than a fair word and a cringe; and is restless and dissatisfied till it has done the best that it can, and is still full of thought and contrivance how to do it better. And therefore the main ingredient of true religion being, as our Lord himself hath assured us, the loving God with all our hearts and souls, our mind and strength, it will have this influence upon us; and if we find but little of the influence, we may be sure we have as little of the religion. For to conclude in a word or two, whereever that is planted in an honest and good heart, it will grow apace and flourish like a grain of mustard seed, and be as fruitful in the works of piety as that plant was in Judæa, (of the mighty growth and increase of which, the Jews, in their Talmud, give us some strange instances :) and it will be as active too as leaven, and give a new and holy ferment to the soul, and make our thoughts and our discourse savour of heaven, as becomes those whose inheritance is in that glorious kingdom; and it will excite our heartiest desires to attain it, and engage our best endeavours to prepare and fit ourselves for it by a truly Christian life. Amen! Blessed Jesus, so may thy kingdom come!

THE PRAYER.

I.

Most holy Jesus! thou eternal Son of the blessed God! who in the days of thy humiliation for sinners didst appear as a root out of a dry ground, without form and comeliness, and wert despised and rejected of men, who esteemed thee not; but yet didst manifest thy divinity by many wonderful

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