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SERM. are not wise enough or just enough to appoint or choose for ourselves; that it is impossible for God to gratify every man; that it would be a mad world, if God in his government thereof should satisfy all our desires.
We forget how often God hath succoured us in our needs and straits, how continually he hath provided for us, how patiently and mercifully he hath borne with us, what miracles of bounty and mercy he Ps. lxxviii. hath performed in our behalf; we are like that disPsal. cvi. 7, trustful and inconsiderate people, who remembered not the hand of God, nor the day when he delivered them; remembered not the multitude of his mercies; but soon forgat his works, and waited not for his counsel; They forgat God their Saviour, who had done great things in Egypt, wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things in the Red
Psal. xxii. 19. xlvi. 1.
From such dispositions in us our discontents do Ixxxi. 1. spring; and we cannot cure them, but by recollecting ourselves from such forgetfulness and negli
lix. 7. cxliv..
26. gence; by shaking off such wicked doubts and dis
trusts; by fixing our hearts and hopes on him who alone can help us; who is our strength, the strength of our heart, of our life, of our salvation.
Of him (to conclude) let us humbly implore, that he in mercy would bestow upon us grace to submit in all things to his will, to acquiesce in all his dispensations, gladly to embrace and undergo whatever he allotteth to us; in every condition, and for all events befalling us, heartily to adore, thank, and bless him; even so to the ever blessed God, our gracious Maker and Preserver, be eternally rendered all glory, thanksgiving, and praise. Amen.
1 PET. ii. 21.
Because also Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, ye should follow his steps.
IN these words two things appear especially ob- SERM. servable; a duty implied, (the duty of patience,) and XLII. a reason expressed, which enforceth the practice of that duty, (the example of Christ.) We shall, using no more preface or circumstance, first briefly, in way of explication and direction, touch the duty itself, then more largely describe and urge the example.
The word patience hath, in common usage, a double meaning, taken from the respect it hath unto two sorts of objects, somewhat different. As it respecteth provocations to anger and revenge by injuries or discourtesies, it signifieth a disposition of mind to bear them with charitable meekness; as it relateth to adversities and crosses disposed to us by Providence, it importeth a pious undergoing and sustaining them. That both these kinds of patience may here be understood, we may, consulting and considering the context, easily discern: that which immediately precedeth, If when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable to God, relateth to good endurance of adversity; that which presently followeth, who when he was
SERM. reviled reviled not again, when he suffered he XLII. threatened not, referreth to meek comporting with provocations: the text therefore, as it looketh backward, doth recommend the patience of adversities, as forward, the patience of contumelies. But seeing both these objects are reducible to one more general, comprising both, that is, things seeming evil to us, or offensive to our sense, we may so explicate the duty of patience, as to include them both.
Patience then is that virtue, which qualifieth us to bear all conditions and all events, by God's disposal incident to us, with such apprehensions and persuasions of mind, such dispositions and affections of heart, such external deportments and practices of life, as God requireth and good reason directeth. Its nature will, I conceive, be understood best by considering the chief acts which it produceth, and wherein especially the practice thereof consisteth ; the which briefly are these:
1. A thorough persuasion, that nothing befalleth us by fate, or by chance, or by the mere agency of inferior causes, but that all proceedeth from the disJob v. 6. pensation, or with the allowance of God; that affliction doth not come forth of the dust, nor doth trou
ble spring out of the ground; but that all, both Lam.iii.38. good and evil, proceedeth out of the mouth of the Most High, according as David reflected when
2 Sam. xvi. Shimei reviled him: Let him, said the good king, curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David; and as Job, when he was spoiled of all his Job i. 21. goods, acknowledged, The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.
2. A firm belief, that all occurrences, however adverse and cross to our desires, are well consistent
with the justice, wisdom, and goodness of God; so SERM. that we cannot reasonably disapprove, repine at, or complain of them; but are bound and ready to avow with the Psalmist, that all his paths are Psal. xxv. mercy and truth; he is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works; to judge and say with Hezekiah, Good is the word of the Lord, which 2 Kings xx. thou hast spoken; to confess with David unto him, I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right; Psal. cxix. and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
3. A full satisfaction of mind, that all (even the most bitter and sad accidents) do (according to God's purpose) tend and conduce to our good; acknowledging the truth of those divine aphorisms: Happy is the man whom God correcteth; whom Job v. 17. the Lord loveth he correcteth, even as a father the Prov. iii. son in whom he delighteth. As many as I love, rebuke and chasten.
Jam. i. 12.
Heb. xii. 5.
4. An entire submission and resignation of our wills to the will of God, suppressing all rebellious insurrections and grievous resentments of heart against his providence; which may dispose us heartily to say after our Lord, Let not my will, but thine be Luke xxii. done; with good Eli, It is the Lord, let him do Sam. iii. what seemeth him good; with David, Here I am, 1 Sam. xv. let him do to me as seemeth good to him; yea, 26. even with Socrates, If so it pleaseth God, so let it be.
5. Bearing adversities calmly, cheerfully, and courageously, so as not to be discomposed with anger or grief; not to be put out of humour, not to be dejected or disheartened; but in our disposition of mind to resemble the primitive saints, who were s λυπούμενοι, ἀεὶ δὲ χαίροντες, as grieved, but always re
2 Cor. vi.
SERM. joicing; who took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, who accounted it all joy when they fell into Heb. x. 34. divers tribulations.
Jam. i. 2.
7. xxvii. 14.
6. A hopeful confidence in God for the removal or easement of our afflictions, and for his gracious aid to support them well; agreeable to those good rules and precepts: It is good that a man should both hope, and wait quietly for the salvation of the Psa. xxxvii. Lord; Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him; wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart; according to the pattern of David, who, in such a case, thus roused Psal. xlii. 5. and stayed himself: Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance; and after the holy apostles, who in their most forlorn estate could say, 2 Cor. iv. 8. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.
7. A willingness to continue, during God's pleasure, in our afflicted state, without weariness or irksome longings for alteration; according to that advice of the Wise Man; My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, neither be weary of his correction; and that of the apostle, backed with Heb. xii. 3. our Lord's example, Considering him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest be weary and faint in your minds.
8. A lowly frame of mind (that is, being sober in our conceits of ourselves, sensible of our unworthiness and meanness, of our natural frailty, penury, and wretchedness; of our manifold defects and miscarriages in practice; being meek and gentle, ten
Lam. iii. 26.