Puslapio vaizdai

(1) And there are usually these Three Considerations, that grate upon our spirits, and make us impatient under sufferings.

[1] The Meanness and contemptible Vileness of the Instrument.

What! to be affronted and abused by the lees and dregs of the people! If a lion had rent me, there had been some solace in the honour of my sufferings : but, to be eaten up with vermin, the ignominy of it is far worse than the pains. Thus, I say, impatience takes occasion to exasperate itself from the baseness of the instrument. And, truly, the most patient have much ado to keep their passions from souring upon this reflection. Thus, Job at large aggravates his miseries, from this consideration: Job. xxx. 1, 8, 9: They, that are younger than I, have me in derision : whose fathers I would have disdained to...set with the dogs of my flock... They were children of fools ; yea, children of base men : they were viler than the earth. And now am I their song; and their by-word. And,

[2] It heightens impatience, when we reflect upon the Nearness of those, who are the occasions and instruments of our sufferings.

What! to have a part of ourselves, a parcel of our own bowels, rebel against us, and contrive our hurt and ruin! those, who have their beings from us, to conspire our destruction or those, whom we have made intimate and familiar with us; and could never have had the advantage of doing us mischief, had not our friendship and kindness put them into the capacity! And, thus, David aggravates his sufferings : Ps. lv. 12, 13. It was not an enemy, that reproached me : then could I have borne it. Neither was it he, that hated me, that magnified himself against me...But it was thou, a man, mine equal, my guide, and my companion.

[3] It many times heightens impatience, to reflect upon the base Ingratitude and foul Disingenuity of those, from whom we suffer.

Persons, perhaps, whom we have obliged, by the greatest respects imaginable: such, who, we thought, had as much reason to love us, as themselves; and would have been as far from doing us an injury, as their own natures. Yet, for such as these to violate all bonds of friendship, and all laws of gratitude; for such frozen snakes to fly at us, and sting us, whom we have warmed and cherished in our own bosoms, and who, without our support, could not have had the power to mischief us : this,

saith Impatience, makes the injury altogether insufferable; and the highest revenge, that I can take upon them, can scarce expiate it.

(2) But, to cure this fretful distemper of thy spirit, be sure that thou look off from the instruments of thy sufferings, unto God, who is the principal inflicter of them. And, then, if thou wilt but consider the Three foregoing Reflections, thou wilt find, that thine own cannon will be turned against thee; and those, which were provocations to impatience, when thou lookest to men, will prove strong and most forcible arguments for patience, if thou lookest to God.

[1] Thou growest impatient, when thou lookest upon the Meanness and Baseness of those that injure thee: and, wilt thou not be patient, О man! when thou considerest thine own Vileness and Baseness, who yet hast infinitely wronged and injured thy God?

Who, or what, art thou, but breathing dust, a lump of animated mire, the very sediment and dregs of nature? and, yet, how often hast thou daringly provoked and affronted the great and glorious God of Heaven and Earth! Every the least sin thou hast committed, the least vain and unworthy thought, the least idle and impertinent word, is a far greater injury done to God, than the most unjust and violent outrage can be against thee. It is thy fellow-creature, that wrongs thee; one, whose nature and being is altogether as considerable as thine; and, in this respect, differs no more from thee, than two units, in a number, from one another: but thou sinnest against the Infinite Majesty of thy Almighty Creator; in comparison with whom, thou, and all nations of the earth, are less than nothing and vanity ; more nothing, than nothing itself is. And, wilt not thou be patient under the petulant affronts of thy inferiors, when as thou, who art infinitely inferior unto God, yet livest, and art yet out of hell, only through bis patience towards thee?

[2] Thou art impatient, when thou considerest the Nearness of the Relation, wherein those, that wrong thee, stand unto thee: but, wilt not thou rather be patient, when thou considerest, in what a Near Relation thou standest unto God, and yet ceasest not daily to affront and injure him?

Thou art his creature; and that is so near, as it challengeth from thee all possible respect and duty: nay, more; thou art his son, or at least hopest and pretendest so, and yet rebellest against thy Heavenly Father. And, is it much, that thine rebel against thee, since thou thyself rebellest against thine? And,

[3] Thou art impatient, when thou considerest the Ingratitude of those, from whom thou sufferest: but, alas, o man! dost thou never consider thine own towards God?

Is not thy whole dependence upon him ? doth not he maintain thee, at his own cost and charges ? hath he not educated, and brought thee up, as one of his family and household ? doth he not daily provide for thee? doth he not heap his blessings upon thee, and load thee every day with his benefits? And yet, O ungrateful man! thou art daily and hourly wronging and provoking him. And, therefore, if he doth at last chastise and afflict thee, thou hast no reason to murmur and complain: for, it seems, it is but thine own law: it is no otherwise, than thou wouldst thyself deal with thy fellow-creature, over whom thou hast no such right; and from whom thou hast not suffered, by infinite proportions, so much as thy God hath done from thee.

Thus, I say, by turning off our eyes from the instruments, to the principal cause of our sufferings, we may cure and remove that impatience, which is apt to grate upon and exasperate our spirits.

5. Reflecting upon a former more prosperous condition, is oftentimes a great provocation unto impatience under our present sufferings.

Nothing puts a sharper edge upon our afflictions, than to compare present miseries with past felicities. But, in this, we may see very much of the perverseness of our nature, in turning that, which ought to be an engagement to our thankfulness, into an occasion of murmuring. For, either thy former prosperity was a mercy, or not: if not, thou hast no cause to complain for the change: if it were, certainly, thou hast a reason rather to bless God, than to repine that he hath blessed thee,

And thus I have finished the consideration of those generals, which I propounded. I hope, I need not press any thing more, than what bath already been offered. And, if the serious review of what arguments and motives have been mentioned, will not suffice to compose the mind, it is much to be doubted, whether such men's spirits be not ulcerous beyond all cure.

Only, let me add this for our encouragement, that this hard and difficult duty will be but for a little while incumbent upon

us. Whatsoever is irksome in religion, will shortly be over : and, when we are passed through this vale of tears and misery, as our faith shall be turned into vision, our hope into fruition, so our patience shall be turned into joy and triumph.

This was the consideration, which St. Paul himself used, under all his sufferings; and shall be the subject of my next discourse,


« AnkstesnisTęsti »