Matthew 16:24. Then said Jesus unto his disciples In Mark we read, When he had called the people unto him, and his disciples also, he said unto them; and in Luke, He said to them all, If any man will come after me Ει τις θελει , If any man be willing, no one is forced: but if any will be a Christian, it must be on the following terms. Let him deny himself A rule that can never be too much observed: let him in all things deny his own will, however pleasing, and do the will of God, however painful. And take up his cross Of the origin and meaning of this phrase, see note on Matthew 10:38. And we may here further learn, that after having undergone many afflictions and trials, the disciples of Christ may still look for more, which, when laid upon them, they must endeavour, by the grace of God, to sustain with equal patience, following their Master in the footsteps of his sufferings. This, indeed, is a very hard and difficult lesson, but at the same time it is absolutely necessary. Because if we grow impatient under sufferings, and endeavour to avoid the crosses which God is pleased to lay upon us, we shall displease God, grieve his Spirit, and bring ourselves under guilt and condemnation. And should we not consider all crosses, all things grievous to flesh and blood, as what they really are, as opportunities of embracing God’s will, at the expense of our own? and consequently as so many steps by which we may advance in holiness? We should make a swift progress in the spiritual life, if we were faithful in this practice. Crosses are so frequent, that whoever makes advantage of them will soon be a great gainer. Great crosses are occasions of great improvement: and the little ones which come daily, and even hourly, make up in number what they want in weight. We may, in these daily and hourly crosses, make effectual oblations of our will to God: which oblations, so frequently repeated, will soon amount to a great sum. Let us remember, then, (what can never be sufficiently inculcated,) that God is the author of all events: that none is so small or inconsiderable as to escape his notice and direction. Every event, therefore, declares to us the will of God, to which, thus declared, we should heartily submit. We should renounce our own to embrace it. We should approve and choose what his choice warrants as best for us. Herein should we exercise ourselves continually; this should be our practice all the day long. We should in humility accept the little crosses that are dispensed to us, as those that best suit our weakness. Let us bear these little things, at least, for God’s sake, and prefer his will to our own in matters of so small importance. And his goodness will accept these mean oblations; for he despiseth not the day of small things.
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