James Smith, 1859
What a blessed fruit of the Spirit is patience, and how necessary for a Christian in a world like this, and in times like these. It prevents murmuring, checks complaining, and produces the sweetest gratitude. It multiplies our mercies, fixing the eye upon them; and it diminishes our troubles, taking the eye off them. It strengthens by exercise, and increases by use.
It will live in any climate—but nourishes most towards the north pole. Patience is like an Alpine flower, it will grow upon the rocks, among the snows and storms; bleak winds root it, severe frosts harden it, and what would kill other plants, fosters and feeds it. It was intended to deck the garden of poverty, and to shed its fragrance in the chamber of affliction. It grows most in winter, flowers best in the dreary desert, and has greatly luxuriated at times in a cold damp dungeon.
Patience will enable a man to bear losses with calmness, to suffer pain with meekness, and to endure bereavements with silence.
When Job was stripped of all his property, he said, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away—blessed be the name of the Lord." When Aaron's two sons were killed by fire from the presence of the Lord, "Aaron held his peace."
When Eli heard the sore judgments that were pronounced against his house, he meekly exclaimed, "It is the Lord, let him do what seems him good."
To crown all, when the Lord Jesus had been bound, dragged about from place to place, buffeted, spitted on, scourged, treated with the greatest cruelty and contempt, and was being nailed to the cross; he was as quiet as a sheep before her shearers, patient as a lamb in the butcher's hands, and looking up to heaven, prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
In each of these instances we see what patience can do, what it will enable us to bear, and how it will enable us to act. How necessary for us, in our dealings with the world, in the management of our families, and in our connection with the church of God.
Wherever patience is, it will be tried; and if it be a genuine article, it will strengthen and increase by the trial. Patience will take possession of a believer's soul, and possess it, keeping it in peace, resignation, and acquiescence in the Divine will. It will make a heavy cross light, a long night short, and the most painful afflictions bearable.
God is its author, who is the God of patience. The word is its nourishment, which he calls "the word of my patience." The prophets and the Savior are its examples; and inheriting the promises is its result. O for a patient spirit, that so we may endure afflictions, bear contradictions, and wait God's time for every blessing he has promised. May we add to our faith, patience; may the trying of our faith, work patience; and may the patience of hope, characterize us in life and in death.