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Motives To Patience; And, The Benefits Of The Cross.
Be patient, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.—James 5:7.
Patience is that virtue by which we behave ourselves quietly before God under any cross or tribulation, committing ourselves and all our concerns, whether temporal or eternal, without any reserve, to be governed and disposed of by the all-wise providence of God, entirely resigning all to his will: to the practice of which the following arguments strongly persuade us.
2. First, because every cross and calamity of life, as sword, famine, pestilence, and other punishments, proceed from God. Nothing happens in this world at random or by chance, though, by the permission of Providence, many evils are inflicted on us by the devil and his instruments. For thus saith the Lord: “I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I the Lord do all these things.” Isa. 45:7. And “The Lord killeth, and maketh alive; he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.” 1 Sam. 2:6. What canst thou reply to all this? Wilt thou be impatient, and fight against God?
3. Secondly, we must remember that our punishments are less than we deserve. Our sins are always greater than our punishments, and our sufferings less than our offences. Thou canst not but own that the mercies thou hast enjoyed, from thy youth up unto this day, are more and greater than the punishments thou hast suffered. Why then shouldest thou not, with profound submission, receive cheerfully the corrections which he inflicts for thy benefit, to save thee from destruction?
4. Thirdly, if we have in many ways provoked God, and deserved punishment, we must acknowledge with the prophet Daniel, that he is righteous in all that is brought upon us. Dan. 9:7. Is it unreasonable that God should punish thy sins, either in this world or the next? And if this be allowed, why dost thou not submit to the divine chastisements without murmuring or repining? For it is better to be punished now than hereafter, as St. Paul tells us: “When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned 327 with the world.” 1 Cor. 11:32. Whosoever, therefore, is impatient, and murmurs against God, accuses him of injustice, and calls his righteousness in question; and yet “the Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.” Ps. 145:17. “Righteous art thou, O Lord, and upright are thy judgments.” Ps. 119:137.
5. Fourthly, doth it not discover a stubborn and untractable temper, to fly in the face of God, who has so long borne with, and still continues to bear with thee patiently, as St. Paul says, speaking of the goodness, patience, and long-suffering of God, by which he endeavors to draw us to repentance? See Rom. 2:4; 9:23; 11:33.
6. Fifthly, set before thine eyes the patience of thy Saviour. He who was spotless innocence and purity itself, though he could have destroyed his enemies in a moment, yet bore their utmost cruelties with patience, and prayed for his enemies. How much more reason then have we to be patient, who have deserved the greatest punishment, even eternal punishment. As Jacob served seven years for Rachel (Gen. 29:18), so Christ, for our sakes, submitted to the greatest miseries of life, for three and thirty years. And should we refuse to suffer a short affliction for his sake? Consider the patience of all the saints, as Joseph, and Moses, who offered to lay down his life for his people. Exod. 32:32. So David says, “If I shall find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, and show me both it (the ark) and his habitation; but if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him.” 2 Sam. 15:25. Consider also the cases of Job, and the holy Apostles and Martyrs.
7. Sixthly, the remembrance of God's great mercies should move us to patience. For, first of all, thou art assured, that by Christ thou art reconciled unto God, and that therefore no man can rob thee of this transcendent mercy, though the whole world should league together against thee: “for the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him.” Ps. 103:17. What then can separate us from the love of God? Rom. 8:38, 39. Moreover, thou art redeemed by Christ unto everlasting life; a privilege which no creature can take from thee. Now, if the case be so, that the love of God and thy eternal salvation are firmly secured to thee; it will surely be easy for thee to despise the threats and assaults of external enemies and persecutors, and, like the blessed martyrs of old, to be wholly regardless of what man can do unto thee.
8. The seventh support of patience is found in the truth and promise of God. “Therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you; and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy on you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.” Isa. 30:18. See also Ps. 25:3; Lam. 3:25. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life.” Jam. 1:12.
9. Eighthly, we ought to submit to anything for the sake of the glory of God. Thus the three men in the fiery furnace (Dan. 3:16, etc.); Daniel in the lions' den; Joseph in prison; David in banishment; all gave glory to God by their patient suffering.
10. Ninthly, for the sake of our own advantage. For, first, we learn many great and useful lessons under the discipline of the cross. “Patience worketh 328 experience” (Rom. 5:4), saith St. Paul. Secondly, patience breaks the violence of our sufferings; upon which account our blessed Lord promises rest to those that bear his yoke. Matt. 11:29. On the other hand, impatience disquiets the soul, adds grief to our trouble, and a sting to our wounds, and sometimes casts us into destruction both of body and soul; an instance of which we have in the Israelites, who, being impatient, and murmuring against God, were destroyed by fiery serpents in the wilderness. Num. 21:6.
11. Tenth, great is the reward of patience. So Job, having been despoiled of all his goods, was rewarded with a double portion. Job 42:10. For, “Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.” Matt. 5:5. And, by consequence, cursed are the impatient, for they shall be disinherited.
12. Eleventh, patience is a virtue of unspeakable advantage to all orders of men. In the Church it is a virtue which enables men to bear the opposition, contempt, and persecution to which they may be exposed by the conscientious discharge of their duty. In the State it is a useful virtue, enabling men to bear with patience the odium and reproach that generally attends public stations. For history informs us, that impatience, and a desire of revenge, have been the ruin of many flourishing states and kingdoms. As to the concerns of private families, how necessary patience is there, may be learned from everyone's experience, particularly from those that have entered into the marriage-state; in which respect, these words of Solomon are applicable, “He that is slow to anger, is better than the mighty.” Prov. 16:32.
13. Twelfth, consider that Christ has taken out the sting of our afflictions, so that they cannot hurt us with regard to our eternal happiness; for by his cross and passion he has made an atonement for our sins, and has taken away those punishments that were due to them. If then our cross be sanctified by the cross of Christ, and is to us a remedy against all our spiritual diseases, it follows that the cross itself is a help to salvation; which made the Apostle say, “All things work together for good to them that love God.” Rom. 8:28.
14. Lastly, consider how light thy afflictions are when compared with “the glory that shall be revealed in us.” Rom. 8:18. Upon which account the love of God is still more illustrious, in that he is pleased to afflict us in this world. For the duration of a temporal affliction, if compared to eternity, is but for a moment; on the other hand, the joy that it produces lasts to eternity. Hence we ought to wish and pray for afflictions in this world, that we may have rest in the other. Therefore, St. Peter says: “Though now for a season ye are in heaviness;—yet ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” 1 Pet. 1:6, 8.
THE BENEFITS OF THE CROSS.
15. The cross is the strait and narrow way leading to life,—a rod of divine correction, to awaken us from the sleep of sin and death,—the morning star that ushers in the sun of consolation,—a token of divine favor, like the rainbow. It brings us to a conformity with Christ,—strips us of the armor of darkness, and clothes us with the armor of light. It is a plant of life,—a cup of salvation,—a trial of faith,—the edification of our neighbor,—the parent of love,—a companion of 329 hope,—a forerunner of grace,—a medicine of the soul,—a preservative against sin,—a destroyer of the carnal life,—a cherisher of the spiritual life,—a change of the earthly mind,—a forsaking of the world,—an increase of heavenly gifts,—a conqueror of pride,—a nurse of humility,—a teacher of patience,—a renewer of the spirit,—a strengthener of virtue,—a discipline of the body,—an enlivener of the mind,—a parent of wisdom,—a teacher of meekness,—an encourager of prayer,—a mistress of patience,—a guardian of chastity,—the peace of the conscience,—a source of inward joys,—a glittering jewel of the faithful,—the crown of the martyrs,—the glory of the elect.
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