Imatges de pÓgina

efficacy, what an excellency in the religion of Jefus ! "Here is the patience of the faints!" This bring us,


PART III. To fpecify SOME CASES in which the patience of the faints is to be rendered ILLUSTRIOUS and We fhall mention three. The firft concerns PROVOCATION; the fecond AFFLICTION; the third DELAY: here patience is neceffary; and here we are to behold its triumphs.


First, it is to be displayed in bearing PROVOCATION. "It muft needs be that offences will come." opinions, reputations, connections, offices, bufineffes, render us widely vulnerable. The characters of men are various; their pursuits and their interefts perpetually clash. Some try us by their ignorance, fome by their folly, fome by their perverfeness, fome by their malice. There are to be found perfons made up of every thing difagreeable and mischievous; born only to vex, a burden to themselves, and a torment to all around them. Here is an opportunity for the triumph of patience; here is a theatre on which a man may exhibit his character, and appear a fretful, wafpifh reptile, or a placid, pardoning God. We are very fufceptive of irritation; anger is eloquent; revenge is fweet. But to ftand calm and collected; to fufpend the blow, which paffion was urgent to strike; to drive the reafons of clemency as far as they will go; to bring forward fairly in view the circumftances of mitigation; to diftinguish between furprife and deliberation, infirmity and crime; or if an infliction be deemed neceffary, to leave God to be both the judge and the executioner-This a chriftian fhould labor after.

His peace requires it. People love to fting the paf

fionate. They who are eafily provoked, commit their repose to the keeping of their enemies; they lie down at their feet, and invite them to ftrike. The man of temper places himself beyond vexatious interruption and infult. "He that hath no rule over his own spir"it, is like a city that is broken down and without "walls," into which enter over the ruins, toads, ferpents, vagrants, thieves, enemies; while the man, who in patience poffeffes his foul, has the command of himfelf, places a defence all around him, and forbids the entrance of such unwelcome company to offend or difcompofe.

His wisdom requires it." He that is slow to anger "is of great understanding; but he that is hafty of "spirit exalteth folly." "Anger refteth in the bosom "of fools." Wisdom gives us large, various, comprehenfive failing round views of things; the very exercise operates as a diverfion, affords the mind time to cool, and furnishes numberless circumftances tending to soften severity. Such is the meekness of wisdom. Thus candour is the offspring of knowledge.

His dignity requires it. "It is the glory of a man "to pass by a tranfgreffion." "Be not overcome of "evil, but overcome evil with good." The man provoked to revenge, is conquered, and lofes the glory of the ftruggle; while he who forbears, comes off a victor, crowned with no common laurels; for, "he "that is slow to anger is better than the mighty: and "he that ruleth his fpirit, than he that taketh a city." A flood affails a rock, and rolls off, unable to make an impreffion; while ftraws and boughs are borne off in triumph, carried down the stream, "driven with "the wind, and toffed."

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It is alfo required by examples the moft worthy of our imitation. What provocations had Jofeph receiv. ed from his brethren! but he fcarcely mentions the crime, fo eager is he to announce the pardon ;" and ❝he faid, I am Jofeph your brother, whom ye fold in"to Egypt: now therefore be not grieved, nor angry "with yourselves that ye fold me hither; for God did "fend me before you to preserve life." "Hear David: "they rewarded me evil for good, to the fpoiling of 66 my foul. But as for me, when they were fick my clothing was fackcloth: I humbled my foul with fafting, and my prayer returned into my own bof "om. I behaved myfelf as though he had been my "friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one "that mourneth for his mother!" View Stephen, dying under a fhower of ftones; he more than pardons; he prays; he is more concerned for his enemies, than for himself; in praying for himself, he ftood; in praying for his enemies, he kneeled: he kneeled and faid, "Lord lay not this fin to their "charge." A greater than Jofeph, a greater than David, a greater than Stephen, is here. He endured every kind of infult; but "when he was reviled, he "reviled not again: when he suffered, he threatened


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not; but committed himself to Him that judgeth

righteously." Go to the foot of the cross, and behold him fuffering for us, "leaving us an example "that we should follow his fteps." Every thing con-fpired to render the provocation heinous; the nature of the offence, the meannefs and obligations of the offenders, the righteousness of his caufe, the grandeur of his perfon; all these seemed to call for vengeance.

The creatures are eager to punish. Peter drew his sword. The sun resolved to fhine on such criminals no longer. The rocks afked leave to crufh them. The earth trembles under the sinful load. The very dead cannot remain in their graves. He suffers them all to teftify their sympathy, but forbids their revenge; and left the Judge of all fhould pour forth HIS fury, he inftantly cries, "Father, forgive them, for they "know not what they do." "Here is the patience

"of" a God.


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Secondly, Patience is to be displayed in SUFFERING "Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward;" and so far are the saints from being exempted, that we are informed "many are the af flictions of the righteous." But we shall not def cribe them; we have only to enquire after the temper with which they are to be bore. It is not necessary to be insenfible; there is no virtue in bearing what we do not feel; grace takes away the heart of stone, and patience does not bring it back. You may desire deliverance; but these desires will not be rash, insifting, unconditional; but always closed with "nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." You may employ means to obtain freedom; but these means will be lawful ones. A suffering christian may see several ways of release, but he seeks only God's way. "He who confined me fhall bring me forth, "here will I stand still to see the salvation of the Lord, "which HE will shew me." He would rather endure the greatest calamity, than commit the least sin; and while the affliction remains, there is no rebellious carriage, no foaming expressions, no hard thoughts of

God, no charging him foolishly. He calmly acquiesces in a condition, of the disadvantages of which he is fully sensible. His patience keeps him in the medium between presumption and defpair; between despising "the chaftening of the Lord, and fainting when "rebuked of him ;" between feeling too little and too much. Here then is another field, in which patience may gather glory. Affliction comes to exercise and illuftrate our patience. "The trial of your faith "worketh patience;" and it does so in consequence of the divine blessing, and by the natural operation of things; for use makes perfect, the yoke is rendered easy by being worn, and those parts of the body which are most in action, are the most strong and solid, And therefore you are not to excuse improper dispo sitions under affliction, by saying, "it was so trying, "who could help it :" this is to justify impatience, by the very means which God employs on purpose to make you patient. Be assured the fault is not in the condition, but in the temper. Labour therefore to difplay this grace in whatever ftate you are, and however afflicted you may be. Impatience turns the rod into a scorpion. Till you wipe your eyes from this fuffusion of tears, you cannot fee what God is doing; and while the noisy paffions are so clamorous, his addrefs cannot be heard. Suppofe you were lying on a bed of pain, or walking in the field under fome heavy affliction; fuppofe you were alone there, and heard a voice which you knew to be the voice of God-" Do "not imagine your cafe is fingular; there has been "forrow like unto thy forrow. Take the prophets, "who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an

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