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suffer for righteousness sake, it is fit to keep our hearts in constant readiness for such a trial by the assurance, which should be deeply impressed on them, that such afflictions as, on this account, befall us are, by the concurrent assurances of God's words, among the surest earnests of His favour, “ Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you, falsely, for my sake! Rejoice, and be exceeding glad,--for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you?!” Rejoice,” saith St. Peter, “ inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy ?."
And the reason for such joy a little consideration will suggest to us. In the first place, such persecutions, wherever they recur, are so many fulfilments of our Saviour's prophecy that men should thus deal with His followers for His name's sake; and they are, in consequence, so many confirmations of our faith in Him, and so many fresh grounds of hope that, as the sorrows which He foretold have come true, the far greater joys which He has promised, will, in like manner, come true also. No other religion which the world has known was announced with such forebodings. The pretenders to inspiration have usually, if not uniformly, amused their followers with hopes of unmixed success and
· St. Matt. v. 11, 12.
2 1 St. Peter iv, 13,
universal extension; and the failure of their hopes has demonstrated the folly of their assumptions.
Our Lord promised His people affliction first, and weight of glory afterwards. The affliction has arrived, yea, in a great measure, has passed away ; the glory will therefore follow !
Secondly, since God has shown afflictions to be so precious in His sight, as to conduct His only Son through the same thorny passage to His present exaltation of Majesty, we may well feel ourselves honoured in being made to resemble Him, even in the circumstances of His humiliation; and that we are thought worthy to be His companions in working, by the same means, the same glorious will of His and our Almighty Father. The soldier who sleeps on the bare field of battle, feels elevated in his spirit so that his general lies no softer ; and shall not we in our necessities, sometimes think with a holy joy that, even in these things, God hath made us like His Son ?
Thirdly, when we recollect, that the greater our sufferings are now, and the more courageously we pass through them, the more our faith is proved, our love rendered brighter, and the more exceeding weight of glory and reward is, for Christ's sake, laid up for us hereafter, may we not rejoice in our distress as a pledge of God's gracious designs in our favour, as a gate to greater eminence and far higher seats in His kingdom, than are to be attained by an easier entrance ? Strange things are told in the early Christian writers of the glories
and the nearer and more immediate access to the Lord, which those who were killed for His name's sake should receive from Him. And be these as they may, yet, doubtless, a more than common happiness is laid up, not for the martyr only, but for every one, in proportion to his losses and trials in the cause, who, though he has borne a lighter and less illustrious cross, has still borne cheerfully whatever cross his Master has given him to carry. We know of men in hard and dangerous professions, who rejoice when sent on services of still greater danger and hardship, as knowing that where peril is, promotion may also be found; and the sufferer for conscience sake may, much more, exult in his trials, as knowing that, in the strength of God's grace,
He will come off even more than conqueror. But, fourthly, lest all these hopes should fail us in the hour of danger, it is wise, nay it is most needful, to accustom ourselves to frequent self-denial, even in lawful indulgences; to obtain, by frequent exercise, a complete mastery over ourselves; by a constant study of God's word to store our minds before-hand with a deep sense both of His threats and of His promises, and by daily meditation and prayer to accustom our thoughts to the constant spectacle of Christ on the cross, entreating His grace to frame our minds into the likeness of His Heavenly temper.
So shall we fear God; and, fearing Him, be fearless of all besides :-so shall we love God; and, for His sake, count all the world as dross in com
parison of His services ;—so, amid the changes and chances of this mortal life, shall our hearts be there fixed where unfailing joys are to be found; and where all which now distresses us shall appear but as a painful dream when we awake from sleep refreshed and thankful, and the light of Heaven's great morning beams in through the windows of the sepulchre !
THE PHARISEE AND THE PUBLICAN.
[Preached at Ghazeepoor, August 29, 1824.]
St. Luke xviii. 14.
I tell you that this man went down to his house justified rather
than the other : For every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
THE parable of which these words form the conclusion, was spoken by our Saviour, as the Holy Scripture itself tells us, in reproof of certain persons who “ trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others;" and of the persons, accordingly, whom He sets before us, the first is of a class of men who, more than all others among the Jews, enjoyed the reputation of a strict and scrupulous piety ; while the second was from a description of persons, many of whom were, really, of depraved and infamous behaviour, and all of whom, from the prejudices of their countrymen, were regarded, whether justly so or no, as depraved and infamous. “Two men,” are our Lord's words, “went up into the temple to pray; the one a pharisee, and the other a publican.”