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3. Thirdly, these books abound with exhorlations to patience, and with topics of comfort under distress.
56 Who shall.separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us *."
“ We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed ; we are perplexed, but not in despair ; 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 ; -knowing that he which raised
the Lord Jesus shall raise us up also by Jesus, and shall present . us with you.--For which cause we faint not; but, though. our outward man perish, yet the inward man iş renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment,
* Rom. viii. 35, 37.
worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory *
“ Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord ; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy t."
“ Call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions, partly whilst ye were made a gazing-stock both by reproaches and afflictions, and partly whilst ye became companions of them that were so used; for ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. therefore, your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward; for ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the pro
Cast not away,
* 2 Cor. iv. 8, 9, 10, 14, 16, 17. + James, v. 10, 11.
mise * "
“ So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God, for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations, that yé endure. Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom for which ye also suffert.”
“ We rejoice in hope of the glory of God; and not only so, but we glory in tribulations also ; knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope I."
“ Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you ; but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings.---Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator *.”
+ 2 Thess. i. 4, 5.
* Heb. X. 32-36.
Rom. v. 3, 4.
What could all these texts mean, if there was nothing in the circumstances of the times which required patience, which called for the exercise of constancy and resolution ? Or will it be pretended, that these exhortations (which, let it be observed, come not from one author, but from many) were put in, merely to induce a belief in after-ages, that the Christians were exposed to dangers which they were not exposed to, or underwent sufferings which they did not undergo? If these books belong to the age to which they lay claim, and in which age, whether genuine or spurious, they certainly did supposition cannot be maintained for a moment; because I think it impossible to believe, that passages, which must be deemed not only unintelligible, but false,
* 1 Pet. iv. 12, 13, 19.
by the persons into whose hands the books upon their publication were to come, should nevertheless be inserted, for the pupose
of producing an effect upon remote generations. In forgeries which do not appear
till many ages after that to which they pretend to belong, it is possible that some contrivance of that sort may take place; but in no others can it be attempted.