« PredošláPokračovať »
of flesh and blood by severe penance, still it is of lite tle importance; though he comprehend the vast extent of science, yet he is far behind; and though he hath the splendour of illustrious virtue, and the ardour of exalted devotion, still he will want much, if he still wants this “ one thing needful,” this poverty of spirit, which, after abandoning the creatures about him, requires him to abandon himself; to go wholly out of himself; to retain not the least leaven of selflove and self-esteem; but, when he hath finished his course of duty, to know and feel, with the same certainty as he feels the motion of his heart, that he himself hath done nothing.
4. Such a man will set no value upon those attainments, which, if under the power of self-love, he would highly esteem; but, in concurrence with the voice of TRUTH, “when he has done all that is commanded him," he will always freely pronounce himself " an unprofitable servant.” This is that poverty and nakedness of spirit, which can say, with the Psalmist, LORD, in myself, “ I am poor and desolate!" And yet there is none so rich, none so free, none so pow, erful, as he, who, renouncing himself and all creatures, can remain peaceably in the most abject state of abasement.
OF THE NECESSITY OF BEARING THE CROSS.
1. THIS saying seems hard to all: “ Deny thyself, take up thy cro88, and folloro me.” But as hard a saying will be heard, when the same Divine voice shall pronounce, “ Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire!" They, therefore, who can ng attentively
hear, and patiently follow the call to bear the cross, will not be terrified at the sentence of the final judgment. In that awful day, the banner of the cross will be displayed in heaven; and all who have conformed their lives to CHRIST crucified, will draw near to CHRIST the Judge with holy confidence. Why, then, dost thou fear to take up the cross, which will direct thee to the path that leads to the kingdom of God?
2. In the cross is life, in the cross health, in the cross protection from every enemy; from the cross are derived 'heavenly meekness, true fortitude, the joys of the Spirit, the conquest of self, the perfection of holiness! There is no redemption, no foundation for the hope of the Divine life, but in the cross. Take up thy cross, therefore, and follow Jesus, in the path that leads to everlasting peace. He hath gone before, bearing that cross upon which he died for thee; that thou mightest follow, patiently bearing thy own cross, and upon that die to thyself for him: and if we die with him, we shall also live with him; “ If we are partakers of his sufferings, we shall be partakers also of his glory."
3. Behold, all consists in the death of self upon the cross; and there is no' means to obtain life and peace, but by daily dying upon the cross to all the appetites and passions of fallen nature ! Go where thou wilt, seek after what methods thou pleasest to accomplish thy redemption, thou canst not find a sublimer way above, nor a more secure way below, than this of dy. ing upon the cross.
4. Though thou disposest all thy affairs according to thy own fancy, and conductest them by the dictates of thy own judgment, still thou wilt continually meet with some evil, which thou 'must necessarily bear, ei
ther with or against thy will; and, therefore, wilt continually find the cross: thou wilt feel either pain of body, or distress and anguish of spirit. Sometimes thou wilt experience the absence of grace; sometimes thy neighbour will put thy meekness and patience to the test; and, what is more than this, thou wilt sometimes feel a burthen in thyself, which 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 upon thee. It is the blessed will of God in permitting no ray of comfort to visit us in the darkness of distress, that we should learn such profound humility and submission, as to resign our whole statę present and future to his absolute disposal.
5. No heart can have so true a sense of the sufferings of CHRIST, as that which has, suffered in the same kind. 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 which way thou wilt, either to the things above, or to the things below; to that which is within, or that which is without thee; thou wilt in all certainty find the cross : and if thou wouldst enjoy peace, and obtain the unfading crown of glory, it is necessary that in every place, and in all events, thou shouldst bear it willingly, and" in patience frossess thy soul."
6. If thou bearest the cross willingly, it will soon bear thee, and lead thee beyond the reach of suffering, where.“ God shall take away all sorrow from thy heart.” But if thou bearest it with reluctance, it will be a burthen inexpressibly painful, 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 erush thee.
7. 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 blesed 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 saith, that “it behoved him to suffer, and to rise from the dead, and 80 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 repose and joy ? Thou art deceived, wretchedly deceived, if thou expectest any thing but. tribulation ; for this mortal life is full of misery, and every part of it is inscribed with the cross.
8. The regenerate man, as he becomes more śpi. ritualized, has a quicker discernment of the cross, wherever it meets him ; and his sense of the evils of his exile, as the punishment of his fallen life, increases in proportion to his love of God, and desire of re-union with him. But this man, thus sensible of misery, derives hope even from his sufferings ; for while he sustains them with meek and humble submission, their weight is continually diminishing; and what to carnal minds is the object of terror, is to him a pledge of heavenly comfort. He feels, that the strength, the life, and peace, of the new man, rise from the troubles, the decay and death of the old : and from his desire of conformity to his cruci
fied Saviour, as the only means of restoration to his first perfect state in God, he derives so much strength and comfort under the severest tribulations, that he wisheth not to live a moment without them. Of the truth of this, the blessed Paul is an illustrious instance ; who says of himself, “ I take pleasure in infirinities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecuttons, in distresses for CHRIST's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
9. This desire of suffering, however, and 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, operating so powerfully in the fallen soul, as to make it love and embrace that, which it would naturally abhor and shun. No: it is not in man to love and to bear the cross; to resist the appetites of the body, and bring them under absolute subjection to the spirit; to shun honours; to receive affronts with meekness; to despise himself, and to wish to be despised by others; to bear, with calm resignation, the loss of fortune, health and friends; and to have no desire after the riches, the honours, and pleasures of the world. If thou dependest upon thy own will and strength to do and to suffer all this, thou wilt find thyself as unable to accomplish it as to create an: other 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 adver: sary the devil