Sum of Christian Life-Section 10 Real Sorrow and Real Patience in Conflict with Each Other

Section 10 Real Sorrow and Real Patience in Conflict with Each Other

  I wished to make these observations to keep pious minds from despair, lest, from feeling it impossible to divest themselves of the natural feeling of grief, they might altogether abandon the study of patience. This must necessarily be the result with those who convert patience into stupor, and a brave and firm man into a block. Scripture gives saints the praise of endurance when, though afflicted by the hardships they endure, they are not crushed. Though they feel bitterly, they are at the same time filled with spiritual joy. Though pressed with anxiety, [they] breathe exhilarated by the consolation of God. Still there is a certain degree of repugnance in their hearts because natural sense shuns and dreads what is adverse to it, while pious affection, even through these difficulties, tries to obey the divine will. This repugnance the Lord expressed when He thus addressed Peter: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself and walkedst whither thou wouldst; but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee; and carry thee whither thou wouldest not” (Joh 21:18). It is not probable, indeed, that when it became necessary to glorify God by death he was driven to it unwilling and resisting; had it been so, little praise would have been due to his martyrdom. Though he obeyed the divine ordination with the greatest alacrity of heart, yet, as he had not divested himself of humanity, he was distracted by a double will. When he thought of the bloody death that he was to die, struck with horror, he would willingly have avoided it. On the other hand, when he considered that it was God Who called him to it, his fear was vanquished and suppressed, and he met death cheerfully.

  It must therefore be our study, if we would be disciples of Christ, to imbue our minds with such reverence and obedience to God as may tame and subjugate all affections contrary to His appointment. In this way, whatever be the kind of cross to which we are subjected, we shall in the greatest straits firmly maintain our patience. Adversity will have its bitterness and sting us: when afflicted with disease, we shall groan and be disquieted and long for health. Pressed with poverty, we shall feel the stings of anxiety and sadness—feel the pain of ignominy, contempt, and injury. [We shall] pay the tears due to nature at the death of our friends. But our conclusion will always be, “The Lord so willed it; therefore let us follow His will.” Nay, amid the pungency of grief, among groans and tears, this thought will necessarily suggest itself and incline us cheerfully to endure the things for which we are so afflicted.

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