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no greater comfort to Christian persons, than to


be made like unto Christ, by suffering patiently
adversities, troubles, and sicknesses : for He Him-
self went not up to joy, but first He suffered pain ;
He entered not into His glory before He was
crucified. So truly our way to eternal joy is
to suffer here with Christ; and our door to enter
into eternal life is gladly to die with Christ, that
we may rise again from death, and dwell with
Him in everlasting life." ^ Now, we sow in tears ;
the time will come when we shall reap in joy.

1. If we would attain the grace of patience
under suffering, let us seek first to cultivate a
deep sense of our own sinfulness. " Wherefore
doth a living man complain, a man for the pun-
ishment of his sins?" "Know this, that God
exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity de-
serveth." A true sight of the corruption of our
nature, a conviction of our innumerable depar-
tures from God, our quenching of His Holy
Spirit, our insensibility to His love, our earth-
liness and vanity ; the wide extent of evil in
heart and life, in word and deed, which a faithful
self-examination presents to us; all this should
make us rather wonder that God so lightly afflicts
us, and that the rod of His displeasure does not
more severely visit His wayward and disobedient

' Office of " Visilalion of the Sick."


2. Let ns consider the purpose of God in afflict-
ing us. " By tiiis shall the iniquity of Jacob be
purged, and this is all the fruit, to take away his
sin," God knows that without holiness, we can
have no true happiness : that our hearts can find
no rest till they are drawn upwards, and centered
in Him; and therefore He appoints us a continual
process of purification and refining. Sometimes
there is the furnace of exceeding sharp affliction;
long contmued bodily suifering; days and nights,
and months and years, of weariness and anguish ;
the desire of our eyes taken away with a stroke ;
then the inward cross of mental trial, the felt
burden of indwelling corruption, the thorn in the
flesh, the assaults of Satan, and all the various
ills and vexations, trials and disappointments, of
this mortal state. Yet all this is to be welcomed
a.s sl blessing'; yea, it is to be "counted all joy "
by the heart that knows its God. Every step of
sanctified suffering is a step nearer to the crown
of glory. It is a lesson learned in that school of
obedience, in which as man our blessed Lord
Himself was perfected ; it is an increased confor-
mity to the meek and patient Lamb of God ; it is
precious medicine from the unerring Physician of
our souls; it is a token of our Heavenly Father's
special love, refining from dross, and polishing
from corruption, the blood-bought jewels of His
grace. God is putting .to the test, (it may be of


fiery trial.) the faitli wliicli He Himself has
given ; thus grace is strengthened and exercised,
and the stone is " made ready"" for its place in the
heavenly temple.

3. Let us habitually contemplate the sufferings
of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Light,
indeed, ought every trial of ours to appear, when
we think of Him who could say, " Is there any
sorrow like unto my sorrow 7" In what woe or
pain, whether of body or mind, can we not find
in our faithful High Priest the sympathy of an
injinilc suiXerevl And all this for our sakes ! O
my Saviour ; let me be dumb like Tliee, and
never open my mouth in complaining, whatever
be the bitter cup Thou givest me to drink; for it
can only be a cup of blessing to thy redeemed
child, for whom Tliou hast borne the curse, and
exhausted the cup of wrath and indignation.
Let me not shrink from any fellowship whh Thee
in sutfering, who for me didst "endure the cross,
despising the shame," and art now preparing for
me joys which " eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,
neither hath it entered into the heart of man to

4. Let us dwell much on the love and mercy of
God, exhibited towards us in redemption. While
we do this, we cannot be greatly moved by the
sufferiiigs of time. God has not spared His own
Son for me. Shall 1 then think that He deals


hardly in taking away any creature of earth, or
in depriving me of any gonrd in whose sheUer I
was glad? He has granted me spiritual healing;
shall I complain of bodily pain ? He has given
me the Holy Ghost, the Comforter; shall I mourn
over the withered joys of earth ? He has given
me the bright hope of an everlasting home in
glory ; shall I count it hard to be a pilgrim and a
stranger during a few short days or years in this
thorny wilderness ? No; rather let my heart be
soaring upwards to the source of its hidden life,
in adoring gratitude to the God of my salvation,
who pitied me in my low estate ; "for His mercy
endureth for ever ! "

5. Let us live in a spirit of prayer. Suffering
times have ever been praying times with the
saints of God. " In my distress I cried unto the
Lord, and He heard me," said the Psalmist.
Hezekiah in his sickness " prayed and wept
sore." Our blessed Saviour, "being in agony,
prayed more earnestly." There is the relief of
utterance in pouring out our complaint before
God. There is the consolation of feeling that we
are not alone in our sorrows. Man may grow
weary of us, but not so our sympathizing Lord.
He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities,
and His ear is ever open to our cry. Ejaculatory
prayer is a blessed remedy against sudden temp-
tations to impatience: it lifts the soul above its


actual condition ; it lays hold on the strength of
the Everlasting, brings us into communion with
Him who is our peace, and calms the troubled
spirit. Especially should we seek the grace
of patience and long-suffering as a fruit of the
Holy Ghost, for it is not a fruit that grows
on nature's branch. The flesh is all impatience
and discontent, and can only be subdued to the
spirit by the mighty power of God.

6. Let us beware of looking on any trial with
the eye of sense. Faith in the midst of sulfermg
is like the tree cast into the bitter waters of
Marah, which made them sweet. But sense
only adds fuel to the flame of impatience. God
is present with the soul when faith is in exercise :
it is left to iis own utter weakness when sight
prevails. Faith is content that God should order
and appoint every event and circumstance : sense
would blindly dictate to Him, and choose a path
of ease and self-indulgence.

7. Let us consider the shortness of time, and
dwell deeply on the thought of eternity and of the
coming of Christ. " Yet a little while, and he
that shall come will come, and will not tarry."
Then will He give rest to the weary, and conso-
lation to the sorrowful. Their peace shall be as a
river, ever flowing; they shall have entered into
" the joy of their Lord," a joy that fears no vicissi-
tude. Their sun shall never more go down, nor


shall the passing shadow of a cloud obscure the
bright shining of its rays.

And let us remember, that even now God fore-
knows the weight and duration of our trials. He
sees the end from the beginning, and the happy
issue out of all our afflictions which he has in
store for us. It may be very, very soon, " O thou
afflicted with tempest, and not comforted ! that he
will lay thy stones with fair colours, and thy foun-
dations with sapphires." " Thou shall forget thy
misery, and remember it as waters that pass
away." Surely there is an end^ may be said of
every thing, save of the rest that remaineth for
the people of God.

Suffering seems long and weary, and for the
present grievous; yet it is but a little moment, a
twinkling of an eye, compared with the everlast-
ing inheritance of the saints in light, when the
days of their mourning shall be ended. " When
there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor
crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for
the former things are passed away." "All the
days of my appointed time will I wait, till my
change come." " For I reckon that the suffer-
ings of this present time are not worthy to be
compared with the glory that shall be revealed in


In alllictioii, see the necessity of it, and be
linmbled ; see the use of it, and improve it; see
the love there is in it, and be thankful. I know
of no greater blessing than health, except pain and

Comfort to the Christian, that God knows him.

You who are sufferers, whether from sickness,
or sorrow, or sin ; and patient sufferers for the
Lord's sake, He says to each of you, " I know
how thou hast borne, i. e. suffered, and hast pa-
tience, and for my sake hast labored, and not
fainted." (Rev. ii. 3.) Your Lord has known
many a secret trial, many an hour of sorrow and
afiliction, through which you have passed, and
which the world has never known. Your l^ord
has seen your domestic difficulties, your per-
sonal troubles, your moments of secret anguish,
perhaps unrevcaled even to your dearest friend;
for there are sorrows which ought not and cannot
be comnumicated, but to (Jod alone; and yet you
have not fainted, but persevered, and for His
name's sake hast patience. Of all these He says
in the language of commendation, "I know"
them; I know your every prayer for guidance,
your every eflort to bear patiently and contentedly
what I have laid upon you, and to profit by the


visitation ; to hear the rod, and Him who appoint-
ed it ; your every endeavour against evil tempers
and evil habits. All these things, which man can
never know, are known and valued by me. How
delightful is the reflection to the child of God,
that we have to do with One who judges not
as sinners judge, and who feels not as even
the holiest friend on earth can feel towards our
patient endurance, our shortenings, or our slow
advancings, but who looks even at the most
feeble as children still ; and while those around
may blame us that we have borne our trials
no better, and have advanced no farther and
no faster on the heavenward road, He, that mer-
ciful Redeemer, commends us, that we are still
upon the road, and " have not fainted."

Suffering not strange. Communion with Christ in
trial and in glory.

"Think it not strange,"^ for it is not. Suit your
thoughts to the experience and verdict of all
times, and to the warnings that the Spirit of God
hath given us in the Scriptures, and our Saviour
Himself from His own mouth, and in the ex-

1 1 Pet. iv. 12.


ample which He showed in His own person. But
the point goes higher.

" Rejoice." Tliough we think not the suffer-
ings " strange," yet may we not well think that
rule somewhat strange, to rejoice in them ? No;
it will be found as reasonable as the other, being
duly considered ; and it rests upon the same
ground which will bear both, " Inasmuch as ye
are partakers of the sufferings of Christ."

So, then, 1. Consider this twofold connected
participation of the sufferings of Christ, and of the
after-glory. 2. The present joy, even in suffer-
ings, springing from that participation.

I need not tell you that this communion in suf-
ferings is not in point of expiation, or satisfaction
to Divine justice, which was the peculiar end of the
sufferings of Christ personal, but not of the com-
mon sufferings of Christ mystical. " He bare our
sins in his own body on the tree;" and in bearing
them, took them away : we bear His sufferings,
as His body united to Him by His Spirit. Those
sufferings which were His personal burden we
partake the sweet fruits of; they are accoimted
ours, and we are acquitted by them : but the
endurance of them was His high and inconmiu-
nicable task, in which none at all were with
Him. Our communion in these, as fully com-
pleted by Himself in His natural body, is the
ground of our comfort and joy in those sufferings


that are completed in His mystical body, the

This is indeed our joy, that we have so light a
burden, so sweet an exchange; the weight of sin
quite taken off our backs, and all bound on His
cross only ; and our crosses, the badges of our
conformity to Him, laid indeed on our shoulders,
but the great weight of them likewise held up by
His hand, that they overpress us not. These fires
of our trial may be corrective, and purgative of
the remaining power of sin, and they are so in-
tended ; but Jesus Christ alone, in the sufferings
of His own cross, was the burnt-offering, " the
propitiation for our sins."

Now, although He hath perfectly satisfied for
us, and saved us by His sufferings, yet this con-
formity to Him in the way of suffering is most
reasonable. Although our holiness doth not stand
in point of law, nor come in at all in the matter
of justifying us, yet we are called and appointed
to holiness in Christ, as assimilating us to Him,
our glorious Head; and we do really receive it
from Him, that we may be like Him. So these
^our sufferings bear a very congruous likeness to
Him, though in no way as an accession to His in
expiation, yet, as a part of His image ; and there-
fore the Apostle says, even in this respect, that we
are " predestinated to be conformed to the image
of his Son." (Rom. viii. 29.)


Is it fit that wc should not follow where our
Captain led, and went first, but that He should
lead through rugged, thorny ways, and we pass
about to get a way through flowery meadows 7
As His natural body shared with His head in His
sufferings, so ought His body mystical to share
with Him, as its head, the buffctings and spittings
on His face, the thorny crown on His head, a
pierced side, nailed hands and feet. If we be
parts of Him, can we think that a body finding
nothing but ease, and bathing in delight, can
agree to a Head so tormented ? I remember
Avhat that pious duke said at Jerusalem, when
they offered to crown liim king there, ^^ Nolo
auream, itbi Christiis spbieamy "No crown
of gold, where Jesus was crowned with thorns."

This is the way we must follow, or else resolve
to leave Him : the way of the cross is the royal
way to the crown. He said it, and reminded
them of it again, that they might take the deep
impression of it : "Remember what I said unto
you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If
they have persecuted me, they will also persecute
you : if they have kept my saying, they will keep
yours also." (John xv. 20.) And particularly
in point of reproaches : " If they have called the
master Beelzebub, how much more shall they
call them of his household 7 " (Matt. x. 25.) A
bitter scolf, an evil name, reproaches for Christ,


why do these fret thee 7 They were a part of
thy Lord's entertainment while He was here.
Thou art even in this a "partaker of his suffer-
ings" and in this way He is bringing thee for-
ward to the partaking of His glory. That is the
other thing.

"When his glory shall be revealed." Now
that He is hidden, little of his glory is seen. It
was hidden while He was on earth, and now it is
hidden in heaven, where He is ; and as for His
body here. His Church, it hath no pompous dress,
nor outward splendour ; and the particular parts of
it, the saints, are poor despised creatures, the very
refuse of men in outward respects and common
esteem. So He Himself is not seen; and His
followers, the more they are seen and looked on
by the world's eye, the more their meanness
appears. True, as in the days of His humiliation,
some rays were breaking forth through the veil of
His flesh and the cloud of His low despicable
condition ; thus it is sometimes with His follow-
ers : a glance of His image strikes the very eye of
the world, and forces some acknowledgment and
a kind of reverence in the ungodly; but common-
ly Christ and His followers are covered with all
the disgraces and ignominies the world can put
on them. But there is a day wherein He will ap-
pear, and it is at hand; and "He shall be glori-
ous, even in His despised saints." and "admired


in tlicm that believe." (2 Thess. i. 10.) How
much more in the brightness of His own glorious
person !

In the mean time, He is hidden, and they are
hidden in Him, "Our life is hid with Christ in
God." (Col. iii. 3.) The world sees nothing of
His glory and beauty, and even His own see not
much; they have but a little glimmering of Him,
and of their own happiness in Him; know little
of their own high condition, and what they are
born to. But in that bright day, He shall shine
forth in His royal dignity, and " every eye shall
see Him," and be overcome with his splendour.
Terrible shall it be to those that formerly despised
Him and His saints, but lo them it shall be the
gladdest day that ever arose upon them, a day
that shall never set or be benighted; the day they
so much longed and looked out for, the full
accomplishment of all their hopes and desires.
Oh, how dark were all our days without the hope
of this day !

" Then," says the Apostle, " ye shall rejoice with
exceeding joy;" and to the end you may not fall
short of that joy in the participation of glory, fall
not back from a cheerful progress in the commu-
nion of those sufferings that are so closely linked
with it, and will so surely lead unto it, and end in
it : for in this the Apostle's expression, this glory
and joy is set before them as the great matter of


their desires and hopes, and the certain end
of their present sufferings.

Now, upon these grounds, the admonition will
appear reasonable, and not too great a demand,
"to rejoice" even in "sufferings."

It is true that passage in the Epistle to the
Hebrews, chap. xii. ver. 11, opposes present afflic-
tion to joy. But, 1. If you mark, it is but in the
appearance, or outward visage. It seemeth not
to be matter of joy, bat of grief To look upon,
it hath not a smiling countenance : yet joy may be
under it. And, 2. Though to the flesh it is what
it seems — grief, and not joy — yet there may
be under it spiritual joy ; yea, the afliiction itself
may help and advance that joy. 3. Through the
natural sense of it, there will be some alloy
or mixture of grief, so that the joy cannot be
pure and complete, but yet there may be joy even
in it. This, the Apostle here clearly grants ; "Re-
joice " now " in" suffering, that you may " rejoice
exceedingly" after it, "leaping for joy." Doubt-
less, this joy at present is but a little parcel, a
drop of that sea of joy. Now it is joy, but more
is reserved. Then they shall leap for joy. Yet
even at present rejoice in "trial," yea, in "fiery
trial." This may be done. The children of God
are not called to so sad a life as the world imag-
ines : besides what is laid up for them in heaven,
they have, even here, their rejoicings and songs


in their distresses, as those prisoners had their
psahns even at midnight, after their stripes, and
in tlieir chains, before they knew of a sndden de-
liverance. (Acts xvi. 25.) True, there may be a
darkness within, clouding all the matter of their
joy : but even that darkness is the seed-time
of after-joy: light is sown in that darkness, and
shall spring up ; and not only shall they have a
rich crop at full harvest, but even some first-fruits
of it here, in pledge of the harvest.

And this they ought to expect, and to seek
after, with minds humble and submissive, as to
the measure and time of it, that they may be par-
takers of spiritual joy, and may by it be enabled
to go patiently, yea, cheerfully, through the tribu-
lations and temptations that lie in their way home-
ward ; and for this end they ought to endeavour
after a more clear discerning of their interest in
Christ, that they may know they partake of Him;
and so, that in suffermg they are partakers of His
sufferings, and shall be partakers of His glory.

Many afflictions will not cloud and obstruct
this, so much as one sin; therefore, if ye would
walk cheerfully, be most careful to walk holily.
All the winds about the earth make not an earth-
quake, but only that within.

Now, this joy is grounded on this communion,
1. in sutferings ; then, 2. in glory.

1. Even in suflcrings themselves. It is a sweet,


a joyful thing, to be a sharer with Christ in any
thing. All enjoyments wherein He is not, are
bitter to a soul that loves Him, and all sufferings
with Him are sweet. The worst things of Christ
are more truly delightful than the best things of
the world; His afflictions are sweeter than their
pleasures. His "reproach" more glorious than
their honours, and more rich than their treasures,
as Moses accounted them. (Heb. xi. 26.) Love
delights in likeness and communion, not only in
things otherwise pleasant, but in the hardest and
harshest things, which have not any thing in them
desirable, but only that likeness. So that this
thought is very sweet to a heart possessed with
this love. What does the world by its hatred and
persecutions, and revilings for the sake of Christ,
but make me more like Him, give me a greater
share with Him in that which He did so willingly
imdergo for me? "When he was sought for to
be made a king," as St. Bernard remarks, "He
escaped; but when he was to be brought to the
cross, He freely yielded Himself." And shall I
shrink and creep back from what He calls me to
suffer for His sake ? Yea, even all my other
troubles and sufferings 1 will desire to have
stamped thus, with this conformity to the suffer-
ings of Christ, in the humble, obedient, cheerful
endurance of them, and the giving up my will to
my Father's.


The following of Christ makes any way pleasant.
His faithful followers refuse no march after Him,
be it through deserts, and mountains, and storms,
and hazards, that will affright self-pleasing, easy
spirits. Hearts kindled and actuated with the
Spirit of Christ will "follow him wheresoever he

As He speaks it for warning to His disciples,
" If they persecuted me. they will also persecute
you ; " so He speaks it for comfort to them, and
sufficient comfort it is, "If they hate you, they
hated me before you." (John xv. IS, 20.)

2. Then add the other: see whither it tends.
" He shall be revealed in his glory," and ye shall
even overflow with joy in the partaking of that
glory ; therefore rejoice now in the midst of all
your sufferings. Stand upon the advanced ground
of the promises and the covenant of grace, and by
faith look beyond this moment, and all that is in
it, to that day wherein "everlasting joy shall be
upon your heads," a crown of it, and sorrow and
mourning shall flee away. (Isa. li. 11.) Believe in
this day, and the victory is won. Oh ! that blessed
hope, well fixed, and exercised, would give other
manner of spirits. What zeal of God would it not
inspire ! What invincible courage against all en-
encounters ! How soon will this pageant of the
world vanish that men are gazing on, — these
pictures, and fancies of pleasures and honours


falsely so called, — and give place to the real glory
of the sons of God, when this blessed Son, who is
God, shall be seen appearing in full majesty, and
all His brethren in glory with Him, all clothed in
their robes ! And if you ask, AVho are they ?
Why, " these are they who came out of great
tribulation, and have washed their robes in the
blood of the Lamb." (Rev. vii. 14.)

It is easy to say. Blessed be God in every thing ;
but where is the man that is always pleased with

Jesus Christ, an High Priest, merciful and faithful.

" In all things it behoved Him to be made like
unto His brethren ; " that he might be, not only
an High Priest, but "an High Priest merciful and
faithful." ^ Here we see the care and tenderness
of God. Whom do we so readily trust as one
whom we know to be able to enter into our con-
dition 7 Who is best fitted to comfort mourners ]
He who has mourned Himself Who can best tell
the dangers of prosperity? He who has pros-
pered Himself Who can tell us what sickness is?
He whose head has often throbbed with pain. It

'Heb. ii. 17.


is so throughout: and we never can tell exactly
what huuiau sufterings and human sorrows are,
luitil we have ourselves suflered and wept. It is
on tills account that dilTercnt classes of men do
not exactly understand and trust each other. The
poor man thinks that the rich man cannot quite
tell what the pinch of poverty is ; and the rich
man, that his poor neighbour does not know the
thorns that are in his downy pillow, or the bitters
that are in his golden cup. To meet this human

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