On theVirtue of Patience


12TH September

On theVirtue of Patience

Consider first, that patience is a virtue by which we bear up with courage and constancy under a variety of evils, to which we are continually exposed in this mortal life; such as afflictions, exterior or interior, sicknesses, pains of body or mind, losses, disappointments, want, affronts, injuries, and their crosses of divers kinds, which more or less are incident to men in every station of life, and in every part of life, from the king to the beggar, and from our childhood to our decrepit age. Now, under all these evils, the good Christian is supported by the virtue of patience, in such a manner as neither to be over-much dejected, or cast down by any cross, accidents, or sufferings: nor upon these occasions to be put out of the road of virtue, or hindered from the love and service of God; but so as still to go on with courage in his way to heaven, carrying his cross after his redeemer, without murmuring or repining. O my soul, how lovely is this Christian patience! It has even the admirable property of turning all the evils of life into so many great and solid goods, by making them all serviceable to eternity: and in the mean time it makes them both light and easy, and sweetens all that is bitter in them, by seasoning them with the consideration of the holy will of God.

Consider 2ndly, how much this virtue of patience is recommended to us by the great example of the Son of God; who, as he was never free from suffering in any part of his life, so he both lived and died in the exercise of patience; and by his patience redeemed the world. Then all the saints and martyrs, as they had their share in drinking of his cup of sufferings, so they have all 'run with patience to the fight set before them; looking on Jesus, the author and finished of faith, who having joy set before him endured the cross,' Heb. xii. 1, 2. 'They all in life possessed their souls in their patience,' Luke xxi. 19. They all in death saved their souls by patience. 'Patience hath a perfect work,' saith St. James i. 4, 'that you may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing.' 'He that is patient,' saith the wise man, Prov. xiv. 29, 'is governed with much wisdom.' and again, Prov. xvi. 32, 'the patient man is better than the valiant, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh cities.' Patience then is the virtue of the martyrs and of all the saints; patience made them martyrs and saints; patience made them truly wise; patience gave them the victory over all their enemies; in their patience they brought forth much fruit; patience made them perfect; patience brought them to that incorruptible crown, which is given to none but those who by patience have lawfully strove for it, and won it. O blessed patience! Let me be so happy as to find thee, and embrace thee; let me live and die in thy company.

Consider 3rdly, the absolute necessity of patience in order to our serving God here, and saving our souls hereafter. 'Patience is necessary for you.' saith the apostle, Heb. x. 36, 'that doing the will of God, you may receive the promise.' For our life is a warfare upon earth; and in every part of life we must expect to meet with trials, conflicts, and sufferings. Now patience turns all these to our good; but where patience is wanting, all goes wrong; we sin at every step; we cowardly give up the cause of God and our souls, upon every slight occasion; we withdraw ourselves from the service, which we were happily engaged in; we run from our colours, we fall a prey to the enemy. O 'tis true that as there is no going to heaven but 'through many tribulations,' Acts xiv. 21, so there is no securing to ourselves that blessed kingdom, but by much patience.

Conclude to give ear to the admonitions of the Spirit of God, Ecclus. ii., 'Son, when thou comest to the service of God, stand in justice and in fear, and prepare thy soul for temptation. Humble thy heart, and endure - wait on God with patience; join thyself to God, and endure - take all that shall be brought upon thee, and in thy sorrow endure, and in thy humiliation keep patience: for gold and silver are tried in the fire: but acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation.' Happy they that practise these lessons!