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with the stream of nature, but labour against it. Let him deny himself. He must seek those things that thwart inclination, not those that please it ; Let him take up his cross, Matth. xvi. 24. A Christian is not only condemned to labour by the sentence of nature, but by the principles of his religion. For a Christian is a man, who openly professes to follow Chrift ; that is, to believe his doctrine, and to practise those virtues he commands in his gospel, and recommends to us by his example. It is on this condition he promises heaven; To him that overcometh, will I grant to fit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. Rev. iii. 21. I have merited this high state of glory for my humanity by my virtues; and all my followers must imitate my actions, to partake of my glory.
And St. Peter does not only in general assure us, Christ's life must be the pattern of ours ; but he descends to particulars : When he was reviled, he reviled not again ; when he suffer'd, he threatned not. This conduct of our blessed Saviour engages us to suffer with patience the calumnies of evil men, and all the temptations and persecutions of evil spirits, with sweetness and resignation. Our innocence can be no excuse for complaints, much less for revenge. Chrif had committed no fin, as St. Peter testifies ; and yet he would neither plead innocence before his heavenly Father for an exemption, nor use his power in his own defence ; but received sentence of condemnation, and death, from the hands of his barbarous enemies.
But alas! We are often guilty of the same conduct we blame in our neighbour, and lay greater failures at his door, than he at ours. We cannot therefore, without the greatest partiality in this case, fall into fits of impatience : it is true, a neighbour
does ill, in returning affronts for affronts; but we do worse, by giving the first provocation.
But tho we are innocent in regard of men, we are always culpable in the fight of God. We all offend in many things : why then should we take it is to be treated severely by men, who perchance have never received any obligation from us, when we daily offend God, from whose goodness we received all we poffess in this world, and from whose bounty we expect all happiness in the other ? Tho' therefore men have no right to punish or perfecute us, God has. And how do you know but he makes use of their malice, to chastise our faults here, that he may spare them hereafter, and besides crown a short patience with a reward of eternal glory?
It is certain, nothing can befal us but by God's permission : he neither designs, nor even permits any thing here, but for our good; and we may turn it to our profit, if we please, by receiving it with a christian resignation to providence. The most mortifying accidents may prove, not only advantageous, but even sweet, if we raise our thoughts above time, and fix them upon eternity: Who can reflect with St. Paul, that a moment of pain, born for the love of God, will be rewarded with an eternity of pleasure, and not receive, with patience, an outrage from a neighbour, or even the most cruel death from the hand of a tyrant ?
There is no more proportion between the pain and the recompence, than between time and eternity : that soon passes, but this never ends.
When therefore we are attack'd by malicious tongues, and our reputation is blackened by false asperfions ; let us not think of the injury we fuffer, but rather of our sins that deserve the mortification ; not of our reputation which is lessened in the esteem of men, but of the crown of glory, God has pre
pared for those, who suffer reproaches and casumnies, with humility, patience and resolution.
O! could we but deeply imprint this truth, which our religion not only obliges us to know, but also to practise; temporal misfortunes would make small impression upon us, we should bear them with less trouble, and more advantage, I am sure. But the weakness of our faith encreases the sensibility of nature, and this heats our passions to such a degree, that they suffer no cool thoughts to enter into our soul. We give ourselves up wholly to resentment ; and so make use of those means, God permitted to befal us for our fanctification, to our prejudice.
St. Peter assures us, our Saviour cured the wounds sin had made in our souls, by the wounds and scars he received in his body. Our falvation cost him dear: is it not juft, we should do something ourselves? He bore our fins in his own body on the tree ; and can we do less, than to bear at least, with patience, those crosses he permits others to lay upon us? They expiate the punishment due to our sins, if well employ'd, and encrease both, if ill: Where then is our prudence ? nay, where is our Christianity, if we let nip so favourable occasions to appease God's anger, and to merit his favour?
St. Peter tells the Christians of his times, they had all gone astray like sheep, but that, by abjuring their former idolatry, embracing the christian religion, and practising its doctrine, they were happily returned to the Pastor of their souls. We all go astray from our Paftor Jesus Christ, not only when we abandon his religion ; but when we act contrary to his precepts; and when our lives bear no resemblance with our faith: and there is no way to return to his fold, but by a hearty and fincere repentance. We must change our heart, alter our practice, detest the fond allurements of Aesh
and blood, and follow closely our heavenly Pastor, that is, observe inviolably his commands; and then his providence will carefully watch over us, and lead us into those joys he has promised to those, that serve him with fidelity and perseverance.
Desire not therefore, O my soul, a life without crosses ; but rather strength to bear them with resignation : and, if thou wilt not embrace them with joy, at least fupport them with patience. This is not only thy duty, but thy advantage: by the pain of a moment, thou wilt deserve the reward of a happy eternity.
GOSPEL of St. John, Chap. x. Verse
11. I am the good Shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
12. But be that is an bireling and not the shepberd, whose own the Meep are not, seeth the wolf roming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth : and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the meep.
13. The bireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
14. I am the good shepherd, and know my jeep and am known of mine.
15. As the Father knoweth me, even to know I the Father : and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16. And other peep I have, which are not of this fold : them also I must bring, and they fall hear my voice, and there hall be one fold, and one Shepherd
The The MORAL REFLECTION,
UR blessed Saviour, in almost every place
of the scripture, uses the most endearing expressions imaginable, to court men to love him. One would think he stood in need of our affection to compleat his happiness; and that his interest moved him to invite us to his service, not our own : he often leaves the awful title of Lord, to call us brethren ; that this near relation may move us to a kindness, and a confidence suitable to fo ftrict an alliance. Sometimes he compares himself to a mother, and protests his love for us exceeds that of the most passionate mother for her dearest child. In the passage before us, he compares himself to a shepherd, I am the good Shepherd : and fhews that he is as watchful to procure our salvation, as the most vigilant shepherd is to preserve his flock.
And, to convince us of this truth, he lays before us all the properties of a good paftor, on the one fide ; and those of a bad one, on the other. The good mepherd giveth his life for the feep : this he did upon the cross ; not only in the most painful, but also the most shameful and ignominious manner imaginable. This death he embraced, not for his own sins (for he was without spot) but ours; to satisfy his Father for our rebellion; and to purchase grace, to enable us to live virtuously here,and in bliss hereafter. All the labours of thy life, a Lord, were undergone for our example ; all the pains, and torments of thy death, for our ransom: the suffering was thine ; but the advantage ours. Thou art not more happy because thou hast made us fo; nor wouldst thou have been miserable, had we been eternally punished. Othat our gratitude would bear some proportion with thy favours ;