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better do, I have endeavoured to show wherein we ought especially to follow Christ, in being obedient to our parents, subject to our governors, lowly to the lowest, loving and charitable unto all; as also in growing in wisdom and the knowledge of God, in contemning the world, in devoting ourselves wholly to the service of God, in resigning our wills to his, in loving of him, in trusting on him above all things else, in daily praying unto God, and frequenting his public ordinances; to which I may also add, in denying ourselves, and taking up our crosses, which he himself hath done before us, as well as required of us.

What now remains, but that seeing the steps wherein our Saviour walked, we should all resolve to walk together in them. And I hope that I need not use arguments to persuade any to it; it is enough, one would think, that Christ himself, whose name we bear, expects and commands it from us. And in that the sum of all religion consisteth in obeying and following Christ, the circumstances of whose life are recorded on purpose that we may imitate him unto the utmost of our power, not only in the matter but manner of our actions, even in the circumstances as well as in the substance of them.

But this I dare say we all both know and believe, even that it is our duty to follow Christ; and therefore it is a sad, a dismal thing to consider, that among them that know it there are so few that do it; but even those that go under the name of Christians themselves, do more generally follow the beasts of the field, or the very fiends of hell, rather than Christ our Saviour. For all covetous worldlings that look no higher than earth, and all luxurious epicures that labour after no other but sensual

142 UPON THE IMITATION OF CHRIST.

pleasures, whom do they imitate but the beasts that perish? And as for the proud and arrogant, the deceitful and malicious seducers of their brethren, and oppressors of their neighbours, all backbiters and false accusers, all deriders of religion, and apostates from it, they are of their father the devil, and his works they will do. And if all such persons should be taken from amongst us, how few would be left behind that follow Christ? Very few indeed! but I hope there would be some. And oh, that all who read this would be in the number of them! even that they would all from this day forward resolve to come as near our blessed Saviour in all their actions, both to God and man, as possibly they can which if we once did, what holy, what happy lives should we then lead! How should we antedate both the work and joys of heaven! And how certain should we be to be there ere long, where Christ, that is the pattern of our lives here, will be the portion of our souls for ever!

Thus I have shown what Christ requires of those who would be his disciples, enjoining them to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow him. And now I have done my duty in explaining these words, it is all my readers' as well as mine to practise them, which I heartily wish we would all resolve to do; and I must say it highly concerns us all to do so, for we can never be saved but by Christ, nor by him, unless we be his disciples; neither can we be his disciples, unless we do what is here required of us. And therefore, if we care not whether we be saved or no, we may think no more of these things, nor trouble our heads about them; but if we really desire to come to heaven, let us remember, he who

THOUGHTS UPON OUR CALL AND ELECTION.

alone can bring us thither, hath told us, that' we must deny ourselves, and take up our cross, and follow him.'

THOUGHTS UPON OUR CALL AND
ELECTION.

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'MANY are called,' saith our Saviour, but few chosen.' O dreadful sentence, who is able to hear it without trembling and astonishment! If he had said, that of all men that are born in the world there are but few saved, this would not have struck such a fear and horror into us; for we might still hope that though Turks, Jews, and heathens, which are far the greatest part of the world, should all perish, yet we few in comparison of them, who are baptized into his name, who profess his gospel, who enjoy his ordinances, who are admitted to his sacraments, that all who are called to him, might be chosen and saved by him; but that of those very persons who are called, there are but few chosen: what a sharp and terrible sentence is this! Who can bear it? Especially considering by whom it was pronounced, even by Christ himself. If a mere man had spoken it, we might hope it was but a human error; if an angel had uttered it, we might think it possible he might be mistaken; but that Christ himself the eternal Son of God, who is truth, and infallibility itself, that he should assert

Matt: xxii. 14

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it; that he who laid down his life to redeem ours, that he who came into the world on purpose to call and save us, that he in whom alone it is possible for us to be chosen to salvation, that he should say, 'Many are called but few chosen :' this is a hard saying indeed, which may justly make our ears to tingle, and our hearts to tremble at the hearing of it. And yet we see our Saviour here expressly saith it, and not only here neither, but again, Matt. xx. 16. Whence we may gather, that it is a thing he would have us often think of, and a matter of more than ordinary importance, in that he did not think it enough to tell us of it at once, but he repeated it in the same words again, that we might be sure to remember it, and take especial notice of it, that many are called but few chosen.'

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In which words, that we may understand our Saviour's meaning aright, we must first consider the occasion of them in this place, which in brief was this. Our Saviour, according to the custom that obtained in those days amongst the wise men of the east, delighting to use parables, thereby to represent his heavenly doctrine more clearly to the understanding of his hearers, in this chapter compares the kingdom of God to a certain king that made a marriage for his son, and sent his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding.'' Where by the king he means the eternal God, the universal monarch of the world, who intending to make a marriage betwixt his Son and the church, styled the spouse of Christ, he sent to his guest before bidden, even the Jews, the seed of Abraham his friend, and at that time his peculiar people. But

1 Matt. xxii. 2, 3.

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they not hearkening to the first invitation, he sends to them again.' Yet they still made light of it, having, it seems, as we most have, other business to mind, and therefore went their way, some to their farms, others to their merchandize. By which our Saviour intimates, that one great reason why men accept not of the overtures of grace made unto them in the gospel, is, because their minds are taken up with the cares of this world, looking upon their farms, their trades and merchandize, as things of greater moment than heaven and eternal glory. Yea, some of them took the servants which were sent to invite them, and treated them spitefully, and slew them." Why, what is the matter? What injury have the servants, the prophets, the apostles, or ministers of Christ done them? What, do they come to oppress them, to take their estates from them? To disgrace or bring them into bondage? No, they only come to invite them to a marriage-feast, to tender them the highest comforts and refreshments imaginable both for their souls and bodies. And this is all the recompence they give them for their kindness, not only to refuse it, but to abuse them that bring it? Well might this glorious king be angry and incensed. at such an affront offered him as this was, and therefore, he sent forth his armies and destroyed those murderers, and burnt up their city,' as we all know he did to the murdering Jews, who soon after this were destroyed, and their royal city Jerusalem burnt. But now the feast is prepared, shall there be none to eat it? Yes, for seeing they who

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1 Matt. xxii. 4.
3 Ib. verse 6.

VOL. II.

2 Ib. verse 5.

4 Ib. verse 7.

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