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guile found in his mouth *; who for this cause came into the world, that he should bear witness to the truth t, and laid down his life to redeem us from all iniquity I. Therefore since Christ our passover is sacrificed for us, let us keep the feast, not with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of truth and sincerity S; and speaking the truth in love, grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ ||. Again, the Spirit of grace || is the Spirit of truth also, whose office is to guide us into all truth **. Faith and truth are amongst his fruits ff in those who are regenerated by him. And the wisdom, which is from above, is without hypocrisy 11. Lie not therefore one to another, seeing
have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him gs. Nor doth this appear, in the Word of God, to be more our duty, than our interest in respect of both worlds. For in the present, what man is he, that lusteth to live, and would fain see good days ? Keep thy tongue from evil ; and thy lips, that they speak no guile ||||. And as to the next, If any man seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, this man's religion is vain 19. All liars shall have their part in the lake, which burneth with fire and brimstone ***. And there shall in no wise enter into the new Jerusalem any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a liettt.
# 1 Pet. üi. 22. + John xviii. 37. | Tit. ii. 14. $1 Cor. v. 7, 8. # Epiph. iv. 15.
Heb. X. 29. ** John xvi. 13. ++ Gal. v. 22. Eph. v. 9.' James iii. 17. & Col. iii. 9, 10. lill Ps. xxxiv. 12, 13. IT James i. 26. *** Rev, xxi. 8. ttt Rev. xxi. 27.
LUKE XXI. 19.
In your patience possess ye your souls. The unpleasant things which befal us, in one part or another of this life, are so many; and the impressions, which they make upon us, are commonly so strong; that being affected by them no otherwise, than we ought, constitutes a large and difficult part of our duty: which therefore I shall endeavour to explain and recommend to you in several discourses. And as some things are immediately and necessarily uneasy to us, and some only by means of needless and unreasonable reflections and comparisons of our own state with what others are, or with what we might have been : I shall speak at present of bearing what we cannot but feel disagreeably, with composure, which is usually called patience; in the next place, I shall direct to the like behaviour under comparative misfortunes, which is generally expressed by the name of contentment; and after these moral obligations, which however need not and cannot well be altogether separated from those of piety, I shall proceed to lay before you more distinctly the religious ones, of resignation first, and then of thankfulness, under every affliction and seeming disadvantage.
Now the feelings unavoidably disagreeable to us, and tempting us to impatience, are chiefly pain, sorrow, fear, and anger.
1. Pain: under which may be comprehended also sickness, restlessness, and languid lowness. These are often so grievous, by their degree, or continuance, or both; that we cannot fail from the very make of our nature, to suffer under them extremely: and stifling at such times all expressions of suffering, and earnest wishes of ease, would usually require too violent an effort to be lasting; or perhaps to be safe, even could we persist in it. Besides, these external marks of distress were certainly designed by providence to excite a proper degree of pity and assistance from those around us; which, without some powerful calls upon them, would frequently be withheld. And therefore we ought neither to condemn ourselves, nor others, who may possibly undergo far more than we imagine, for some strong expressions of present misery: nor think it a very heinous fault, if they now and then exceed the proper bounds. But still the more calm and moderate we are, the more we shall appear, if not to need, yet to deserve, both compassion and relief; and they will both be afforded us with more good-will and regard. Then further, all vehement complaints and immoderate significations of our wretchedness, heighten strangely our own sense of it; and thus either work us up into wild rage, or sink us down into spiritless dejection; and so make our case much worse than it was; when; alas, we have cause to seek out for every alleviation, great or small.
In acute torments, it is a very comfortable circumstance, if we can hope, that they will not be durable. Even a short time, indeed, will seem dreadfully long to us.
But however, it must be a consolation in a
storm, that we are making towards a safe harbour within our view, though we seem to approach it slowly. And as the easing of pain is not only ease but delight; we should support ourselves by expecting it, as well as enjoy it when it comes.
In tedious disorders it may be very useful to look back now and then, and see how much we have gone through already: not in order to load our minds with the burthen of it a second time; but to learn, from what we have done already, what we can do more, if need be. And probably, we shall be able to do it with less difficulty hereafter, than we did before. For by degrees and proper care, both our minds and bodies become habituated to endure hardship quietly and cheerfully. It is a great proof and instance of the mercy of our Creator, that we are so framed. And we ought to make a faithful use of his goodness in this respect, as well as others.
But in order to acquiesce more patiently under our sufferings, we should look beyond the bitterness to the possible benefits of them. Our liableness to them may teach us caution and prudence in many parts of our conduct, in order to avoid them; may preserve us from follies destructive to our fortunes, our reputations, our health itself. For numbers have presumed so far upon their strength, as utterly to destroy it by irregularities, while the happy necessity of being discreet in the management of themselves hath carried on many who were very infirm, comfortably enough, to a good old age. Therefore, on the whole, perhaps bodily complaints may prove a security against greater inconveniences: and, were these less; yet only the difference between the one evil and the others ought to be computed, as clear loss to us. Nor is it only from follies, that men are
thus kept back, but frequently from sins also: from some, to which, if they would examine themselves, they might perceive they should have been exposed; and possibly from others, of which they have no suspicion. Firmness of constitution, vehemence of appetites and passions, flowing spirits, confidence of being able to do and to bear almost any thing, mislead men unaccountably in the conduct of life: make them forgetful of God and their latter end, prompt them to debauchery, intemperance, violence, injustice, to regard only present indulgence, and take the good things of this world for their portion. Better were it for such as resist not these temptations, if they had experienced in their stead the severest discipline of pain and sickness. These remind us of our dependence on him who made us; of the vanity of earthly enjoyments, of mortality and its consequences; of pitying and lessening the afflictions of our fellow-creatures; of shewing kindness, as we often need it. And the exercise of devotion towards God, and goodness to those around us, will so pleasingly employ our thoughts, so effectually sooth our minds, and reconcile us to ourselves and our condition, that we shall find the roughest attacks on our outward frame very supportable.
I shall only observe further under this head, at poverty and want, when they are so extreme as to bring on actual bodily sufferings, are to be placed to the account of pain: but such pain very seldom, if ever, arises to near the height which various diseases cause; and is much more constantly cured or mitigated by the care of charitable persons. Indigence, therefore, in this view, is very consistent with opatience: and that in the other view, of reflection and comparison, it is equally compatible with contentment, shall be shewn you hereafter.