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beasts, even one thing befalleth them : as the one dieth, so dieth the other, yea, they have all one breath, so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast : for all is vanity.
24. The instances of the heroic death of the Spartans and others, affect us very little ; for in what way do they bear upon our case? But the death of the martyrs comes home to our bosoms, for they are our very members; we have one common interest with them; their resolution may go to form our own. There is nothing of this in the instances of heathen heroism ; we have no point of union with them. In the same way as I am not made wealthy by the enriching of a stranger, but I am by the wealth of a parent or a husband.
25. We can never break off an attachment without pain. As St Augustin says, A man does not feel the chain, when he voluntarily follows him who leads him by it; but when he begins to resist, and to go the other way, then he suffers—the chain tightens, and suffers violence. Such a chain is our body, which breaks only by death. Our Lord has said, from the coming of John the Baptist, (i. e.* from his entrance into the heart of each believer,) The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. Before the heart is touched, we have only the dead weight of our corruption, dragging us down to the earth. But when God draws us from above, there arises between these opposing influences, that fearful struggle in which God alone can overcome. But, as St Leon
says, We can do every thing through him, without whom we can do nothing. We must resolve, then, to sustain this warfare all our life long, for here there cannot be peace. Jesus Christ is not come to bring peace on earth, but a sword. But yet we must admit, that as the wisdom of men is foolishness with God, so even this warfare which seems so trying to men, is actually peace with God; it is the very experience of that peace, which Jesus Christ has accomplished. It cannot, however, be perfected in us, till the body is dissolved. And this it is which gives rise to the wish for death, even while we cheerfully endure a lengthened life for the love of him, who underwent both life and death for us; and who, as St Paul says, is able to do for us far more abundantly than we can ask or think.
* This is an accommodation of the text, but it is ingenious.
26. We should try never to be afflicted at any thing, but to consider every event as happening for the best. I believe this to be a duty, and that we sin in not performing it. For, in fact, the reason why sin is sin, is merely its contrariety to the will of God; and thus, the essence of sin consisting in opposition to that which we know to be the will of God, it appears to me evident, that when He discovers to us his will by the events of his Provis dence, it is a sin not to approve it.
27. When truth is abandoned and persecuted, then is the time apparently, when our services in its defence are most pleasing in the sight of God. We may judge of grace by the analogies of nature; and hence, we are allowed to conclude, that as an expatriated prince feels a peculiarly kind esteem for the few of his subjects who continue faithful amidst a general revolt; so will God regard, with a peculiar favour, those who defend the purity
of religion in a day of rebuke and blasphemy. But there is this difference between the kings of the earth, and the King of kings, that princes do not make their subjects faithful, they find them so; whilst God finds all men faithless, who are without his grace, and makes them faithful when they ai So that, whilst on the one hand, kings must confess their obligation to those who remain dutiful and obedient; on the other, those who remain steadfast in the service of God, owe it as a matter of infinite obligation to him only:
28. Neither the discipline of the body, nor the distresses of the mind, are really meritorious. It is only the gracious emotions of the heart, that sustain the body and the mind in suffering, and attach a value to such sorrows. For, in fact, these two things, pains and pleasures, are needful for sanctification. St Paul has said, that we must, through much tribulation, enter the kingdom of God. This should comfort those who experience trial, because having learned that the way to the heaven which they seek, is full of trouble, it should rejoice them to recognize such proofs that they are in the right road. But those very pains are not without their pleasures, and the overcoming of them is always accompanied with pleasure. For, as those who forsake God, to return to the world, do so only because they find more delight in the pleasures of earth, than in those which flow from union with God, and that such charms carry them triumphantly away, and causing them to repent their former choice, make them, at last, as Tertullian says, the devil's penitents; so no one ever quits the pleasures of the world, to embrace the cross of Christ, if he has not found more de. light in reproach, and poverty, and destitution, and the
scorn of men, than in all the pleasures of sin. And thus, as Tertullian says, we must not suppose the Christian's life to be a life of sorrow. He abandons not the pleasures of earth, but for others far more noble. St Paul says, Pray without ceasing ; in every thing give thanks ; rejoice
It is the joy of having found God, which is the real principle of our regret at having offended him, and of our whole change of life. He who has found the treasure hid in a field, has, according to Jesus Christ, such joy thereof, that he sells all that he hath to buy it. Matth. xiii. 44. The men of the world have their sorrow; but they have not that joy, which, as Jesus Christ says, the world can neither give, nor take away. The blessed in heaven have this joy, without any alloy of grief. Christians here have this joy, mingled with regret, at having sought after questionable pleasures, and with the fear of losing it, through the influence of those indulgences, which still minister unceasing temptation. We should endeavour then continually to cherish this fear, which husbands and regulates our joy; and according as we find ourselves leaning too much to the one, we should incline towards the other, that we may be kept from falling.
Remember your blessings in the day of your sorrow, and in the day of prosperity remember your afflictions, till that day, when the promise of Jesus, that our joy in him shall be full, is accomplished. Let us not give way to melancholy. Let us not conceive that piety consists in unmitigated bitterness of soul. True piety, which is only perfected in heaven, is so full of consolations, that they are showered on its beginning, its progress, and its crown. It is a light so brilliant, that it reflects illumination on all which belongs to it. If some sorrow mingles with it, especially at the commencement, this originates in us, not in the way that we take. It is not the result of piety newly infused into us, but of the impiety which yet remains. Take away sin, and unmingled joy is left. If we mourn then, let us not lay the blame upon our religion, but upon ourselves; and let us seek only in our own amendment for relief.
29. The past should present to us no difficulties, since we have butone duty towards it regretfor our errors; the future should still less trouble us ; because it is not in the least degree, under our controul, and we may never reach it. The present is the only moment which is really ours, and we ought to occupy it for God. To this our thoughts should chiefly be directed. Yet man, in general, is so restless, that he scarcely ever thinks of the life present and the actual instant of his existence now, but only of that in which he will live hereafter. His propensity is always to live prospectively, but never to live now. Yet our Lord did not wish our forethought to go beyond the day in which we now live. These are the limits which he requires us to keep, both for our future safety, and our present peace.
30. We sometimes learn more from the sight of evil, than from an example of good; and it is well to accustom ourselves to profit by the evil which is so common, while that which is good is so rare.
31. In the 13th chapter of Mark, Jesus Christ speaks largely to his apostles of his second coming; and as the experience of the church in general, is the experience of every Christian in particular, it is certain that this chapter predicts, not only the entire destruction of the world, to