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wholly of themselves. Were it otherwise, Jesus would never have thus wept over them, saying, “ How often would I have gathered you, but ye would not!” And if, when you think of the Jews, you wonder and lament,-think of yourselves and of your children. Placed in circumstances equally favourable, beware lest ye make shipwreck of faith and good conscience, and draw back unto perdition through unbelief. Tremble for yourselves,-weep over your own sins, improve diligently and prayerfully your own privileges. This is your gospel day. Know now the things that belong to thy peace, for soon, soon,
will they for ever be hid from thine eyes. Amen.
“ For ye have need of patience.”—HEBREWS, s. 36.
THERE is no grace of the Spirit which, in passing through this vale of tears, we are more frequently called upon to exercise than the grace of patience ; there is none in the practice of which we are more liable to fail; and consequently there is none which we ought to be more earnestly solicitous to acquire. The word patience, in this passage, has reference to a state of suffering. The many exhortations of Scripture similar to that in the text, imply that the present condition of man is not generally, and is never completely, happy; and the experience of all ages, succeeding that in which human happiness was forfeited with the loss of human rectitude, accords with the representation of the Word of God—that the life of man is a cup of mixturethat its aspect is continually changing—that its enjoyments are very imperfect and transient—that its pains quickly supplant its pleasures, as the shadowy clouds sweep across the summer sky.
The portion of existence thus imbittered by many a sorrow, is, besides, very scanty and awfully uncertain. We have life doled out to us in single moments, and of what is to happen at the next beat of the clock, we are as ignorant as the babe unborn. Health is
rious—riches are fleeting—friends forsake us—relatives die. If we are happy now, in the possession of all or any of these comforts and blessings, we know not how soon nor how suddenly He who gave them may be pleased to take them away. We know not how heavy may be our burden of calamity, nor how soon
have to sustain it. And, while we are called upon to suffer as men,
shall we not suffer, too, if we are Christians ? Do we hope to wear the crown, and yet not bear any
of the cross ? Is it not through tribulation, much tribulation, often long tribulation, that we become heirs of the kingdom? In a word, such is the condition of men, such is the nature of their calling here below, that we are either bending under the pressure of present affliction, and so have immediate occasion for the exercise of patience, or, being hourly exposed to suffering, we know not how soon, nor in what way, our faith, and patience, and fortitude, and perseverance may be put to the proof.
The exhortation, then, in the text, though addressed to the Hebrew Christians while enduring the manifold trials which fell to their lot, applies equally to you. You, too, have trials, or you may expect them. If you would glorify your Saviour under them—if you would bear them as becometh saints—if you would have the Spirit of glory and of God resting upon you in the midst of them, ye have need of patience.
Looking for the blessing of God, we shall
I. Shortly explain the nature of patience.
II. Mention some occasions upon which the exercise of it is especially necessary; or when, in the language of the text, we have need of patience.
We are, first, to explain the nature of patience as inculcated in the text; and, brethren, I feel that it would only be an unprofitable waste of your time, to enter into any lengthened or laboured explanation of a duty of which, in general, our comprehension is sufficiently accurate, were our practice more conformable to our knowledge. We would briefly remark, that, by patience, as a Christian virtue—the patience recorded in the text-we are not to understand a stupid insensibility to suffering, at variance with the feelings of our natural humanity, and which, if attained, would imply stoical obduracy, and not pious submission. Neither are we to mistake, for the patience which flows from the principles, and is formed by the influences of the gospel, that cold and indolent indifference, or mechanical bravery, or constitutional fortitude, or daring stoutness of spirit, resulting from fatalism, or philosophy, or pride. Christian patience is none of these. It is derived from divine agency; it is known by divine fruits ; it is guided by scriptural rules ; it is exemplified by Christian resignation. It spake by Job when he said, “ The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” It spake by Eli, when he said, “ It is Jehovah, let him do what seemeth him good.” It spake by David, when he said, “ I was dumb and opened not my mouth, because thou didst it." It spake by Jesus Christ, the man of sorrows, the bearer of our grief, when he said, “ Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.”
But for a more particular description of the grace and duty of Christian patience, let us take an illustration from a parallel passage in the epistle of James— “ Be patient, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord.”
This apostle James seems to delight in easy and familiar illustrations, for his epistle abounds with them. For the purpose of illustrating this divine grace, he thus introduces the case of the anxious husbandman
Behold,” saith he, “the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruits of the earth, and hath long patience, until he receive the early and the latter rain ; be ye also patient; stablish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” His contented labours and patient expectations form a fit model for the Christian ; for if we would attain correctly and exercise meekly the grace of patience, we must resemble the husbandman in these two respects—viz., 1. In a steady prosecution of the appointed means; and, 2. In a patient expectation of the desired end.
1. In a steady prosecution of the appointed means for our attaining patience, Christians must resemble the husbandman. Many are the discouragements he meets with in the culture of his ground. The weather is untoward; excessive moisture in spring or parching drought in summer almost destroys his labour; blights or mildews injure his most promising crops. But, let come what may,
goes on, from day to day, ploughing his ground, clearing it of weeds, casting in his seed, and doing every other thing in his power to secure a plentiful harvest. And all this he does, not knowing for certain that a single grain which he casts into the furrows shall obtain a blessing from heaven so as to yield fruit. But he expects nothing without the use of means, and therefore he does his part; and that he does, too, as diligently and regularly as if every thing depended upon himself. He well knows that God alone can cause the rain to fall or the sun to shine