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cut: or, than the drunkard, of whom the Wise Man speaks; who, when he was stricken, was not sick; when he was beaten, felt it not. Nay, patience is so far from taking away the sense of sufferings, that it rather quickens it: there is no man, that more feels an affliction, than a Christian doth; for he refers his chastisements to his deserts: he looks inwardly, and sees his own guilt and sin, as that, which provokes God to afflict him; and this adds a great deal of gall and wormwood to the bitter cup, and makes every affliction to touch his soul and his conscience, as well as his outward man: he cannot but with grief of heart consider, that ever he should incense his Heavenly Father to use such severe discipline towards him. But a wicked man looks only upon what he suffers: he makes no reflections upon his demerits; and troubles himself no farther than God is pleased to force trouble upon him: and so he bears it, cursing his ill fate; but never complaining of his sins, that provoked the just God so to punish him.
2. Patience doth not stifle all modest complaints and moderate sorrow *.
A patient Christian may be well allowed this vent for his grief to work out at. Grace never destroys, but only regulates and corrects nature. It will permit thee to shed tears, so long as they run clear, and the course of them doth not stir up the mud of thy sinful passions and violent affections. It will permit thee to complain of what thou sufferest, so long as it keeps thee from complaining of that God, from whom thou sufferest. Thou mayest lawfully, without any wrong done to patience, express thy grief in all the outward and natural signs of it; only beware, lest this agitation make it exceed its due bounds and measures. We find that holy Job, who is commended to us as the mirror and great example of patience, when he had received the sad messages of the loss of his estate and of his children, rent his mantle, and lay grovelling upon the ground: Job. i. 20: and, that we might not think this a piece of his impatience, it is added, v. 22. In all this, Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. The primitive disciples are said to make great lamentation over Stephen; though by his death and martyrdom he highly glorified God: Acts viii. 2. Patience chiefly consists
μ Ου την αθυμίαν, αλλα την επίτασιν της αθυμίας αναιρω. Το μεν γαρ αθυμείν, της φυσεως το δε πέρα τ8 μετρά τότο ποιεῖν, μανιας και παραφροσύνης, και γι ναικωδες ψυχης. Chrysost. tom. v. λογ. ξα, περι κεκοιμ
in a due tranquillity and composure of the mind: and those may be very impatient persons, and fret and estuate within, who yet may express but little emotion in their outward demeanour: like those latent and lurking fevers, that prey upon the spirits, when there appears but little intemperate heat in the outward limbs. And, again, a patient Christian may make use of all the doleful signs of sorrow, which God hath allowed, and nature exacts; and yet his spirit not be moved beyond its due temper and consistency: like a tree, whose boughs are agitated by every gust and storm of wind, when yet the root remains fixed and unmoved in the earth.
3. Patience doth not oblige us to continue under afflictions, when we may lawfully and warrantably free and release ourselves from them.
It doth not require us to court or solicit troubles. It is a sign of a vitiated and corrupted palate, if our physic taste not somewhat nauseous and unpleasing to us; and of an obstinate and incorrigible mind, if we be not careful to shun the discipline of the rod. When God lays sore and heavy afflictions upon us, we are bound, upon principles of self-preservation, to endeavour, what we may, to free ourselves from them; otherwise, we sin against nature, and the God of Nature. Therefore, if God reduce thee to poverty, by some stroke depriving thee of thy estate, it is not patience, but a lax and retchless carelessness, to sit still with thy hand in thy bosom, neglecting all honest industry to procure a comfortable subsistence, pretending that thou art willing to submit to the will and dispensations of God. If God bring sore, and perhaps mortal diseases upon thee, it is not patience, but presumption and impiety, to refuse the means which are proper for thy recovery, under pretence that thou art willing to bear whatsoever it pleaseth God to lay upon thee. And, generally, whatsoever calamity thou liest under, it is not patience, but obstinacy and contempt, to refuse deliverance, when thou mayest obtain it, without violating thy duty or God's honour.
4. Much less doth Patience oblige us to invite sufferings.
It is fortitude enough, if we manfully stand their shock, when they assault us; but it is temerity, to provoke and challenge them. This is but like the frenzy of the Circumcellions: a sect of mad Christians in Africa, about St. Austin's time; who were so fond of martyrdom, that they would, with
extremities, compel others to kill them; or, for want of executioners, dispatch themselves; that they might have the renown of resolution and patience. Neither is it patience to bear those invented severities, which blind devotionists inflict upon themselves: they may soon enough lash themselves into pain, but never into patience: this is a virtue, which thongs and whipcord can never teach them: nor is at all thanksworthy, to bear that pain which they themselves inflict; or, if the smart vex them, they have their revenge in their own hands, and were best whip themselves again for their folly.
And, thus, I have shewed you what Patience is not.
In Patience there must be,
1. A quiet, willing submission to the hand of God.
Which the Scripture expresseth to us, by taking up our cross: Mat. xvi. 24. Receiving evil at the hands of God: Job ii. 10. Accepting the punishment of our iniquities: Lev. xxvi. 41. Which all signify the ready and willing submission of the soul, under whatever God shall see fit to lay upon it.
2. A quieting of our unruly passions.
A calming of all those impetuous storms and tempests, which are apt to arise in a man's heart, when he is under any sore and heavy sufferings. Indeed, it is impossible, but that the affections will be stirring; but patience takes off the eagerness and bitterness of them: it ought to keep them from excess, and to dulcorate and sweeten them; that the soul may not be ruffled into a tempest with them, but only gently purled with the breathings of a soft wind upon them. But, for all those turbulencies and uproars of the passions; all those violent and wild emotions, which distract reason and rend the soul to pieces, and make men unfit for the service of God and the employments of their lives: these patience ought to quell and suppress. And he, that doth not this, wants the principal part of patience; howsoever he may, possibly, command his outward expressions, and rule his actions better than he can his passions, and his body than his soul.
3. All this must be done upon right grounds.
Indeed, there is a natural patience: a patience that may be found in natural men, devoid of true grace; which is only a moral virtue, and proceeds only upon natural and moral prin
ciples: * As, That it is folly, to strive against fate; and That it is equally folly, to torment ourselves about what we can help, and what we cannot help; and the like. But that patience, which I am now speaking of, is a Christian Grace, and proceeds not only upon such arguments and principles: no, it looks far higher; and eyes the sovereignty of God, to which it is our duty to submit: and it eyes also his wisdom and his goodness, to which it is our interest to submit. It looks off from the absolute nature of the affliction, considered as it is in itself, to the relative nature of it, as it is dispensed to us by God; and so concludes, that though the cup in itself be bitter, yet, in our Father's hand, it is salutary; and knows that it shall work for our gain and advantage, and make us partakers of God's holiness here, and of his glory hereafter.
And thus we see what this grace of Patience is.
II. The next thing is, to shew, WHAT IS THE PROPER WORK OF PATIENCE.
And that I shall endeavour to do, in these following particulars.
i. The first work of patience is, as I have told you, THE QUI
ETING AND COMPOSING THE SPIRIT OF THE AFFLICTED.
He is calm and sedate within, though his outward state and condition be full of storms and tempests; and saith, with St. Paul, when he had spoken of the bonds and afflictions that awaited him, Acts xx. 24. None of these things move me. But an impatient man flies out against heaven and earth, blasphemes God and curses men, rages at his sufferings and gnaws the very chains that tie him up: and, instead of humbling himself under God's mighty hand, is exasperated by his punishment; and, with that impious king, cries out, in all his extremity and anguish, This evil is of the Lord: why should I wait upon the Lord any longer?
ii. Another work of patience is, TO PUT A STOP TO ALL IMMO
It puts a man to silence; and lays a check upon all the intemperate eruptions of our grief and passions. I was dumb, saith David, I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it: Ps. xxxix. 9. It dares not so much as whimper against God;
* Ferus, non culpes, quod vitari non potest. Pub. ap. Gell. Noct. At. 1 xvii. c. 14.
nor saucily expostulate with his infinite sovereignty, why he should bring such afflictions upon us. It is God, that hath done it: and, what! shall we, vile dust and ashes, controul his proceedings, or take upon us to censure any of his dispensations? See a most notable instance of this patience, in Aaron: when his two sons, Nadab and Abihu, were destroyed by a most unparalleled judgment, and Moses brings him the sad tidings; tidings, which, one would expect, should have caused him to break forth into some passionate complaint; it is said, That Aaron held his peace: Lev. x. 3. he had not a word to say: it was the Lord's doing; and, as it was wonderful, so it was just and righteous, in his eyes.
iii. Another work of patience under sufferings, is SELF RE
SIGNATION TO THE SOVEREIGN WILL AND DISPOSAL OF ALMIGHTY GOD.
It takes a man off from his own bottom; and makes him renounce his own interests and concerns, and lay down his all; his designs, all his hopes, all his possessions and enjoyments; at the feet of God:* desiring his wisdom to choose for him ; and to carve him out that portion, which he knows to be most fitting and convenient.
This is the chief and most principal work of patience.
And there be two notable ingredients, which go to the composition of it; Self-Denial, and Submission.
1. Patience works the soul to a self-denying frame and temper. Fretfulness and impatience do always proceed from self-love. When we are deeply engaged in an eager pursuit of that which we think advantageous to us, we are presently apt to storm and tumultuate, if any cross providence interpose, to entangle our designs and defeat our expectations: for, whilst we set up ourselves as our highest and utmost end, and seek only our own temporal profit and commodity, we must needs take it immoderately, if any thing succeed contrary to our hopes and desires. A cross lies very heavy, and is an unsupportable load, upon a selfish man. And he, that makes this world his all, must needs look upon himself as utterly ruined and undone,
* Τόλμησον αναβλεψας προς τον Θεον επειν, ότι χρω μοι λοιπον εις ὁ αν θελης, ομογνωμονω σοι, σος αμι' δεν παραιτεμαι των σοι δοκώντων· ὁπο θέλεις, αγε' ἦν θέλης έσθητα, περιθες αρχες με θελεις, ιδιωτεύων, μενων, φευγων, τσενεσθαι, πλέτων; εγω σου ὑπερ ἅπαντων τέτων προς τες ανθρωπές απολογήσομαι. Arriani Epictet. 1. ii. c. 16.