The sobriety of the soul consists in humility, and in being content with necessaries.
Matt. vii. 14. "Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." But, if the difficulties of an holy life affright us, let us consider, "who can dwell with everlasting burnings?" All mankind being under the sentence of death, certain to be executed, and at an hour we know not of, a state of penance and self-denial, of being dead and crucified to the world, is certainly the most suitable, the most becoming temper that we can be found in, when that sentence comes to be executed, that is, when we come to die.
The more we deny ourselves, the freer we shall be from sin, and the more dear to God. God appoints us to sufferings, that we may keep close to Him, and that we may value the sufferings of His Son, which we should have but a low notion of, did not our own experience teach us what it is to suffer. Had there been any better, any easier way to heaven, Jesus Christ would have chosen it for Himself and for His followers.
This is designed as a peculiar favor to Christians, as indeed are all Christ's commands. Miseries are the unavoidable portion of fallen man. All the difference is, Christians suffering in obedience to the will of God, it makes them easy; unbelievers suffer the same things, but with an uneasy will and mind.… Self-denial is absolutely necessary to prepare us to receive the grace of God; it was therefore necessary that John the Baptist should prepare the way, by preaching repentance and self-denial. Men need not be at pains to go to hell; if they will not deny themselves, if they make no resistance, they will go there of course. One does not begin to fall, when the fall becomes sensible. "They that are Christ's, have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts." This is the only true test of being truly Christians.…… Every day deny yourself some satisfaction; your eyes
, objects of mere curiosity; your tongue,
every thing that may feed vanity, or vent enmity; the palate
, dainties; the ears
, flattery, and whatever corrupts the heart; the body
, ease and luxury; bearing all the inconveniences of life, (for the love of God,) cold, hunger, restless