Page images
PDF
EPUB

the degree of holiness attained, A good man is often more content in his humble cottage, garret, or cellar, than those who reside in stately mansions, and are attired in the most elegant costume; for true piety sheds a ray of light and comfort on the domestic hearth. “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come,” I Tim. iv. 8.

Many are dissatisfied with the term and trials of their probation. This probationary state is one of unspeakable importance. Here we form our character for eternity; on this life hang eventful issues of weal or woe. Life is sweet, it is precious. " All that a man hath will he give for his life.” To some however, life seems to be a burden; they appear weary of it; not in consequence of any affliction or calamity which has befallen them, but simply because they cannot accomplish some object they desire to realize, and frequently in a fit of displeasure, they terminate their earthly career-occurrences very common in our day. And there are not a few whose affections are so fully fixed on earthly things, that even in advanced life they are reluctant to let

go
their

eager grasp of this sublunary state.

But the christian duly appreciates life, with all its joys and sorrows, its difficulties and blessings; and in seasons of severe trial, conflict, and bodily afflctions, his language is : “All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.” He is not weary of life, neither is he unwilling to leave this world at his Maker's bidding. He is ready to glorify God either by his life or by his death. The apostle Paul, during his imprisonment, said: “So now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour : yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two,

having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you,” Phil. i. 20—24. The apostle was willing to remain out of heaven for a time, if by continuing on earth he could be instrumental in bringing souls to heaven.

The christian does not murmur at the length of the journey, nor repine at the ruggedness of the way, nor complain at the difficulties he has to surmount, nor the duties he has to perform, nor the sacrifices he has to make, nor the enemies he has to encounter, nor the toils and inconveniences he has to endure. Our chief concern, our principal business here is to do the will of our heavenly Father; to be content with such things as we have, for “godliness with contentment is great gain.” your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have : for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” Heb. xviii. 5. It implies,

66 Let

2. Forbearance. “When ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently; this is acceptable with God," 1 Pet. ii. 20. Life is a chequered scene; and there are circumstances in our history which summon all the patient longsuffering we possess to bear up under them. Religion does not destroy our sensitiveness, nor dim our vision, that we cannot perceive when we are injured and insulted; yet it teaches us to exercise forbearance towards all men. Christians are often insulted by those whose aversion to religion is visible, such as infidels, atheists, and scoffers. Insults sometimes arise from members of the same family. "A man is at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” Injuries, too, are often inflicted on them; they have suffered both in body and mind. But in what light should these things be viewed, or the estimate we should

form of them ? May we not regard them as trials of our faith, and tests of our patience, but as harmless to our moral character ? “Marvel not if the world hate you.” And how should they be endured ? I answer, unwaveringly, this is requisite to our safety; forgivingly, this is manly and honourable; patiently, without retaliation, for this is praiseworthy and Christlike. If this spirit was cultivated to a greater extent by professing christians, the cause of God would sustain less injury, and many misunderstandings and much controversy might be avoided. Although the shade of imperfection may be seen at times even in the most exemplary christians, yet the altitude of their station renders them conspicious ; and their conduct and virtues cannot fail to exert an influence on the minds of those around them. As there is a diversity of gifts, and degrees of holiness, so there are degrees of patience. All christians possess it in kind, but differ in extent of attainment. It is, however, the duty of all to cultivate a submissive, contented, and forbearing spirit. The apostle prayed that the Colossians might be strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness." Observe,

II. THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH THIS TEMPER IS

[ocr errors]

MANIFESTED.

It should be exercised at all times; but there are special occasions when this christian virtue is tested; and when it is apparent under such circumstances, it greatly redounds to the honour of its recipients. To remain calm and unmoved when there is nothing to afflict the body, nor to lacerate and perplex the mind, is no very arduous task; but to be patient under persecutions, chastisements, and difficulties, renders the character doubly illustrious. It is manifest,

1. When persecuted for righteousness sake. It is not unusual for the people of God to suffer persecution.

J

“ Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you.

If any man suffer as a christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” The Saviour, in his inimitable sermon on the mount, said, “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall.say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad : for great is your reward in heaven : for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you,” Matt. v. 11,

12. All christians are subject to persecution and reproach while in this evil world. The strength of their faith, the firmness of their attachment to religion, their courage and temper, are often tried. Some try them designedly, by inflicting injury upon their persons, and slandering their character; they frequently spread nets to entangle them, and gins to entrap them. Their motives are misrepresented; and, in many instances, they are the subjects of calumny and contempt. But christianity teaches its possessors to bear all this unmerited treatment with patient longsuffering, and suppress every inclination which would lead to irritation and resentment. come of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Let no provocations irritate you; let no signs of impatience be observed in

conduct. Longsuffering was strikingly manifested in the conduct of the Saviour towards his bitterest enemies ; for, When he was reviled, he reviled not again ; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously," 1 Pet. ii. 23. The same

your

" Be not over

66 Fa

spirit was evinced towards the men who crimsoned their hands in his blood, when they nailed him to the cross ; when the sun withdrew his light, and the earth trembled, and the rocks over which the storms of ages had swept impressiveless were torn asunder; and while the purple stream flowed from his mangled body, and the pains of death were upon him, his prayer was, ther forgive them !"

Look also at the conduct of Stephen, the first christian martyr. He was falsely accused of blaspheming against the law and the temple, against Moses and against God; he was condemned, dragged out of the city, and then stoned to death. But observe the triumph of longsuffering exemplified on the solemn occasion. They stoned Stephen while in the attitude and act of prayer ; but his dying accents were, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep," Acts vii. 60. "Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Jesus Christ,” Rom. xv. 5. It is manifest under,

2. Divine chastisements. “Despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” Heb. xii. 5—7. This passage clearly proves that christians are not exempt from afflictions. They are undoubtedly designed for their benefit; hence David said: “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep thy word.” “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous : nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby,” Heb. xii. 11.

This life is composed, so to speak, of joys and sorrows, struggles and triumphs, tears and smiles, storms and

« PreviousContinue »