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than human) frame of mind, though it was not their felicity to reach, yet it was their commendation to aim at.
But surely Christians, who act by higher principles and greater helps, should think it but reasonable, with such advantages, to go a pitch beyond bare, unassisted nature; and by their actions to make good the heathens' pretences, and to count it a shame for themselves not to attain (in part at least) what the philosophers were so generous as to attempt.
(4.) There is required yet further to this submission, a suppressing of all hard and discontented speeches; and this is so absolutely necessary, that the whole work of submission is set forth and expressed to us by silence, and not opening our mouths, as here in the text, and elsewhere, by putting our mouths in the dust; that is, by shutting, and, as it were, even stopping them up, from letting fly at any of the cross, irksome, and severe passages of Providence. He that ruleth his tongue (says St. James) is a perfect man; forasmuch as by this he declares himself lord and master of his passions, which, when they domineer, chiefly make use of this member as the prime instrument of their rage. In like manner, he who can submit without noise and murmur proves his submission perfect, as springing from a complete conquest of all unruly motions within. While Job let loose the reins to his impatience, he let the same loose also to his language; filling heaven and earth with querulous outeries, vehement imprecations upon himself, and expostulations with Heaven: sometimes questioning the equity of the divine proceedings with him ; sometimes cursing and bitterly exclaiming against the day of his birth, and the unhappy
hour of his conception. Thus, so long as his towering passion was upon the wing, it beat the air with loud and vain complaints; and, like a froward child, was always crying, and nothing could still its peevish and impertinent rage. But the same temper of mind which reduced him to submission, reduced him also to silence, and checked the sallyings out of such wild, ungoverned expressions, as could tend to no other effect but to increase the guilt of him that spoke, and the indignation of him that heard them. A lamb, we know, suffers with silence, and parts not only with its fleece, but even with its life also, without noise; but it is the unclean swine which roars and cries when any one lays hold of him: and we read of no such creature in the flocks of Christ; they are only the innocent, silent, suffering sheep, that have a title to his care and protection.
Any kind of impatience under God's hand does indeed offend him; but the impatience of the tongue has this peculiar malignity in it above all others, that it also dishonours him in the face of the world : for while our impatience bounds itself within the understanding, will, or affections, so long it lies retired from the observation and eye of men, which pierces not into the secrets of the heart; but when it once comes to proclaim itself in words and noise, the multitude round about is called in as witness of our insolent deportment towards God; the sin becomes loud and clamorous, public and provoking; and so puts God upon new severities to revenge upon us the affront openly passed upon his honour; a thing which he is too jealous of, to prostitute and expose it to the scorn and arrogance of every bold sinner.
Silence is a thing of great decorum in a suffering
person, whose condition properly calls him to sorrow; the most natural and becoming dialect of which is, to say nothing. For even the common and received measures of human converse allow it only to the prosperous, the gay, and the rising persons of the world to talk high, and argue, and expostulate much to no purpose ; but where affliction has brought a man so low, as to make it difficult for him to be heard, it has made it also fit for him not to speak.
Besides, no man ought to be endured to complain, who is not presumed to have right on his side. But can any man have a right against God ? can he implead his Maker? or prefer a bill of grievances against his Preserver? I am sure, if his plea be traversed in the court of conscience, that must and will pronounce on God's side, and vote the accuser the only criminal. Why should a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins ? says the prophet Jeremy, in Lament. iii. 39. In which piece of scripture there are more arguments than words or syllables, to demonstrate the unreasonableness of any man's complaining against God. For first, shall any one complain of his benefactor ? And does not God abundantly prove himself so, even by this, that the person complaining is yet alive, and thereby able to complain? Or shall a guilty person complain of his judge? and complain also while he is punished, which implies demerit? and, what is more, punished less than he deserves, which imports mercy ? For every sin revenged upon the sinner, according to the full measure of its guilt, would quickly put him out of all possibility of complaining in this world, or bemoaning his case on this side hell; where that he is not disposed of already is enough to teach him, that
it were much fitter for him to turn his complaints into gratulations; and, instead of crying out of the hardship of his condition, to magnify the divine goodness, that it is not remediless and intolerable. Let every afflicted person therefore set a watch before the door of his lips, and beware that the intemperance of his tongue robs him not of that crown, that is prepared only for such as suffer with silence and discretion.
(5.) And lastly, to complete our submission to God in a suffering estate, there is required also a restraint of all rage and revenge against such as are the instruments, by which God is pleased to humble and afflict us.
A perfect submission to the will of the first cause is naturally apt to reconcile us to the second; though not for its own sake, yet for his, at least, who was pleased to make use of it. For what is an enemy, when he acts the utmost of his fury and barbarity, but a scourge in the hand of the Almighty, either punishing a sinner, or chastising a son? And therefore we find David, when he was cursed and railed at by Shimei, in that villanous, lewd, insufferable manner, yet utterly refusing to revenge upon him that high indignity, though passed by a subject upon his prince, and his prince in distress; that is, against all laws, not only of loyalty, but of nature and common humanity. But now what could it be that induced David to demean himself in such a manner to so bitter an enemy and so mean a wretch ? Surely nothing either desirable or formidable in the person himself; no, nothing but this one consideration, that at that time Shimei came (as it were) upon an errand from heaven, and cursed David by commission from God himself.
God has bid Shimei curse, says David, 2 Sam. xvi. 10. Not that God did directly and indeed give him any such command; but that, by his providence, he had then cast David under such circumstances of misery and distress, as would infallibly provoke an adversary of a malicious and a base spirit to insult over him.
Now this quiet and meek deportment of David towards so vile and so provoking an object, was a direct act of piety and submission to God himself; who never accounts himself more honoured by us, than when our reverence to him can command us to compliances so much against the grain of our nature; and tie up our hands from those violences, which the fierce appetite of revenge would otherwise so passionately and easily, and many times so creditably, carry us out to.
If upon any injury done us, we can but prevail with ourselves to see the hand of God principally acting in the whole affair, it will certainly much allay our spleen against the immediate workers of the mischief: and if we can but cease to be
with the judge, and the condemning sentence itself, surely we shall not much concern ourselves to rage at the executioner; who is but a servant, and only ministers to the will and command of a superior.
But, on the other side, all bitter and vindictive treating of an injurious person is in its proportion a contest with Providence; even that Providence, that not only overrules, but also employs the worst of events, and the wickedest of persons. And he, whose spirit frets, and boils, and raves against his enemy, because of the calamities that he feels himself brought under by his means, strikes as high and as far as he is able. The dog that bites the stone that is flung