« PreviousContinue »
3. It enables its possessors to overcome difficulties. Difficulties at which the impatient man would start aside. Every acquisition worthy of man's pursuit is beset by difficulties, or surrounded by obstacles of some kind. Learning is not attained all at once; arts and sciences, trades and professions, are not comprehended without close application and diligence. The student and the apprentice must grapple with difficulties until they are surmounted, and the mountain becomes a plain. Patience, therefore, is necessary to secure the end contemplated in such pursuits.
And it is equally essential to a progress in religion. The path to heaven is often difficult; strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth thither.
Here are formidable barriers to our advancement in the Divine life, which arise from the world, the flesh, and Satan; we must contend for the faith, and endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ. It will be well with us, if by our continuance in the path of duty, and incessant labours in the vineyard of the Lord, it can be said of us as the Saviour said of the church at Ephesus—“I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted,” Rev. ii. 2, 3. Some have laboured long in the service of Christ, have borne the heat and burden of the day; no difficulties, however great, no opposition, however powerful, no trials, however fiery, could ever move them from their purpose. Let us, my brethren, "run with patience the race that is set before us." "For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds,” Heb. xii. 3.
“ Loose me from earth’s enclosure, from the sun's
Contracted circle, set my heart at large;
Through provinces of thought yet unexplored ;
4. It tends to preserve union in the church. It is generally admitted that an evil prevented is better than an evil removed. Hasty conclusions, rash judgment, uncharitable suspicions, unguarded expressions, invidious remarks, an impatient spirit, engendered in the church is calculated to destroy the unity of its members and diminish their spirituality of mind. Discord and agitation are sore evils wherever they exist, and frequently terminate or issue in the destruction of piety.
It is especially desirable that longsuffering should be cultivated in order to prevent disruption, and promote harmony and love in the church and in the world. We must carefully avoid every thing that would impede the progress of religion, and the growth of grace in our hearts. It is not an obscure virtue belonging only to those who exist in the catacombs or prisons of the earth, but must be exhibited in our intercourse with each other, that men may have no occasion to suspect the sincerity of our profession, and the integrity of our hearts. This fruit of the spirit must be possessed, for it is indispensable to the harmony of our character, and the perfection of our attainments. We must restrain every inclination to resentment and impatience by cherishing a submissive spirit, and willing resignation to the Divine will in all things. “ Put on bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering.”
There are sufficient reasons for the cultivation of the christian grace of longsuffering.
1. Because our afflictions are light and momentary. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight
of glory," 2 Cor. iv. 17. They are light in degree, and light in comparison, with what we have deserved; they are momentary, “but for a moment,” in reality brief, when compared with eternity. Sufferings, conflicts, temptations, persecutions, and bereavement, are only endured for a while; they are fleeting in their duration. Our life is but a day that is waning fast; it is dwindling fast; it will shortly close; the shadows of night will soon be on the sky. At times the horizon may be wrapt in thick darkness, but there is a pure, tranquil, and bright region beyond the sorrows and commotions of the present life.
" With Christ in my heart, and a staff in my hand,
I travel in haste through an enemy's land.
The race will soon be run, the battle will soon be over, the storm will soon be past, the voyage will soon be ended. “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengtheri
, settle you," 1 Peter v. 10. 2. Because Divine help is promised. “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned ; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.” “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteous
His presence, help, and protection promised to His people are powerful incentives to patience. His help is sufficient to sustain you in the most trying circumstances, and to enable you to vanquish your enemies, to repel temptation, and His grace can preserve you from repining and fretfulness. “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest,” Ex. xxxiii. 14.
3. Because the provision of the gospel is adapted to our necessities. In the economy of grace suitable provision is made for man. The gospel supplies every blessing requisite to our state, however diversified our wants and numerous our desires. Every thing is provided which is essential to our happiness and conducive to our enjoyments. Man in his natural state is guilty, but the gospel reveals pardon ; he is polluted, but the gospel offers purity; he is dead in trespasses and sin, but the gospel imparts life; he is in danger, but the gospel points him to a city of refuge; he is in captivity, but the gospel proclaims liberty; he is in darkness, but the gospel is a lamp to his feet and a light to his path ; he is perishing with hunger, but the gospel supplies him with the bread of life; he is diseased, but the gospel contains a sure remedy.
Here we discover the wisdom and goodness of God, in providing a catholican for the world, and instituting means by which we may secure permanent peace and everlasting happiness. While many reject the provision of the gospel, and despise the means of its attainment, let us be grateful to the Author of our being for the unmerited favours he hath bestowed upon us. If the gifts of providence are unequally distributed, let us not demur on that account, for the Almighty knows what is best for us; but rejoice that we may be equal partakers of divine grace--an ample compensation for any temporal privation we may have sustained.
The apostle Paul has recorded his testimony in favour of the gospel : “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek," Rom. i. 16.
Every believer in Christ can bear testimony as to the incomparable blessings it confers. The universality of this provision is worthy of remark. It is for all classes, tongues, and people, without restriction. “Jesus Christ grace of God tasted death for every man.
What encouragement and hope are here to the true penitent! Ye wandering prodigals, ye weeping mourners, ye trembling penitents, look up; there is mercy for you, -provision suitable for you. “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price," Isa. lv. 1.
From these considerations, let christians exercise the grace of longsuffering, cherish feelings of brotherly kindness, put off their gloom, and lay aside their sackcloth; banish their irascible passions and murmurings; wipe the tears from their eyes, and look at the iris in the clouds, and think of the inheritance beyond the starry heights. Let the pledges of Divine love, the assurances of the Divine favour, and the experience of former deliverances, encourage and strengthen your attachment to Him who hath said “My grace is sufficient for thee.”'