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are as useful to teach me how to suffer, as the ten commandments to teach me what to do. That he was put to fly from proud, domineering pharisees, false teachers, and worldly rulers, and to converse most with the poor, in wildernesses, or various obscure places; that he was hated and persecuted for doing good, and accounted a sinner for neglecting men's ceremonies and traditions; that he was hardly believed, even by them that saw his miracles; and his own disciples were : o slow in learning; and that in his suffering they all forsook him and fled, and one denied him with oaths and curses: all these are instructing instances. That Christ's natural, though sinless, aversation to death and suffering, and his fear, should be so powerful, and the sense of God's punishing justice so terrible, as to make his soul sorrowful, even to the death, and cast him into an agony, where he sweat water and blood, and to pray thrice that the bitter
possible, might pass from him, which he came into the world to drink : all these also are teaching parts of the sufferings of Christ, that rulers, and priests, and soldiers, and the rabble, should agree to scorn him, clothe him in derision, spit on him, buffet him, scourge him, make their jest, that came to save them : that they should make a sinner of him that never sinned, but came to destroy it, and save men from it; yea, to make him no less than a deceiver, a blasphemer, and an usurping rebel against Cæsar, and write this last as his accusation on his cross, thinking to leave his innocency no vindication or defence. For the Lord and Savior of the world to undergo all this, is very instructing to a suffering believer : that he should, as such a malefactor, be reviled on a cross, and numbered with transgressors, and his side be pierced, and he there cry out to his Father as forsaken by him ; that thus dying he was buried, and his soul went to the place of separated souls, and yet into paradise. They are excellent lessons which
be learned from all this. I am not to suffer for others, nor to make God's justice a satisfying sacrifice for sin, as Christ did; but I must suffer God's fatherly corrections, and the castigation of paternal, healing justice. I must be saved as by fire, and pass through this purgatory, that I may be
, refined : I must suffer from Christ and for Christ, for my sin, and also for righteousness' sake: and I must, with a filial justification of God's VOL. II.
holiness and chastening justice, bear his indignation, because I have sinned against him. I am predestined to be conformed to Christ's image, in suffering and in sanctity; (Rom. viii. 30, &c.,) yea, I must “count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord,” for whom I must not refuse to suffer the loss of all things, and count them dung, that I may win him, and be found in him, and not only know the power of his resurrection, but also the “ fellowship of his sufferings, and be made comformable to his death." (Phil. iii. 8-10.) Paul rejoiced in such infirmities, and in his suffering for the church, filling up that which was behind of the aftlictions of Christ in his fesh. (Col. i. 24.) Peter bids us “rejoice, inasmuch as we are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that when his glory shall be revealed, we may be glad also with exceeding joy." (1 Peter iv. 13.) “If we suffer with bim, that we may also be glorified with him.” (Rom. viii. 17.) It is a great gift to suffer for his sake. (Phil. i. 29.) It is for the kingdom of God that such suffer. (2 Thess. i. 5.) It is happiness and joy to suffer for righteousness' sake, for well doing. (1 Pet. ii. 10; and iii. 14, 17; and iv. 15, 16, 19: Matt. v. 10, 11.) It is the sufferings of Christ that abound in such, that their consolations may abound. (2 Cor. i. 5.)
But, alas ! I suffer much more for my own sin than for Christ and righteousness: but even this also by the cross of Christ is sanctified, and made a great remedy against my sin. As Christ suffered for our sins, and yet merited by his suffering; so if we accept the castigatory punishment, and exercise repentance and mortification in our suffering, and an obedient submission to the rod, God will take this as acceptable service, and bless it to our further good.
Sect. 11. But how is it that Christ is said “ to learn obedience by the things that he suffered, and so to be made perfect." (Heb. v. 8, 9.) Was he unlearned and imperfect before ? He had no culpable imperfection; but his satisfactory mediation was imperfect till it was all performed: it was not perfectly done; and when it was done, he thereby was constitutively made a perfect Mediator : as he said upon the cross, “It is finished;" and as this human nature received additional acts of knowledge, as he grew up, and conversed with more objects, and so is said to increase in wisdom (as Adam
knew the creatures when he saw them); so he had a new acquaintance with obedient suffering, when he was under the experience of it; and is said to learn it, in that he now exercised it.
And should not my suffering be God's school? Should I not learn obedience by it? Surely, as it smartly tells me of the evil of former disobedience, so it calls me to remember in whose hands I am, and with whom I have to do, and what is my duty in such a state : God can do no wrong to his own : he will do nothing finally hurtful to his children. In all our afflictions he is said to be afflicted, to signify that he afflicts not willingly, or without our provocation. Justice is good, and holiness is good; and it is good for us to repent, and be weaned from the flesh and world : and all good must be loved, and the means as such. Sharp, heart-breaking sermons are unpleasing to nature; and yet to be loved for their use : and afflictions are God's powerful sermons: the proud and hardened are forced to hear them, who scorn and prosecute preachers for speaking the same things: and shall believers under sufferings be untaught? Words are but words, but stripes go by forcible sense unto the heart: obedient submission to the greatest pains is a serious acknowledgment of God's dominion, and of his wisdom and love, and the certain hopes of a better life. Impatience hath in it somewhat of atheism, or blasphemy : God is not duly acknowledged and honored. Job's wife would have had him thus purposely provoke God, to end his misery by death : as if she had said, "Speak no more well of him, by whom thou sufferest so much, nor honor a God that will not help thee. But patience saith, “I will look unto the Lord; 1 will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me." (Mic. vii. 7.)
Impatience showeth a misunderstanding of God's dealing with the afflicted; but patience yieldeth, because it understandeth whence all comes, and what will be the fruit and end. A man that is let blood for his life, is not impatient with the chirurgeon; but a beast will strive, and a swine or child will cry.
Our burdens are heavy enough of themselves; impatience maketh them heavier, and is oft more painful than the thing which we suffer: some have gone mad with crosses, which to another would have been light. Patience is our cordial and nepenthes, yea, the health of the soul, by which it is able to bear its infirmities. “In ou patience we possess our souls.” (Luke xxi. 19.) Whatever else we lose, we lose not ourselves. He that keepeth his faith, and hope, and love by patience, keepeth his soul : but the impatient lose themselves, as if their other losses were not enough. A poor man singeth that gets his living only by his daily labor; when a lord or knight would be tormented with sorrow, if he were reduced to his degree. Striving under our yoke and burden maketh it gall the more : and we cannot so hopefully or comfortably pray for deliverance from the pain which we make ourselves, as from that which God layeth on us; though also there, we must pray for the grace that must save us from our own impatience.
Patience preventeth many sins which impatience causeth ; hard thoughts of God, if not hard and unseemly words : “ Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly:" impatience tempteth men to think that piety and prayer are in vain, and to condemn the generation of the just, and to leave off duty, and say, 'Why should I wait on God any longer? Yea, and to venture on false and sinful means, in hopes
' of deliverance and ease.
Were it to men, we have much to allay our impatience : but impatience against God hath no just excuse. Infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, can do nothing that deserveth blame: we have God's promise that all things shall work together for our good : and is he not to be trusted? Or is the means of our good to be accused ?
Impatience is unseemly for them that believe that heavenly rest and glory are at hand? where all their pains and sorrows will end. Were a man on the rack, and were sure to have all that he desired after it, he would the more easily endure it. Why else did the martyrs so patiently suffer? It is incongruous to complain of any thing that brings a man to heaven.
Christ himself was innocent, and yet accused not God for his sufferings. But we suffer justly for our faults; and it is so much less than they deserve, that the sins which we suffer most for are said to be forgiven us, in that the everlasting punishment is forgiven. Should we so often sinfully please the flesh, and yet must it not smart? Shall we so often grieve the Spirit of God, and not be grieved ? Shall we lose our time, neglect our duty, forget our home, fall in love with the world, and yield to temptations, and defile our souls with filth and vanity, and must not correction tell us of our sinful folly ? “If we suffer for our faults, and bear it patiently, it is not thankworthy.” (1 Pet. ii. 20.)
Our merciful Father doth use to shame us for our impatience, by the blessed end of our afflictions. The end that God made with Job showed the reasonableness of his patience. When our afflictions are over, do not all believers see cause of thankfulness for them, and say, 'It is good for me that I was afflicted? The pain is past, and the benefit remaineth. And if all that is past was mercy to us, why should we much fear that which is to come. Heaven will end all, and shame impatience forever.
Our patience is much of our perseverance : what a deal of labor do those impatient men lose, that learn, and pray, and are somewhat religious, and have not patience at the last assault to bear the trial, but fail when they seemed to be near the crown!
Hold out then poor desponding soul! lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and run with patience the race which is set before thee, looking to Jesus, who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross. God will not deceive thy hopes. Sin hath brought pain and death on man; but Christ hath sanctified it, and is the Lord of Life. Yet a little while, and the heavenly possession shall turn thy sorrows into everlasting joy, and thy moans and groans into thanks and praise, and there shall be no more sickness, pain, or death. O foolish, unbelieving hearts! that cry out of suffering, and fear deliverance; that would fain be free from all affliction, and yet fly from the only state of freedom; that are impatient under their calamity, and yet afraid of passing to the only rest !
Sect. 12. But it is neither pain alone, nor death alone, that will sufficiently try our strength, and exercise our faith and patience. It must be great pain (and often long) in order to a certain, expected death. These two conjunct were the case of Christ. The torment of his agony, scourging, crucifying, piercing, and desertion, and the certainty of death that followed. Great pains, with hopes of recov