CCLXVIII. Suffering.

1 PET. ii. 19. “This is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward
God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.”

ST. PETER is writing here to one particular class of Chris-
tians, to household slaves.
“Slaves,” he begins, “be subject to your masters.” As
St. Peter thinks over his Jewish flock of converts, he
remembers that multitudes of them are Christian slaves in
pagan households.
He teaches that suffering is thankworthy, a gift from
God, and acceptable in turn to Him, if it be accompanied
by two conditions.
1. It must be undeserved.
2. The suffering must be for conscience toward God.
This is it which makes pain at once bearable and
bracing, when the conscience of the sufferer can ask the
perfect Moral Being to take note of it. Mere suffering,
which a man dares not offer to God, though borne patiently
through “pluck,” as we term it, has no spiritual value.
“Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” This is
the consecration prayer uttered on the cross, uttered, if in
other language, wherever men suffer for conscience toward
God, and by it suffering is changed into moral victory.
There are two questions raised by our text.
I. Why did not the apostles denounce slavery as an in-
tolerable wrong? By advising slaves to honour and obey
their owners, they seem to sanction it indirectly. Nothing
can well be more antipathetic than the spirit of the Gospel
and the spirit of slavery. The Gospel proclaims the unity
of the human race, and the equality of all its members
before God. But the business of the apostles lay rather
with the other world than with this, with this just so far as
it bore upon the other. And the exact question for them
to consider was, whether slavery ruined the prospects of the
human soul.
II. Does not the advice of the apostle to submit quietly
to wrong destroy manliness and force of character if acted
on? Moral strength, when at its best, is generally passive
and unobtrusive. No moral strength ever approached that
which was displayed on Calvary, when all that was before
Him was present from the first to the mind of the Divine
Victim; “who, when He was reviled, reviled not again.”
III. This truth, announced by St. Peter, is always ap-
plicable, in every age and country. Among ourselves there
are many who endure grief for conscience toward God. It
is no monopoly of one class. Every rank in society has
its petty tyrants. Law can do but little for these sufferers,
but religion can do much by pointing to the Crucified.
Henry Parry Liddon, D.C.L.

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