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than in His entire devotion of His body, soul, and spirit to this one special work which God had assigned to Him. And to whatever temptations we may be exposed in regard to the work which God may have appointed for us to fulfil on earth, whether to faint and be weary in it, or to choose some other than that which God has given us, or to be impatient at the apparent want of present success, or dissatisfied with what seems to us its comparative insignificance ; in regard to all such temptations He can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, having been in this, as in all other points, tempted like as we are, yet continuing throughout without sin.
FOR THE TRUTH MUST BE GIVEN
No one who studies the New Testament can have any doubt that following the example of Christ in His work involves following Him through tribulation. In His charge to the Twelve, * He said, “ He that doth not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”. And again more generally, † “ If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up His cross and follow me.” This no doubt was one of those sayings of our Lord which His disciples understood not at the first, I but which subsequent events expounded. Yet they must have interpreted it as meaning that the life of a faithful follower of Christ would be one in which he must expect to have heavy burdens laid on him, such as would require him s to forego his own inclination and natural desires for ease and self-indulgence in every form, and be prepared even to endure death for His sake. That this saying of our Lord made a deep impression at the time on the minds of the disciples is evident from the fact that it is recorded twice in St. Matthew,
* St. Matt. x. 38. + St. Matt. xvi. 24 ; Mark x, 21; Luke ix. 23. # cf. John xii. 16. § cf. John xxi. 18.
as well as by St. Mark and St. Luke. Indeed, there is not one of the proverbial sayings of our Lord that has so largely impressed itself upon Christian thought and feeling, even to the present day, as this that implies that we must suffer with Christ if we would do His work.
But the truth, it must be observed, is not merely that suffering is required to prove our faith and try our patience, and be a fire to purify the gold from the dross ; but, besides all this, that it is specially related to our work for God, and is so essential to it, as to be no less truly an element in that work than active labour itself is. And when we consider what that work is, in which Jesus Christ is an example for us to follow Him, the truth of this is apparent.
That work, we have seen, is bearing witness to the truth, and to the Name of God which implies and contains all truth. And if Christ's testimony was given by Him through suffering even unto death, so must we be prepared to witness for Him. The testimony of those, who like their Blessed Lord seal it with their own blood, has such force, that, as has been often said, their blood is the very seed of the Church ; and our Lord Himself specially recognises the title of such an one as His witness or martyr,* which name has been in all ages specially applied to those who have thus sealed their testimony. But our Lord also recognised the claim of all who are “martyrs in will though not in deed,” when He said to John, who suffered to a prolonged age “ for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus,” as well as to James, who was slain by the sword of the persecutor, “The cup that I drink ye shall drink: and with the baptism that I am baptised withal ye shall ye be baptised.” † And undoubtedly, whether caused directly by our testimony for the truth, or borne patiently, as a fellowship with the sufferings of Christ and a token of God's Fatherly love, all such sufferings are an effectual witness to the truth of God, such as cannot be given even by the most active and zealous labours * Rev. ii. 13
of those who are spared these more severe trials of their faith and love.
Indeed, such supreme value and power have the tribulations of those, who glorify God in them, as a manifestation of God's love and faithfulness, and a witness to the truth of His grace in the Gospel,-that St. Paul, who, above all other men, was jealous of anything whatever being substituted for the righteousness of Christ, yet does not hesitate to speak of his own afflictions, as, in a certain sense, supplementing the very sufferings * of Christ Himself. For thus they might be described, as being endured for His body's sake, which is the Church, and confirming in the hearts of His people their faith in the truth of God. As he says also to the Corinthians, t “Whether we be afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or whether we be comforted, it is for your comfort, which worketh in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer."
* Col. i. 24, &c.
of 2 Cor. i. 6.