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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
ery and ease may be borne, even by a worldly man; because there is still the worldly hope of better and so there is no denial of all, while life itself is not denied. We must receive the sentence of death in ourselves, if we will find that we trust in God alone, and trust him as one that raiseth the dead, that is, for another and better life.
As long as a man hath any hope of life and ease, a man's faith is not tried to the uttermost, by actual forsaking all. And yet an easy death alone doth not fully try a man: for they that know that all must die, may submit to this, who cannot bear long pains before it. But great and long pains, and the sentence of death together, are the trial.
And if God will so try me, why should I repine? Flesh will groan, but the mind may obediently submit. It is but flesh; that flesh that hath tempted and imprisoned my soul. I have too much loved it, and am too loth to leave it: and is it not mercy from God to make me weary of it? God is engaged against idols, that is, all that is loved and pleased before him; and if any thing, that is likest to be this flesh. Its corruptibility tells us, that both its pleasure and its pain will be but short. Long pain is usually tolerable: and intolerable pain will conquer nature, and not be long. The grace of Christ is sufficient for us, and his strength is manifest in our weakness, when he will not take the thorn out of our flesh, though, as Christ and Paul did, we pray thrice, or oftener.
And to be impatient with death is to repine that we were born mortal men; and to fly from heaven and all true hopes, and all the felicity purchased by Christ: and is this renouncing the world, and trusting Christ for life everlasting? And why fear we that which endeth all our pains and fears? A true believer never suffereth so much, but his mercies are far more and greater than his sufferings. His soul is united to Christ: his hopes of heaven have a sure foundation he is sealed up to glory: rest and joy are near at hand and former mercies should not be forgotten; and should not such men patiently endure? O what a shameful contradiction is it, to choose heaven as our only portion, to believe in Christ for it, and to seek it as the business of all our lives, and yet to be loth to die, that we may
obtain it, and to fly with fear from that which we so seek and hope for! What a contradiction is it to call God our God and Father, the God of Love, and to call Christ our gracious, glorified Redeemer, and to fly from his presence with distrustful fear! Almighty love may correct us, may kill us, but it cannot finally hurt true believers. So much of Moses' and Elias' discourse of the sufferings and death of Christ.
Sect. 13. Sure it is not true that the souls of the fathers, before Christ's coming, did not enter into heaven, but lay in some inferior limbus. For Moses and Elias came from heaven; their shining glory showed that, and their discourse with Christ, and the voice and glory that went with them. And it is not to be thought that they were separated from the rest of the souls of the faithful, and, with Enoch, were in heaven by themselves alone, and the rest elsewhere. Though it is said that God's house hath many mansions, and there are various degrees of glory, yet the blessed are all fellow-citizens of one society, and children in one family of God. And they that came from east and west, shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God; and Lazarus is in Abraham's bosom, and the believing thief with Christ in paradise.
Sect. 14. It seems that Moses and Elias appeared thus, to foreshow the resurrection of Christ, and of the faithful, and to make it easier to the three disciples to believe it. Why should they doubt whether Christ should rise, when they saw that Moses was risen before him? And why should they doubt of the resurrection of the faithful, and the glory following, when they saw these glorified saints? Some think that this apparition was for the strengthening of Christ himself, whose human nature had use for such minstry also of angels, but it is more certain that it was for the strengthening of the disciples' faith, and of ours by their testimony. As it is said, "This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes." (John xii. 30.)
Sect. 15. It is much worth our noting, in what a communion this specimen of the kingdom of heaven was represented in the holy mount. Here was a voice of God, and a glimpse of his glory: here was our Redeemer in a glimpse of his glory here was a Moses and Elias in a glimpse of their glory and here were three beloved disciples yet in the flesh, and in weakness of faith, which