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that cannot consist in the loss of temporal things. He tells us he had suffered the loss of all things, Phil. iii. 8, all his former enjoyments, which he had before his conversion. And he endured many kinds of positive afflictions. 1 Cor. iv. 11, 12. "Even unto this present hour, we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place. And labour, working with our hands; being reviled, we bless, being persecuted, we suffer it." 2 Cor. vi. 4-11. "But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left; by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things." None of the apostles went through so great, and such various afflictions as he : 2 Cor. xi. 23-28. "Are they ministers of Christ? I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one Thrice was I beaten with rods; once was I stoned, thrice I suf fered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." His sufferings were so extreme, that he did not go through a series of sufferings merely, but might be said, as it were, to go through a series of deaths. He did in effect endure the pains of death over and over again almost continually, and therefore he expresses himself as he does. 2 Cor. iv. 9-11. "Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live arc alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal body." Rom. viii. 36. "As it is written for thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." 1 Cor. xv. 31. "I protest by your rejoicing, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily." He was so pursued and pressed by troubles, sometimes outward
and inward troubles together, that he had no rest. 2 Cor. vii. 5. "For when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side: without were fightings, within were fears." Sometimes his sufferings were so extreme that his nature seemed just ready to faint under them: 2 Cor. i. 8. "For we would not brethren have you ignorant of our trouble, which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life." And at last the apostle was deprived of his life. He suffered a violent death at Rome under the hand of that cruel tyrant, Nero, soon after he wrote the second epistle to Timothy. These things he endured for Christ's sake; for the advancement of his kingdom; as he says, he was always delivered to death for Jesus' sake. And those he endured also from love to men, and from an earnest desire of their good: 2 Tim. ii. 10. "Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." He knew what afflictions awaited him beforehand; but he would not avoid his duty, because of such afflictions. He was so resolute in seeking Christ's glory, and the good of men, that he would pursue these objects, notwithstanding what might befal him: Acts xx. 22-24. "And now behold I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befal me there; save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." Yet he went through them cheerfully and willingly, and delighted to do God's will, and to promote others' good, though it was at this great cost: Col. i. 24. "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the Church." And he was never weary. He did not, after he had suffered a long time, excuse himself, and say he thought he had done his part. Now here appears Christianity in its proper colours. To be of such a spirit as this, is to be of such a spirit as Christ so often requires of us, if we would be his disciples. This is to sell all and give to the poor. This is to take up the cross daily and follow Christ. To have such a spirit as this, is to have good evidence of being a Christian indeed, a thorough Christian, one that has given himself to Christ without reserve; one that hates father and mother, and wife and children and sisters, yea and his own life also; one that loses his life for Christ's sake, and so shall find it. And though it is not required of all that they should endure so great
sufferings as Paul did; yet it is required and absolutely necessary, that many Christians should be in a measure of this spirit, should be of a spirit to lose all things, and suffer all things for Christ, rather than not obey his commands and seck his glory. How well may our having such an example as this set before our eyes, make us ashamed, who are so backward now and then to lose little things, to put ourselves a little out of our way, to deny ourselves some convenience, to deny our sinful appetites, or to incur the displeasure of a neighbour. Alas! what thought have we of Christianity, to make much of such things as these; to make so many objections, to keep back, and contrive ways to excuse ourselves, when a little difficulty arises! What kind of thoughts had we of being Christians, when we first undertook to be such, or first pretended a willingness to be Christians? Did we never sit down and count the cost, or did we cast it up at this rate, that we thought the whole sum would not amount to such little sufferings as lie in our way?
II. I now proceed to show under what special obligations we are to follow the good example of this apostle.
Beside the obligation that rests upon us to follow the good example of all, and beside the eminence of his example, there are some special reasons why we are under greater obligations to be influenced by the good example of this great 'apostle, than by the very same example in others. This appears if we consider,
1. In general, that those whom God has especially appointed to be teachers in the Christian church, he has also set to be examples in his church. It is part of the charge that belongs to teachers to be examples to others. It is one thing that belongs to their work and office. So this is part of the charge, that the apostle gives to Timothy, "Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." The same charge was given to Titus, "In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works." And this is part of the charge the apostle Peter gives to the elders and teachers of the Christian church, "The elders which are among you, I exhort; feed the flock of God. Neither being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock." Thus Christ, the chief Shepherd of the sheep, whom God ordained to be the greatest teacher, he also ordained to be the greatest example to his church. And so those shepherds and teachers that are under him, according as they are appointed to be teachers, are also to be examples. They are to be guides of the flock in two ways, viz. by teaching and by example, as shepherds lead their flocks in two ways; partly by their voice by calling them, and partly by going before them, and by leading the way. And indeed guiding by word and guiding by
example, are but two different ways of teaching; and therefore both alike belong to the office of teachers in the Christian church. But if this be so, if God has especially set those to be examples in the Christian church whom he has made its teachers, then it will follow, that wherever they have left us good examples, those examples are especially to be regarded. For God has doubtless made the duty of teachers towards the church, and the duty of the church towards her teachers, to answer one another. And therefore the charge is mutual. The charge is not only to teachers to set good examples, but the charge is to the church to regard and follow their good examples: Hebrews xiii. 7. "Remember them which have the rule over you, which have spoken unto you the word of God, whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation." It is with respect to the good examples of the teachers of the Christian church, as it is with their words, their instructions and exhortations. We ought to hear good instructions and good counsels of any one, let him be whom he may. But yet we are under special obligations to hearken to the good instructions and examples of those whom God has made our teachers; for that is the very office to which God has appointed them to teach and to counsel us.
2. There are two things that are to be observed in particular of the apostle Paul, which, from the foregoing general observation, will show that we are under very special obligations to regard and follow his good example.
First, God hath appointed the apostle Paul not only to be a great teacher of the Christian church in that age in which he lived, but the principal teacher of his church of any mere man in all succeeding ages. He was set of God not only to teach the church then, when he lived, but God has made him our teacher by his inspired writings. The Christian church is taught by the apostle still, and has been in every age since he lived. It is not with the penmen of the scriptures, as it is with other teachers of the Christian church. Other teachers are made the teachers of a particular flock in the age in which they live. But the penmen of the scriptures hath God made to be teachers of the church universal in all ages. And therefore, as particular congregations ought to follow the good examples of their pastors, so the church universal in all ages ought to observe and follow the good examples of the prophets and apostles, that are the penten of the scriptures, in all ages, So the apostle James commands us to take the ancient prophets for our example, because they have been appointed of God to be our teachers, and have spoken to us in the name of the Lord. James v. 10. "Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction and patience.' The prophets and apostles, in that God has made
them penmen of the scriptures, are next to Christ, the foundation of the church of God: Eph. ii. 20. "Built on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone." And Paul, above all the penmen of the scriptures, is distinguished of God as being made by him the principal teacher of the Christian church of any mere man. Moses taught gospel truths under types and shadows, whereby he did, as it were, put a vail over his face. But Paul used great plainness of speech. 2 Cor. iii. 12, 13. Moses was a minister of the old testament and of the letter, that kills. But the apostle Paul is the principal minister of the new testament, of the spirit, and not of the letter. 2 Cor. iii. 6, 7. Christ has empowered this apostle to be the penman of more of the new testament than any other man, and it is by him chiefly that we have the great doctrines of it explained. And God has actually made this apostle the principal founder of the Christian church under Christ. He doubtless did more towards it than all the other apostles; and therefore is to be looked upon as the principal shepherd under Christ of the whole flock of Christ, which is a great obligation on the flock to regard and follow his good example.
Secondly. We, who are Gentiles, are especially under obligations to regard his teaching and example, because it has been mainly by means of this apostle that we have been brought into the Christian church. He was the great apostle of the Gentiles: the main instrument of that great work of God, the calling of the Gentiles. It was chiefly by his means that all the countries of Europe came by the gospel. And so it was through his hands that our nation came by the gospel. They either had the gospel from him immediately, or from those who had it from him. Had it not been for the labours of this apostle, our nation might have remained to this day in gross heathenism. This consideration should especially engage us to regard him as our guide, and should endear his good example to us. The apostle often exhorts those churches, as the church of Corinth, Phillipi, and others which he had converted from heathenism, and to which he had been a spiritual father, to be followers of him wherein he followed Christ. And we are some of them. We have been the more remarkably converted from heathenism by this apostle, and we ought to acknowledge him as our spiritual father. And we are obliged to follow his good example as children should follow the good example of their parents.
I now proceed to a general
Of the whole that has been said on this subject, which may be by way of exhortation to all earnestly to endeavour to follow the