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Christian patience, or the grace of patience, is an ability to suffer hard and heavy afflictions, according to the will of God. It is a glorious power, that strengthens the suffering soul to bear. It is our passive fortitude : ** Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness," Col. 1:11; that is, strengthened with the might or power of God himself. God hath several kinds of burdens to impose upon his people. Some heavier, others lighter; some to be carried but a few hours, others many days, others all our days: some more spiritual, bearing upon the soul; some more external, touching the flesh immediately and the spirit by way of syrapathy; and sometimes both kinds are laid on together. So they were at this time on Christ. His soul full of the bitter sense and apprehension of the wrath of God: his body filled with tortures : in every member and sense grief took up its lodging. Here was the high. est exercise of patience.
III. Let us inquire into the grounds and reasons of this perfect patience; and you shall find perfect holiness, wisdom, fore-knowledge, faith, heavenly-mindedness, and obedience, at the root of it.
1. This admirable patience and meekness of Christ was the fruit of his perfect holiness. His nature was free from those corruptions that ours groans and labors under. Take the meek Moses, who excelled all others in this grace_let him be tried, and see how "unadvisedly he may speak with his lips.” Psalm 106:33. Take a Job, whose patience is resounded over all the world " ye have heard of the patience of Job," and let him be tried by outward and inward troubles meeting upon him in one day, and even a Job may curse the day wherein he was born. Envy, revenge, discontent, despondence, are weeds naturally springing up in the corrupt soil of our sinful natures. "I saw a little child grow pale with
envy,” said Augustin. " The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy.” Jam. 4:5. The principle of all these evils being in our nature, they will show themselves in time of trial. Our nature is fretful and passionate. But it was otherwise with Christ. "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me,” John, 14:30, no principle of corruption, as an inlet to temptation. Our High Priest was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” Heb. 7: 26.
2. The meekness and patience of Christ proceeded from the infinite wisdom with which he was filled. The wiser any man is, the more patient he is. Hence meekness, the fruit, is denominated from patience, the root that bears it, " the meekness of wisdom." Jam. 3 : 13. And anger is lodged in folly, its proper cause. "Anger resteth in the bosom of fools.” Eccl. 7:9. Seneca would allow no place for passion in a wise man's breast. Wise men ponder, consider, and weigh things deliberately before they suffer their affections and passions to be stirred and enraged. Hence come the constancy and serenity of their spirits. "A man of understanding is of an excellent (or, as the Hebrew is, a cool) spirit.” Prov. 17 : 27. Wisdom filled the soul of Christ. He is wisdom in the abstract. Prov. 8. In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom.” Col. 2: 3. Hence he was no otherwise moved with the revilings and abuses of his enemies, than a wise physician is with the impertinence of his distempered and crazy patient.
3. His patience flowed also from his fore-knowledge. He had a perfect prospect from eternity of all which befel him. It came not upon him by surprisal. He wondered not as if some strange thing had happened. He foresaw all these things: "And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and chief priests, and scribes, and be killed.” Mark, 8:31. Yea, he had agreed with his
Father to endure all this for our sakes, before he as. sumed our flesh. Hence, "I gave my back to the smi. ters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair. I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” Isa. 50 : 6. As he guards his disciples against being offended in him, by forewarning them what they must expect ; " These things I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them,” John, 16:4; so he, foreknowing what himself must suffer, and hav. ing agreed so to do, bore those sufferings with singular patience; " Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?" John, 18 : 4.
4. His patience sprang from the faith he exercised under all he suffered. His faith looked through all those dark and dismal clouds, to the joy set before him. Heb. 12: 2. He knew that though Pilate condemned, God would justify him. Isa. 50 : 4-8. And he set one overagainst the other: he balanced the glory into which he was to enter, with the sufferings through which he was to enter it. He exercised faith in God for divine support under sufferings, as well as for glory, the fruit and reward of them, "I have set” (or, as the apostle varies it, "I foresaw) the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth.” Psa 16:8-11. Here is faith exercised by Christ for strength to carry him through. And then it follows, "My flesh also shall rest in hope; for thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life. In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." Here is his faith acting upon
the glory into which he was to enter after he had suffered these things: this filled him with peace.
5. As his faith, eyeing the glory into which he was
passing, made him endure all things; so the heavenliness of his spirit filled him with tranquillity and calmness under all abuses and injuries. The more heavenly any man's spirit is, the more sedate, composed, and peaceful. As the higher heavens (saith Seneca) are more ordinate and tranquil, where there are neither clouds nor winds, storms nor tempests, and it is the inferior heavens that lighten and thunder, and the nearer the earth the more tempestuous and unquiet : even so the sublime and heavenly-minded is placed in a calm and quiet station." Certainly that heart which is sweetened frequently with heavenly, delightful communion with God, is not very apt to be imbittered with wrath, or soured with revenge against men. The
appeases and ends all strifes and differences. The heavenly Spirit marvellously causes a sedate and quiet breast. Never was there such a heavenly soul on earth as Christ's: he had most sweet and wonderful communion with God: he had meat to eat, which others, yea, his most intimate friends, knew not of. The Son of man was in heaven upon earth, John, 3 : 13; even in respect to the blessed heavenly communion he had with God, as well as in respect to his Deity.
6. As his meekness and patience sprang from the heavenliness of his spirit; so likewise, from his complete and absolute obedience to his Father's will: he could most quietly submit to all the will of God, and never regret any part of the work assigned him. for you must know, that Christ's death was on his part an act of obedience; he all along eyeing his Father's command and counsel in what he suffered. Phil. 2:7, 8; John, 18:11; Psa. 40: 6-8. Now just as considering the hand of God in an affliction, calms and quiets the gracious soul; as David, 2 Sam. 16:11; so much more it quieted Jesus Christ, who was privy to the design and end of his Father, with whose will he all along com
plied; looking on Jews and gentiles but as the instru. ments ignorantly fulfilling God's pleasure, and serving the great design of his Father. Such was his patience, and such the grounds of it.
In making a practical improvement of this subject I might use it in various ways; but the direct and main use is, to press us to a Christ-like patience in all our sufferings and troubles. And seeing in nothing we are more generally defective, and defects of christians here. in are so prejudicial to religion, and uncomfortable to themselves; I resolve to wave all other uses, and con, fine myself to this branch ; even a persuasive to chris. tians unto all patience in tribulations; to imitate their lamb-like Saviour. Unto this, christians, you are expressly called: "Because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps. Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; who when he was reviled, reviled not again ; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” 1 Pet. 2:21, 22. Here is your pattern; a perfect pattern! a lovely and excellent pattern! Will you be persuaded to the imitation of Christ herein? Methinks I should persuade you to it; yea, every thing about you persuades to patience in suffering : look which way you will, upward or downward, inward or outward, backward or forward, to the right hand or to the left, you shall find all things persuading and urging upon you true christian patience.
1. Look upwards, when tribulations come upon you: look to that sovereign Lord, that commissions and sends them upon you. You know troubles do not rise out of the dust; "Behold, I frame evil, and devise a device against you.” Jer. 18:11. Troubles and afflictions are of the Lord's framing and devising, to reduce his wan