« السابقةمتابعة »
dering people to himself. You may observe much of divine wisdom in the choice, measure, and season of your troubles: sovereignty, in electing the instruments of your affliction; in making them as afflictive as he pleaseth ; and in making them obedient to his call, both in coming and going. Now, could you in times of trouble look up to this sovereign hand, which holds your souls, bodies, and all your comforts; how quiet would your hearts be! "I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it.” Ps. 39:9. "It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.” 1 Sam. 3:18. Oh, when we have to do with men, and look no higher, how do our spirits swell and rise with revenge and impatience! But if you once come to see that man is a rod in your Father's hand, you will be quiet. Ps. 46 : 10. It is for want of looking up to God in our troubles, that we fret, murmur, and despond as we do.
2. Look downward, and see what is below you, as well as up to that which is above you. You are afflicted, and you cannot bear it. No trouble like
trouble! never man in such a case as you are! Well, cast your eye downward, and see those who lie much lower than
you see none on earth in a more miserable state? Are you at the very bottom, and not a man below you? surely there are thousands in a sadder case than
you. What is your affliction ? Have you lost a relative ? Others have lost all. Have you lost an estate, and are become poor? Well, there are some " who cut up mallows by the bushes, and juniper-roots for their meat. They are driven forth from among men, they cried after them as after a thief. They dwell in the cliffs of the valleys, in caves of the earth, and in the rocks. Among the bushes they brayed, under the nettles they were gathered together.” Job, 30:4-7. Are you persecuted and afflicted for Christ's sake? What think you of their sufferings, "who had trial of cruel mock
ings; yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonments: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented.” Heb. 11:36, 37. And are you better than they? I know not what you are ; but I am sure these were men of whom the world was not worthy.” Verse 38.
Or are your afflictions more spiritual and inward ? Say not the Lord never dealt more bitterly with the soul of any than with you. What think you of the case of David, Heman, Job, Asaph, whose doleful cries, by reason of the terrors of the Almighty, may melt the hardest heart that reads their complaints? The Almighty was a terror to them; the arrows of God were within them ; they roared by reason of the disquietness of their hearts. Or are your afflictions outward and inward together; an afflicted soul in an afflicted body? Well, so it was with Paul, Job, and many other of those worthies gone before you. Surely you may see many on earth who have been, and are in far lower and sadder states than you. Or if not on earth, doubtless you
will admit there are many in hell who would be glad to change conditions with you, as bad as you think
yours to be. And were not all these moulded out of the same lump with you? Surely if you can see any below you, you have no reason to return so ungratefully upon your God, and accuse your Maker of severity, or charge God foolishly.
3. Look inward, and see if you can find nothing there to quiet you. Cast your eye into your own heart; consider either its corruptions or its graces. Cannot you find weeds enough there, that need such winter-weather as this to rot them ? Hath not that proud heart need enough of all this to humble it? that carnal heart need of such things as these to mortify it? that backsliding, wandering heart need of all this to reduce and recover
it to its God ? "If need be, ye are in heaviness.” 1 Pet. 1:6. O christian! didst thou not see need of this before thou camest into trouble? Or hath not God shown thee the need of it since thou wast under the rod ? Be assured, if thou dost not see it, thy God doth: he knows thou wouldest be ruined for ever, if he should not take this course with thee.
Thy corruptions require all this to kill them. And as your corruptions call for it, so do your graces too. Wherefore think ye the Lord planted the principles of faith, humility, patience, in your soul? Were they put there for nothing ? Did the Lord intend they should lie sleeping? Or were they planted there to be exercised? And how shall they be exercised without tribulation ? Can you
tell ? Doth not tribulation work patience, and patience experience, and experience hope ?” Rom. 5: 3, 4. Is not "the trial of your faith much more precious than of gold which perishes ?" 1 Pet. 1:7. Oh look inward, and you will be quiet.
4. Look outward, and see who stands by and observes you
under your trouble. Are there not many eyes upon you; yea, many envious observers round about you? It was David's request, " Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness, because of my enemies,” Ps. 5:8; or, as the Hebrew word there might be rendered, because of mine observers or watchers. There is many an envious eye upon you. To the wicked there can scarcely be a higher gratification, than to see your conduct under trouble so like their own; for thereby they are confirmed in their prejudices against religion, and in their good opinion of themselves. "These may talk and profess more than we,” say they, " but when they are tried, it appears plainly enough, their religion enables them to do no more than we do; they talk of heaven's glory, and their future expectations; but it is only talk, for it is apparent enough their hopes cannot balance a small affliction, with all the happiness they talk of." Oh, how do you dishonor Christ before his enemies, when you make them think all your religion lies in talking of it!
5. Look backward, and see if there be nothing behind you that may hush and quiet your impatient spirit; consult the multitude of experiences, both your own and others. Is this the first strait that ever you were in? If so, you have reason to be quiet, yet to bless God that hath spared you so long, when others have had their days filled with sorrow. But if you have been in troubles formerly, and the Lord hath helped you: if you have passed through the fire, and not been burnt; through the waters, and not drowned ; if God hath stood by you, and hitherto helped you; O what cause have you to be quiet now, and patiently wait for the salvation of God! Did he help you then, and cannot he do so now? Did he give water, and cannot he give bread also ? Is he the God of the hills only, and not the God of the valleys? Oh call to mind the days of old, the years of the right-hand of the Most High. "These things I call to mind, therefore I have hope.” Lam. 3: 21. Have you kept no records of past experience ? How ungrateful then have you been to your God, and how injurious to yourself, if you have not read them over in such a day as this; for to that end were they given you.
6. Look forward, to the end of your troubles. Look to the end of their duration, and that is very near ; they shall not be everlasting troubles, if you fear the Lord.
The God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Jesus Christ, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect.” 1 Pet. 5:10. These light afflictions are " but for a moment,” compared with the vast eternity before you. What are a few days and nights of sorrow when they are past ? Are they not swallowed up as a drop in the vast ocean? But more
especially look to their result. What do all these afflictions tend to and effect ? Do they not work out an exceeding weight of glory? Are you not by them made "partakers of his holiness ?" Heb. 12. Is not the fruit of all this, to take away your sins ? What! and be impatient at this; fret and repine, because God is, in this way, perfecting your happiness? Oh ungrateful soul!
7. Look to the right-hand, and see how you are shamed, convinced, and silenced by other christians; and it may be such, too, as never made the profession you have done; and yet can not only patiently bear the afflicting hand of God, but are blessing, praising, and admiring God under their troubles; whilst you are sinning against and dishonoring him under smaller ones. It may
you will find some poor christians that know not where to get their next meal, and yet are speaking of the bounty of their God; while you are repining in the midst of plenty. Ah! if there be any ingenuousness in you, let this shame you. If this will not, then,
8. Look to your left-hand, and there you will see a sad sight, and what one would think should quiet you. There you may see a company of wicked, unconverted sinners, acting under their troubles but too much like yourself. What do they more than fret and murmur, despond and sink; mix sin with their afflictions, when the rod of God is upon them? It is time for thee to improve, when thou seest how near thou art come to them, whom thou hopest thou shalt never be ranked and numbered with.
Reader, such considerations as these would be of singular use to thy soul at such a time, but above all, thine eyeing the great pattern of patience, Jesus Christ; whose lamb-like carriage, under a trial with which thine is not to be named, is here recommended to thee. Oh how should this transform thee into a lamb, for meekness!