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Father to endure all this for our sakes, before he assumed our flesh. Hence, "I gave my back to the smi ters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair. I hid not my face from shame and spitting." Isa. 50: 6. As he guards his disciples against being offended in him, by forewarning them what they must expect; "These things I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them," John, 16:4; so he, foreknowing what himself must suffer, and hav ing agreed so to do, bore those sufferings with singular patience; "Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye ?" John, 18: 4.
4. His patience sprang from the faith he exercised under all he suffered. His faith looked through all those dark and dismal clouds, to the joy set before him. Heb. 12: 2. He knew that though Pilate condemned, God would justify him. Isa. 50: 4-8. And he set one overagainst the other: he balanced the glory into which he was to enter, with the sufferings through which he was to enter it. He exercised faith in God for divine support under sufferings, as well as for glory, the fruit and reward of them, "I have set" (or, as the apostle varies it, "I foresaw) the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth." Psa 16:8-11. Here is faith exercised by Christ for strength to carry him through. And then it follows, "My flesh also shall rest in hope; for thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life. In thy presence is fulness of joy ; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." Here is his faith acting upon the glory into which he was to enter after he had suffered these things: this filled him with peace.
5. As his faith, eyeing the glory into which he was
passing, made him endure all things; so the heavenliness of his spirit filled him with tranquillity and calmness under all abuses and injuries. The more heavenly any man's spirit is, the more sedate, composed, and peaceful. "As the higher heavens (saith Seneca) are more ordinate and tranquil, where there are neither clouds nor winds, storms nor tempests, and it is the inferior heavens that lighten and thunder, and the nearer the earth the more tempestuous and unquiet: even so the sublime and heavenly-minded is placed in a calm and quiet station." Certainly that heart which is sweetened frequently with heavenly, delightful communion with God, is not very apt to be imbittered with wrath, or soured with revenge against men. The peace of God appeases and ends all strifes and differences. The heavenly Spirit marvellously causes a sedate and quiet breast. Never was there such a heavenly soul on earth as Christ's: he had most sweet and wonderful communion with God: he had meat to eat, which others, yea, his most intimate friends, knew not of. The Son of man was in heaven upon earth, John, 3: 13; even in respect to the blessed heavenly communion he had with God, as well as in respect to his Deity.
6. As his meekness and patience sprang from the heavenliness of his spirit; so likewise, from his complete and absolute obedience to his Father's will: he could most quietly submit to all the will of God, and never regret any part of the work assigned him. For you must know, that Christ's death was on his part an act of obedience; he all along eyeing his Father's command and counsel in what he suffered. Phil. 2: 7, 8; John, 18: 11; Psa. 40: 6-8. Now just as considering the hand of God in an affliction, calms and quiets the gracious soul; as David, 2 Sam. 16:11; so much more it quieted Jesus Christ, who was privy to the design and end of his Father, with whose will he all along com
plied; looking on Jews and gentiles but as the instru ments ignorantly fulfilling God's pleasure, and serving the great design of his Father. Such was his patience, and such the grounds of it.
In making a practical improvement of this subject I might use it in various ways; but the direct and main use is, to press us to a Christ-like patience in all our sufferings and troubles. And seeing in nothing we are more generally defective, and defects of christians here. in are so prejudicial to religion, and uncomfortable to themselves; I resolve to wave all other uses, and con fine myself to this branch; even a persuasive to christians unto all patience in tribulations; to imitate their lamb-like Saviour. Unto this, christians, you are expressly called: "Because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps. Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; who when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously." 1 Pet. 2:21, 22. Here is your pattern; a perfect pattern! a lovely and excellent pattern! Will you be persuaded to the imitation of Christ herein? Methinks I should persuade you to it; yea, every thing about you persuades to patience in suffering look which way you will, upward or downward, inward or outward, backward or forward, to the right hand or to the left, you shall find all things persuading and urging upon you true christian patience.
1. Look upwards, when tribulations come upon you: look to that sovereign Lord, that commissions and sends them upon you. You know troubles do not rise out of the dust; "Behold, I frame evil, and devise a device against you." Jer. 18: 11. Troubles and afflictions are of the Lord's framing and devising, to reduce his wan
dering people to himself. You may observe much of divine wisdom in the choice, measure, and season of your troubles: sovereignty, in electing the instruments of your affliction; in making them as afflictive as he pleaseth; and in making them obedient to his call, both in coming and going. Now, could you in times of trouble look up to this sovereign hand, which holds your souls, bodies, and all your comforts; how quiet would your hearts be! "I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it." Ps. 39:9. "It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good." 1 Sam. 3: 18. Oh, when we have to do with men, and look no higher, how do our spirits swell and rise with revenge and impatience! But if you once come to see that man is a rod in your Father's hand, you will be quiet. Ps. 46: 10. It is for want of looking up to God in our troubles, that we fret, murmur, and despond as we do.
2. Look downward, and see what is below you, as well as up to that which is above you. You are afflicted, and you cannot bear it. No trouble like your trouble! never man in such a case as you are! Well, cast your eye downward, and see those who lie much lower than you. Can you see none on earth in a more miserable state? Are you at the very bottom, and not a man below you? surely there are thousands in a sadder case than you. What is your affliction? Have you lost a relative? Others have lost all. Have you lost an estate, and are become poor? Well, there are some "who cut up mallows by the bushes, and juniper-roots for their meat. They are driven forth from among men, they cried after them as after a thief. They dwell in the cliffs of the valleys, in caves of the rocks. Among the bushes they brayed, under the nettles they were gathered together." Job, 30:4-7. Are you persecuted and afflicted for Christ's sake? What think you of their sufferings, "who had trial of cruel mock
earth, and in the
ings; yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonments: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented." Heb. 11: 36, 37. And are you better than they? I know not what you are; but I am sure these were men of whom the world was not worthy." Verse 38.
Or are your afflictions more spiritual and inward? Say not the Lord never dealt more bitterly with the soul of any than with you. What think you of the case of David, Heman, Job, Asaph, whose doleful cries, by reason of the terrors of the Almighty, may melt the hardest heart that reads their complaints? The Almighty was a terror to them; the arrows of God were within them; they roared by reason of the disquietness of their hearts. Or are your afflictions outward and inward together; an afflicted soul in an afflicted body? Well, so it was with Paul, Job, and many other of those worthies gone before you. Surely you may see many on earth who have been, and are in far lower and sadder states than you. Or if not on earth, doubtless you will admit there are many in hell who would be glad to change conditions with you, as bad as you think yours to be. And were not all these moulded out of the same lump with you? Surely if you can see any below you, you have no reason to return so ungratefully upon your God, and accuse your Maker of severity, or charge God foolishly.
3. Look inward, and see if you can find nothing there to quiet you. Cast your eye into your own heart; consider either its corruptions or its graces. Cannot you find weeds enough there, that need such winter-weather as this to rot them? Hath not that proud heart need enough of all this to humble it! that carnal heart need of such things as these to mortify it? that backsliding, wandering heart need of all this to reduce and recover