« PreviousContinue »
tation, is full of precepts enjoining us to contemn the world, and not to set our hearts upon things that pass away, and that cannot satisfy the soul, when it is possessed of them. If our desires after these perishable goods are immoderate, our impatience at the loss of them will be always in proportion. And then how shall he ever fulfil the royal law of charity, or willingly give away his money, who cannot part with it patiently, when God, in the course of his providence, is pleased to resume his own again ? The worldly man is always impatient, because he prefers his body to his soul: the Christian prefers his soul to his body, and therefore knows how to give largely, and to lose patiently." Nay, he can be meek and resigned under all the injuries, which malice can offer to his person ; and to him who smites him on the one cheek, can present the other, rejoicing that he is counted worthy to suffer something for his Saviour, 'who suffered so much for him; and referring the decision of his cause to the righteous judgement of God at the last day. For what are we, that we should avenge ourselves, and not rather, by giving place unto wrath, at once disappoint the malice of the enémy,
and secure to ourselves the patronage of Heaven? IV. We find all the saints of God, who have been eminent for their faith in Christ, to have been as eminent for their patience, without which their faith must have failed in the day of trial. Abel, the first son of Adam celebrated for his faith, through patience continued faithful unto death, and so received the crown of life. Patience preserved Noah's faith all the time the ark was building, and while it floated upon the waters, which destroyed every thing else. Through patience, Abraham endured the severest trial that faith was ever put to, and offered up his only son; who, through the same patience, neither lifted up his hand, nor opened his mouth against his father. Through patience, Jacob, persecuted by his brother, quietly departed out of his own country, and afterwards pacified him with gifts and presents. Through patience, Joseph endured and forgave the ill usage of his brethren, and fed them in the time of dearth. Through patience, Moses, so often abused and insulted, and only not stoned by stiff-necked people, still entreated the Lord for them. Through patience, David would not slay his implacable enemy Saul, when he had him in his power, and afterwards revenged bis death by executing the person who slew him. Through patience, Job endured the loss
of all things, and the utmost malice of the tempter, and came forth as choice gold from the furnace of adversity, an example for all ages and generations to follow. Through patience, St. Paul lived a life of incessant toil and trouble, and rested not till he had accomplished the ministry which he had received of the Lord Jesus, and preached the Gospel to the heathen world. Through patience, in a word, the glorious company of the Apostles, the goodly fellowship of the prophets, and the noble army of martyrs and confessors, fought the good fight, finished their course, and kept the faith, neither allured nor terrified from their duty, but triumphing upon the rack, and in the flames, over the world, the flesh, and the devil, and going to the kingdom,' through the patience of Jesus Christ.'
V. The present state of man renders the practice of this virtue absolutely necessary for him, if he would enjoy any happiness here or hereafter. Could we indeed live in the world without suffering, then were there no need of patience. But thus runs the universal sentence: ‘Cursed is the ground for thy sake. In sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life : thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return to the ground out of which thou wast taken.' Tribulation, thus necessarily entailed upon us, admits of no remedy but patience; ; the reasonableness of which is strongly enforced by the consideration, that our sufferings are the punishment of our sins. We indeed .receive the due reward of our deeds ;' one man only suffered, who had done nothing amiss.' Iu Christians it is more especially requisite, who, besides the ordinary calamities of life, have the devil with all his wiles to resist, the flesh with all its desires to mortify, the world with all its temptations and terrors to overcome.
The devil cannot be resisted, the flesh cannot be mortified, the world cannot be overcome, without patience : by which aloue repentance is perfected, faith is supported, hope is preserved alive, charity is nourished, and all those holy tempers are formed in us, which Christ, in his sermon on the mount, hath pronounced blessed. We therefore surely have, of all men, the most need of patience, that after we have thereby done and suffered the will of God, we may receive the promises : for the promises are these— He that endureth to the end, shall be saved. Be thou faithful unto death ; and I will give thee a crown of life.' But how shall
we endure to the end ? how shall we be faithful unto death, if we have not patience? Patience is the only armour that is proof against all assaults; and he who has well buckled it on, needeth not to fear any temptation. Money cannot tempt him, who can endure poverty: honour cannot corrupt him, who can endure disgrace: pleasure cannot seduce him, who can endure pain: in short, nothing can prevail over him, who can endure all things, waiting the Lord's time for his deliverance and reward. Over him the Evil One hath no power, and all the comfort to be had in this world is bis. It is vain to say, 'Blessed is the man that hath no trouble ;' for there is no such man, nor ever was, nor ever will be ; but we must say, "Blessed is the man who best beareth that portion of trouble, which falleth to his share.'
VI. The manifold inconveniences of impatience will set this truth off to great advantage. As patience is the attribute of God, impatience had its beginning from Satan. Through envy of the devil,' saith the Wise man, 'came death into the world.' And whence proceeds envy, but from impatience of beholding the happiness of another ? Impatience and malice therefore had one father; and they have grown together in his children ever since. An impatient desire of the forbidden fruit lost paradise, which patience to persevere in obedience to the commandment, had preserved to this day. Impatient at beholding his brother's sacrifice accepted and his own rejected, Cain murdered Abel. Unable, through impatience, to bear the uneasiness of hunger, Esau sold his birth-right. Through impatience, the patriarchs, moved with enyy at the love which Jacob bare to Joseph and the predictions of his exaltation, sold their brother into Egypt. Through impatience, the Israelites, when Moses was gone up into the mount, turned aside tó idolatry. Through impatience of a superior, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram became schismatics and rebels. And to mention no more examples, through impatience of sound doctrine, and wholesome reproof, the Jews killed the prophets, and crucified the Son of God. In a word, as patience is the foundation of all good, impatience is the seed-plot of all evil, which may not improperly be called "impatience of good ;” as no man commences vicious, but for want of patience to persevere in virtue, and to resist temptation. And as that which is the cause of sin, can be but an ill cure for sorrow, he that is impatient under any load which it pleases God to lay upon him, only renders it heavier, and new points the thorns of the fall, that they may the more sensibly gall and afflict him. All sufferings are infinitely aggravated by impatience, and some owe their very being to it: insomuch that a peevish, fretful temper will be ' vexed, even as a thing that is raw,' by every object it touches; it will most ingeniously contrive to keep itself always on the rack, on account of trifling incidents, which, in a mind endued with the grace of patience, could not have produced the least shadow of uneasiness. In this therefore, as in other cases, God hath annexed a blessing to virtue, and hath made man's real happiness to consist in the performance of his duty.
VII. Lastly, let me set before you, in one view, the incomparable excellences and advantages of this lovely grace of Patience. Patience then commends us to God, and keeps us his. Patience is the guardian of faith, the preserver of peace, the cherisher of love, the teacher of humility: Patience governs the flesh, strengthens the spirit, sweetens the temper, stifles anger, extinguishes envy, subdues pride; she bridles the tongue, refrains the hand, tramples upon temptations, endures persecutions, consummates martyrdom : Patience produces unity in the church, loyalty in the state, harmony in families and societies; she comforts the poor and moderates the rich ; she makes us humble in prosperity, cheerful in adversity, unmoved by calumny and reproach ; she teaches us to forgive those who have injured us, and to be the first in asking forgiveness of those whom we have injured; she delights the faithful, and invites the unbelieving; she adorns the woman, and approves
the man; is loved in a child, praised in a young man, admired in an old man she is beautiful in either sex, and every age. Behold her appearance and her attire. Her countenance is calm and serene as the face of heaven unspotted by the shadow of a cloud, and no wrinkle of grief or anger is seen in her forehead. Her eyes are as the eyes of doves for meekness, and on her eye-brows sit cheerfulness and joy. Her mouth is lovely in silence; her complexion and colour that of innocence and security; while, like the virgin, the daughter of Sion, she shakes her head at the adversary, despising and laugbing him to scorn. She is clothed in the robes of the martyrs, and in her hand she holds a sceptre in the form of a CROSS.
She rides not in the whirlwind and stormy tempest of passion ; but her throne is the humble and contrite heart, and her kingdom is the kingdom of peace.
If, therefore, to be made like unto God; if to be conformed to the image of Christ; if to follow the precepts of the Gospel ; if to write after the copies of saints; if to render our present state comfortable, and ensure our final redemption from sin and sorrow; if to avoid the manifold inconveniences of impatience, and enjoy the incomparable excellences and advantages of patience; if these are things desirable, let us from henceforth give ourselves to the pursuit of this divine virtue; let us follow after patience.' And for this purpose, let us 'adore and imitate the long suffering of God; let us contemplate and transcribe into our practice the patience of Jesus Christ; let us study and fulfil the precepts of the Gospel; let us look at and emulate the examples of the saints ; let us consider and alleviate the sorrows of our pilgrimage; let us perceive and avoid the horrible consequences of impatience ; let us court till we obtain the heavenly grace of patience, with her dowry of benefits and blessings conferred on her by Jesus Christ, into whose patience the Lord direct your hearts, until she have her perfect work in the salvation of your souls, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be ascribed, as is most due, in all churches of the saints, blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, now and evermore. Amen.
Rom. xii. 12.--Continuing instant in priyer.
[Tert taken from the Gospel for the Day.] As God is to be obeyed, so he is to be worshipped also; nay, the worshipping him is a part of that very obedience, and a means to enable men to perform more accepably the other parts of their obedience to him. It is in itsel' a fit and most reasonable service, that we who know we receve all from him,