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Chapter LVI.

Showing That In Seasons Of Trial The Consideration Of The Exalted Patience Of Christ, And Of The Future And Eternal Glory, Will Alleviate The Burden Of The Cross.

Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?Luke 24:26.

The eternal Son of God, by his most holy incarnation, took upon him all the miseries and calamities of mankind: and this not of compulsion and necessity, but of pure love, that by his example he might teach us patience, and enable us to bear the cross, and overcome the calamities of this mortal life. As he was to become man, so he willingly subjected himself to all those miseries to which man is exposed; and as he came down from heaven for the sake of all, so he took upon him the infirmities of all; so that from the moment of his birth, to the hour of his death, he was, as the prophet truly expresses it, “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” Isa. 53:3. There was no calamity incident to human nature, which he did not suffer, and, particularly, extreme poverty. He says of himself, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” Matt. 8:20. In the discharge of his office, he underwent the most bitter persecutions, being exposed to hatred, calumnies, and reproaches. In his last days he submitted to the most ignominious sufferings, so that, as the prophet expresses it, “We did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” Isa. 53:4. His transcendent love met with the highest ingratitude, his illustrious miracles were rewarded with revilings, and his heavenly doctrines with calumnies and lies. And since our blessed Lord suffered all this, why shall we expect to be exempted from sufferings and injuries?

2. Thus the blessed Jesus, by his example, has shown us the true and only path to heaven. 1 Pet. 2:21. Let us therefore tread in his steps, and learn to imitate him in all the different scenes of his most holy and afflicted life. He went before, that we might in holy patience follow him. Whence we may learn, how far they are from the true and right way, who never regard this blessed pattern, but refuse to follow it. If men will still walk on in darkness and shut their eyes against this light, how great must their darkness be! The blessed Jesus himself calls to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12.

3. All the sufferings of true Christians in this life, are not worthy to be compared with the eternal glories reserved for them in the world to come; for their temporal afflictions are but for a moment, but their glorious reward shall endure forever. 2 Cor. 4:17, 18. An everlasting possession is well worth contending for. Couldest thou but for a moment behold what eternal glories they enjoy, who in this life were exposed to all torments and sufferings, thou wouldest cheerfully submit to them all, and take up thy cross with joy; thinking all things 368 but as dross, that thou mightest win Christ and be a partaker of his glory.

4. Lift up, therefore, the eyes of thy mind to heaven, and view, with St. John, that vast company clothed in white garments, and following the Lamb, concerning whom this account is given to the inquiring Evangelist: “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple.” Rev. 7:14, 15. Such are the proper meditations for devout souls. Thus we read of Moses, “By faith, Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he had respect to the recompense of the reward.” Heb. 11:24-26.

5. Hence we learn that the saints in all ages have esteemed the reproach of the cross of Christ as their greatest treasure. And we may depend upon it, that no man can be admitted to the joys of the next world, who has not fought manfully under the banner of the cross in this world. How can we imagine that those blessed spirits will own us to be of their company in heaven, if we did not bring with us the sign of the cross? They would not know us, and we would be strangers among them. “He that overcometh,” saith the Lord, “the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life.” Rev. 3:5. And what does St. Paul say? “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Tim. 4:7, 8.

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