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SUMMARY OF SERMON XLII.
I PETER, CHAP. II.-VERSE 21.
The word patience hath, in common usage, a double sense, taken from the respect it has unto two sorts of objects somewhat different—a disposition of mind to bear provocations with meekness, or to sustain adversities and crosses with piety and resignation : both may be understood in the text, and both are therefore included under one head in the following discourse.
Patience then is that virtue which qualifies us to bear all conditions and all events, by God's disposal incident to us, with such internal disposition and external deportment as he requires, and as reason dictates. Its nature may be understood best by considering the chief acts it produces, which briefly are,
1. A thorough persuasion that nothing befals us by fate, or chance, or the mere agency of inferior causes ; but that all proceeds from the dispensation, or with the allowance of God: quotations on this point from holy writ.
2. A firm belief that all occurrences, however adverse and cross to our desires, are consistent with the justice, wisdom, and goodness of God; so that we cannot reasonably complain of them.
3. A full satisfaction of mind, that all, even the most bitter and sad accidents, do by God's purpose tend and conduce to our good, according to those sacred aphorisms, Happy is the man whom God correcteth, &c.
4. An intire submission and resignation of our wills to the will of God, with a suppression of all rebellious sentiments against his providence.
5. Bearing adversities calmly, cheerfully, and courageously, so as not to be discomposed with anger or grief, not to be dejected or disheartened; but to resemble in our disposition of mind the primitive saints, who were as grieved, but always rejoicing, &c.
6. A hopeful confidence in God for the removal or alleviation of our afflictions, and for his gracious aid to support them well, agreeably to Scripture rules and precepts.
7. A willingness to continue, during God's pleasure, in our afflicted state, without weariness or irksome longings for alteration, according to the wise man's advice: My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, &c.
8. A lowly frame of mind, sensible of our unworthiness and manifold defects ; deeply affected with reverence towards the awful majesty of God, &c.
9. Restraining our tongues from all discontented complaints and murmurings, all profane and harsh expressions importing displeasure or dissatisfaction in God's dealings with us, or desperation and distrust in him.
10. Blessing and praising God; that is, declaring our hearty satisfaction in his proceedings with us, acknowleging bis wisdom, justice, and goodness therein, in conformity to Job. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away ; blessed be the name of the Lord.
11. Abstaining from all irregular and unworthy courses toward the removal or redress of our crosses, contentedly bearing rather than violently breaking our yoke by unwarrantable means.
12. A fair behavior towards the instruments and abettors of our affliction; those who brought us into it, or who detain us under it, by sparing the succor which we might expect.
13. Particularly in regard to those, who by injurious and offensive usage do provoke us, patience importeth, first, that we be not hastily, immoderately, or pertinaciously incensed against them : secondly, that we do not in our hearts harbor any
illwill or ill designs towards them ; but on the contrary that we desire and purpose their good : thirdly, that in effect we do not execute any revenge against them either in word or deed, &c.
14. In fine, patience includes and produces a general meekness and kindness of affection, together with an enlarged sweetness and pleasantness in conversation and carriage towards all men.
In these and such like acts the practice of this virtue consists ; unto which practice reason, philosophy, and common sense suggest many inducements; the tenor of our common, faith supplies still more; but nothing more clearly directs and more strongly enforces then than that admirable example in our text.
Some principal of those rational inducements recapitulated ; viz. the consideration that it is the prerogative of God to dispose of all things, and allot our portions to us, according to his good pleasure; that we are obliged to his free bounty for many favors; that it is a heinous affront to mistrust him; that deserving sore punishment, it is just that we should be highly content with any thing on this side death and damnation ; that our condition, when truly estimated cannot be insupportable; that adversity is a thing wholesome and profitable to us; that it will not outlive ourselves; that this world is not intended for a place of pure delight; that no kind of adversity is peculiar to us alone; that God will in his good time remove it, if he pleases, and that impatience does not at all conduce to our relief. Such considerations are general to all men. also particular reasons disposing us to bear injuries and contumely from men calmly, without immoderate wrath, hatred, or revenge ; because God permits them for our trial, reserving
to himself the right of vengeance and power of execution ; because we are obliged to interpret charitably the actions of our neighbor, and to forgive all injuries by the command of God, who has made it a necessary condition of our obtaining mercy; because revenge does in no wise profit us: this point enlarged on.
But the example specified in the text, and in other places recommended, does in a still more lively manner express how we should in such cases bear ourselves, and most strongly enforces duties of this nature.
The example of our Lord was in this kind the most remarkable and most perfect that can be imagined. This fully stated as to his parentage, birth, and exterior circumstances—his laborious and hard life-his cruel afflictions and causeless persecutions—his tender care and charity towards his persecutors freeing them from grievous diseases and great mischiefs, reclaiming them from sin and error, &c.-his patiently suffering repulses from strangers—his meekly bearing with the stupid and perverse incredulity of his disciples-but above all his passion, and his inimitable demeanor in every scene of that great trial. Neither was it out of a stupid insensibility or stubborn resolution, that he thus behaved himself; for he had a strong sense of all those grievances; but from a perfect submission to the divine will and intire command over his own, with an excessive charity towards mankind, this patient and meek conduct arose. Such is the example of our Lord : concluding exhortations drawn from it, to encourage us in our endeavors to imitate its excellency.
I PETER, CHAP. II.--Verse 21.
Because also Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye
should follow his steps.
In these words two things appear especially observable; a duty implied, (the duty of patience,) and a reason expressed, which enforceth the practice of that duty, (the example of Christ.) We shall, using no more preface or circumstance, first briefly, in way of explication and direction, touch the duty itself, then more largely describe and urge the example.
The word patience hath, in common usage, a double meaning, taken from the respect it hath unto two sorts of objects, somewhat different. As it respecteth provocations to anger and revenge by injuries or discourtesies, it signifieth a disposition of mind to bear them with charitable meekness; as it relateth to adversities and crosses disposed to us by providence, it importeth a pious undergoing and sustaining them. That both these kinds of patience may here be understood, we may, consulting and considering the context, easily discern: that which immediately precedeth, ' If when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable to God,' relateth to good endurance of adversity; that which presently followeth, who when he was reviled, reviled not again, when he suffered he threatened not,' referreth to meek comporting with provocations: the text therefore, as it looketh backward, doth recommend the patience of adversities, as forward, the