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“ of God hath touched me." And it is a mercy if we have any friends that are wise, faithful, and experienced ; they are born for such a time as this, Prov. xvii. 17. but be they what they will, they cannot pity as God, relieve and succour as he ; and oftentimes we may say with Job, chap. xxi. ver. 4. “ As for me, is my complaint to men? “ And if it were, why should not my spirit be troubled?" q. d. What great advantage can I get by these complaints? I may burden the heart of my friend, but how little doth that case my own ? Yet the very opening of the heart to an experienced, tender Christian, is fome relief, and the engaging his prayers is more. Thus far you moari safely, in all this there is no danger.
Thirdly, The afflicted person may (ordinarily) accuse, judge, and condemn himself, for being the cause and procurer of bis own troubles. He may lawfully be discontented and vexed with himself for his own folly, when the iniquity of his heels compafseth him about. And truly it is but feldom that any great affliction befals a gracious person, but he saw the need of such a rod before he felt it.
Hath God smitten thy child, or friend, and didst thou not foresee some Tharp trial coming ? Did not thy fond, secure, carnal temper, need such a scourge to awaken, quicken, and purge thee? Or, if you did not foresee it, it is now your duty to search and examine yourselves. So the church, in her adiction, resolved, Lam. iii. 40. “Let us search « and try our ways.” When God is smiting, we Mhould be a searching: Surely our iniquities will en, uire after us if we will not enquire after them: Yea, in the day of affliction, a gracious foul is inquisitive about nothing more than the procuring and provoking cause of his troubles. Job x. 2. “ Shew me wherefore thou contendest with “ me;" q. d. Lord, whát special corruption is it that this rod is sent to rebuke? What sinful neglect doth it come to humble me for? O discover it now to me, and recover me now from it.
And having found the root and cause of their troubles, ingenuous fouls will shame themselves for it, and give glory to God by an humble submission and vindication of the equity of his proceedings. Job vii. 20. “ I have finned, what shall I do unto thee, thou preferver of
?” He thinks it no thame freely to discover unto God, and deeply to abase himself before hina for his folly.
I remember a choice note that * Mr Brightman hath in his commentary upon the Canticles.
• Holy men, faith he, after their hearts are renewed by repentance, are not ashamed to remember and confess their slips and fameful falls to the glory of God; for they account that the glory which fuch confessions take from them, is not lost, whilst it goes to the glory of God.' If his glory may rise out of our shame, how willing
Nec enim pudet fančios viros, postquam renovati corde fuerint, per refipifcentiam, lapfus fui & dedecoris ad Dei gloriam meminiffe. Nibil nobis decedit, quod cedit in illius bonorom Bright man in Cant. c. 1. v. 4. p. II.
fhould we be to take such shame to us? Holy David was not ashamed to acknowledge, Pfal. xxxviii. 5. “My wounds stink, and are corrupted, becaule of my foolishness.” He is the wifeft man that thus befools himself before God.
It is true, God may afflict from prerogative, or for trial; but we may always fee cause enough in ourselves, and it is safest to charge it upon our own folly.
Lastly, The aflicted Christian may, in an humble, fubmiffive manner, plead with God, and be earnest for the removal of the affliction.
When affliction preffeth us above ftrength, when it difables us for duty, or when it gives advantage to temptation; then we may say with David, “Remove thy ftroke from me, I am consumed by the blow of thine hand,” Pfal. xxxix. 10. Even our Lord Jesus Chrift, in the day of his troubles, poured out his soul with strong cries and many tears, saying, “ Father, if thou be willing, let this cup pass “ from me,” Luke xxii. 42. Oppreffed nature desires ease, and even our renewed nature detires freedom from those clogs and temptations, which hinder us in duty, or expose us to snares.
Thus far we may safely go.
First, It caufeth us to fight and despise all our other mercies, and enjoyments as small things, in comparison of what we have lot.
It often falls out, that the fetting of one comfort, clouds and benights all the rest. Our tears for our lost enjoyments so blind our eyes, that we cannot see the many other mercies which yet remain : We take so much notice of what is gone, that we take little or no notice of what is left. But this is very sinful, for it involves in it both ignorance, ingratitude, and great provocation.
It is a tin springing from ignorance. Did we know the desert of our fins we ihould rather wonder to see one mercy left, than that twenty are cut off. They that know they have forfeited every mercy, should be thankful that they enjoy any, and patient when they lose any of their comforts.
Did we know God, even that sovereign Lord at whose dispose our comforts come and go, who can the next moment blaft all that remain, and turn you into hell afterwards, you would prize the mercies be yet indulges to you, at an higher value. Did you understand the fickle, vanishing nature of the creature, what a flower, what a bubble it is; how thankful would you be to find so many yet left in your poffeffion!
Did you know the case of thousands, as good, yea, better than you, whose whole barvest of comfort in this world is but a handful to the gleanings of the comforts you still enjoy, who in all tbeir lives never were owners of such comfortable enjoyments as you now overlock; surely you would not act as you do.
Besides, what vile ingratitude is in this ? What, are all your remaining mercies worth nothing? You have buried a child, a friend; well, but still you have a husband, a wife, other children ; or if not, you have comfortable accommodations for yourselves, with health to enjoy them; or if not, yet have you the ordinances of God, it may be, an interest in Christ and in the covenant, pardon of fin, and hopes of glory. What, and yet sink at this rate, as if all your mercies, comforts, and hopes, even in both worlds, were buried in one grave. Must Ichabod be written upon your best mercies, because mortality is written upon one? Fy, fy, what shameful ingratitude is here !
And really, friend, such a carriage as this under the rod is no small provocation to the Lord to go on in judgment, and make a full end of all that remains, so that affliction shall not rise up the second time.
What if God, taking notice how little thou regardest the many undeferved favours thou yet poffeffet, should say, well, if thou thinkelt them not worth the owning, neither do I think them worth the continuing ? Go, death, there is a husband, a wife, other children yet left, smite them all. Go, fickness, and remove the health of his body yet left ; go, lofles, and impoverish his estate yet left ; go, reproach, and blast his reputation, which is yet sweet ; what would you think of this ? And yet, if you be out of Christ, you are in danger of a far fadder stroke than any, or all yet mentioned; what if God Should say, Prizest thou not my mercy ? Hast thou no value for my goodness and forbearance towards thee? Is it nothing that I have (pared thee thus long in thy sins and rebellions? Well then, I will stretch out my hand upon thy life, cut off that thread which hath kept thee so many years from dropping into hell.
O think then what you have done by provoking the Lord, through your vile ingratitude ! It is a dangerous thing to provoke God, when he is already in a way of judgment. And if you be his own people, and so out of the danger of this last and worst stroke; yet know, you have better mercies to lose than any you have yet lost. Should God cloud your souls with doubts, let loose Satan to buffet you, remove joy and peace from your inner man, how foon would
be convinced that the funeral of your dearest friend is but a trifle to this?
Well then, whatever God takes, be still thankful for what he leaves. It was the great fin of Israel in the wilderness, that though God had delivered them from their cruel servitude in Egypt, miraculously fed them in the desert, and was leading them on to a land flowing with milk and honey ; yet as soon as any want did but begin. to pinch them, presently all these mercies were forgotten and flighted, Numb. xiv. 1 2. Would to God (say they) we had died in Egypt.”. And, Numb. xi. 6. « There is nothing at all belide this manna." Beware of this, Oye mourning and afflicted ones. You see both the fin that is in it, and the danger that attends it.
Secondly, And no less finful are our forrows, When they fo wholly ingulph our hearts, that we either mind not at all, or are little or nothing fenfible of the public evils and calamities which lie upon the church and people
Some Chriftians have such public fpirits, that the church's troubles swallow up their personal troubles. Melanchon seemed to take little notice of the death of his child which he dearly loved, being almost overwhelmed with the miseries lying on the church.
And it was a good evidence of the graciousnefs and publicness of Eli's fpirit, who fitting in the gate anxiously waiting for tidings from the army, when the tidings came that Ifrael fled before the Pbiliftines, that his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas were dead, and that the ark of God was taken, just at the mention of that word, * The Ark of God, before he heard out the whole narration, his mind quickly prefaged the iffue, he sunk down and died, 1 Sam. iv. 17, 13. O that was the finking, the killing word; had the messenger stopt at the death of his two fons, like enough he had fupported that burden; but the loss of the ark was more to him than fons or daughters.
But how few such public spirits appear even among professors in this felfith generation ? May we not with the apostle complain, Phil. ii. 21. “ All seek their own, and not the things that are of Christ :* Few men have any great cares or designs lying beyond the bounds of their own private interest. And what we say of cares is as true of forrows: If a child die, we are ready to die too, but public calamities pierce us not.
How few suffer either their domestic comforts to be swallowed up in the church's troubles, or their domestic troubles to be swallowed up by the church's mercies! Now when it is thus with us, we little regard what mercies or miseries lie upon others, but are wholly intent upon our own afflictions, this is a Sinful forrow, and ought to be forrowed for.
Thirdly, Our sorrows then become sinful and exorbitant, When they divert us from, or distract us in our duties, so that our intercourse with heaven is Ropt and interrupted by them.
How long can we fit alone musing upon a dead creature ? Here our thoughts easily flow; but how hard to fix them upon the living God! when our hearts should be in heaven with our Chrift, they are in the grave with our dead. May not many afflicted fouls juftly complain, that their troubles had taken away their Christ from them, (I mean as to sweet sensible communion) and laid the dead child in his room?
Poor creature, ceafe to weep any longer for thy dead relation, and weep rather
for thy dead heart. Is this thy compliance with God's design in afflicting thee? What, to grow a greater stranger to him than before! Or is this the way to thy cure and comfort in affliction, to refrain prayer, and turn thy back upon God?
Or if thou dareft not wholly neglect thy duty, yet thy affliction fpoils the fuccess and comfort of it, thy heart is wandering, dead, distracted in prayer and meditation, fo that thou hast no reliet or comfort from it.
Cumque ille nominafset arcam Dei: q. d. nondum integram, fed inchoatam audiene rarth tionem, mente pravolaris, et exitam præfugiens ruebat. Mereoz. in loc.
Řouze up thyself
, Christian, and consider this is not right. Surely the rod works not kindly now. What, did thy love to God expire when thy friend expired ? Is thy heart as cold in duty, as his body is in the grave ?
Hath natural death seized him, and spiritual deadness seized thee? Sure then thou hast more reason to lanient thy dead heart, than thy dead friend. Divert the stream of thy troubles fpeedily, and labour to recover thyself out of this temper quickly; left fad experience Phortly tell thee, that what thou now mournest for is but a trifle to what thou thalt mourn for hereafter. To lose the heavenly warmth and spiritual liveliness of thy affections, is undoubtedly a far more considerable loss, than to lose the wife of thy bosom, or the sweetest child that ever a tender parent laid in the grave.
Reader, if this be thy case, thou haft reason to challenge the first place among the mourners. It is better for thee to bury ten fons than to remit one degree of love or delight in God. The end of God in smiting was to win thy heart nearer to him by removing that which estranged it; how then dost thou cross the very design of God in this difpenfation ? Must God then lose his delight in thy fellowchip, because thou hast lost thine in the creature ? Surely, when thy troubles thus accompany thee to thy closet, they are finful and extravagant troubles.
Fourthly, Then you may also conclude your forrows to be excellive and finful, When they go overload and oppress your bodies, as to endanger your lives, or render them useless and unfit for service.
Worldly forrow works death, 2 Cor. vii. 10. that is, forrow after the manner of worldly men* ; forrow in a mere carnal, natural way, which is not relieved by any fpiritual reasonings and confiderations. This falls fo beavy sometimes upon the body, that it finks under the weight, and is cast into fuch diseases as are never more wrought off, or healed in this world.' " Heaviness in the heart of a man makes it « ftoop," saith Solomon, Prov. xii. 25. The stoutest body must ftoop under heart-preffures:
It is with the mind of man, faith one, as with the stone tyrhenus : as long as it is whole it swimmeth; but once broken, it finks prefently. Grief is a moth, which, getting into the mind, will, in a short time, make the body, be it never lo strong and well-wrought a piece, like an old seary garment.
Philosophers and physicians generally reckon sorrow among the chief causes of shortening life. Christ was a man of forrows, and acquainted with grief, and this some think was the reason that he appeared as a man of fifty, when he was little more than thirty years old, John viii. 57. But his forrows were of another kindt.
Worldly sorrow is after the manner of the world, arising from the love of it. Efio us on the place.
† These things write I unto you, who have wepe so immoderately, that I am be