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proof? We would all have continual Prosperity, because it is caly and pleasing to the Flesh; but we consider not the Unreasonableness of such Desires. And when we enjoy convenient Houses, Goods, Lands and Revenues; or the necessary Means God hath appointed for our spiritual Good; we seek Reft in these Enjovments. Whether we are in an afflicted, or prosperous State, it is apparent, we exceedingly make the Creature our Reit. Do we not delire Creature. Enjoyments more violentlv, when we want them, than we defire God himself? Do we not delight more in the Pofleffion of them, than in the Enjovinent of God? And if we lose them, doth it not trouble us more than our Lofs of God? Is it not enough, that they are refreshing Helps in our Way to Heaven, but they muft also be made our Heaven itself? Chriflian Reader, I would as willingly make thee sensible of this Sin, as of any Sin in the World, if I could tell how to do it ;sfor the Lord's greatest Quarrel with us is in this point. In order to this, I moft earnestly beseech thee to consider, the Recfonableness of present Aj fältion ----and the Unreajirableness of risting in present Enjoyments ;as aifo of our Unwillingness ta die, that we may tulos eternal Rift.
§ 2. (1) To shew the Reasonableness of present Affritiions, consider, ------they are the way to Rif;--they keep us from mistaking our Refind from losing cur Way so it;
ds they quicken our Pace louet it; they chiefly incommode cur Fluh ;-----and wrider them God's People have often the sweetesi Fore tastes of their Reft.
$ 3-(1) Confider, that Labour and Trouble are the .conmon Way to Refi, both in the Course of Nature and Grace. Can there posibly be Reit without Weasiness? Do you not travel and toil first, and ret
after? The Day for Labour is first, and then follows the Night for Rest. Why should we defire the Course of Grace to be perverted, any more than the Course of Nature? It is an established Decree, that we must through much Tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God(a). And that "if 2. Juffer, we fall alfa rcigi with Christ(b). And what are we, that God's Sta-, tutes should be reversed for our Pleasure?
$ 4. (2) Afflictions are exceeding aseful to us, to keep us from miftaking our Reff. A Chriftian's Motion towards Heaven is voluntary, and not constrained. Those Means therefore are most profitable, which help his Understanding and Will. The most dangerous Mistake of our Souls is, to take the Creature for God, and Earth for Heaven. What, warın, affectionate, eager Thoughts have we of the World, till Afflictions cool and moderate them? Ami&tions speak convincingly, and will be heard when Preachers cannot. Many a poor Christian is sometime bending his Thoughts to Wealth, or Flesh-pleasing, or Applause; and so loses his Relish of Christ, and the Joys above; till God break in upon his Riches, or Children, or Conscience, or Health, and break down his Mountain which he thought so strong. And then, when he lieth in Manasseh's Fetters, or is fallened to his Bed with pining Sickness, the World is nothing, and Heaven is something.
If our dear Lord did not put these Thorns under our Head, we should fleep out our Lives, and lose our Glory.
§ 5. (3) Afflictions are • aljo God's most effiEtual Means to keep us from losing our Way to our Reft. Wichout this Hedge of Thouns, on the right Hand, and left, we should hardly keep the Way to Heaven. If there be but one Gap open, how ieady are we to find it, and turn out at it? When we grow waritong or
worldly, (a) Acts xiv, 221
(b) 2 Tim j. 12,
worldly, or proud, how doth Sickness, or other Afliction, reduce us? Every Chrisian, as well as Luther, may call Afliction one of his best Schoolmasters; and with David may fay, Before I was afflicted, I went aftray; but now have I kept thy Word(c). Many thousand recovered Sinners may cry,
660 or healthful Sickness! O comfortable Sorrows! O “ gainful Losses! O enriching Poverty! O blessed “ Day that ever I was afflicted!” Not only the green Paftures, and still Waters, but the Rod and Staff, they comfort us. Though the Word and Spirit do the main Work, yet Suffering so unbolts the Door of the Heart, that the Word hath eafier Entrance.
$ 6. (4) Afflictions likewise serve to quicken our Pace in the Way to our Ref. It were well if mere Love would prevail with us, and that we were rather drawn to Heaven, than driven. But seeing our Hearts are fo bad, that Mercy will not do it; it is better be put on with the sharpest Scourge, than loiter, like the foolish Virgins, till the Door is fout. O what Difference is there, hetwixt our Prayers in Health, and in Sickness; betwixt our Repentings in Prosperity and Adverfity! Alas! if we did not sometime feel the Spur, what a slow Pace would most of us hold toward Heaven? Since our vile Natures require it, why should we be unwilling that God should do us Good by sharp Means? Judge, Christian, whether thou dost not go more watchfully and speedily in the Way to Heaven, in thy Sufferings, than in thy more pleasing and prosperous State.
$ 7. (5) Consider further, it is but the Flesh that is chiefly troubled and grieved by Affliction, In most of our Sutterings the Soul is free, unlels we ourselve; willully affiet it. " Why then, O my Soul, doft thou fide “ with this Flesh, and complain, as it complaineth?
It (c) Paulm cx.x. 67.
" It should be thy Work to keep it under, and bring " it into Subjection; and if God do it for thee, shouldłt " thou be discontented? Hath not the pleasing of it “ been the Cause of almost all thy spiritual Sorrows? " Why then may not the displeasing of it further thy " Joys? Must not Paul and Silas Fing, because their
Feet are in the Stocks? Their Spirits were not im“ prisoned. Ah, unworthy Soul! is this thy Thanks “ to God for preferring thee so far before thy Body? " When it is rotting in the Grave, thou shalt bé a " Companion of the perfected Spirits of the Juft. In " the mean Time, hast thou not Consolation which " the Flesh knows not of? Murmur not then at “ God's Dealings with thy Bodys if it were for Want “ of Love to thee, he would not have dealt so by all “ his Saints. Never expect thy Flesh should truly “ expound the Meaning of the Rod. It will call " Love, Hatred; and say, God is destroying, when “ he is saving. It is the suffering Party, and therecs fore not fit to be the Judge.” Could we once believe God, and judge of his Dealings by his Word, and by their Usefulness to our Souls, and Reference to our Rest, and could we stop our Ears against all the Clamours of the Flesh, then we should have a truer Judgment of our Amictions.
$ 8. (6) ONCE more consider, God seldom gives his People so sweet a Fore-taste of their future Rest, as in their deep Afflictions. He keeps his most precious Cordials for the Time of our greatest Faintings and Dangers. He gives them, when He knows they are needed, and will be valued; and when He is sure to be thanked for them, and his People rejoiced by them. Especially when our Sufferings are more directly for his Cause, then He seldom fails to sweeten the bitter Cup. The Martyrs have possessed the highest Joys. When did Christ preach such Comforts to his Disci
ples, as when their Hearts were ferrowful at his Departure? When did He appear among them, and say, Peace be unto you, but when they were fhut up for fear of the Jews? When did Stepben fee Heaven opened, but when he was giving up his Life for the Testimony of Jesus? Is not that our best State, wherein we have most of God? Why else do we defire to come to Heaven? If we look for a Heaven of fleshly Delights, we shall find ourselves mistaken. Conclude then, that Ami&tion is not so bad a State for a Saint in his Way to Rest. Are we wiser than God? Doth He not know what is good for us as well as we? or is He not as careful of our Good, as we of our own? Woe to us, if He were not much more fo! and if He did not love us better, than we love either Him, or ourselves!
$ 9. Say not, “ I could bear any other Amiction " but this.” If God had afflicted thee where thou canít bear it, thy Idol would neither have been discovered, nor removed. Neither say, “If God would 6 deliver me out of it, I could be content to bear it.” Is it nothing that He hath promised it shall work for thy Good? Is it not enough that thou at sure to be delivered at Death? Nor let it be said, " If iny “ Affidion did not disable me for Duty, I could so bear it.” It doth not disable thee for that Duty which tendeth to thy own personal Beneíit, but is the greatest quickening Help thou canst expect.
As for thy Duiy to others, it is not thy Duty when God ditables idee. Perhaps thou wilt say, “ The Godly
are my AMictors; if it were ungodly Men, I could 6 cafily bear it.” Whoever is the Instrument, the Afiction is froin God, and the deserving Cause thy, felf; and is it not beiter to look more to God and thyself? Did thou no know that the be Men are til lunful in Part? Don't plead, “If I had but that