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The Plague having broke out in feveral Countries of the Roman Empire, and raging particularly in Egypt, and other Parts of Africa, St. Cyprian endeavours to fortify the Chriftians against this Calamity.
My beloved Brethren,
HO' the greateft part of you ftand litate. firm in your Faith, unqueftion'd in your Fortitude, and fervent in your Devotion; fuftain the Shock with religious Bravery, and are more improv'd, than conquer'd by Temptations; yet being fenfible that fome of the Laity, either thro' Poornefs of Spirit, Slender Belief, Love of the World, or mistaken Opinions, fink under the Approach of Danger, and don't exert to the beft advantage; I thought it proper not to be filent on the Occafion, but ufe my endeavour to awaken their Courage, and discharge the Nicenefs of their Temper. That he who has dedicated himself to the Service of Christ, may be true to the Engagement, and live fuitably to fo honourable a Profeffion. For, my dearly Beloved, he that has renounc'd the Sins and Vanities of the World, taken the FIELD, as it were, for God Almighty,
and reaches chiefly after Heaven and Immortality, fhould confider that we ought not to de-fpond at a Dark Profpect, tremble when the Storm comes, nor be backward to obey a Summons into the other World. For our Blessed Lord has arm'd His Church against the Incurfion of these formidable Evils, and foretold War, and Famine, Earthquakes, and Pestilence, in divers Places. And that we might not be furpriz'd with unlook'd-for Adverfity; that our Conftancy might not be fhaken with unexpected Terrors; He has let us know that thefe melancholy things will have quicker returns when the World draws near to an End. Don't you fee these Predictions Several of are accomplish'd? And when what was sive Fa foretold is come to pafs,the things which thers are promis'd muft fucceed. Our Lord thought the Himfelf has exprefly declar'd, When you fee all these things come to pals, know ye that quickly at the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Beloved, the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand. The Privilege of Immortality; the Regaining of Paradife; the Happiness of Heaven; are approaching: Now this World will give way to the other, Little Satisfactions make room for Great ones, and Time refign to Eternity. And who can be anxious at the Expecta
tion of fuch a Change? Who can be de-
We must expect the Winds will rattle, and the Waves run high, till we have made the Port of the Other World. 'Tis there only we can be perfectly fecure, and fhelter'd from Tempest. What do we meet with here but Ruffle and Difturbance? Are we not conftantly forced to enter the Lifts, and combat the Devil? Does he not make War without Ceflation? And is always upon Stratagem or Action? We have Avarice and Licentiousness, Anger and Ambition, to conteft with: The Temptations of the World, the Mutinies of Flesh and Blood, give continual Alarm and Dif quiet. And when one Vice lofes ground, 'tis reinforc'd by another: The Enemy is not without his Referves, fresh Succours are pour'd in, and the Fight renew'd. For Inftance, Would not the Heathens fright you to Blafphemy, and make you fwear by the Genius of the Emperor?
And fince we are thus furrounded with Danger and Perfecution, can we wish to tay longer in fuch a Poft, and be fond of Blows and Battering? Is it not much better to be impregnable in our Situation, to retire to the New Jerufalem, and lye under the Protection of Heaven? Who would not defire the
Paff port of Death, to be convey'd to fo happy a Security? Our Saviour plainly told His Difciples what Ufage they were to meet with here. Verily, verily, Ifay John xvi. unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the World fball rejoice and ye shall be forrow ful; but your Sorrow fhall be turned into Foy, And now who wou'd not be glad to ftand clear of Sorrow? Who wou'd not make hafte to Innocence and Pleasure? And when this happy State fhall commence, our Saviour has inform'd us, I will fee you again, and your Heart (ball rejoice, and your Joy no Man takes from you. Now Since in the Prefence of Christ is the Fulness of Joy; and it can't be expected till we are admitted thither; what Shortness of Thought, what Diftra&tion is it, to weep over Adverfity by Choice, and be in love with Pain and Punishment; and not rather make all the speed we may to thofe Joys which cannot be taken from us? Whence can all this proceed, but from Lack of Faith, and Weakness of Principle? God has exprefly declar'd, that Death fhall open a Paffage to a bleffed Eternity; and yet we have Doubts and Diffidence about us. What is this but to be a Stranger to the Divine Attributes, to diftruft the Promises of our Saviour; to fail in the