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Rule vi. Adhering to him and abiding by him in all trials and persecutions for the word.

2 Tim. iv. 16, “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.”

1 Tim. i. 16–18, “The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: but, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.”

Explication vi. A common cause should be carried on by common assistance. That which concerneth all should be supported by all. When persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, generally it begins with the leaders, 1 Pet. iv. 17, 18. The common way to scatter the sheep is by smiting the shepherds, Zech. xiii. 7, 8. It is for the church’s sake he is reviled and persecuted, 2 Tim. ii. 10, Col. i. 24; and, therefore, it is the church’s duty to share with him and help to bear his burden. All the fault in scattering congregations hath not been in ministers; the people stood not by them in their trial. The Lord lay it not to their charge! The captain is betrayed, and forced to mean conditions with his enemy, who going on, with the assurance of being followed by his soldiers, looking back in the entrance of danger, he finds them all run away. In England, usually, no sooner had persecution laid hold of a minister, but the people willingly received another, perhaps a wolf, instead of a shepherd. Should a wife forsake her husband because he is come into trouble for her sake? When a known duty in such a relation is incumbent upon a man, is the crime of a backslider in spiritual things less? Whilst a pastor lives, if he suffer for the truth, the church cannot desert him, nor cease the performance of all required duties, without horrid contempt of the ordinances of Jesus Christ. This is a burden that is commonly laid on the shoulders of ministers, that for no cause whatsoever they must remove from their charge, when those that lay it on will oftentimes freely leave them and their ministry without any cause at all.

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