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Chapter 23.—Of the Miseries of This Life Which Attach Peculiarly to the Toil of Good Men, Irrespective of Those Which are Common to the Good and Bad.

But, irrespective of the miseries which in this life are common to the good and bad, the righteous undergo labors peculiar to themselves, in so far as they make war upon their vices, and are involved in the temptations and perils of such a contest.  For though sometimes more violent and at other times slacker, yet without intermission does the flesh lust against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, so that we cannot do the things we would,16541654    Gal. v. 17. and extirpate all lust, but can only refuse consent to it, as God gives us ability, and so keep it under, vigilantly keeping watch lest a semblance of truth deceive us, lest a subtle discourse blind us, lest error involve us in darkness, lest we should take good for evil or evil for good, lest fear should hinder us from doing what we ought, or desire precipitate us into doing what we ought not, lest the sun go down upon our wrath, lest hatred provoke us to render evil for evil, lest unseemly or immoderate grief consume us, lest an ungrateful disposition make us slow to recognize benefits received, lest calumnies fret our conscience, lest rash suspicion on our part deceive us regarding a friend, or false suspicion of us on the part of others give us too much uneasiness, lest sin reign in our mortal body to obey its desires, lest our members be used as the instruments of unrighteousness, lest the eye follow lust, lest thirst for revenge carry us away, lest sight or thought dwell too long on some evil thing which gives us pleasure, lest wicked or indecent language be willingly listened to, lest we do what is pleasant but unlawful, and lest in this warfare, filled so abundantly with toil and peril, we either hope to secure victory by our own strength, or attribute it when secured to our own strength, and not to His grace of whom the apostle says, “Thanks be unto God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ;”16551655    1 Cor. xv. 57. and in another place he says, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”16561656    Rom. viii. 37.  But yet we are to know this, that however valorously we resist our vices, and however successful we are in overcoming them, yet as long as we are in this body we have always reason to say to God, Forgive us our debts.”16571657    Matt. vi. 12.  But in that kingdom where we shall dwell for ever, clothed in immortal bodies, we shall no longer have either conflicts or debts,—as indeed we should not have had at any time or in any condition, had our nature continued upright as it was created.  Consequently even this our conflict, in which we are exposed to peril, and from which we hope to be delivered by a final victory, belongs to the ills of this life, which is proved by the witness of so many grave evils to be a life under condemnation.


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