Section 8 Suffering under the Cross, the Christian Finds Consolation in God
By these and similar considerations, Scripture abundantly solaces us for the ignominy or calamities that we endure in defense of righteousness. [Accordingly], we are very ungrateful if we do not willingly and cheerfully receive them at the hand of the Lord—especially since this form of the cross is the most appropriate to believers, being that by which Christ desires to be glorified in us, as Peter also declares (1Pe 4:11, 14). But as to ingenuous natures, it is more bitter to suffer disgrace than a hundred deaths. Paul expressly reminds us that not only persecution, but also disgrace awaits us, “because we trust in the living God” (1Ti 4:10). So in another passage he bids us, after his example, [to] walk “by evil report and good report” (2Co 6:8).
The cheerfulness required, however, does not imply a total insensibility to pain. The saints could show no patience under the cross if they were not both tortured with pain and grievously molested. Were there no hardship in poverty, no pain in disease, no sting in ignominy, no fear in death, where would be the fortitude and moderation in enduring them? But while every one of these, by its inherent bitterness, naturally vexes the mind, the believer in this displays his fortitude: though fully sensible of the bitterness and labouring grievously, he still withstands and struggles boldly. In this, [he] displays his patience: though sharply stung, he is however curbed by the fear of God from breaking forth into any excess. In this, [he] displays his alacrity: though pressed with sorrow and sadness, he rests satisfied with spiritual consolation from God.
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