« PreviousContinue »
Patience implies calmness, and quietness, and is opposed to violence, murmuring, fretfulness, and complaining. The brightest examples recorded in the word of God, have exercised this grace in the trying hour. Job; in this respect, is a pattern to
“ Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord.” Jesus bore, with perfect patience, both the temptations of the devil, and the insults of men. That we may be encouraged, let us behold him in the last hours of his humiliation, when “he was oppressed and afflicted, yet opened not his mouth-who when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.”. The saints who are now in glory, exercised patience in the tribulations and temptations which they endured when on earth; and we are expressly commanded to follow them in this respect. Patience proves a present blessing, as it blunts the keen edge of affliction ; but impatience, by giving
a keener edge to our sufferings, proves a curse. We see this remark verified in many instances; and we have often experienced it ourselves. Worldlyminded men, patiently endure hardships, when they have a prospect of temporal advantage; and shall the pious be impatient, with the pleasing prospect of a crown of life? Besides, this grace shines with pecu. liar brightness in a suffering saint. We see the excellency of religion realized in his conduct. His countenance discovers the calmness of his mind, and his words convey lessons of wisdom. Thou Lord, says he, sufferest me to be in the furnace of afliction ; but I dare not complain." Thy hand is upon me; but I am silent. Thou lettest loose my enemies; but wilt not leave me in their hands. o blessed disposition! 0 happy temper! Let us pray that God may endue us all with this heavenly grace, that we may be able to say after every trial, "I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
2. It is necessary not only to be patient, but cheerful, in all our trials and tempta. tions. We are directed to "count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations." It may, indeed, seem strange to some that a precept so contrary to the feelings of mankind, should be given to the afflicted. Joy, it may be argued, implies either the possession or the prospect of some good, and cheerfulness is quite in character, or a fit thing, when prosperity crowns our days. This we allow, but it proves nothing. We maintain, yea and will maintain, that all the temptations of a holy man, when rightly
endured, prove real blessings in the end; that even while he endures the pain which necessarily attends them, he has a large portion of blessedness in his possession; and that his future prospects of blessedness far exceed those of the highest worldly prosperity: God, whose grace is sufficient, favours him with his special presence, and all works for his good. He can, therefore,
Rejoice evermore; pray without ceasing; in every thing give thanks : for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning him." Cheerfulness in trials gives strength to the soul, and enables a good man to endure with manliness. Wicked men often sink under the pressures of life. They have not that support which is necessary to bear them up. All is darkness and gloominess to them: “but light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.” By faith they see through the dark clouds which hang over them, and by love they mount up to their native heaven. Paul and Silas, under the joyful influences of religion, sung praises to God in prison, though sore with stripes, loaded with chains, and surrounded with the darkness of midnight. The holy apostles were “troubled on every șidë, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not: in despair ;' persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed."
3. Cheerfulness will produce firmness in trials and temptations. If any thing in the world should inspire men with firmness, it is religion; for nothing else is of equal importance. A man. may lose all he has in this world, and be happy without it; but if he lose religion, all is lost. Recollect in temptation, that all is at stake. On the one hand, you have the joys of religion here, and its rewards hereafter; and on the other, the miseries of sin here, and its punishment hereafter. Therefore call forth, all your powers; employ them to the best advantage, and be as firm as a rock. Consider the firmness of suffering saints in .former ages.
They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword : they wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy: they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” But they were not moved from their steadfastness. We observed above, that wicked men often sink under the
pressures of life; but this is not always the case. They frequently bid defiance to danger, and disregard pain, in their favourite pursuits, See the hardy soldier in a dangerous campaign ; view him in the field of battle, surrounded with the dead, and awfully expos
ed every moment to the shafts of death! See how firmly he proceeds; no fear or trembling; no wish to retire from danger; only one sentiment inspires his breast, namely, conquest or death." See him, I
say, and stand fast in the Lord thy God. Resolutely go on thy way in the strength of grace. Thus thou wilt become terrible to thy enemies : they will fall at thy feet, or flee from thy presence.
4. But all this will not do without perseverance. Many have fought bravely for a
but have shamefully yielded at last. In this case, former victories turn up to no good account. “ Ye shall be hated (says Christ) of all men for my name's sake; but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." The end, in this passage, refers to death, which ends our probationary state. A good man may imagine that the trial under which he now labours will be his last, and that he shall enjoy uninterrupted rest in the present world; but he will find himself mistaken: for trial will succeed trial, as wave succeeds wave on the stormy ocean; nor will he enjoy a constant calm till he reaches the desired haven, and lands on Canaan's happy shore. There he will be out of the reach of trials, and his Lord will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a