Sum of The Christian Life-Sections 9-11

Sections 9-11 The Christian Meets Suffering as Sent by God, but with no Stoic Insensibility

Section 9 The Christian, unlike the Stoic, Gives Expression to His Pain and Sorrow

 This conflict that believers maintain against the natural feeling of pain, while they study moderation and patience, Paul elegantly describes in these words: “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” (2Co 4:8-9). You see that to bear the cross patiently is not to have your feelings altogether blunted. [Nor is it] to be absolutely insensible to pain, according to the absurd description that the Stoics of old gave of their hero as one who, divested of humanity, was affected in the same way by adversity and prosperity, grief and joy—like a stone, [he] was not affected by anything. And what did they gain by that sublime wisdom? They exhib-ited a shadow of patience that never did and never can exist among men. Nay, rather by aiming at a too exact and rigid patience, they banished it altogether from human life.

 Now also we have among Christians a new kind of Stoics, who hold it vicious70 not only to groan and weep, but even to be sad and anxious. These paradoxes are usually started by indolent men who, employing themselves more in speculation than in action, can do nothing else for us than beget such paradoxes. But we have nothing to do with that iron philosophy that our Lord and Master condemned—not only in word, but also by His own example. For He both grieved and shed tears for His own and others’ woes. Nor did He teach His disciples differently: “Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice” (Joh 16:20). And lest any one should regard this as vicious, He expressly declares, “Blessed are they that mourn” (Mat 5:4). And no wonder! If all tears are condemned, what shall we think of our Lord Himself, whose “sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luk 22:44; Mat 26:38)? If every kind of fear is a mark of unbelief, what place shall we assign to the dread that, it is said, in no slight degree amazed Him (Mat 26:37; Mar 14:33)? If all sadness is condemned, how shall we justify Him when He confesses, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death” (Mat 26:38)?

Institutes of the Christian Religion

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“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” Titus 2:11