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REASONS FOR HUMILITY.
187 most exalted sink before him into the lowest depths of self-abasement. The eminently pious Doddridge expressing his feelings, not long before the close of a life of distinguished usefulness and activity, said, “ My confidence is not that I have lived such or such a life, or served God in this or the other manner : I know of no prayer I ever offered, no service I ever performed, but there has been such a mixture of what was wrong in it, that instead of recommending me to the favour of God, I needed his pardon, through Christ, for the same. Yet I am full of confidence: and this is my confidence; there is a hope set before me: I have fled, I still fly, for refuge to that hope."
Of archbishop Usher it is related, that a friend urged him to write his thoughts on sanctification, which he engaged to do; but when the performance of his engagement was claimed, he replied to this effect: “ I have not written, and yet I cannot charge myself with a breach of promise ; for I began to write, but when I came to treat of ihe new creature, which God formeth by his Spirit in every regenerate soul, I found so little of it wrought in myself, that I could speak of it only as parrots, or by rote, without the knowledge of what I might have expressed, and therefore I durst not presume to proceed any further upon it.” His friend being amazed at such a confession, from so eminently holy a person, he added, “ I must tell you, we do not well understand what sanctification and the new creature are. It is no less than for a man to be brought to an entire resignation of his own will to the will of God, and to live in the offering up of his soul continually in the flames of love, and as a whole burnt-offering to Christ: and oh! how many who profess Christianity are unacquainted experimentally with this great work upon their souls."
Consider further, whence all that is holy in your dispositions, all that is virtuous in your character, has sprung. Not from yourself: you have not made yourself to differ ; but may say, “ By the grace of God I am what I am.” Your defects are your own ; but every virtue and every excellence comes from God. To know that you are made a partaker of Christian graces, should call forth your gratitude to him, whose grace has made you what you are; but to know that all these graces come from God should still keep you humble. 188
RESIGNATION. When a Christian,* eminent for charity, had conferred some help upon an orphan, a lady who received it, said, “ When he is old enough I will teach him to name and thank his benefactor.” “Stop," said he, “ thou art mistaken: we do not thank the clouds for the rain. Teach him to look higber, and thank him who giveth both the clouds and the rain." When a friend was attempting to comfort the eminently useful Richard Baxter, ou his death-bed, by reminding him of the good done by his preaching and writings, he replied, “I was but a pen in God's hand; and what praise is due to a pen.” So, whatever you are, or ever may be, God is the source of your graces. Praise should be his, humility yours.
§ 10. RESIGNATION.-To yield all we have and are to the disposal of God; to lie passive in his hand ; and to have no will of our own, no will but his, is a state infinitely desirable.
Entire resignation to the will of God, is impressively inculcated in the Scriptures, by the example of various distinguished characters, and above all others, by that of the Lord of life. Eli, who appears to have been a man of piety, but in the management of his family guilty of great faults, when warned of the destruction that awaited his house, acquiesced in the dreadful decision of God : “ It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good." Job, bowed down with almost insupportable woes, calmly said, “ The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away ; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Hezekiah having offended God, and being warned of the evils that would overwhelm his family, replied, “ Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken." An infinitely greater than these, Jesus, displayed resignation still more perfect. When contemplating his sufferings, he said, “ Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? (shall I say) Father, save me from this hour? But for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name."i When agonizing in Gethsemane, he prayed, “ Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless, not what I will, but what thou wilt.” “ O, my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.''k
• Richard Reynolds. Sam. ii. 18. (g) Job i. 21. (h) 2 Kings xx. 19. (i) John xii. 97.
(6) Mark xiv. 36; Luke xxii, 43, 44. Matt. xxvi. 42.
189 That it is not improper to desire the removal of sufferings and the alleviation of pain, is evident from the Redeemer's conduct; and it is equally evident, that the Christian in affliction may pray repeatedly and earnestly, for deliverance from the sorrows he endures. But then he still should strive to add, as the language of his very heart, Not my will, but thine, be done. These examples of resignation are recorded for our imitation. Think not that this sweet passive grace is only needed to adorn the brightest piety, to shine around a martyr's head. It is essential to the Christian character in every clime, in every form, and under every circumstance.
While you are a pilgrim upon earth, love and cherish this heavenly grace; especially in the dark and cloudy day of adversity and pain, strive to exercise unfeigned submission to your heavenly Father's will. Perhaps he may bid you leave scenes of comfort for the chamber of affliction ;-perhaps he may bid you retire from the scenes of useful, active life, to weakness, languishing, and inactivity ;—perhaps he may spatch from your embrace friends dearer than life, or warn you by incurable disease, that your sun is about to go down, even at noon :-yet still labour and pray for resignationthat resignation, the most unfeigned, the most entire, whose inmost feeling is, It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good. Possessed of this, your soul will enjoy a sweet tranquillity. The tempest of unruly passions will be hushed into a calm. The rebellion of your will to God being subdued, you will be freed from a thousand secret sorrows, that torment the unyielding heart. Peace will take up an abode in your breast, and you will find that it is indeed
“Sweet to lie passive in his hand,
“And feel no will but his.'
A season of suffering is not the only season, in which resignation to the divine will is to be exercised. Daily to yield yourself to the disposal of God, is resignation; and daily to do this is a privilege and duty.
§ 11. PATIENCE is another Christian grace, which the sacred Scriptures inculcate upon all the followers of the Lamb. The occasions for the exercise of patience may perhaps all be included under three classes. One consists of the painful and mysterious dispensations of the Most High. Patience in enduring these aright, is nearly allied to resignation. The 190
PATIENCE. dealings of the Most High are often mysterious. “ Clouds and darkness are round about him." Afflictions are perhaps protracted, or one trial scarcely ends before another begins. Calamity treads on the heels of calamity, cloud rolls on after cloud, and tempest follows tempest. Then to trust in God needs patience. This patience he requires. “Despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him.” “Let patience have her perfect work.”m My brother, or sister, follow after patience. Calmly to bear a momentary trial, needs little of this important grace; but to bear trial after trial; to pass with calm submission, and not a murmuring wish, through weeks, or months, or years of affliction; and when the scene is darkest, still to exclaim, “ Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him :" this is the spirit to which a Christian should aspire.
Patience is equally necessary to enable the Christian to persevere. It is not enough in the Christian pilgrimage, to commence the journey with alacrity, and to pass through its first stages with pleasure. He who wishes for the Christian crown, must till death pursue the Christian course. Whether the way be rough or smooth, flowery or thorny, he must tread it to the end. Whether the heavens smile or frown, shed beams of exhilarating light, or are clothed in darkness and storms, he must pursue his course. Whether he have many friends to help him on to heaven, or none to assist him in his way, but many foes to oppose his progress, he must still go on. Whether he go cheered by the company of fellow-pilgrims, or have to press through hosts of enemies, and meet the scorn, the hatred, the persecution of friends and of mankind, he must still press forward. And whether he advance cheered by his heavenly Father's smiles, and abounding in spiritual joys, or has to walk in darkness and have no light, without one spiritual comfort, but wrestling with the rulers of the darkness of this world, and encountering the fiery darts of the wicked one, the Christian must still go onwards. To advance when all smiles around you, is no difficulty; but you are called to follow those, who through faith and patience inherit the promises, and who went out of great tribulation. “ Add," therefore, “ to your faith patience." Patience is also indispensable, to enable the Christian to (9 Heb. xii. 5.
(m) James i. 4,
PATIENCE EXEMPLIFIED BY THE LORD JESUS. 191
exercise that meekness, gentleness, forbearance, and forgiveness, which are essential parts of the religion of the Saviour. An able writer has observed, that the character which is the subject of the commendation, precepts, and example of the Lord Jesus, is “meek, yielding, complying, forgiving; willing to suffer; silent and gentle under rudeness and insult, suing for reconciliation where others would demand satisfaction, giving way to the pushes of impudence; conceding and indulgent to the prejudices, the wrong-headedness, the intractability of those with whom it has to deal."*
$ 12. The Saviour does not merely represent such a character as amiable in his sight, but he inculcates the attainment of it upon his disciples. His word says, “Be patient towards all men.”n “Follow after patience." “ If, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an ex. ample, that ye should follow his steps: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again ; when he suffered, he threatened not."P “Resist not evil : but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."I · The patience thus inculcated, the divine Saviour exemplified. He bore with mildness the dullness and unbelief of his
friends, and the taunts and malice of his enemies. When * his disciples contended who should be the greatest, he mildly
l'eproved them, by setting a little child in the midst, and teaching them, that those who would inherit his kingdom must become lowly as that child. When Peter, James, and John slept, instead of watching with him, in the season of his greatest sorrow, he calmly said, “Could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation,” When Peter wickedly denied him, he only turned and looked on Peter, and by that piercing look reproved him; and though all his disciples forsook him and fled when his death approached, yet when he rose again he said, “ Go tell my BRETHREN that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me." When Judas came to execute his treason, he meekly said, “Friend, wherefore art thou come ?''t and when the traitor drew near and kissed him, instead of an upbraiding
* Paley. (n) 1 Thess. v. 14.
lo) 1 Tim. vi.10. () 1 Pet. ii. 20-23. ☆ (9) Matt. v. 39–41. (r) Matt. xxvi. 40.
(t) Matt. xxvi. 50.
(s) Matt. xxviii, 10.