P. H. Greenleaf.

Consolatio : or, Comfort for the afflicted online

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taining it with easy compliance in all the regions
of its reception ! but when the same breath of
heaven hath been checked with the stiffness of a
tower, or the united strength of wood, it grew
mighty, and dwelt there, and made the highest
branches stoop, and make a smooth path for it on
the top of all its glories. So is sickness, and so is
the grace of God : when sickness hath made the


difFiculty, then God's grace hatli made a triumph,
and by doiibUng its power hath created new pro-
portions of a reward ; and then shows its biggest
glory when it hath the greatest difficulty to mas-
ter, the greatest weaknesses to support, the most
busy temptations to contest with ; for so God loves
that his strength should be seen in our weakness
and our danger.

The Cross of suffering, the fountain of happiness : the
Cross of patience, taken up and borne by divine grace :
and both a testimony of love to Christ.^

In the cross is salvation, in the cross is life, in
the cross is protection from thine enemies ; from
the cross is infusion of heavenly Spirit, true for-
titude, joy of the Spirit, conquest of self, per-
fection of holiness. There is no health of the
soul, nor hope of eternal life, but in the cross.
Take up, therefore, thy cross and follow Jesus,
and thou shall go into life everlasting. He
hath gone before thee, carrying His cross, upon
which He died for thee, that thou mayesl beaf

I The following extract is made from the " Imitation of Christ,"
written lijr Thomas Hamerken, surnamed a Knrtpis, who was horn
at Kcmpen, in Germany, A. D. I3S0. — It afliirds us bufficient proof
that Christian faith and devotion of the highest order, were still
existing m the Church.


thine own cross, and upon that die to thyself for
Him ; because if thou die with Him, thou shalt
also live with Him ; " if we are partakers of His
sufferings, we shall be partakers also of His

Dispose and order all things according as thou
wilt, and as seems best unto thee, and thou wilt
still find something to suffer, willingly or unwil-
lingly ; and so thou shalt continually find the
cross : thou shalt feel either pain of body, or dis-
tress and anguish of spirit. Sometimes thou shalt
be left by God's spirit : other times, thou shalt be
afflicted by thy neighbor : and what is more, thou
shalt often be a trouble to thyself — thou shalt
feel a burden such as no human help can remove,
no earthly comfort lighten ; but bear it thou must,
as long as it is the will of God to continue it on
thee. But God, in permitting no ray of comfort
to visit thee in the darkness of distress, would
have thee learn to suffer tribulation in submissive
humility, and resign thy whole state, present and
future, to his absolute disposal.

No man has so lively a sense of the sufferings
of Christ, as he who hath suffered such like

The cross is always ready, and waits for thee in
every place. Run where thou wilt, thou canst not
avoid it ; for wherever thou runnest, thou takest
thyself with thee, and art always sure of finding


thyself. Turn wliich way thou wilt, either to the
thiiiL'S above or to the things below, to that which
is within, or that which is witiiont thee, thou wilt
in all certainty find the cross; and if thou wonld-
est enjoy peace and obtain the unfading crown of
glory, it is necessary that in every place and in
all events thou shouldest bear it willingly, and in
patience possess thy soul.

If thou bearest the cross willingly, it will soon
bear thee, and lead thee beyond the reach of suf-
fering, where God shall take away all suffering
from thy heart. But if thou bearest it with re-
luctance, it will be a burden inexpressively pain-
ful, which yet thou must still feel ; and by every
impatient effort to throw it from thee, thou wilt
only render thyself less and less able to sustain its
weight, till at length it crush thee.

Why hopest thou to avoid that from which no
human being has been exempt? Who among the
saints hath accomplished his pilgrimage in this
world without adversity and distress? Even our
blessed Lord passed not one hour of his most holy
life, without tasting "the bitter cup that was
given him to drink ; " and of Himself He sailh,
that " it behoved him to suffer, and to rise from
the dead, and so to enter into his glory." And
why dost thou seek any other path to glory but
that in which, bearing the cross, thou art called to
follow " the Captain of thy salvation .^" The life


of Christ was a continual cross, an unbroken chain
of sufferings; and desirest thou a perpetuity of re-
pose and joy ?

This meek and patient submission under it, is
not the effect of any power which is inherent in
man, and which he can boast of as his own ; but
is the pure fruit of the grace of Christ. No : it is
not in man to love and bear the cross; to resist the
appetites of the body, and bring them under abso-
lute subjection to the Spirit ; to shun honors ; to
receive affronts with meekness; to bear with calm
resignation the loss of fortune, health and friends ;
and to have no desire after the riches, the honors
and pleasures of the world. If thou dependest
upon thy own will and strength to do and to suf-
fer all this, thou wilt find thyself as unable to
accomplish it, as to create another world ; but if
thou turnest to the divine power within thee, and
trustest only to that as the doer and sufferer of all,
the strength of Omnipotence will be imparted to
thee, and the world and the flesh shall be put
under thy feet: armed with this holy confidence,
and defended by the cross of Christ, thou needest
not fear the most malignant efforts of thy great
adversary the devil.

Dispose thyself, therefore, like a true and faith-
ful servant, to bear with fortitude and resolution
the cross of thy blessed Lord, to which He was
nailed in testimony of his infinite love of thee.


Prepare thy spirit to suffer patiently the innumer-
able inconveniences and troubles of this miserable
life ; for these thou wilt find, though thou runnest
to the ends of the earth, or hidest thyself in its
deepest caverns : and it is patient suffering alone
that can either disarm their power, or heal the
wounds they have made. Drink freely and affec-
tionately of thy Lord's bitter cup, if thou desirest
to manifest thy friendship for Him, and the part
thou hast with Him.

To sutler, therefore, is thy portion ; and to
suffer patiently and willingly, is the great testi-
mony of thy love and allegiance to thy Lord.

If any way but bearing the cross and dying to
his own will, could have redeemed man from that
fallen life of self in flesh and blood, which is his
alienation from, and enmity to, God ; Christ would
have taught it in his word, and established it by
his example. But of all universally, that desire
to follow Hini, He has required the bearing of the
cross; and without exception has said to all, " If
any man will come after me, let him deny him-
self, take up his cross, and follow me."

When, therefore, we have read all books, and
examined all methods, to find out the path that
will lead us back to the blessed state from which
we have wandered, tins conclusion only will re-
main, that " through much tribulation we must
enter into the kiii'-doui of Ciod."



Tj^e necessity of and means for the suljection of the

The greatest blessing which man can receive,
is to have his private individual will subordinated
to the sentiment of his relation with God. And
yet his continual business in this world is to
strengthen this individual will,' which opposes the
entrance of God into his heart. He seeks its
gratification in all things, and is ever guarding
against any thing which may cross it. He thus
blindly loves and feeds his disease, and resists all
the attempts of Divine love to cure it. This
is man's way, and it is a way which leads down
to death. God's way is to cross man's way, that
he may be turned from it and live. He crosses
him in his good opinion of himself, in his confi-
dence in his own strength and in his own wisdom.
He crosses him in his favorite schemes of happi-
ness. He sends afHiction after affliction. He pours
bitterness into his soul. He sends disease and
death into the circle of his friends. He gives him
up to the idolatry of the creature, and then tears
his idol from him, or makes it a curse to him. He
lays him on a bed of sickness,^ and tries him with

1 " In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. Then he
turned his face tovvard the wall and prayed unto the Lord, and wept
sore. Then came the word of the Lord, saying, I have heard thy
prayer, I have seen thy tears." — Is. xxxviii. 2.


pain and restlessness, and brings him to the
boundary which separates time from eternity, and
makes him look backwards into past time and
forwards into the future eternity, and shows him
that he was made to dwell with God through
eternity, and yet that all his past days have been
spent in unjiltmg himself for this state ; and He
says to him, " How can thy heart endure or thy
hands be strong on the day that I plead with
thee?" turn unto Me, the only strength of tlie
creature. This is the way of God towards man,
of that God whose name is Love : and this is the
way that He expresses His love. It is thus that
He shakes the bulwarks of independence which
guard the entrance of the soul against God. It is
thus that He convinces man of his guilt, and
weakness, and ignorance, and misery, and per-
suades him to open the door of liis -heart to God,
and to take shelter under his compassionate omni-
potence. Blessed are they who are persuaded ;
blessed are they in whose hearts God makes a
place for Himself, though it is by casting out all
other joys.

God^s purpose of grace in all providintial dealings.

^Vc know that the government of the world is
in the hand of God, and therefore we may rest


assured, that there is not a single Hnk in the
apparently perplexed chain of human things
which does not connect with, and guide to, the
coming glory ; we may rest assured, not only
that all the histories of the kingdoms of this world
are under the influence of an unfelt but irresisti-
ble control, preparing the way for that kingdom
which never can be moved, but also that personal
events as well as national, private as well as pub-
lic, are all under the same mandate, commissioned
to lead on to the same great consummation. This
truth gives a seriousness and a dignity to every
thing: it banishes littleness from life, because it
connects all with the glory of God and the eradi-
cation of evil ; and it seems to conduct us under
the shadow of everlasting and omnipotent love,
where we may rest in peace until all calamities be

When the eye of the spirit is thus opened to see
God is working in every thing, and by every thing,
to bring on the reign of righteousness; the heart
will feel itself invited to the blessed privilege of
entering into the purposes of God, of sympathizing
with the everlasting counsels of his grace, of
rejoicing in their assured success, and of being a
fellow-worker with him in every action of life.
These actions may appear small and insignificant
in the world's judgment, but the believer knows
that it is not in vain that the Ruler of the universe


has called liim to do all things to the glory of
God. These arc animating thonghts for poor
wanderers in the wilderness, who have listened to
the Saviour's voice. For them the fall, with all
its sin, and misery, and darkness, will soon pass
away; having served, under the control of Him
who bringeth good out of evil, to glorify the
Divine attributes, and to introduce a high, and
holy, and happy order of things ; higher, and
holier, and happier than that which Adam lost,
because founded on a nearer relation with God,
and a fuller manifestation of his character. The
gate of Eden will once again be unbarred, and
the banished ones be brought back; and in the
mean time, though their path lie through the
desert, yet that path is the way of holiness, and
in it He will be with them, whose presence can
make the wilderness to be glad, and the desert to
rejoice and blossom like the rose.

The effects of the peace of God.

" The peace of God, which passeth all under-
standing, shall keep your hearts and minds
through Christ Jesus." ^ This peace keeps the
heart in allliction. It is a pledge of the special

> Phil. iv. 7.


love of God to the soul; and as such it begets
confidence in Him, so that the soul can stay
itself on his poraises, and encourages itself in
his faithfulness, and look to his care and power
for a happy issue out of all its troubles.^ It
both begets hope and strengthens hope ; and he
who is going full of hope to heaven, is not easily
shaken or depressed. With a crown of life before
him, he feels that he can afford to bear the light
affliction of the way that leads to it. Besides, it
leaves us something to fall back on, when other
props, and refuges, and consolations, are with-
drawn. Let a worldly man lose his earthly com-
forts, and he has lost his all ; but let a man of
God lose what he may, his main support, his chief
treasure is yet safe. Put this peace into his heart,
and then place him where you will, — on the bed
of sickness, in the house of mourning, by the
grave of his best, and dearest, and only friend;
strike him where you may, and how you may, he
can bear the blow. He grieves, grieves perhaps
more than other men ; for his religion has enlarg-
ed his powers of suffering, it has extended his
view, it has deepened his feelings and refined his
heart: but he is not moved; no practical, no
abiding impression is made on him. He may
weep for an hour, but he will soon take up the

* "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on
Thee, because he trusteth in Thee." — Isaiah, xxvi. 3.


language of the destitute Paul, and say, " I have
all, and abound; I am full. None of these things
move me; nay, in all these things I am more than
conqueror, tin'ough him that loved me."

Reasons^ why God removes earthly idols.

The comfort that most delights us, is generally
the first to perish ; the mercies we lose the soonest
are those we love the best. This is not the mere
language of sentiment or poetry; it is the testi-
mony of fact. When have we ever put the crea-
ture in God's place, given it that room in our soul
which He ought to occupy, but God has either
removed it, or embittered it, or put an end to it?
Many of our blessings have we lost by loving
them too well. We have slain them by setting
too great a value on them, and taking our rest in
them. There is not a single earthly good that
will bear man's hand when man firmly grasps it.
His touch withers and destroys every thing. And
oh, what a mercy for man that it is so! It is in
this way that a forgotten God recalls our wander-
ing affections to Himself. He lays waste the
enthroned creature, that He may once again
enthrone Himself: He breaks the cistern, not
that we may be left parched and fainting in the


wilderness of life, but go and satisfy our thirsting
souls once again from the everlasting spring : He
crushes the reed, but He substitutes for it a rock :
He puts far away from us "lover and friend,"
with all the unutterable sweetness of their af-
fection, and the tenderness of their love ; but
what does He substitute ? Himself ; the intense,
unfathomable love of his own infinite mind,
the presence of Christ, and communion with

The lot of all Gocfs saints found, ly experience., to he
the same.

It is written, that' " through much tribulation
we must enter into the kingdom of God." God
has all things in his own hands. He can spare,
He can inflict : He often spares, (may He spare
us still!) but He often tries us: in one way or
another He tries every one. At some time or other
of the life of every one, there is pain, and sorrow,
and trouble. So it is; and the sooner, perhaps,
we can look upon it as a law of our Christian con-
dition, the better. One generation comes, and then
another. They issue forth and succeed like leaves
in spring, and in all this, law is observable.
They are tried, and then they triumph ; they are


humbled, and then they are exalted; they over-
come the world, and then they sit down on Christ's
throne. Ilcnce St. Peter, who at first was in such
amazement and trouble at his Lord's afflictions,
bids us not look on suffering as a strange thing,
"as though some strange thing happened imto us,
but rejoice, inasmuch as we are partakers of Christ's
sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed
we may be glad also with exceeding joy." Again,
St. Paul says, " We glory in tribulations, knowing
that tribulation worketh patience." And again,
" If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be
also glorified together." And again, " If we suffer,
we shall also reign with him." And St. John,
" The world knoweth us not, because it knew him
not. We know that when he shall appear, we
shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."
What is here said of persecution, will apply of
course to all trials, and much more to those lesser
trials, which arc the utmost that Christians have
to endure now. Yet I suppose it is a long time
before any one of us recognizes and understands,
that his own state on earth is, in one shape or
other, a state of trial and sorrow ; and that if he
has intervals of external peace, this is all gain,
and much more than he has any right to expect.

But how different must the state of the Church
appear to beings who contemplate it as a whole,
wlio have contemplated it for ages, as the angels !


We know what experience does for us in this
world. Men get to see and und.erstand the course
of things, and by what rules it proceeds; and they
can foretel what will happen, and they are not
surprised at what does happen. They take the
history of things as a matter of course. They are
not startled that things happen in one way, not in
another ; it is the rule. Night comes after day,
summer after winter;" cold, frost, and snow, in
their season. Certain illnesses have their ap-
pointed times, or visit at certain ages. All things
go through a process ; they have a beginning and
an end. Grown men know this, but it is otherwise
with children. To them every thing that happens
is strange and surprising. They by turns feel
wonder, admiration, or fear, at any thing that
happens ; they do not know whether it will hap-
pen again or not; and they know nothing of the
regular operation of causes, or the connection of
those effects which result from one and the same.
And so, too, as regards the state of our souls under
the covenant of mercy : the heavenly hosts, who
see what is going on upon earth, well understand,
even from having seen it before, what is the course
of a soul travelling from hell to heaven. They
have seen, again and again, in numberless in-
stances, that suffering is the path to peace; that
they that sow in tears shall reap in joy ; and that
what was true of Christ, is fulfilled in a measure


in his followers. Let us try to accustom ourselves
to this view of the subject. Tlie whole Church,
all elect, souls, each in its turn, is called to this
necessary work. Once it was the turn of others,
and now it is our turn. Once it was the Apostles'
turn. It was St. Paul's turn once. He had all
cares on him at once ; covered from head to foot
with cares, as Job with sores ; and, as if all this
was not enough, he had a thorn in the flesh added,
some personal discomfort ever with him. Yet he
did his part well; he was as a strong and bold
wrestler in his day, and at the close of it he was
able to say, "I have fought a good fight, I have
finished niy course, I have kept the faith." And
after him the excellent of the earth, the white-
robed army of martyrs, and the cheerful company
of confessors, each in his turn, each in his day,
likewise played the man. And so, down to this
very time, when faith has well nigh failed, first
one and then another have been called oat to ex-
hibit before the Great King. It is as though all
of us were allowed to stand round his throne at
once, and He called out one, first this man, and
then that, to take up the chaunt by himself, each
in his turn having to repeat the melody which his
brethren have before gone through ; or as if it were
some trial of strength or agility, and while the ring
of bystanders beheld and applauded, we in suc-
cession, one by one, were actors in the pageant.


Such is our state ; angels are looking on, Christ
has gone before. Christ has given us an example
that we may follow his steps. He went through
far more than we can be called to suffer ; our
brethren have gone through much more, and they
seem to encourage us by their success, and to
sympathize in our essay: now it is our turn; and
all ministering spirits keep silence and look on.

Oh ! let not your foot slip, or your eye be false,
or your ear dull, or your attention flagging ! Be
not dispirited, be not afraid; keep a good heart ; be
bold, draw not back; you will be carried through.
Whatever troubles come on you, of mind, body,
or estate, from within or from without, from chance
or from intent, from friends or foes — whatever your
troubles be, though you be lonely, O children of a
Heavenly Father, be not afraid! quit you like
men in your day ! and, when it is over, Christ
will receive you to Himself, and your heart shall
rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.
Christ is already in that place of peace which is
all in all. He is on the right hand of God. He is
hidden in the brightness of the radiance which
issues from the everlasting throne. He is in the
very abyss of peace, where there is no voice of
tumult or distress, but a deep stillness — stillness,
that greatest of all goods which we can fancy,
that most perfect of joys, the utter, profound, in-
effable tranquillity of the Divine Essence. He has


entered into his rest. 0!i ! how great a good will
it be, if, when this troublesome life is over, we in
our turn also enter into that same rest ! if the time
shall one day come, when we shall enter into his
tabernacle above, and hide ourselves under the
shadow of his wings ; if we shall be among the
number of those blessed dead, who die in the Lord,
and rest from their labors! Here we are tossing
on the sea, and the wind is contrary. All through
the day we are tried and tempted in various
ways; we cannot think, speak, or act, but infir-
mity and sin are at hand. But in the unseen
world, where Christ has entered, all is peace.
There is the eternal throne, and a rainbow round
about it, like unto an emerald.^ " There is no more
death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither any more
pain ; for the former things have passed away."
Nor any more sin, nor any more guilt ; no more
remorse, no more punishment, no more penitence,
no more trial ; no infirmity to depress us, no affec-
tion to mislead us, no passion to transport us. no
prejudice to blind us; no sloth, no pride, no envy,
no strife ; but the light of God's countenance, and
a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, pro-
ceeding out of the throne. That is our home ; here
we are but on pilgrimage, and Christ is calling us
home. He calls us to his many mansions which

' Rev. iv. 3.


He has prepared ; and the Spirit and the Bride call
us too, and all things will be ready for us by the
time of our coming. " Seeing then that we have a
great High Priest that is passed into the heavens,
Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profes-
sion ;" seeing that we have " so great a cloud of
witnesses, let us lay aside every weight," " let us
labor to enter into our rest;" " let us come boldly
unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain
mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

Light affliction worketh glory.

" Our light affliction, which is but for a moment,
worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal
weight of glory." ^ Methinks this consideration
alone should be so effectual to teach us patience,
that we should scarce have patience to hear any
more ! Shall our glory superabound, as our suf-
ferings have abounded ? Shall our eternal refresh-
ings be measured out to us by the cup of afflic-
tions we have drunk of? Doth God beat and
hammer us, only to make us vessels unto honor?

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