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as for those who think that the smarting rod and divine love cannot dwell together, let them read that passage, Heb. xii. 5, 6. " And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."
4thly, Beware of desponding and distrusting thoughts of God under sharp afflictions. Some are ready to raze the foundation, quit their interest in God and the promises and cast away their hope and confidence, saying with Gideon, Judg. vi. 13." Oh my lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this evil befallen us?” So David was ready to draw a hasty conclusion, Psal. xxxi. 22. “I said in my haste I am cut off from before thine eyes." But this was the effect of unbelief: for be that believeth will not make haste.
DIRECT, IV. Under sore trouble and distress, labour
to exercise a strong and lively faith. IT) Twas a noble and heroic resolution in that holy man
Job under bis singular trials, Job xiii. 15. “ Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." g. d. Let my strokes be ever so sore and heavy, yet I will not let go my grips of his word and promises, I will not raze these foundations of my hope. It was this way the Psalmist kept himself from sinking under bis heavy burdens, Psal. xxvii. 13. “ I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Consider but a little the noble influence that faith has to strengthen and support the soul under sore trials. ** Ist, Faith grips to the great gospel-promises of salvation in and through Jesus Christ, and so secures the soul's main interest through eternity: which is enough to make the soul easy in every lot. ; 2dly, Faith views God in Christ at the helm in the greatest storm, and so it “ endures as seeing him who is invisible, Heb. xi. 27.
3dly, Faith casts the soul's anchor upon the rock of ages, and stays itself on God and the faithful promises; whereby the soul is eased and disburdened of its fears and melancholy apprehensions, Psal. lv. 22. Isa. 1. 10.
4thly, Faith brings new strength and auxiliary sup, plies of grace from heaven, when the former supply is exhausted and spent; whereof David bad the sweet experience, Psal. xxvii. 13. As God doth plant and acluate grace in the soul, so he is pleased to come in with seasonable supplies and reinforcements to the weak and decayed graces of his people, answerable to their present exigencies and pressures : and thus he doth from time to time feed the believer's lamp with fresh oil, giving more faith, more love, more hope, and more desires; and hereby he gives power to the faint; and strengthens the things that remain, when ready to die.
5thly, Faith keeps the soul from sinking under heavy trials, by, bringing in former experiences of the power, mercy, and faithfulness of God to the afflicted soul: Hereby was the Psalm.ist supported in distress, Psal. xiii. 6. lxxxvii. 4. O saith, faith, Remember what God hath done both for thy outward and inward man: he hath not only delivered thy body when in trouble, but he hath done great things for thy soul; he hath brought thee oụt of a stale of black nature, entered into a covenant-relation with thee, made his goodness, pass before thee; he hath helped thee to pray, and many times halb heard thy prayers and thy tears. Hath he not formerly brought thee out of ihe horrible pit, and out of the miry clay, and put a new song
in ihy mouth, and made thee to resolve, never to give way to such unbelieving doubts and fears again? And how unbecoming is it for thee now to sink in trouble ?"
: 6thly, Faith supports the soul, by giving it a pleasant view and prospect of a happy outgate from all
trouble; when it shall be admitted to see and dwell with Christ hereafter. Thus was Job supported in his great distress, Job xix. 25, 26, 27. “ For I know that my Redeemer liveth; and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold,” &c.
A believing view of the soul's meeting with its Redeemer, and receiving a crown of glory from him at last, is an excellent support to a Christian under the heaviest afliction; and so it was to Paul; 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8.
7thly, Faith gives great support, by the encouraging representations it makes of Christ, and of his prc, sent concern for the believer while under affliction. As for instance, 1st, Faith represents Christ to a believer under trials, as sympathizing with him under his distress, feeling his pain, hearing, bis groans, bearing his burdens, and ready to relieve him in his own appointed time, which it well becometh him to wait for.
2dly, Faith represents Christ as putting in his al: mighty arm under the believer's head, and conveying invisible strength to support and hold him up under his greatest pressurés.
3dly, Faith represents Christ as pleading the afflicted believer's cause with God, and answering all the charges of the law, the challenges of conscience, and accusations of Satan against him.
4thly, Faith represents Christ, as standing by the furnace, as a 'refiner where the gold is melting, carefully overseeing the trials of his people, that they may work for their good; and ready to bring them out thereof, when they are sufficiently purified from their dross,
5thly, Faith represents Christ as smiling on his people under the cross, whispering peace into their ears, and saying, “ Well done, good and faithful servant."
DIRECT. V. Labour to bear with patience whatever
load of trouble the Lord appoints for you. WE E will perhaps' observe some who are strangers
to religion contentedly enduring very painful evils; and this they may do by virtue of a natural hardiness and resolution which some are endued with, or upon the account of arguments furnished by human prudence. This is only patience as a moral virtue which some attain to. But it is patience as a spiritual grace, or a fruit of the Spirit which we must aim at under our trials; that we may bear them contentedly, from divine principles, to divine ends. Now this grace of patience we must earnestly beg from God under heavy afflictions, for it is only he that must work it in us; and therefore he is called the God of patience, Rom. xv. 5. And in order to your attaining of this grace, I shall lay before you the following considerations, which may be useful through the Lord's blessing for that end.
1st, Consider the patience of our Lord Jesus Christ under sufferings inexpressibly greater than yours. “ When it pleased the Lord to bruise him, and to put him to grief; how patiently did he bear all?” according to ihat remarkable word Isa. liii. 7. “ He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth." Now, Christ suffered as an example of patience, though it was not his chief end; and surely all the members of the body should study to imitate the head in pa. tience. Did your blessed Saviour patiently endure such agonies and pressures of wrath for you; and will you decline to undergo some short pains or sickness in obedience to his command?
2dly, Consider God's sovereignty over you. He is the great potter, and you are his clay: and, why may he not do with you what he pleaseth? If your children offend you, you scourge them, and perhaps do it some
times without reason; yet how ill do you take it, when they refuse to submit? How will you drive and spur your horses under you, and may be sometimes unreasonably! Yet they bear all quietly, and make no resist
Shall they take blows from their master; and will not you from your Maker, that has far more power over you? If any challenge you for cruelty to your children or beasts, you take it not well, because you think you may do what you will with your own, and no man hath right to quarrel you: But, hath not God a' greater property in you, than you in your children or cattle? And will you not patiently submit to your wise: and absolute Sovereign ?
3dly, Consider thy sin as the meritorious cause of all thy afflictions, however heavy they be. If thou hast right thoughts of thy sins and the aggravations thereof, thy mind may be composed to a patient submission to God's hand: If sin be heavy on thee, all thy afflictions will be light. Luther gives us this as a reason why he slighted the rage of the Pope and emperor, and all his outward troubles; they are all little to me, because sin is so weighty on me.
Hence it was that Paul complained not at all of his sufferings, for as great as they were; but he cried out much of his sins, Rom. vii. 24. “ wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death! Sense of sin doth swallow up the sense of affliction, as the ocean doth little brooks. For, with whom shouldst thou quarrel, but thyself, when thou bringest troubles on thyself
. This consideration should bring thee to resolve and say with the propbet, Micah, vii. 9. “ I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him,
4thly, Consider how sharp soever the pains are you are called to bear, yet they fall infinitely short of what you have justly deserved at God's hands. It is of his infinite mercy that death and everlasting destruction hath not been your portion long since; and that you are not now roaring under the extremity of his indignation