We must not go out of our sphere, but serve God in our standings, that if trouble comes it may find us in a way of well-pleasing, either doing works of charity or else the works of our particular calling wherein God hath set us.2. He may have yet more corruptions. This one feature lifts it up above all the literature of the ancient times, as a clear mountain above a jungle; this feature renders it an inspiring Bible for the world, that it exalts the Lord God as having character — true, holy, righteous, merciful, supremely moral character. )A solemn appealThe Christian Magazine.I. This, likewise, makes the way difficult; we are too apt to offend God daily, giving Him just cause to withdraw His Spirit of comfort from us, which makes us go mourning all the day long; wanting those sweet refreshments of spiritual joy and peace we had before. GOD IS FAITHFUL IN RESPONDING TO THE CLAIMS OF HIS CREATURES. Suppose it come to an exigent, that we must either sin and hurt our souls, or else lose all our outward good things? For the more excellent and desirable the happiness is, the more it is worth the while for us to take pains about it; especially when there is a certainty of attaining it(2) The difficulties in our way to salvation are not such but we may reasonably hope to overcome them; i.e., if we set ourselves about it; otherwise a very mean difficulty will appear too great for us.And there are two things to show that we may hope to overcome them. )The support of good men under their sufferings for religionAbp. But, who will be saved? Hannam.I. The peace of heaven forbids that you should go there in your sins. There is none for the ungodly and sinner. Which chiefly happens when a religion appears new, or goes about to reform the old; for then it is sure to meet with all the opposition which the passions and interests and prejudices of partial men can raise against it. Coals of confusion.Some will say, Christianity is a strange condition, that enforceth such things upon men, that are so contrary to nature. Then, by reason of great discouragements and ill-usage which they find in the world from wicked men.5. For the difficulties of religion are not alike in all times, nor to all persons; for they are not like a geometrical measure, which is always exactly the same; but rather like a voyage at sea, which is to be managed by the same compass and to the same port; hut it sometimes proves calm and pleasant, and at other times stormy and tempestuous. He has more foes, in addition to those planted in the way of the Christian.5. The presumptuous will find his daring pride a poor help.4. But his iniquities must all be uprooted.4. The second inference is that the righteous have great cause for earnest striving that the evidences of their conversion may be clear to themselves and to others.3. The being saved from sin must come first in order. So much sin as gets in, so much peace will go out. He useth their malice for His own ends. This must be moral, and not physical. The righteous frequently experience great difficulty in performing some of the harder duties of the Christian life. But even this is not all; some duties which the righteous have to perform are especially difficult, through their direct opposition to their natural tendencies. )Salvation difficult to the ChristianC. The salvation of sinners is therefore impossible.1. And here I shall show —(1) It is more reasonable to expect difficulties in the way of salvation. So the fact that God has method, and must have it in order to be faithful, is reason enough why He does not vary the course of His providence to meet some of our desires, however much the good God might wish to gratify us. When they suffer for the maintenance and defence of any necessary and fundamental article of it, though they be not required to renounce the whole Christian religion.5. And the name of scorn has become a name that glorifies God. The righteous are saved, when the existence of the Church is preserved.2. We proceed to THE SOLEMN INQUIRY, which the apostle infers from such a conduct of the Lord toward His servants; "What shall be the end of those who obey not His gospel? HOW FAR THEY MAY RELY UPON THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD TO BEAR THEM OUT IN THESE SUFFERINGS. His sense of propriety forbids that He should give you a place among His pure and trustful children.III. There is a great measure of self-denial required to be a Christian, especially in matter of revenge, "to pray for them that curse us, to do good to them that persecute us," etc., and so "heap coals of fire upon our enemies' heads" (Proverbs 25:22; Romans 12:20). NOT MERELY A TEMPORARY PUNISHMENT. But take heed of walking in any way of sin, for that will unsettle thy confidence. The ground of this confidence is in these two things, the ability and fidelity in Him in whom we trust. For this God is educating you. For happiness is not a thing of chance or necessity, but a matter of choice and design. The soul is the better part of a man, and if that miscarries, all miscarries. God loves us, as our Creator.2. There will await him many other dangers, of which he can have yet no conception.II. But observe further, that we never suffer but when God will. When, in all our sufferings for the cause of religion, we may, with confidence, commit ourselves to the more especial care of God's providence. Oh, then, how anxious should sinners be to commence the great work of their salvation! To God. He would subdue your selfishness and self-will. He may have yet more corruptions. A third incentive is the impulse of the Holy Spirit, inciting thoughts of Christ. Historical Books Some time since I stood looking with melancholy interest on the magnificent desolations of Kenilworth Castle. Articles Sermons Topics Books Podcasts Filter Resources By Ask Pastor John. But I cannot do well, but I shall suffer ill. Labour, therefore, to carry thyself well in suffering evil, not only in the general, but even in particular, towards those persons that do thee wrong; endeavour to requite their evil with good. But chiefly they are in a militant estate here. Thus may their faith decline and waver through defect in spiritual appetite or neglect of spiritual food. Tillotson. (7)To pass the tribunal of their own awakened and purified conscience, and to receive a verdict of acquittal there.3. (6)To reach to gracious attainments and to continue in them. THAT THIS END IS SHROUDED, EVEN TO THE MOST EARNEST INVESTIGATION, IN OBSCURITY.(Homilist. But it is owing chiefly —(4) To the difficulty of the work they have got to do (Titus 2:11-14). If God will have our liberty, if He will have our life and all, we must hate all for Christ's sake; but we must not be at such a point with our souls, we must keep them close to God, and desire Him to keep them in well-doing. Bad spirits are ever on the wing, coming to us on steps of sunshine, and floating on the dark wave of midnight, seated on the wings of the morning, and dropping with the evening dew. etc.Application:1. (2)Alienated from the love of God (Ephesians 4:18). (3) How reasonable will be their doom! Consider thus God's method in the natural creation. They promote spiritual prosperity and happiness. "The gospel of God." Would I have the sinner despair, lie down and die? Clark. Our text plainly supposes it, though while in the world they are persecuted. Provided, also, that we do trust the providence of God, and do indeed commit ourselves to it; relying upon His wisdom and goodness, and entirely submitting ourselves to His will and disposal, both as to the degree and duration of our sufferings.4. "Let none of you suffer as a murderer," etc. This is the purpose of God concerning them (2 Thessalonians 2:13). 2. Only those who live a life of faith, and make their calling and election sure. Now this familiar, homelike, often unnoticed, but fundamental character is described by this Scripture directly to our God. How much pain to attain anything, any particular grace of humility, or meekness, or self-denial! There is not the least promise of comfort in Scripture to such a man, unless he return, and seek the Lord by timely repentance; for all encouragement is to well-doing.II. If, then, God's persistency in keeping straight on along His well known ways of nature and grace may seem at times to work incidental evil; if God's steadfastness in letting fire burn, and lightnings blast, and devouring floods overwhelm, as well as the sweet sunshine restore and fructify, may at times destroy human homes or lay desolate for a season human hearts — nevertheless, it is His faithfulness which is involved, and that same faithfulness holds in its own persistent method the possibility of future good in place of present evil, and of even larger and eternal good in consequence of temporal hardship. Hannam. Holiness of life and zeal in religion will provoke the ungodly (Matthew 11:18; Luke 7:33; Hebrews 11:25, 26).3. NOW THIS WELL-DOING MUST BE DISTINGUISHED INTO TWO TIMES.1. This Divine and merciful Creator has provided for the keeping of our souls. The righteous are scarcely saved —(1) Because their salvation could not be purchased but at the greatest conceivable expense. He has never left and never forsaken us. (5) The opposition they meet with from the world. If the righteous be "scarcely saved," where will the ungodly and sinner appear? THE CERTAIN AND DREADFUL MISERY THAT AWAITS THE UNGODLY SINNER. H. That the state of God's children is to suffer, yea, to suffer of God; for sometimes He seems to be an enemy to His dearest servants, as unto Job. He may have taken a more wayward course.3. But chiefly they are in a militant estate here. (3)Worldly mindedness.(4)Self-righteousness.3. THE CAUTION OF THIS BOLDNESS. Brown. It must be in the way of righteousness. Carrying our thought of this character a step further, observe, secondly, that in this Biblical phrase is included the truth that God has some regular method in whatever He does. This they approve of. When they suffer for not disclaiming and renouncing any clear and undoubted truth of God whatsoever; yea, though it be not a fundamental point and article of religion.Cases wherein men may seem to suffer for the cause of religion, but cannot truly be said to do so.1. A moment gone, and what are they?(Abp. How sweet will heaven be! If, then, the sinner cannot be saved and go to heaven, WHERE SHALL HE APPEAR? Our religious history furnishes parallels to these narrow escapes on the lower level.(W. As a child of God you have a supreme motive to be Godlike; as a creature of force you are deprived of all such motives.I. And so, what shall it disprofit a man, though he lose the whole world, if he gain his soul? The appetites, desires, and affections with which man has been endowed, have theft' correspondent means of satisfaction in the world around him. (2)To overcome the flesh from day to day. and the professing Church. Where, then, shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? II. (1) At their entrance into the way to heaven they meet with abundance of difficulty. In the threats which it utters.2. For that which is not only hard, but impossible to us, in our own strength, may, by the mighty power of Divine grace, become not only possible but easy to us.III. It is not because God is implacable and hard to be appeased. The manner, in well-doing.5. Nothing that worketh abomination can by any means go in there.4. V. We have implied A CONSOLATION TO THE RIGHTEOUS. He was always to be found where others had reason to expect to find him. Now if these require such a process of afflictive correction and purification, what shall be the doom of those who experience none; those who live without God? See the dignity, wealth, and happiness of God's people; He loves and protects them, and is their portion (Psalm 44:16).2. Poetical Books If the righteous be scarcely saved, then we may from hence learn the miserable condition of the wicked in the other world, who are not saved. Another incentive is special temptation, or trouble, or difficulty, which often besets them, and urges them to look to their Saviour for deliverance or support. Provided, moreover, that we be not confident of ourselves, and of the force and strength of our resolution.6. It is the same kind of loyalty in the Creator. - U.R.T. God made these human hearts capable of love immortal, and even in their mourning capable of proving and deepening their power of love; He is faithful; He cannot deny Himself in the human hearts which He has made. First, I say, in affliction our carriage must be generally good in respect of God, by a meek behaviour under His hand, without murmuring against Him.3. L. Some tempers are more flexible and pliable than others; more capable of hearkening to reason, and more apt to reflect on their own actions; whereas others are naturally stiff and obstinate, who stick fast to an opinion or prejudice which they have once taken up. Leighton. H. Coleman.Let us consider the solemn truth assumed — "If the righteous be scarcely saved." let it be our chief care to see to that which Satan strikes at most!III. where will you appear? And surely God is faithful also in responding to the claims of man. Genuine religion is independent of any certitude of the future.3. They find many saving acts to be hard, as, for instance —. Where, then, shall the wicked appear? We should have an eye to God, and an eye to ourselves, and an eye to others, and an eye to the cause in hand; so we shall do well. When brave Martin Luther was once hard pressed, and inclined to be over anxious concerning the prospects of the Reformation, quiet Philip Melancthon by his side would say to him, Martin, let God be Governor of the world. For although the difficulties be not alike in all, yet, of one kind or other, they are such as cannot be overcome by ourselves without the power of Divine grace exciting, preventing, and assisting of us. THE COMFORT OF THIS INTEGRITY. The other particular which I would bring out from this general truth of the methodicalness which the faithful Creator observes is this: a good method, as we know, is not to be set aside every now and then because it may seem not to meet exactly all cases and contingencies. Alexander. Holiness of life and zeal in religion will provoke the ungodly (Matthew 11:18; Luke 7:33; Hebrews 11:25, 26).3. Nothing at all. His sense of propriety forbids that He should give you a place among His pure and trustful children.III. When they suffer for not disclaiming and renouncing any clear and undoubted truth of God whatsoever; yea, though it be not a fundamental point and article of religion.Cases wherein men may seem to suffer for the cause of religion, but cannot truly be said to do so.1. As we learn what the laws of life are — the laws of development, survival, and fruitfulness — we discover still further truth concerning the methods of the faithful One from eternity; and we; must trust these laws of life, and adjust our free action to them, or we shall perish. Alexander. The soul is to be more valued than the body.3. (2) In their progress on the way to heaven they meet with so many oppositions that they are but scarcely saved. If you are only the offspring of a blind, unintelligent, unknown force; if you are the product of something that men call "a tendency" or law, are you not immediately let down from a conscious dignity, which has been one of the most ennobling factors and influences of your life? Such being the case, the great difficulty is to persuade sinners to choose right. It is one of the general characteristics of revelation throughout the Bible that it attributes to God certain distinct moral qualities; that it brings out by these the character of God, rather than the nature or mode in which God may be conceived to exist or to create. The being saved from sin must come first in order. (2)Inattention and inconsideration. (8) The remains of corruption within. Learn the folly of trusting in human resources amid the trials of life.3. It was not until every passion of his soul was in agony of earnestness that he fastened on to life. Therefore, God will have it a hard matter to be saved, to frustrate the vain hopes of such wretches. Height of office will do no more than increase responsibility.IV. We see, also, why the Christian is to pray always. THE DIFFICULTY OF THE SALVATION OF THE RIGHTEOUS.1. (4) Of His ascension into heaven (Hebrews 6:20). ANOTHER INFERENCE. I beseech you therefore, whenever you are solicited to sin, for profit or pleasure, etc., set before your eyes the perishing condition of these things, and the everlastingness of that judgment which attends upon them.III. When they suffer for not disclaiming and renouncing any clear and undoubted truth of God whatsoever; yea, though it be not a fundamental point and article of religion.Cases wherein men may seem to suffer for the cause of religion, but cannot truly be said to do so.1. That the state and condition of God's children is to suffer.2. Oh, what a work is this which Christ undertakes that He may save His people from their sins! It is not God's commanding will, but His suffering will. God is infinitely ready to forgive them if they will repent; but the great problem is to persuade them to do so. Vitally important to be considered here is the fact that the governmental difficulty in the way of being saved, growing out of your having sinned, even greatly, is all removed by Christ's atonement. Sibbes.I. Will not heaven be worth all the efforts he has yet to make?2. Sent a Saviour for them — engaged to accept and keep them.IV. He may have taken a more wayward course.3. THE FACT. Having gathered skill by six thousand years of chicanery in making devotion profane, and integrity lie, and honesty cheat, and humility proud, and generosity tight-fisted, he knows just where to strike the Christian. THE CRIMINALITY OF YOUR DISOBEDIENCE. Were a man to meet disgraces and sufferings for Christ, how easily would he go through them, yea, and rejoice in them, were he rid of the fretting impatience, the pride, and self-love, of his own carnal heart! 4. Provided, also, that we do trust the providence of God, and do indeed commit ourselves to it; relying upon His wisdom and goodness, and entirely submitting ourselves to His will and disposal, both as to the degree and duration of our sufferings.4. Nothing that worketh abomination can by any means go in there.4. (John Rogers. He may have yet more corruptions. Now the disorders of the family tend to the disgrace of the governor of it.2. The radical cause of the difficulty is with the righteous — original sin. The salvation of sinners is therefore impossible.1. Thus may their faith decline and waver through defect in spiritual appetite or neglect of spiritual food. The ungodly sinner. Pharaoh after the Israelites.4. Give your souls into His hand, lay them up there, so the word is, and they are safe, and may be quiet and composed. Sins against the gospel are sins against those attributes wherein God will glorify Himself most, as His grace, mercy, loving kindness, etc.2. Again, the sinner cannot be saved, because salvation from sin is an indispensable condition of salvation from hell. )If so -- what thenC. Many temptations does Satan lay before young converts, and such a mighty advantage has he against them, their corruptions being strong and grace weak, that they find it a very hard thing to escape. (7) The opposition they meet with from Satan (chap. God has not created sin, but He will triumph over it. I answer, Certainly not in heaven, nor on the heavenly side.(C. We must desire God to preserve our souls, whatsoever becomes of these; our principal care must be that that be not blemished in the least kind; for, alas! H. Coleman.Let us consider the solemn truth assumed — "If the righteous be scarcely saved." Now in order to save men, they must be restored to a state in which God and reason control the free action of the mind, and appetite is held in due subjection. i.e., Christ hath foretold desolation and ruin to come upon the Jewish nation. But the dispensation of our suffering is according to the will of God. Sometimes, to notice the two extremes, when it is violently assailed by doubts within and infidel expressions and actions without, its injury will be sudden and apparent, like that of a plant which in spring is smitten with the blast of the east wind, so that one hour its roots are firm and its leaves green, the next its roots are loose, and its leaves dried up and withered. But his iniquities must all be uprooted.4. What struggling with wanderings and deadness in hearing, and reading, and prayer! (2) Because the purchased redemption could not be applied but by supernatural power. God is responsible. For his will must be sanctified. (3)Conversion of ungodly companions. Yea, in the ways of sin thou dost indeed steal it back, and carriest it out from Him; thou puttest thyself out of the compass of His defence, goest without the trenches, and art, at thine own hazard, exposed to armies of mischiefs and miseries. As man has chosen that he shall not be educated by standing firm, he must be educated by and through his very fall. As man has chosen that he shall not be educated by standing firm, he must be educated by and through his very fall. 2. )Why God will have the righteous with such difficulty savedR. For the more excellent and desirable the happiness is, the more it is worth the while for us to take pains about it; especially when there is a certainty of attaining it(2) The difficulties in our way to salvation are not such but we may reasonably hope to overcome them; i.e., if we set ourselves about it; otherwise a very mean difficulty will appear too great for us.And there are two things to show that we may hope to overcome them. And there is no way but this to be quiet within, to be impregnable and immovable in all assaults, and fixed in all changes, believing in His free love. where will you appear? If they render bodily service, they render no spiritual service to God. And from hence we see WHAT ENCOURAGEMENT THERE IS STILL FOR US TO HOPE TO BE SAVED, IF WE BE RIGHTEOUS. The pilot guiding his barque safely into port sometimes knows how through lack of seaman ship he nearly made shipwreck. The motives and appeals which your unbelief has resisted. There the former trials will contribute to the eternal bliss.(C. There is none for the ungodly and sinner. BUT WHY MUST WE COMMIT OUR SOULS TO GOD? We must all have the same journey's end if we hope to get to heaven, but some may meet with a freer road, and a calmer season, and better company, in their journey than others. It is one of the general characteristics of revelation throughout the Bible that it attributes to God certain distinct moral qualities; that it brings out by these the character of God, rather than the nature or mode in which God may be conceived to exist or to create. WHAT GROUND AND REASON THERE IS FOR GOOD MEN TO EXPECT THE MORE PECULIAR AND ESPECIAL CARE OF GOD'S PROVIDENCE IN CASE OF SUCH SUFFERINGS. 2. God is faithful to us, however unfaithful we have been to Him.V. So the fact that God has method, and must have it in order to be faithful, is reason enough why He does not vary the course of His providence to meet some of our desires, however much the good God might wish to gratify us. It is no easy matter for the righteous, depraved as they are in nature, to perform their various duties in their entirety. That mercy can permit eternal suffering is proved by the fact that it does in the case of Satan and the rebel angels. But He exerciseth a more peculiar providence towards mankind; and more peculiar yet towards those who study to please Him by obeying Him and doing His will (Psalm 11:7; Psalm 33:18). Again, some have had the advantage of a pious and religious education. 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