All training, [according to the Apostle,] for the present seems to be a matter not of joy but of sorrow; nevertheless afterwards it yields a pleasant fruit and peaceful increase of reward to those who are exercised by it.
Heb. 12. 11For indeed what is learnt here without sorrow and toil, in the time of our very greatest stupidity and weakness? But if temporal sorts of training destroy the sweetness of present joy, what is to be hoped for from this training of our school? This is in fact the training of all trainings, and at the price of present sorrow it prepares the pleasure of unending time and the delight of unending joy. For what sort of training is there that is without the sorrow of chastisement? How much grief or sorrow lies in the craftsmen's trades? How much toil? How much labour
p.81awaits those that ply a craft or even build? With how many blows, with what pains are musicians' pupils taught? With how many fatigues or sorrows are doctors' students troubled? And with what anxieties are the lovers of wisdom
cf. Cic. Tim. 14. 51straitened, with what pressure of poverty the philosophers? Finally, with how many dangers are offices of government sought out? And in all these, though it be after the toils of countless miseries, a most peaceful conclusion is patiently awaited, and in consideration of this the aforesaid tribulations, though not without sorrow, though with much bitterness, are borne. And indeed if training is our companion in sorrow, yet its conclusion is reached in joy and the toil depends upon security, and in a strange manner sadness is very patiently borne for joy, bitterness for pleasure, toil for security, and anxiety for rest. For though they do not know if they will reach the conclusion of any training, yet even for an unsure hope of future happiness they endure present sorrow not disdainfully, and not backwardly do they prosecute hard toil. For which of them is sure whether he will ever even be a master of that training whose toil he endures? Or whether he will survive to share the happiness for which he bears sorrow?
But if, then, such and so many pains are borne untiringly for temporal and unsure rewards, what ought we to endure for eternal, true and sure ones, whose conclusion is eternal? And indeed, if amongst the disciples of temporal trainings it is uncertain how long they will be allowed to enjoy the training once acquired, yet they are distracted by no sloth in its pursuit, and thus, though in double doubt, they are more persistent than ourselves, for as I have said, they do not know whether they will reach the conclusion of their training, considering the uncertainty of life and the intractability of innate powers, and all the same, once they have acquired the training, they doubt afresh how long they may employ it. For they are as certain of quitting their training shortly as they are uncertain of perfecting it. Thus, as we have said, they bear temporal pursuits and imperfect aptitudes, sorrows and griefs, anxieties and toils, dangers and journeyings, injuries and fatigues, while indeed they admit the uncertainty and frailty of the things for which such tribulations are endured; if the training of our school involves trials, if it involves burdens, sorrows, bitternesses, will it be wondered at, will it be thought a thing to shun? Is it not impossible for any polished accomplishment or exercise to be attained without training? Or can training be acquired without bitterness? Therefore, since these things are so, let us make ready our mind, [not for joy, not for security, as the Sage says, but] for temptations
Ecclus. 2. 1and trials, for griefs and toils. Christ was tried,
p.83injured, reviled, suffered; and do you think of security on earth? See and understand how difficult it is for this age to be conquered, since a saint is freed from it not otherwise than by the death of Christ. If the just shall scarcely thus be saved, where shall the sinner and ungodly man appear?
1 Pet. 4. 18Listen to the Lord saying to His disciples, In the world you shall have tribulation,
Ioann. 16. 33and again, Yet you shall weep and wail, but the world shall rejoice and you shall be sad.
Observe the sorrow of our training, understand that we do not pass from joy to joy nor from security to security, but from grief to joy and from trial to security. Thus we must patiently bear brief sorrow, that we may obtain eternal joy; and the light measure of our trial must be endured with readiness, that we may attain the eternal life of great glory.
2 Cor. 4. 17For if in pursuit of transitory things these vexations, as we have very often said, occur without prevailing, what shall weary or prevail over us who are merchants of heavenly kingdoms? We should yield to no joys or sorrows, no blandishment or bitterness; for the world is full of both, and both have been conquered by the Captain of our war. And let us see how perilously the unclean yields to those things to which the clean and undefiled has not yielded; with Christ let us disdain the world's honours and the kingdoms of the devil with all their glory.
cf. Matt. 4. 8Let us scorn to receive whatever is of the devil, and to that king of brief rejoicing let us say, May your possessions go with you to perdition.
Act. 8. 20Let us be sad even unto death
cf. Matt. 26. 38with Christ, that our sorrow may be turned into joy.
cf. Ioann. 16. 20Let the world laugh with the devil, far from us be their rejoicing; if we wish to joy now, let us joy partly in hope, since hereafter we shall have true joy in reality, sorrowing for our sins, rejoicing for the hope of eternal life, sorrowing for Christ's absence, triumphing likewise, because we read, We shall see Him as He is.
1 Ioann. 3. 2For though we are filled with the sorrows of our present woes, though we are saddened by the repetition of our sins, yet victory over both is free rejoicing and a sterling joy; and though for a time we are on pilgrimage from the Lord,
2 Cor. 5. 6that as reward for a brief period's warfare we should be crowned for ever, we ought not to be over-sad, knowing that we shall soon go to Him, and with Him ever dwell. For He created us to this end, that ever reigning with Him, we should praise Him unto ages of ages, and continually give thanks to Him. Therefore, knowing these things, under no toils, no trials let us fail, by no sorrows let us be conquered, by no wars fatigued, let us be moved from our place by no agonies of training, again let us be distracted by no blandishments, beguiled by no charms, and let us say as with the Apostle's voice, May no one and nothing separate us from the love of Christ, [no] trial, [no] difficulty, [no] persecution, [no] hunger, [no] nakedness, [no] danger, [no] death
sqq. Rom. 8. 35-39fire, cross, or murder, nothing sad, nothing sweet, nothing hard, nothing fair, may none of the world's vanities separate us from Christ, that we may abide in Him here and for eternal ages of ages.