PRIMS Full-text transcription (HTML)

Correction, Inſtruction: OR, A TREATISE OF Afflictions: Firſt conceived by way of Private Meditations: Afterward Digeſted into certain Sermons, preach'd at Aldermanbury.

And now publiſhed for the Help and Comfort of humble ſuffering CHRISTIANS.

By THO. CASE, M.A. ſometimes Student of Ch. Ch. Oxon. now Preacher of the Goſpel in London.

JOB 13.15. Though he ſlay me, yet will I truſt in him.
Nihil eo inſoelicius, cui nihil infoelix con­••git. Demet. apud Sen.

LONDON, Printed by J. M. for LUKE FAVVN, and are to be ſold at his ſhop at the ſign othe Prat in Pauls Church-yard. 1652.

To my Reverend Friend, Mr Thomas Caſe, Miniſter of the Goſpel, &c.


I Thank you for the favor you did me in affording me a ſight of your Pa­pers; I had heard much of your notions con­cerning afflictions, and there­fore was very thirſty till you were pleaſed to give me to drink of the fountain: I can now ſay as that Queen,**1 Kin. 10.7 The one half was not told me; fame came much ſhort of taſte: We are perfect in no Leſſons ſo much as thoſe into which God whippeth us; and can­not ſpeak of any argument ſo warmly and feelingly, as when we ſpeak out of preſent expe­rience: To treat of afflictions when we our ſelves flouriſh and abound in eaſe and plen­ty, ſavoreth more of the Ora­tor then the Preacher, the brain then the heart: Certainly gueſs and imagination cannot be ſo good a midwife to ſuch con­ceptions as ſenſe and feeling.

It ſeemeth when you went into priſon, the Spirit of God went into priſon with you; and when you were ſhut up to others, you ſtill lay open to the viſits and free breathings of his grace; the reſtraints and encloſures of a priſon cannot prejudice the freedom of his operations: He is a cloſe pri­ſoner indeed that is ſhut up not only from the ſociety of men, but converſe with the Holy Ghoſt. I begin to ſee there is ſomewhat more then a ſtrain and reach of wit in Tertullians conſolatory diſcourſe to the Martyrs:**Caetera a­nimi impe­dimenta uſ­que ad li­men carce­ris deduxe­rint vos, quouſque & parentes veſtri, ex­inde ſegre­gati eſtis a mundo nec hoc vos con­ſternet quod ſegregati eſt is a mun­do, ſi enim recogitemus ipſum ma­gis mundum carcerem eſſe; exiſſe vos e car­cere quam in carcerem introiſſe in­telligemus majores te­nebras ha­bet mundus graviores catenas in­duit mun­dus, &c. Tertul. ac Martyr. You went out of priſon (ſaith he) when you went into it, and were but ſequeſtred from the world, that you might converſe with God; the greateſt priſoners and the moſt guilty are thoſe that are at large, darkened with ignorance, chained with lusts, committed not by the Pro­conſul, but God, &c. The Lord often manifeſted himſelf to his Prophets in a Wilderneſs, and to you in your ſeceſsion and retirement.

Sir, I could even envy your Priſon-comforts, and the ſweet opportunities of a religious privacy: We that are abroad are harraſſed and worn out with conſtant publike labors, and can ſeldom retire from the diſtraction of buſineſs for ſuch free converſe with God and our own Souls: But we are not to chooſe our own portion; croſſes will come ſoon enough without wiſhing for them; and if we were wiſe we might make an advantage of every condition.

Good Sir, be perſwaded to publiſh thoſe Diſcourſes; the Subject is uſeful, and your manner of handling it warm and affectionate; do not de­prive the world of the com­fort of your Experiences: Certainly my heart is none of the tendereſt; yet if heart an­ſwereth heart, I can eaſily fore­ſee much ſucceſs, and that you will not repent of the publica­tion: The Lord bleſs your endeavors in the Goſpel of his dear Son: I am, Sir,

Yours in all Chriſtian Obſervance, Tho: Manton.
〈1 page duplicate〉
〈1 page duplicate〉



THou haſt here in theſe following Leaves ſome PRISON­THOUGHTS, I wiſh I could ſay, EXPERI­ENCES. If I have not written herein what I have FOUND, I bleſs God, I have written what I have SOUGHT. I muſt humbly confeſs with holy Paul,〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Phil. 3.13.14I count not my ſelf to have ap­prehended; yet through Grace I can add with that bleſſed Saint, But this one thing I do, Forgetting thoſe things which are behinde, and reaching forth unto thoſe things which are before, I PRESS TO­VVARDS THE MARK. God hath taught me ſomewhat of the Doctrine, if he would pleaſe to teach me the Uſe; God hath in ſome meaſure ſhewed me WHAT is to be gained by Af­fliction, if He would alſo teach me HOVV to gain it, I ſhould with Moſes, account my ſuffer­ings greater riches then the treaſures of Egypt. Heb. 11.26The diſ­covery is ſweet; if my heart deceive me not, I would not ex­change it for the wealth of both the Indies; the poſſeſſion in­finitely precious. For thy ad­vantage I have been perſwaded to print; my prayer ſhall ac­company my papers, That that GOD, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth things that are not as though they were, would pleaſe to make theſe broken Expreſsions anſwer the aym:Hoc tan­tum oo, ut cum petitis etiam Ter­tulliani peceatoris memineri­tis. Tert: Apol. and for the ayms-ſake deſpiſe them not, but pray thou alſo; and when thou prayeſt, remem­ber the chiefeſt of ſinners, the poor and unworthy Author, who, whileſt yet in the Land of the Living, will be

Thine, to ſerve thee, in the Goſpel of CHRIST, Tho. Caſe.

Courteous Reader, before thou read, be pleaſed with thy pen to correct theſe few material miſtakes of the Preſs.

  • PAge 17. in the margin write affectus for affect.
  • P. 41 lin. 12. write thoſe for theſe, & ſo l. 18
  • P. 46 marg. requieſcat for requieſcet.
  • P. 50. l. 6. write ſ••ce for hence, and l. 7. •••abling for〈◊〉.
  • P. 67. l. 25. beatifical for beatifiate.
  • P. 75. marg. 〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉for〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉.
  • P. 83. l. 14. prayerful for powerful.
  • P. 109 l. 18. vaiy for veriety.
  • P. 119. l. 10, & 1. we for they.
  • P. 126 in the loweſt marginal note, write propter for prter, and in the laſt line ſave one, lawful for unlawful.
  • P. 134. l. 18. 〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉for〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉.
  • P. 153. marg. doth〈◊〉for doth.
  • P. 157. at the bottom, make it thus, Crowds of oppoſition intercepted and diſtubed his ſweet and conſtant communion wth God ſometimes; But he brake, &c.
  • P. 195. l. 2. write ſenſible for unſenſible.
  • P. 197. marg. write, men will give God, &c.
  • p. 262. margin, ditatifor dictatio.

Some other miſtakes there are, literal and punctual, which becauſe they do not pervert the ſence of the Author, I thought not worth troubling the Errata with them.


〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Correction, Inſtruction. THE Rod, and the Word.

PSAL. 94.12. Bleſſed is the Man whom thou chastenest, O Lord; and teacheſt him out of thy Law.

THis Pſalm being〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, without a Title, it is not ſo eaſily deter­mined, when, or by whom it was pen'd. Probably by David, when himſelf, and the reſt of the Godly Party, were under aore and bitter perſecution by**Non eſt dubium quin de op­preſſoribus domeſtcis••quatur quorum ini­qua domi­natio, non minus San­ctis, infeſto & moliſta erat quam omnes Gen­tium inju­riae. Calv. in loc. Preſertim ad regnum Saulis ſan­guinolen­tum ac vi­olentum re­ferri poteſt. Muſc. in loc. Saul and others of that bloody and hypo­critical faction that bare ſway un­der him.

Briefly, In the Pſalm the Prophet doth theſe three things.

  • 2
  • 1. He doth appeal to God for ven­geance on the perſecutors; de­ſcribing them by their pride, v. 2. Prophaneneſs, v. 3, 4. their intem­perate virulency of ſpeech, v. 4. Cruelty, and bloody practi­ſes, v. 5, 6. and laſtly by their Atheiſticall ſecurity, v. 7.
  • 2. He diverteth to the Enemies, endeavouring to convince them of the bruitiſhneſs and folly of their Atheiſm, the Mother and Nurſe of the other impieties charged on them, v. 8. and that by a threefold Argument. ſc.
    • 1. The power and skill of God in creating the hearing and ſee­ing Organ in Man, v. 9.
    • 2. The Soveraignty of God, and the Righteouſneſs of his Judg­ments, which he executes in the world, v. 10. the former part.
    • 3. His Wiſdome and knowledge, in enduing man with ſuch an excellent intellectual faculty, whereby even the creature it ſelf is able to attain to admira­ble3 degrees of knowledge, v. 10. latter part, and 11.
  • 3. He labours to comfort the godly againſt all the preſſures and perſe­cutions under which they did groan and languiſh.

The firſt Argument which the Pſalmist uſeth to this purpoſe is in the Text. ſc. The ſweet fruit which is to be gathered from the bitter root of affliction, which being ac­companyed with divine inſtruction, is no longer to be eſteemed a puniſh­ment, but a bleſſing.

Bleſſed is the man whom thou chaſtenest, O Lord, and teacheſt him out of thy Law.

This being the ſubject I intend to inſiſt upon, I ſhall without any more ado contract it into this Doctrinal point of Obſervation. ſc.

  • That man is a bleſſed man,Doct. whoſe Chaſtiſements are joyn'd with Divine Teachings. or,
  • It is a bleſſed thing when Corre­ction and inſtruction go toge­ther. The Rod and the Word make up a compleat bleſſing.

I ſhall take chaſtiſements here in the utmoſt latitude, for all kindes and de­grees of ſufferings, whether from God, or Man, or Satan; whether ſufferings for Sin, or ſufferings for Righteouſneſs ſake. And for the Doctrinal part of the Point, I ſhall endeavor theſe four things.

  • 1. To ſhew you what thoſe Leſſons are which God doth teach his people by his chaſtiſe­ments.
  • 2. What the Nature and Pro­perties of Divine Teachings are.
  • 3. In what tendency Correction lyeth in Order unto theſe teachings: or, what Uſe God doth make of Affliction for the carrying on of the Work of in­ſtruction in the hearts of his People.
  • 4. I ſhall lay down the Grounds and Demonſtrations of the Point: or Conſiderations to evince the happineſs of that man whom God is pleaſed to teach by his Corrections.

I begin with the Leſſons which God doth uſually teach his people in a ſuffering condition. Amongſt ma­ny which may fall within the expe­rience of the ſuffering Saints of God, I ſhall obſerve unto you twenty ſe­verall Leſſons,Cant. 6.6. moſt whereof like the teeth of the Spouſe, you ſhall ſee will bear twins: or if any of them ſhould fail, the reſt will more then make up the account; which when I have preſented at large,20 Leſſons which God teacheth by afflicti­on. I ſhall then con­tract into three ſummary and com­prehenſive Inſtructions, which will contain the ſubſtance of all.

The firſt Leſſon which God teach­eth by Affliction, is,1. Leſſon-Compaſſi­on towards ſufferers. Compaſſion to­wards them which are in a ſuffering condition. Truly we are very prone to be inſenſible of our Brethrens ſuf­ferings, when we our ſelves are at eaſe in Zion: Partly by reaſon of that ſenſuality which is in our na­tures, reigning in carnal men, and dwelling even in the regenerate themſelves, whereby we let out our hearts ſo inordinately to our own comforts, as to quench the tender­neſs6 and ſenſe which we ought to have of the miſeries and hardſhips of other men. Partly out of the deli­cacy of ſelf-love, which makes us unwilling to ſowre the relliſh of our own ſweet fruitions with the bitter taſte of ſtrangers afflictions. Partly through ſluggiſhneſs and torpor of ſpirit, which makes us unwilling to riſe up from the bed of eaſe and plea­ſure to travel in the enquiry of the ſtate of our Brethren either abroad or at home; ſo that (as the Apoſtle ſaith in another caſe) we are willing­ly ignorant, and are not only ſtran­gers, but are content to be ſtrangers to their miſeries and calamities.

One way or other, even Chri­ſtians themſelves, and ſuch as are truly ſo called, are more or leſs guilty of the ſin of the Gentiles;Rom. 1.31〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, &〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. without natural affection, unmerci­ful, without bowels, without com­paſſion.

Hence you may find, that it was one of the errands upon which God ſent Iſrael into Egypt, that in the brick­kills there their hard hearts might7 be ſoftened and melted into compaſ­ſion towards ſtrangers and captives. Therefore when God had turn'd their Captivity, that was one of the firſt leſſons of which he puts them in mind, Thou ſhalt not oppreſs a ſtran­ger, there's the duty; which, though negatively expreſt, yet (according to the Rule of interpreting the Com­mandments) doth include all the affirmative duties of mercy and compaſſion: and the motive fol­lows, for you know the heart of a ſtranger: How came they to know it? ſeeing ye were ſtrangers in the Land of Egypt. As if God had ſaid, I ſent you on purpoſe into Egypt, that by the experience of your own ſufferings and miſeries you might learn as long as you live to lay to heart the anguiſh and agonies of ſtrangers and captives, that whenſo­ever you ſee a ſtranger in your habi­tations, you may ſay,O here is a poor Sojourner, an Exile, I will ſurely have mercy upon him, and ſhew him kindneſs, for I my ſelf have been a ſtranger and a bondſlave in Egypt;8 I know by experience what a fear­ful, trembling, bleeding heart he carrieth in his boſom, &c.

And upon this very account God ſtill brings variety of afflictions and ſorrows upon his own children; he ſuffereth them to be plundered, ban­iſhed, impriſoned, reduced to great extremities, that by their own expe­rience they may learn to draw out their bowels towards ſuch objects of pity; that they might ſay within themſelves, I know the heart of this afflicted Soul, I know what it is to be plundered, to be rich one day, and the very next day to be ſtript naked of all ones comforts and accommo­dations; I know what it is to hear poor hunger-ſtarved children cry for bread, and there is none to give them; I know what it is to be baniſht from deareſt relations, to be like arms and legs, torn out of the body, and to lie bleeding in their ſeparation: I know what it is to be caſt into priſon, to be lockt up alone in the dark, with no other company but fears and ſor­rows; I know what it is to receive9 the ſentence of death in our ſelves, &c. Shall not I pity, and pray, and pour out my Soul over ſuch as are bleeding and languiſhing under the like miſeries! And this Argument yet makes deeper impreſſion, when a Chriſtian compares and meaſures his lighter burden of affliction with anothers more grievous yoke, and reaſons thus within himſelf;Im­priſonment was grievous to me, and yet I enjoyed many comforts and accommodations, which others have not; I had a ſweet chamber, and a ſoft bed, when ſome poor Members of Jeſus Chriſt, in the Spaniſh Inquiſition, and the Turk­iſh Slavery, are caſt into the Dun­geon, and ſink, with Jeremiah, into the mire; their feet are hurt in the ſtocks, and the irons do enter into their Soul; others lie bleeding and gaſping upon the cold ground with their undreſt wounds, expoſed to all the injuries of hunger and na­kedneſs in the open ayr. I ſaw the face of my Chriſtian friends, ſome­times, enjoyed refreſhment in con­verſe10 with deareſt relations, while ſome of Gods precious people are caſt into dark and ſtinking priſons, and do not ſee the face of a Chri­ſtian, not of a man poſſibly in five, ten or twenty years together, unleſs it be of their tormenters. I had freſh dyet every day, not only for neceſſity, but for delight, while o­ther precious ſervants of God want their neceſſary bread, lie ſtarving in the doleful places of their ſorrow­ful reſtraint, and would be glad to eat bread that falls into the very loathſom excrements of Nature, and perhaps (for extremity of hun­ger) never ſtand to wipe it; poſſi­bly, forced to rake dead and ſtink­ing carkaſſes out of their graves for their ſorrowful food, to eat the fruit of their own loyns, yea to feed on their own dung, and drink their own piſs, &c. Oh ſhall not my bowels yern, and my compaſſions be rouled within me, towards ſuch Objects of miſery and compaſ­ſion?

Truly Brethren, we ſee it dayly in11 caſe of the Stone, Toothache, Gout, Strangury, and the like evils, how experience doth melt the heart into tears of ſympathy and fellow-feel­ing, while ſtrangers to ſuch ſuffer­ings ſtand wondering at, and almoſt deriding the heart-breaking laments of poor wretches. Brethren, that you may not wonder at this, conſi­der I beſeech you what the Apoſtle ſpeaks of Chriſt himſelf:Heb 2.17. It behoved him in all things to be made like un­to his Brothren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high Prieſt in things pertaining to God. And again,Cha. 4.15. We have not an high Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are. And Chap. 5.2. Who can have com­paſſion, &c. for that he himſelf alſo is compaſſed with infirmities.

A man would ſay within himſelf, Why what need had the Lord Jeſus to inveſt himſelf with a body of fleſh to know the infirmities of our na­ture, ſince he was God, and knew all things? Nay, but, my Brethren, it12 ſeems the knowledg which Chriſt had as God, was different frō that know­ledgwhich he had as man; that which he had as God, was intuitive; that which he had as man, was experimen­tal; experimental knowledg of miſe­ry is the heart-affecting knowledg; and therefore Chriſt himſelf would intender his own heart, as Mediator, by his own ſenſe and feeling: And if the Lord Jeſus, who was Mercy it ſelf, would put himſelf into a ſuf­fering condition, that he might the more ſweetly and affectionately act thoſe Mercies towards his ſuffering Members; how much more do we, that by nature are cruel and incom­paſſionate, need ſuch practical teach­ings to work upon our own hearts? Certainly we cannot gain ſo much fenſe of the Saints ſufferings by the moſt artificial & skilful relation that the tongue of men or Angels is able to expreſs, no nor by all our Scripture­knowledg, though ſanctified, as we do by one days experience in the School of Affliction, when God is pleaſed to be the School-maſter.


This is one end why God ſends us thither, and the firſt Leſſon we learn by Affliction, ſc. Sympathy with, and compaſſion to, our ſuffering Brethren.

I come to the Second Leſſon.

And that is,2 Leſſon. 1. To prize earthly comforts more. By Chastiſements God doth teach us how to prize our outward mercies and comforts more, and yet to dote upon them leſs; to be more thankful for them, and yet leſs enſnared by them. This is a My­ſtery indeed to Nature, a Paradox to the World; for naturally we are ve­ry prone either to ſlight, or to ſur­feit; and yet (it is ſad to conſider) we can make a ſhift to do both at once; we can undervalue our mer­cies even while we glut our ſelves with them, and despiſe them even when we are ſurfeiting upon them. Witneſs that inculcated caution by Moſes and Joſhua, When thou haſt eaten and art full,Deut 8 10 11, 12. and 6 11, 12. take heed thou forget not the Lord thy God. Behold, while men fill themſelves with the mercies of God, they can neglect the God of their mercies: When God is moſt liberal in remembring us, we14 are moſt prone to forget God. Now therefore that we may know how to put a due eſtimate upon mercies, God often outs us ſhort, that we may learn to prize that by want, which our fooliſh unthankful hearts ſlighted in the enjoyment. Thus the Prodigal, who while yet at home, could deſpiſe the rich and well-fur­niſht table of his father; when God ſent him to School to the Swine­trough, could value the bread that the Hinds did eat; How many of my fathers hired ſervants have BREAD enough,Luk. 15 17 and to ſpare! He would have been glad of the reverſion of broken meat that was caſt into the common-basket.

I do not believe David ever ſlight­ed the Ordinances, yet certainly he never knew ſo well how to eſtimate them, as when he was baniſht from them;Pſalm 84. then a Porters place, the Sparrows nest, and the Swallows neighborhood to the Altar of God, were matters of envy to him: The remembrance of the company of Saints,Pſal. 42 5 & 110.3 the beauty of the Ordinances,15 and the preſence of God,Pſal. 63.2 fetcheth tears from his eyes, and groans from his heart, in his ſorrowful Exile: When I remember theſe things,Pſal. 42.4 I pour out my Soul in me, &c. My tears are my meat day and night. Verſe 3.Oh how amiable are the Aſſemblies of the Saints, and the Ordinances of the Sabbath, when we are deprived of them! In thoſe days the Word of the Lord was precious:1 Sam. 3.1 What days were thoſe? It followeth, There was no open Viſion. Word and Pro­phets were precious when they were not.Carendo po­tius quam fruendo. Sen. Ep. Want will teach us the worth of mercies. Our liberties and deareſt relations how cheapand trivial things are they while we poſſeſs them with­out any check or reſtraint? While we have the keeping of our mercies in our own hands, we make but ſmall reckoning of them. Oh, but let God threaten a divorce by death or baniſhment, let Task-maſters be ſet over us and our comforts, who ſhall meaſure out unto us at their own pleaſure; let us be lockt up a while under cloſe impriſonment, and16 there be kept faſting from our dear­eſt enjoyments, then the ſight of a friend through an iron grate, the ex­change of a few common civilities with a yoke-fellow under the cor­rection and controul of a ſtranger, how ſweet and precious? when as moneths and years of arbitrary en­joyments are paſt through, and we ſcarce ſit down to reflect one ſerious view upon our mercies: ſeldom ſpread them before the Lord in pray­er, or ſend up one thankful Ejacula­tion to God by night upon our beds, in this or the like manner;Lord, what mercy is this which I enjoy in my yoke-fellow, children, friends, liberty, eſtate, comforts and accommodations of all ſorts, not for neceſſity only, but for delight, while others, better then I, languiſh under an unequal yoke, have great rebukes in their children, are ſepa­rated from friends, deſpoil'd of their eſtates, impriſon'd, baniſht, afflict­ed, deſerted, tormented! How comes it to paſs that ſo much mer­cy falls to my ſhare? that I want17 nothing, while others have no­thing? &c.Oh how rarely do we entertain ſuch diſcourſes with our own hearts, but paſs by mercies as common things, ſcarce worth the owning? whereas in the houſe of bondage, in a Land of Captivity, the lees and dregs of thoſe mercies will be precious, which while the Veſſel ran full and freſh we could hardly reliſh: In famine the very gleanings of our comforts are better then the whole Vintage in the years of plenty. 2. Not to ſurfeit on them.

And then ſecondly, As God teach­eth us to prize our mercies, ſo by af­fliction alſo he doth teach us mode­ration in the uſe of them, while we value not to ſurfeit. And indeed it is the inordinate uſe of outward comforts which renders us unfit to prize them; we loſe our eſteem of mercies in exceſs:Ex conſue­tudine he­beſcunt af­fecte & fit prava vo­luptas do­lor. Surfeits do uſu­ally render thoſe things nauſeous, which formerly have been our deli­cacies: By our exceſſes in Creature enjoyments, Reaſon is drown'd in ſenſe, Judgment extinguiſht in ap­petite,18 and the affections being blunt­ed by commonneſs of exerciſe, even pleaſures themſelves become a bur­den. Surely the exceſſive letting out of our ſelves to ſenſual fruitions, is both a ſin and a puniſhment, while thereby we loſe both the creature, and God, and our ſelves at once.

Now this diſtemper God doth many times cure by the ſharp corra­ſive of affliction, and by hardſhip teacheth us moderation. Partly by inuring us to abatemeuts and wants, whereby that which at firſt was ne­ceſſity, afterwards grows to be our choyce: Hence ſaith the Apoſtle, I have learned to want;Phil. 4.12 how? why God had taught him to live of a lit­tle: By feeding of us ſparingly, God abates and ſlackens the inordinacy of the appetite. Partly and eſpecially, God takes off our hearts from inor­dinate indulgencies in a ſuffering condition, by diſcovering richer and purer ſatisfactions in Jeſus Chriſt. It is Gods deſign by withdrawing the Creature, to invite, and fix the Soul upon himſelf: The voyce of19 the Rod is, O taſte and ſee how good the Lord is; which when the Soul hath once perceived, thruſting the creature away with contempt and indignation, it opens it ſelf to God, ſaying, Whom have I in Heaven but thee?Pſa. 73.25 and there is none upon Earth that I deſire in compariſon of thee. Surely it was in the School of Af­fliction that David learn'd that Leſ­ſon, even when the wicked prosper­ed, and himſelf, with the reſt of the godly,Verſe 14. were plagued all the day long, and chaſtned every morning.

This is the ſecond,3 Leſſon, Self-deny­al. and an happy Leſſon, ſc. to prize comforts more, and yet prey upon our comforts leſs.

A third Leſſon, which God teach­eth by his Chaſtiſements, is, Self-de­nyal and obediential ſubmiſſion to the will of God.

In our proſperity we are full of our own wills, and uſually we give God counſel when God looks for obedience, as if we could tell God how it might have been better; and ſo we diſpute our croſſe when we ſhould take it up; but now ferendo20 diſcimus perferre, by bearing a lit­tle we learn to bear more;Iames 1, 3 the tryal of our faith worketh patience: the more we ſuffer, the more God fits us to ſuffer: partly by working us off from our own wills: folly is bound up in the heart of Gods children,Pro. 22: 15 as well as our own; but the rod of cor­rection driveth it far from them. God fetcheth out the ſtubbornneſs and perverſneſs of our ſpirits by the Diſcipline of the Rod: So that be­fore he hath done with us, we have not a will to lift up againſt his will. And ſurely as we ſay to our chil­dren, Oh, it is a good rod, which breaks us of our ſtomacks. Partly by inuring us to the Croſs: The Bullock unaccuſtomed to the yoke, is very impatient under the hand of the husbandman; but after ſhe is in­ured to labor, ſhe willingly puts her neck under the yoke: and ſo it is with Chriſtians, after a while the yoke of affliction begins to be well ſetled, and by much bearing we learn to bear with quietneſs: A new Cart maketh a great noiſe and21 ſqueaking, but when once uſed, it goeth ſilently under the greateſt load. None murmur ſo much at ſuffer­ings as they who have ſuffered leaſt: whereas on the contrary, we ſee ma­ny times that they are moſt patient who have the heavieſt burden upon their backs. He ſitteth alone,Lam. 3, 28 and keepeth ſilence, becauſe he hath born it upon him: q. d. He is patient be­cauſe he is acquainted with for­rows: When people cry out, Oh, never ſuch ſufferings as mine, it is an argument they are ſtrangers to afflictions. Partly alſo becauſe by chaſtiſements God works out by de­grees the delicacy of ſpirit which we contract in our proſperity; mercy makes us tender: They who are al­ways kept in the warm houſe, dare not put their head out of doors in a ſtorm: none ſo unfit for ſufferings as they that have been always dan­dled upon the knee of Providence: the moſt delicate conſtitutions are moſt unfit for hardſhip. But laſtly and chiefly, this comes to paſs be­cauſe by ſuffering we come to taſte22 the fruit of ſufferings. No chaſten­ing for the preſent ſeems joyous,Heb. 12, 11 but grievous: At firſt, chaſtiſements ſeem very bitter, but afterwards it yeeldeth the peaceable fruits of righ­teouſneſs unto them which are ex­erciſed thereby. The fruit of pati­ence is not found at the firſt brunt, but after we are well exerciſed and acquainted with a ſuffering conditi­on: affliction is the true moly, though the root be bitter, yet the fruit is ſweet; there is meat in the eater, out of the ſtrong comes ſweet­neſs: and then when the Soul be­gins to taſte the ſweet fruit which grows upon that bitter root, it ſays with the Church in the Lamentati­ons,Lam. 3, 26 27 It is good that a man ſhould both hope and quietly wait for the Salvation of the Lord; it is good that a man ſhould bear the yoke in his youth: i. e. I ſhall not be a loſer by my ſufferings, I ſee the fruit will abundantly compenſate the ſmart of a ſuffering condition.

Thus, I ſay, one way or other, God works his children into a ſweet23 obediential frame by their ſufferings. Even of Chriſt himſelf, the Son of God by nature, it is ſaid,Heb. 5, 8〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, i. e. reipſa expertue eſt. He learn­ed obedience by the things which he ſuffered: He experimentally came to know what it was to be ſubject to the Will of his Father. It is moſt properly true of the adopted chil­dren, they learn obedience by the things which they ſuffer, and that not only in a paſſive but in an active ſence. By ſuffering Gods Will we learn to do Gods Will: God hath no ſuch obedient children as thoſe whom he nurtures in the School of affliction. At length God brings all his Scholars to ſubſcribe, What God will, When God will, How God will: Thy will be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven. A bleſſed Leſſon.

A Fourth is,4 Leſſon, Humility. Humility and Meek­neſs of Spirit.

It is one of Gods deſigns in af­fliction, to hide pride from man;Iob 33.17 to ſpread ſackcloth upon all his glo­ry, that ſo man may ſee no excel­lency in all the creature wherein to pride himſelf. God led Iſrael forty24 years in the wilderneſs to humble them: By the thorns of the wilder­neſs God prickt the bladder of pride, and let out the windyneſs of ſelf-opinion that was in their hearts. Proſperity uſually makes men ſurly and ſupercilious towards their poor brethren;Pro. 18, 23 The rich anſwers rough­ly: Even while the poor uſeth en­treaties, maketh his addreſſes to him with all humility and obſervance, he holds up his head, or turns his back upon him with ſcorn and contempt, and thinks himſelf too good to give his poor neighbor a ſoft and peace­able anſwer: Ioquuntur lapides, they ſpeak hard things; theſe rough-caſt Nabals,Riches make men proud, but poverty humbleth the heart. a man cannot tell how to ſpeak to them. Pride is an humor which naturally runs in our veins, and it is nouriſh'd by eaſe and pro­ſperity. And therefore to tame this pride of ſpirit that is in man, God takes him into the houſe of Correcti­on, puts his feet in the ſtocks, and there teacheth him to know himſelf: He humbled thee,Deut. 8.3 and ſuffered thee to hunger; Hunger brought down25 Iſraels ſtomack, & did eat out that proud fleſh which began to ran­kle. Hence it is that if you take the children of God either yet in, or newly come out of the furnace of affliction, you ſhall obſerve them to be the tameſt, meekeſt creatures upon the earth; as it is ſaid of the new Convert, Iſa. 11.6. A little child may lead them: whereas be­fore it may be they were ſo ſtiff and high in the inſtep, that an angel of God could not tell how to deal with them; now the meaneſt of Gods miniſters or ſervants may re­prove and counſel, &c. a little child may lead them: That David whom Sin made ſo fierce that he put his poor Ammonitiſh priſoners and cap­tives to death in cold bloud,2 Sam. 12 31 yea tormented them to death with ſawes and harrows, and axes of i­ron; and burnt them alive in fiery brick-kils: Him did baniſhment and perſecution make ſo tame, that not only the righteous might re­prove him, but even the wicked might reproach him;Pſa. 141 5 and he holds26 his peace, or if he ſpeak, they be words of patience and ſubmiſſion:2 Sam. 16.10. So let him curſe, becauſe the Lord hath ſaid curſe David. A man by trouble comes to know his own heart, which in proſperity he was a ſtranger to; ſeeth the weakneſs of his grace, and the ſtrength of his corruption; how nothing is weak but grace, nothing ſtrong but ſin; and this lays him in the duſt. Oh wretch that I am! And truly when a man hath learned this leſſon he is not far from deliverance. Seek the Lord all ye meek of the earth,Zeph. 2.3 ſeek righteouſneſs, ſeek meekneſs, it may be ye ſhall be hid in the day of the Lords anger. This is Gods deſign, firſt, to meeken his people by afflic­tion, and then to ſave them from affliction. Pſa. 149.4For the Lord taketh plea­ſure in his people, he will beautifis the meek with ſalvation.

Fifthly,5 Leſſon, Dſcovery of corrup­tion. Dent 8.2 God by affliction diſco­vers unknown corruption in the hearts of his people. He led thee through the Wilderneſs theſe forty yeers to humble thee, and to prove27 thee, to know what was in thy heart; i. e. to make thee know what was in thy heart; what pride, what impatience, what unbelief, what idolatry, what diſtruſt of God, what murmur, what unthankful­neſs was in thy heart: & thou never tookeſt notice of it. I tell you Chri­ſtians, ſin lieth very cloſe and deep, and is not eaſily diſcerned till the fire of affliction comes and makes a ſeparation of the precious from the vile. The furnace diſcovers the droſs which lay hid before. Ier. 9 7What ſhall I do (ſaith God) for the daugh­ter of my people? they are exceeding bad, and they know it not: what ſhall I do with them? I will melt them and try them: into the furnace they ſhall, and there I will diſcover themſelves to themſelves, and ſhew them what is in their hearts. In the furnace we ſee more corruption and more of corruption, then ever ap­peared or was ſuſpected. On ſaith the poor ſoul whom God hath taught in the School of affliction;I never thought my heart ſo bad28 as now I ſee it is, I could not have believed the world had had ſo much intereſt in my heart and Chriſt ſo little; I did not think my faith had been ſo weak and my fears ſo ſtrong; I finde that faith weak in danger, which I had thought had been ſtrong out of danger; little did I think the ſight of death would have been ſo ter­rible, parting with neareſt friends and deareſt relations ſo piercing; Oh how unskilful and unwiſe am I to manage a ſuffering conditi­on, to diſcern Gods ends, to finde out what God would have me to do; to moderate the violences of mine own paſſions, to apply the counſels and comforts of the Word for their proper ends and uſes! Oh where is my patience, my love, my zeal, my rejoycing in tribulation? Ah did I ever think to finde my heart ſo diſcompoſed, my affections ſo out of command, my graces ſo to ſeek when I ſhould fall into divers temptati­ons? what a deal of ſelf-love,29 pride, diſtruſt in God, Creature-confidence, diſcontent, murmur, riſing of heart againſt the holy and righ teous diſpenſations of God, is there boyling and fretting within me! Wo is me what an heart have I?

And beſides all this, in the hour of temptation, God brings old ſins to remembrance. We are verily guilty concerning our brother could Ioſephs brethren ſay,Gen. 42.21. twenty yeers after they had ſold him for a ſlave, when they were in danger to be queſtioned for their lives (as they feared:) and thus when the Iſrael­ites cry to God in their ſore di­ſtreſs for reſcue and deliverance, God puts them in minde of their old Apoſtacies: Ye have forſaken me and ſerved other gods, &c.Judg. 10.13, 14 go and cry to the gods whom ye have choſen. Suffering times are times of bring­ing ſin to minde:i Kin. 8.47 If they bethink themſelves in the land whither they were carried captives: Heb. If they bring back to heart. Captivity is a time of turning in upon our ſelves,30 and bringing back to heart our do­ings which have not been good in Gods ſight: Thus David under the rod could call himſelf to account, I thought on my ways,Pſa. 119.19 and turned my feet, &c.

This now is another leſſon which God teacheth by affliction; and it is of great uſe to humble us, and to empty and out us of our ſelves, to make us fly to Jeſus Chriſt for righteouſneſs and ſtrength. Iſa. 45.24In a word, God lets us ſee what is crooked that we may ſtreighten it, what is weak that we may ſtrength­en it, what is wanting that we may ſupply it; what is lame that it may not be turned out of the way, but that it may rather be healed.

Sixthly,6 Leſſon, Prayer. In the School of affliction God doth teach us to pray. They that never prayed before will pray in affliction. Iſa. 26.16Lord in trouble they have viſited Thee, they poured out a pray­er when thy chaſtening is upon them. They that kept their diſtance with God before, yea that ſaid to the Al­mighty depart from us, in their af­fliction31 can beſtow a viſit upon God, in trouble they have viſited thee: and they that never prayed before, or at leaſt did but now and then drop out a ſleepy ſluggiſh wiſh, can now pour iout a prayer when chaſtiſement is upon their loins.a Pſa. 107.11, Rbells,b 17 Fools,c 23 Mari­ners, even the worſt of men, can cry to God in their trouble. The very Heathen-mariners fall to their prayers in a ſtorm, and can awaken the ſleepy Prophet to this duty;Ionah 1.5, 6 What meaneſt thou O ſleeper! ariſe and call upon thy God. Hence we uſe to ſay, He that cannot pray,Qui neſcit orare diſcat navigar. let him go to ſea. Thus I ſay affliction opens dumb lips, and untyeth the ſtrings of the tongue to call upon God.

But whom God teacheth in af­fliction, they learn to pray in ano­ther manner, more frequently, more fervently.

Firſt, More frequently; Gods people are veſſels full of the ſpirit of prayer, and affliction is a piercer, whereby God draws it out. For32 my love they are my adverſaries, but I give my ſelf unto prayer.Pſal. 109.4 David was always a praying man, but now under perſecution he did no­thing elſe; I give my ſelf unto pray­er: as wicked men give themſelves up to their wickedneſs, ſo David gave himſelf up to prayer, he made it his work. Hence you may obſerve that moſt of all the Pſalms are no­thing elſe almoſt but the runnings out of Davids ſpirit in prayer un­der variety of afflictions and perſe­cutions; as his troubles were mul­tiplied, ſo his prayers did multiply. The holy man was never in that condition wherein he could not pray, &c. Alas, it is ſad to conſider that in our peace and tranquility, we pray arbitrarily by fits and ſtarts many times, we ſuffer every trifle to come and juſtle out prayer; but in affliction God keeps us upon our knees, and (as it were) tyeth the ſa­crifice to the horns of the altar.

And as he teacheth us to pray more frequently, ſo alſo to pray more fervently. Even of Chriſt33 himſelf it is ſaid,Luk. 22.44. 〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, intentius. that being in an agony he prayed more earneſtly; more intenſively; he prayed till he ſweat again; yea till he ſweat great drops of bloud: he ſweltred out his ſoul through his body in prayer, the rea­ſon whereof was, becauſe he had not only the pangs of death, but the ſenſe of his fathers wrath to con­flict withall; and ſo it is with be­lievers many times; outward afflic­tions are accompanied with inward diſertions. So it was with David, Pſal. 22. and Pſal. 116.3, 4 &c. And then he gathers up all his ſtrength to prayer, and like a true ſon of Iacob wreſtleth with God, and will not let him go till he gets the bleſſing, Pſalm 143. verſ. 6, 7. &c.

Truly Chriſtians, thoſe prayers wherewith you contented your ſelves in the day of your peace and proſperity, will not ſerve your turn in the hour of temptation; then you will call to mind your ſhort, ſlight, cold, dead, ſleepy, formal devoti­ons in your families and cloſets,34 and be aſhamed of them: Then you will ſee need of praying over all your prayers again, and ſtir up your ſelves to take hold upon God. Iſa. 64.7Indeed for this very end God ſends his people into captivity that he may draw out the ſpirit of prayer, which they have ſuffered to ly dead within them. Oh my dove that are in the clefts of the rock, in the ſecret places of the ſtairs,Cant. 2. let me ſee thy countenance, let me hear thy voice: for ſweet is thy voice, and thy coun­tenance is comly. Chriſts dove ne­ver looks more beautiful in his eies, then when her cheeks are bedewed with tears; nor ever makes ſweet­er muſick in his ears, then when ſhe mourns to him, out of the rock, and from under the ſtairs, in a dark and deſolate condition: then ſaith Chriſt thy countenance is comly, and ſweet is thy voice.

Seventhly,7 Leſſon, Acquaint­ance withhe word. By correction God brings the Children of promiſe into more acquaintance with the Word. He teacheth them out of his Law. As here: It is good for me that I35 have been afflicted, that I might learn thy Statutes. God ſent David into the School of affliction, there to learn the Statutes of God. By Correction the people of God learn,

  • 1. To converſe with the Word of God more abundantly.
  • 2. To underſtand it more clear­ly.
  • 3. To reliſh it more ſweetly.

Firſt, By affliction they come to converſe with it more abundant­ly. It is their duty a all time to ſtu­dy the Word:Coloſ. 3.16 To let it dwell richly in them in all wiſdom: Iob eſteemed the words of Gods mouth more then his neceſſary food. And it is their happineſs as well as their duty. Bleſ­ſed is the man that walketh not in the counſel of the ungodly, but his delight is in the law of the Lord and in his law doth he meditate day and night. Pſa. 11 2But what through diſtracti­on without, and diſtemper within, the children of God many times grow ſtrangers to their Bibles, they ſuffer diverſions to interpoſe36 between the word and their hearts, and as they pray arbitrarily, ſo they read arbitrarily, and ſuffer their Bi­bles to ly by the walls while they are taken up with other entertain­ments in the world; and therefore God is forced to deal with them as we do with our children, to whip them to their books by the rod of correction: It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy ſtatutes. When they are caſt out by the world, then they can run to the World. Pſal. 119.23Princes did ſit and ſpeak againſt me; i. e. they ſat in Councel to take away his life, that they might condemn him as a traitor againſt Saul: and what did he in the mean time? it follows, but thy ſervant did meditate in thy Statutes. Ver. 161.And again, Princes have perſecuted me without a cauſe, but my heart ſtandeth in aw of thy word. While the perſecutors are conſult­ing with the oracles of hell to ſin againſt David, David is conſult­ing with the oracles of heaven, that he might not ſin againſt God. My37 heart ſtandeth in awe of thy Word: while they ſinned and feared not, David fears and ſins not.

2. They learn by affliction to un­derſtand the Word more clearly. As it was with the Diſciples in refer­ence to Chriſt his Reſurrection; the Reſurrection of Chriſt was a lively Comment upon the Prophecies of Chriſt:Ioh. 12.16 Theſe things underſtood not his Diſciples at the firſt, but when Jeſus was glorified, then remembred they theſe things: i. e. they remem­bred them underſtandingly, they re­membred them beleevingly, they knew what they meant: So it is with the people of God many times in reference to affliction; the Rod expounds the Word, Provi­dence ſometimes interprets the Pro­miſe. The children of God had ne­ver underſtood ſome Scriptures, had not God ſent them into the School of affliction: then they can remem­ber how it is written, &c. they can bring Gods Word and Gods Works together.

3. Affliction makes them reliſh38 the Word more ſweetly. In proſpe­rity many times we ſuffer the luſci­ous contentments of the world ſo to diſtemper our palates that we cannot reliſh the Word, taſte no more ſweetneſs in it then in the white of an egg, as Job ſpeaks in an­other caſe: but when God hath kept them for weeks, & months, and years it may be, faſting from the worlds dainties, when they are throughly hunger-bitten in the creature; then, How ſweet are thy words to my taſte!Pſalm 119 103 ſweeter then honey to my mouth: They are the words which David ſpake in his affliction, wit­neſs Verſ. 23. cum 24. Princes did ſit and ſpeak againſt me, but thy ſervant did meditate in thy Sta­tutes: and what follows? thy Te­ſtimonies are my delight. And verſ. 161. with 162. Princes have per­ſecuted me without a cauſe, &c. I rejoyce at thy Word as one that find­eth great ſpoyl. The Rod did ſweeten the Word: It is my delight, my joy, a neſt of ſweetneſſes. Prov. 27.7The full Soul loatheth the Honey-comb:39 When we are fill'd with Creature­comforts, we nauſeate many times the very Word it ſelf, which is ſweeter then the honey or honey­comb: but to the hungry Soul every bitter thing is ſweet. Let God famiſh the world round about us, then how cordial is Scripture­conſolation? How precious are the Promiſes! Oh, ſaid a gracious wo­man reduced to great ſtraits, I have made many a meals meat upon the Promiſes when I have wanted bread.

The Word is never ſo ſweet as when the world is moſt bitter; and therefore doth God lay muſtard up­on the teats of the world, that we might go to the breſts of the Word, and there ſuck and be ſatisfied with the milk of conſolation. Iſai. 66 11This is my comfort in my affliction,Pſ. 119.50 for thy Word hath quickened me. Bleſſed be God for that Correction which ſweetens the Word unto us. 8 Leſſon, The need of ſound Evidence for Hea­ven.

Eightly, God by bringing his people into troubles, eſpecially if life­threatening40 dangers, doth ſhew them the neceſſity of ſound evidence for Heaven and Happineſs. Alaſs, with what eaſie and ſlight evidences do we often content our ſelves in the time of our proſperity, when the Candle of the Almighty doth ſhine in our Tabernacles; when all is peace and quiet round about us! The heart being taken up with other fruitions, we want either time or will to purſue the tryal of our own eſtates. People minde onely what will ſerve their turn for the preſent, and quiet their hearts, that they may follow their pleaſures and profits with the leſs regret: and therefore, to ſave themſelves a labor, they take that for evidence, which the ſluggiſh carnal heart wiſheth were ſo. But now in the hour of temptation, fig-leaves will cover nakedneſs no longer; nothing will ſerve the turn, but what will be able to ſtand before God, and endure the tryal of fire in the day of Chriſt: Oh then one clear and unqueſtion­able evidence of intereſt in Chriſt,41 and the of love of God, wil be worth ten thouſand worlds: Shadows and appearances of grace will vaniſh be­fore the Searcher of hearts. It muſt be perfect love that will caſt out fear:1. Iohn 4, 17 Truth and ſoundneſs of grace onely can give boldneſs in the day of Judgment. Ah, what idle and deceit­ful hearts have we in the midſt of us, that can take up with looſe con­jectures, go to the Word and Sacra­ment with theſe evidences, upon which we dare not venture to dye? And yet good and upright is the Lord that will teach ſinners his way;Pſal. 25, 8 that by the thunder-claps of his righteous judgments will awaken the vain creature out of theſe fool­iſh dreams, in which if they ſhould dye, they were undone for ever. Well, let us be ſtill urging and preſſ­ing this queſtion upon our own Souls;Will this faith ſave me when I come to ſtand before the Throne of the Lamb? Will this Love give me boldneſs in the Day of Judgment? Will this Evidence ſerve my turn when I come to dye? 42Oh Chriſtians, let us be afraid to lie down with that Evidence in our beds, wherewith we dare not lie down in our graves. 9 Leſſon, What an evil thing it is to grieve the Spirit.

A ninth is this; In the time of our trouble God cauſeth us to ſee what an evil and a bitter thing it is to grieve the good Spirit of God. When we are in the bitterneſs of our ſpirits, and want the Comforter, then we begin to call to minde how oft we have grieved the Spirit, which would have been a Comforter to us, and have ſealed us up to the day of Redemption; and ſay within our ſelves, in reference to the Spirit of God, as ſometime the ſons of Jacob ſaid one to another in reference to Joſeph;Gen. 42, 21 We are verily guilty con­cerning our brother, in that we ſaw the anguiſh of his Soul, when he beſought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this diſtreſs come upon us. Res delica­ta eſt Spi­ritus ſanc­tus.In ſome ſuch language I ſay will the Soul in the hour of temptation beſpeak it ſelf. Ah, I am verily guilty concerning that tender Spirit43 of Grace and Comfort, which hath often beſought me as it were in the anguiſh of his Soul, ſaying,Ier. 44, 4 Oh do not this abominable thing which I hate; but I would not hear. Is not this He whoſe rebukes I have ſlight­ed, whoſe counſels I have despiſed, whoſe motions I have reſiſted, whoſe warnings I have neglected, whoſe warmings I have quenched, yea whoſe comforts I have undervalued, and counted them as a ſmall thing? Ah wretch, how juſt is it now that the Spirit of God ſhould with­draw? that he ſhould deſpiſe my ſorrows, and laugh at my tears; ſhut out my prayers, quench my ſmoking flax, and break my bruiſed reed? How juſt were it that He, whom I would not ſuffer to be a Reprover in the day of my peace, ſhould now refuſe to be a Repairer of my Soul in the hour of my temptati­on! How righteous a thing were it, that I, who ſo often have carryed my ſelf ſtrangely to his Counſels, ſhould now in my ſorrows be a ſtranger to his Comforts! that I,44 who have walk'd in the ſparks of mine own kindling, ſhould now at length lie down in ſorrow. Well, if the Lord ſhall pleaſe indeed to bring my Soul out of trouble, and to re­vive my fainting ſpirit with his ſweet Conſolations, I hope I ſhall carry my ſelf (for the future) more obedientially to the counſels and re­bukes of Jeſus Chriſt in my Soul, and harken to the leaſt whiſperings of the Spirit of Grace.

A tenth Leſſon,10 Leſſon, Commu­nion with God. by Chaſtiſements God draws the Soul into ſweet and near communion with himſelf. Out­ward proſperity is a great ſnare to our communion with God: Partly becauſe by letting out our affections inordinately to the creature, we ſuf­fer the world to come in between God and our hearts, and ſo intercept that ſweet and conſtant traffique and intercourſe which ſhould be be­tween God and our Souls. Gods people offend moſt in their lawful comforts, becauſe there the ſnare be­ing not ſo viſible as in groſſer ſins, they are the eaſilier taken; we are45 ſooneſt ſurprized where we are leaſt jealous. Partly alſo for want of keep­ing up our watch againſt leſſer ſins: While our hearts are warmed with proſperity, we think many times ſmall ſins can do no great harm; but herein we do wofully deceive our ſelves: for beſides that, the leaſt ſin hath the nature of ſin in it, as the leaſt drop of poyſon is poyſon; and that in ſmaller ſins there is the greater contempt of God, in as much as we ſtand out with God for a trifle (as we count it,) and venture his diſ­pleaſure for a little ſenſual ſatisfacti­on: I ſay, beſides theſe and many other conſiderations, which may ren­der our ſmall ſins, great provocati­ons, this is one unſpeakable miſchief, that ſmall ſins intercept our commu­nion with God, as much as great ſins, and ſometimes more: For whereas great ſins by making deep wounds upon Conſcience, make the Soul go bleeding to the Throne of Grace, and there to mourn and lament, and never to give God reſt, till he gives reſt to the Soul, and by a freſh ſprinkling of46 the Blood of Chriſt, to recover peace and communion with God: Smaller ſins not impreſſing ſuch horror upon the Conſcience, are ſwallowed in ſilence with leſs regret, and ſo do in­inſenſibly alienate and eſtrange the heart from Jeſus Chriſt. The leaſt hair caſts its ſhadow; a Barly corn layd upon the ſight of the eye will keep out the light of the Sun, as well as a Mountain. The eye of the Soul muſt be kept very clear that will ſee God:Matth. 5 8 Bleſſed are the pure in heart, for they ſhall ſee God. Little ſins, though they do not diſturb Reaſon ſo much as great ſins, yet they defile Conſcience, and the Conſcience un­der defilement (unlamented) is ſhy of God, and God of it.

But now affliction fanctified, as it doth deaden the heart to the world, ſo it doth awaken and intender Con­ſcience towards ſin;Feciſti nos Domine ad te & in. quietum eſt cor noſtrum donec requi­eſcet in te. Aug. Med. the Soul is made ſenſible of her departures from God, and of the bitter fruits of that depar­ture, and now begins to lament after God in Auguſtin's language; Lord, thou haſt made my heart for thy ſelf,47 and it is reſtleſs and unquiet till it can reſt in thee; Return unto thy reſt O my Soul. The Soul hath many turnings and windings, but with Noah's Dove, it can find no place for the ſole of its foot to reſt on, till it re­turn into the Ark, from whence it came. And now when the Soul hath been weather-beaten abroad, if God will pleaſe to put forth his hand, and take it into himſelf,Pſal. 88. , 18 when deareſt re­lations are become ſtrangers, as Da­vid complains; if God come and give the Soul a viſit; when the poor creature is in darkneſs, and can ſee no light, then for God to lift up the light of his countenance, and ſhine in a gracious ſmile upon the Soul, and ſay unto it, I am thy Salva­tion, of what ſweet and unſpeakable refreſhment and conſolation is this to the afflicted ſpirit? And what a gracious condeſcention is this in God, that when the Soul by proſpe­rity hath waxed wanton against Chriſt, and ſported it ſelf in un­ſpouſe-like familiarities with ſtran­gers, Jeſus Chriſt ſhould ſend it into48 the houſe of Correction, and there by the diſcipline of the Rod correct and work out the wantonneſs of the fleſh, and when he hath made it meet for his preſence, take it into ſweet and ſocial communion with him­ſelf! This is ſtupendious Mercy, Goodneſs that cannot be parallel'd in the whole Creation. Ier. 3.1

In the eleventh place,11 Leſſon, The Ex­erciſe of Grace. God maketh affliction the exerciſe and improve­ment of grace. In proſperity grace many times lieth dead and uſeleſs in the Soul, which affliction awakens and draweth forth into exerciſe: the winter of our outward comforts proves not ſeldom the ſpring of our graces: Froſts and Snow do ſtarve the weeds, and nouriſh the good corn. Though faith and patience be of an univerſal influence into the holy life,Gal. 2.20 The life I live in the fleſh I live by the faith of the Son of God: yet affliction giveth them their perfect work. Of the times of perſecution it is ſaid,Rev. 13, 10 Here is the patience and faith of the Saints, that is, now is the time for the Saints of God to exert their49 faith and patience, and to let them have their perfect work:James 1.4 there is a work of patience, and there is a perfect work;Verſe 3 The tryal of Faith worketh patience, (i. e. the ſuffer­ings whereby our Faith is tryed, as gold is tried in the furnace,) it work­eth, or as the word ſignifieth,〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. it per­fecteth: The Croſs exerciſeth, and exerciſe perfecteth, the grace of pa­tience: as ſufferings ariſe, ſo pati­ence ariſeth alſo; Be patient,Iames 5.7 bre­thren, till the coming of the Lord: i. e. do you bear the affliction till Chriſt come and take it off: let your patience be of the ſame extent with your ſufferings. As Patience, ſo Faith is not acted only but perfect­ed by temptations. Sometimes the Soul findes that Faith lively in a ſuf­fering condition, which before it queſtioned whether it were alive: or if affliction do not finde it lively, it makes it lively: the ſame furnace of affliction wherein God tryeth our Faith he doth refine it, and pu­rifieth it more and more from the droſs of infidelity. They are the50 pureſt acts of faith, which the Soul puts forth in the dark: Faith never beleeves more then when it cannot ſee,Iſai. 50.10 becauſe then the Soul hath no­thing to ſtay it ſelf upon but God. Hence while it ſeems to help, diffi­cultates the work of faith by doubt­ing of it: a man muſt firſt beleeve the inſufficiency of what he ſeeth, be­fore he can beleeve the Alſufficiency of him that is inviſible; We look not at the things which are ſeen,2 Cor. 4.18 but at the things which are not ſeen: It is harder to live by Faith in abund­ance, then in want. The Soul is a ſtep neerer living upon God, when it hath nothing to live upon but God: yea and when God is not ſeen he is moſt beleeved. Pſal. 22.1My God, my God, why haſt thou forſaken me? Ob­ſerve, and thou ſhalt find a great deal more of precious faith in that deſer­tion, then of complaint: For firſt, Faith (like Pharez) breaks forth firſt, My God, before forſaken: And again, you have two words of Faith for one of despair; My God, my God, why haſt thou forſaken me? 51Faith ſpeaks twice before Senſe can ſpeak once. And thirdly, Faith ſpeaks confidently and poſitively, Thou art my God; Senſe ſpeaks dubiouſly, why haſt thou? as if Senſe durſt not call it a forſaking while Faith dares ſay, my God: Surely Faith is never ſo much Faith as in deſertion. Faiths triumphs lie in the midſt of deſpair, and even in this ſence alſo; Having not ſeen, yet beleeving,1 Pet. 1.8 we rejoyce with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Godly ſorrow, how is it enlarged by ſanctified affliction! while that ſtream, which was wont to run in the channel of worldly croſſes, now is diverted into the channel of ſin: I will bear the indignation of the Lord, becauſe I HAVE SINNED,Mich 7.9 &c. Any burden is light in compari­ſon of ſin, the very indignation of God. The Soul that God teacheth by his chaſtiſements can ſtand under the burden of Gods indignation for ſin, when it cannot ſtand under ſin, which hath kindled that indignation. Ah, cryeth Job upon the dunghill, I52 have ſinned, what ſhall I do unto thee, O thou preſerver of men? He forgetteth his ſuffering in his ſin; he ſaith not, I have loſt all my ſub­ſtance; I am now upon the dunghill as naked as ever I was born (ſave that I am clothed with ſcabs,) my friends reproach me, my wife curſ­eth me, or (that which is worſe) ſhe bids me curſe God. Satan perſecutes me, and God himſelf is become mine Enemy, &c. all this is befallen me; what wilt thou do unto me, O thou preſerver of men? but I have ſin­ed, what ſhall I do unto thee? &c. Sufferings lead to ſin, and ſenſe of ſin ſwalloweth up ſenſe of ſufferings. And what ſhall I ſay more? the time would fail to inſtance in other Gra­ces, Love, Fear, Holineſs, &c. By this ſhall the iniquity of Jacob be purged,Iſai. 27.9 and this is all the fruit to take away his ſin:Hb. 12, 10 He for our pro­fit, that we might be partakers of his holineſs.

Grace is never more Grace then when beſieged with temptations. The battel draws forth that fortitude53 and proweſs, which in time of peace lay chill'd in the veins for want of oppoſition and exerciſe.

A twelfth Leſſon,12 Leſſon, A life of Faith. which they learn in the School of Affliction, is, The neceſſity and excellency of the life of Faith.

1. The neceſſity of living by faith:1 The Ne­ceſſity of it. Hab. 2.3, 4 where Senſe endeth, Faith beginneth. The viſion is for an appointed time: I, but what ſhall we do in the mean time? why the juſt ſhall live by Faith; live by Faith, or dye in de­ſpair: when God pulls away the bulruſhes of Creature-ſupports, the Soul muſt either ſwim or ſink. God teacheth this Leſſon, Partly by the uncertainty of ſecond cauſes, the viceſſitudes that are in creature-expectations; a little hope to day, to morrow reduc'd to deſpair: good news to day, Pharaoh ſays Iſrael ſhall go; bad news to morrow, he rageth, and ſwears that if Moſes ſee his face any more, he ſhall dye, &c. O the ebbs & flows of ſublunary hopes! one ſpeaks a word of comfort, an­other ſpeaks words of ſoul-wound­ing54 terror; now a promiſe, anon a threatening: The ſick man is in hopes of reviving to day, to morrow at the gates of death. What a woful heart-dividing life is a life of Senſe, a life which is worſe then death it ſelf, to be thus bandied up and down between hopes and fears, to be baf­fled to and fro between the may-be's of ſecond Cauſes! to be like Mari­ners upon the billows and ſurges of the tempeſtuous ſea! Pſalm 107 26, 27They mount up to Heaven, they go down again to the depths; their Soul is melted be­cauſe of trouble: they reel to and fro, and ſtagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits end; Heb. all their wiſdom is ſwallowed up. And partly God teacheth the neceſſity of a life of Faith by the diſappointment of the Creature: How often doth the Creature totally fail, and abuſe our expectation!Iob 6.15, 16 like the deceitful brook, to which Job moſt elegantly compares his brethren, which mocks the traveller, and when he comes for a draught of water to quench his thirſt,Verſe 20 ſends him away with confuſi­on55 and ſhame. Surely men of low degree are vanity,Pſal. 62.9 and men of high degree are a lye: Men of low de­gree would help, but cannot, there is vanity; and men of high degree can help many times, but will not; no, not when they have promis'd and ſworn; there is a lye: both diſap­point, the one by the neceſſity, the o­ther by deceit; and diſappointment is one of the great torments that a rational creature is capable of: Truſt defeated cauſeth ſorrow of heart,Iſai. 20.5 and confuſion of face; and the ſtronger the confidence,Ier. 14.3 the more ſhameful is the diſappointment. Agag comes forth ſinging,1 Sam. 15, 32 33 Surely the bitterneſs of death is paſt; when behold he is going to his execution: both he and his hopes are hewen in pieces before the Lord. David himſelf looked on his right hand, and beheld, and there was no man that would know him. Peter-like, they knew not the man; they made as if they had never ſeen him before. So that Churl,1 Sam. 25 10 Who is David? and who is the ſon of Jeſs? ſome Run-agate, ſome idle fellow56 that hath broken away from his ma­ſter, &c. And it was not Nabal on­ly that ſtood at this diſtance from him; his neereſt and deareſt ac­quaintance caſt him off: Lover and friend haſt thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into dark­neſs, Pſal. 88.18. Refuge failed me, no man cared for my Soul;Pſa. 142.3 4 or as the Hebr. hath it, no man ſought af­ter my Soul. Saint Paul was in no better condition in the perſecution which befell him at Rome; At my firſt anſwer no man ſtood with me, but all men forſook me: not a man of all them that ſat under that fa­mous Apoſtle's Miniſtry that would or durſt appear to ſpeak a word for him, or to him: Oh bitter diſap­pointment, had not he had faith to ſupport him under it! And truly ſuch is our expectation,Iſai. 20.6 whither we flee for help to be delivered, &c. Sorrow and ſhame is the fruit of creature-expectation. But now on the contrary, They looked unto the Lord,Pſal. 34.5 and were enlightened, and their faces were not aſhamed. Faith57 meets with no diſappointment, God is always better then our expectati­on;2 Tim. 4, 17 Nevertheleſs the Lord ſtood with me, and ſtrengthened me, &c. and I was delivered from the mouth of the Lion. By ſuch experiences do we learn the neceſſity of living by Faith. I had periſhed in my afflicti­on, unleſs thy Law had been my de­light: i. e. unleſs David had learn­ed to live by a promiſe, he had been but a dead man. Surely he dyeth oft whoſe life is bound up in the dying Creature: as oft as the Creature fails, his hope fails, and his heart fail­eth; when the creature dyeth, his hope giveth up the ghoſt: He onely lives an unchangeable life, that by Faith can live in an unchangeable God.

We hear ſuch things indeed in the Word, but we beleeve them not till our own experience convinceth us of our infidelity. A long time do we ſtick totally in the creature, knowing no other life then of Senſe and Rea­ſon; Sacrificing to our own nets, and burning incenſe to our own58 drags: and becauſe the Word tells us much of living by Faith, we would fain patch up a life between Faith and Senſe, which indeed is not a life of Faith: we do not live at all by faith, if we live not all by faith; though we may uſe means, we muſt truſt God, and truſt him ſolely: and therefore, to bring us to this, God ſuffers us to be tired and vext with the mockery of ſecond cauſes; and when we have ſpent all upon theſe phyſicians of no value, then, and never till then, we reſolve for Chriſt. When David had experienc'd ſufficiently the falſeneſs and hypocriſie of Saul and his Paraſites, They delight in lyes, they bleſs with their mouth, but they curſe inwardly, Pſa. 62.4. then he reſolves never to truſt crea­ture more: My Soul wait thou on­ly upon God, He onely is my Rock and my Salvation, Verſ. 5, 6. Un­mixt truſt in God is the fruit of our experience of the creatures vanity: we never reſolve excluſively for God, till with the Prodigal we be whipt home ſtark naked to our Fa­thers59 houſe. When the Church had run her ſelf**Jer. 2.25 barefoot in following her Lovers, who anſwered her ex­pectation with nothing but fear, and ſent her away with ſhame in ſtead of glory, Iſai. 20.6. then ſhe can go home, and confeſſing her Atheiſm and folly, gives up her ſelf purely to divine protection: Aſhur ſhall not ſave us, we will not ride upon horſes, neither will we ſay any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods;Hoſ. 14.3 for in thee the fatherleſs findeth mercy.

2. 2 The ex­cellency of a life of Faith.By the mutability and diſap­pointment of the creature God teacheth his people the excellency of the life of Faith. David, when he learn'd it in the School of Affliction, prints it and publiſheth it to all the world, Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whoſe hope is in the Lord his God:Pſa. 146 5, He had be­fore, Verſ. 3. entred a Caveat a­gainſt creature-confidence, Put not your truſt in Princes, nor in the ſon of man; and gives the reaſon of it, there is no help or ſalvation in the60 beſt of men; nor in the ſon of man, in whom there is no help: alaſs, he is but a little breathing clay; and when that breath goeth forth, he returns to his earth: when the breath is gone, there is nothing but a little clay remaining; In that very day his thoughts periſh: when the man dy­eth, all his counſels and plots and pro­jects dye with him: And having thus put in his Caution againſt crea­ture-dependance, and given in the account of the vanity thereof, he ſhews the difference between truſt in a dying man, and a living God; Truſt in God is onely able to make a man happy: they may ſeem happy, who have the great men of the world to truſt to; but he onely is happy, who hath the God of Heaven to truſt to; Bleſſed is he who hath the God of Jacob for his help: why ſo? becauſe while they that truſt in Princes ſhall be diſappointed, he that truſts in God ſhall never be diſ­appointed: For, 1. He is Jehovah, whoſe hope is in the Lord, or in Je­hovah his God:Iſai. 26.4 Jehovah, a Fun­tain61 of Beings, He gave a Being to Heaven and Earth,Pſa. 146.6 He made Hea­ven and Earth, the Sea, and all that therein is: and he that gave Being to every creature, can give Being to his promiſe alſo: Can any thing be too hard for a creating God? and as he can, ſo he will, for He keepeth Truth for ever: Heaven and Earth may paſs away, but not one jot or one tittle of his promiſe ſhall paſs away till all be fulfilled. Mat. 5, 18.Men may prove unfaithful, but God will ne­ver prove unfaithful; He keepeth Truth for ever: Faithful is he that hath promiſed, Heb. 10.23. And thus the ſoul comes to ſee the ſweet­neſs and excellency of a life of Faith, while others are mock'd, and abus'd, and ſlain, by diſappointment from the ſecond cauſes: He is kept in per­fect peace,Iſai. 26, 3 whoſe minde is ſtayd on God, becauſe he truſteth in him: He liveth indeed, that liveth in him to whom Always is eſſential.

The excellency of a life of Faith diſcovers it ſelf in theſe four parti­culars:62

  • 1. It is a ſecure life.
  • 2. It is a ſweet life.
  • 3. It is an eaſie life.
  • 4. It is an honorable life.

Firſt, The life of Faith is a ſecure life, the onely ſafe life: He ſhall dwell on high, his place of defence ſhall be the ammunition of rocks: How ſecurely doth he dwell, whoſe fortifications are impregnable, inac­ceſſible rocks? rocks ſo high that none can ſcale them: In the Hebr. it is, He ſhall dwell in heights, or in high places: rocks ſo thick that no breach can be made in them, rocks within rocks; ammunition of rocks: and rocks ſo deep that none can undermine them: ſurely a peo­ple or perſon thus rockt on every ſide, need not fear ſtorming. Object. I, but though rocks may be a good fence, they are but ill food, a man cannot feed on rocks; rocky places are barten, though impregnable; he may be ſtarved, though he cannot be ſtormed! No, the words follow­ing relieves that fear alſo, Bread ſhall be given him; he ſhall have63 bread enough, and it ſhall coſt him nothing; it ſhall be given him: and whereas a rock is but a dry ſcitu­ation, without either ſprings or ſtreams, and thereupon a man might be expoſed to periſhing for want of water, Thirſt will ſlay as well as hunger; therefore it is likewiſe add­ed, His waters ſhall be ſure: He ſhall have waters which neither Summers heat nor Winters froſt ſhall be able to dry up; never-fail­ing waters ſhall fill his Ciſterns from day to day; His waters ſhall be ſure. Under ſuch an excellent me­taphor is the ſecurity of a life of Faith deſcribed; and this metaphor is expounded Iſai. 26.1. Salvation will God appoint for walls and bul­warks: walls and bulwarks ſhall not be their Salvation, but Salvation their walls and bulwarks: how ſafe­ly do they dwell who are wall'd a­bout with Salvation it ſelf? The bulwarks are Salvation, and that Salvation is Jehovah; for ſo it fol­lows, Truſt ye in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlaſt­ing64 ſtrength; or the Lord Jehovah is the Rock of Ages: His place of defence is the ammunition of Rocks; and the Lord Jehovah is thoſe Rocks, a Rock of Ages; Ages paſs away one after another, but the Rock abides, and abides for ever: In the Lord Je­hovah is everlaſting ſtrength. He that rain'd Manna in the Wilderneſs, will give bread; and he that fetcht water out of the Rock, will be a ne­ver-failing fountain, his waters ſhal be ſure. Oh the ſecurity of a life of faith!

And ſecondly, It is as ſweet as it is ſafe. Dulcius ex ipſo fonte bibuntur a­quae.Is it not a ſweet thing to fetch all our waters from the fountain, from the ſpring-head, before they be degenerated or mudded by the miry channel? Why all my freſh ſprings are in thee, ſaith faith to God, Pſal. 87.7. Is it not ſweet to be fixt and compoſed in the midſt of all the mu­tations and confuſions that are under the Sun? Why this is the priviledg of him that liveth by faith: No evil tydings ſhall make him afraid,Pſal. 112 7 his heart is fixed, truſting in the Lord. 65And again;Iſai. 26.6. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whoſe mind is ſtayed on thee, becauſe he truſteth in thee: Heb: Peace, peace; that is, multi­plied Peace; pure, unmixt Peace, constant and everlaſting Peace is the portion of him that liveth by faith, ſo far as he liveth by faith; unleſs ſenſe and reaſon break in to diſquiet, he liveth in a moſt ſweet and immutable ſerenity.

Thirdly, It is an eaſie life: It is an eaſie life to have all proviſions brought in to a man without any care or trouble; why ſuch is the priviledg of a Beleever; he hath a quietus eſt, that ſuperſedes all his cares. In nothing be careful,Phil. 4.6. but in every thing by prayer and ſupplica­tion with thanksgiving let your re­queſts be made known to God. Faith leaveth a Beleever nothing to do but to pray and give thanks; to pray for what he wants, and to give thanks for what he hath; that is all he hath to do. It is true, Beleevers muſt labour and travel in the uſe of means, as well as the reſt of the ſons66 of Adam: but, firſt, it is without care;〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. in nothing be careful; with­out anxious, heart-dividing, Soul­diſtracting care: O that is the thorn, the ſting, which the ſin of man and the curſe of God hath thruſt into all our labours, care and diſtraction; and this faith pulls out: ſo that now all the labour of faith is an eaſie la­bour, like the labour of Adam in Pa­radiſe: Faith uſeth means, but truſt­eth God; obediently cloſeth with the Providence of means, but ſweet­ly leaveth the Providence of ſucceſs to God. Yea, Faith can trust God, when there are no means to uſe, and ſay, Although the fig-tree ſhall not bloſſom, neither ſhall fruit be in the Vines, the labour of the Olive ſhall fail, and the fields ſhall yield no meat, the flock ſhall be cut off from the fold, and there ſhall be no herd in the ſtalls;Heb. 3.18. yet I will rejoyce in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my Salva­tion. Faith can live upon God, when there is a famine upon the whole Creation: The Peace of God is as a Court of Guard, to fence the heart67 from all ſurprizes of fear and trouble: In nothing be careful, but in every thing pray and give thanks,Phil. 4.7. and the peace of God which paſſeth all un­derſtanding ſhall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jeſus. As faith enjoyeth God in all things in the greateſt abundance, ſo ſhe can enjoy all things in God in the deepeſt want.

Fourthly, and laſtly, The life of faith is an honorable life. It is the honour of the Favorite that he can go immediately to his Prince when ſtrangers muſt trace the Climax of Court-acceſſes. Yea, without all peradventure, it is an honorable life to live as God himſelf liveth; and this is the glory of God, that he liveth in himſelf and of himſelf: and truly in their proportion ſuch honour have all the Saints. They live in God and upon God here by faith; and they ſhall live in God and upon God here­after by ſight, in the beatificate Vi­ſion.

This is the excellency of the life of Faith, and this the people of God ex­perience68 by their ſufferings, where­by God calls them out of the world, and taking them into himſelf, he doth reveal to them by degrees the myſte­ry and priviledg of living upon God, and upon God alone.

In the next place,13 Leſſon, God ta­keth us off from ſelf­confi­dence. By afflictions and diſtreſſes God takes us off from ſelf­confidence, and teacheth us to truſt HIM more, and our ſelves leſs. This is the ſame with the former, ſave on­ly that we ſpeak now of truſt in God, in oppoſition to confidence in our ſelves, and not in others; a di­ſtemper that prevails much in our natures: Ever ſince we rendred our ſelves able to do nothing, nothing but ſin, we think our ſelves able to do any thing: We fancy to our ſelves a kind of omnipotence, when all our ſtrength is to ſit ſtill: Natu­rally we are prone to entertain and nouriſh high preſumptions, of our own ſtrength, and of our own wiſ­dom.

1. Of our own ſtrength: In our proſperity we think our ſelves able to carry any croſs; we fancy our69 ſelves ſtrong enough to carry away even Sampſons gates upon our ſhoul­ders, and mettled to encounter any affliction in the world; but when the hour of temptation comes, we find we are but like other men, and are ready to ſink, with Peter, if but one wave riſe higher then another. Uſually ſufferings before they come are like a Mountain at a great di­ſtance, which ſeems ſo ſmall, that we think we could almoſt ſtride over it; but upon nearer approaches, when we come to the foot of it, it appears inſuparable, and looks ſo huge, as if it would fall upon us, and cruſh us in pieces. Peter is ſo big with love to Chriſt, that he will dye with Him, rather then forſake Him; yea though all the reſt ſhould betake themſelves to their heels, he will ſtand by him to the laſt drop of blood: and yet be­hold, when it comes to the tryal, a weak ſilly Damoſel is able with a ſingle queſtion to fright him out of his confidence, and he doth not only forſake, but forſwear his Lord. Pen­dleton, in the Book of Martyrs, will70 fry out a fat body in flames of Mar­tyrdom, rather then betray his Reli­gion; but when the hour comes that Chriſt and Religion had moſt need of him, he had not one drop of all that fat to ſpare for either.

And, 2. As we are prone to pre­ſume of our own ſtrength, ſo we are very apt to idolize our own wiſdom; to lean to our own underſtanding, and think by our policy to wind our ſelves out of any labyrinth of trouble and perplexity. But we find it other­wiſe; when we come into the ſnare, we then are forced to cry out with the Church, He hath hedged me a­bout that I cannot get out,Lam. 3.7. he hath made my chain heavy: Like a male­factor that hath broke priſon; he thinks to run away, but he hath an heavy chain upon his heel, that ſpoils his haſte; and being fenced in round about, he goeth to this corner, hoping to find ſome gap, but there he finds the hedg made up with thorns; and to another corner, and there alſo the bryars ſtop him, &c. I, but mark ye, that is not all; read on in the71 Churches complaint, and you ſhall find greater obſtructions: Verſe 9. Verſe 9.He hath encloſed my ways with hewn ſtones. Suppoſe a man would venture the ſcratching of his fleſh, to break through an hedg to ſave his life, (skin for skin, and all that a man hath will he give for his life,) yet that would not do, God had taken away the hedg, and built a wall in ſtead of it; a wall ſo high, that they could not clamber over; a wall ſo thick, that they could not dig through: The meaning is, Man in affliction thinks to make his way through by his own art and cunning, but upon the attempt he finds diffi­culties ariſing ſtill higher and higher, ſo that when all is done, eſcape is im­poſſible, without an immediate reſcue by the arm of omnipotence. This was Pauls caſe:2 Tim 1.8, 9 When we come to Aſia, we were preſſed out of meaſure beyond ſtrength, in ſo much that we deſpaired even of life: A great ſtrait, (what it was in particular you may read Acts 19. from 22. ſo forward; in all probability it was that uproar72 at Epheſus, wherein Paul was like to have been pull'd in pieces, for it was a trouble that befell him in A­ſia, verſ. 8.) I ſay, it was a great ſtrait, a ſtrait wherein the Apoſtle was at his wits end:Dicitur〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉qui non no­vit quomo­do ſeſe ex aliqua difficultate expediat. Beza.〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, i. e. we were bereft of all counſel how to expedite our ſelves out of the danger: As David complains, Pſal. 13.2. How long ſhall I take counſel in my Soul! i. e. When he was perſecuted by Saul, and beſet with innumerable dangers, he took counſel, he thought of this means, and t'other means, caſt about this way, and that way, how to eſcape, but in vain, all his counſels left him as full of ſorrow and despair as they found him: How long ſhall I take counſel in my Soul, having ſorrow in my heart? He had his ſorrow for his pains. Thus it was with the Apo­ſtle; all his counſel left him in the hand of despair: We despaired even of life: His caſe was no other then the priſoner at the bar, at what time the ſentence of death is paſt upon him; he looks upon himſelf (and ſo73 do ſtanders by) as a dead man; he is legally dead, dead to all intents and purpoſes of the Law; there wants nothing but execution: Why ſo it was with Paul; We had the ſentence of death in our ſelves: The ſentence was paſt in his own breſt; and now ſaith Paul, I am but a dead man: This was his ſtrait, and it ſeemeth God had a plot in it, a deſign upon Paul; and what was that? Himſelf will tell you; We had the ſentence of death in our ſelves,Verſe 9. that we ſhould not trust in our ſelves, but in God which raiſeth the dead, &c. See here, the deſign is expreſt nega­tively and affirmatively. Negative­ly, that we might not truſt in our ſelves: God ſaw, even in that great Apoſtle himſelf, a diſpoſition to ſelf­confidence, a proneneſs to be exalted above meaſure,2 Cor. 12.7 through the abun­dance of Revelations: And therefore, as to prick the bladder of pride, God gave him a thorn in the fleſh, &c. ſo, to work out this ſelf-truſt, God re­duceth him to a ſtate of despair, as to outward and viſible probabilities:74 We had the ſentence of death in our ſelves, that we ſhould not truſt in our ſelves; there is the negative branch of the deſign. And then the Affirmative followeth, But in God which raiſeth the dead: By this de­ſperate exigence God would teach Paul ever after where ſtrength and counſel was to be had in the like ex­tremities; no where but in God, and in him abundantly: The God of Re­ſurrections can never be non-pluſt;Reſurrectio mortuorum, fiducia Chriſtiano­rum. Tert. de Reſur. carnis. He that can raiſe the dead, can con­quer the greateſt difficulty; He that can put life into dead men, can put life into dead hopes, and raiſe up our expectations out of the very grave of deſpair: That God can put life into dead bones, is a conſideration able to put life into a dead faith.

To this purpoſe it is very obſerva­ble, that even thoſe to whom God hath indulg'd the largeſt proportions of faith and courage, not only above other men, but above other Saints; yet even them God hath ſuffered not only to languiſh under fears, but even to deſpair under inſuperable difficul­ties,75 before they could recover holy confidence in God. We find David, that great Champion of Iſrael, more then once or twice ſurpriz'd with dreadful fear: I ſaid in my Haſte,〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉from the root〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉fſtinare, praecipitare obſtupeſce­re. Hicron. 〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Sept. Pſa. 31.22. & 116.11. The Hebrew ſignifieth, in trepidatione mea, or in feſtinatione mea, in my trembling, in my precipitancy; or as the Septua­gint tranſlate it, in my extaſie, when I was almoſt beſides my ſelf for fear: Well, what did he ſay then? Why he ſaid, I am cut off from before thine eyes; that is, God hath caſt me out of his care, he looks no more after me, I am a loſt man. And again, I ſaid in my haſte, in my paſſion, all men are Lyars; even Samuel him­ſelf, that told me I ſhould be King; he hath ſeen but a falſe Viſion, and a lying divination; God never ſaid ſo to him; no, I ſhall one day fall by the hand of Saul.

And thus the Prophet Jeremiah, Chap. 3.57. Thou dreweſt near in the day that I called upon thee; thou ſaidſt, Fear not: I, but before God ſpake a Fear not to his Soul, he was76 afraid to purpoſe: hear what he ſaith, verſ. 53, 54. They have cut off my life in the Dungeon, and caſt a ſtone upon me; waters flowed over mine head, then I ſaid, I am cut off. Mark ye, with Paul, he had received the ſentence of death in himſelf, he looks upon himſelf as a dead man, yea as already in his grave, and his grave-ſtone layd upon it; they have cut off my life in the Dungeon, and cast a ſtone upon me, dead and buri­ed, and a ſtone rouled to the mouth of the ſepulchre. And thus you may hear Jonah crying in the Whales bel­ly,Ionah 2.4. I am caſt out of thy ſight. And Sion, in the duſt, tuning her Lamenta­tions,Iſai. 49.14 The Lord hath forſaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Hezekiah reporting the ſad diſcour­ſes he had in his own boſom upon the ſight of death, Iſai. 38.9, 10, &c. It were eaſie to multiply inſtances.

Why now this is continually our caſe, and this is ſtill Gods deſign: We are proud creatures, full of ſelf-confidence; and therefore God by ſtrange and unexpected Providences,77 doth hedg up our way with thorns, and wall up our path with hewn ſtones, brings to deſpair even of life, bereaveth us of counſel, outs us of all our own ſhifts and policies, brings us under the very ſentence of death; that we might not truſt in our ſelves, but in God which raiſeth the dead, he unbottoms us by deſpair, convinceth us of our impotence and folly, ſhews us what babes and fools we are in our ſelves, that in all our future hazards and fears we might know nothing but a God; go in the ſtrength of the Lord, and make mention of his righteouſneſs, and of his only. And thus you ſee Peter, who before was ſo confident, that he thought all the world might forſake Chriſt ſooner then himſelf, after he was convinc'd of his own infirmity and inſtability, when Chriſt, to put him in mind of his three-fold denyal, put him upon that three-fold Inter­rogatory, Simon Peter, loveſt thou me more then theſe? i.e. then the reſt of thy fellow-diſciples, durſt make no other anſwer but this, Lord,78 thou knoweſt: he pleads nothing but his ſincerity; and for that alſo, he caſts himſelf rather upon Chriſts tryal, then his own; Lord, thou knoweſt.

In the next place,14 Leſſon, God makes himſelf known. By affliction God maketh himſelf known unto his people. How long do we hear of God before we know him? We get more by one practical diſcovery of God, then by many Sermons: I have heard of thee often by the hear­ing of the ear,Iob 42.5, 6 but now mine eye ſeeth thee, therefore I abhor my ſelf in duſt and aſhes, cryeth Job upon the dunghill. In the Word we do but hear of God, in affliction we ſee him. Proſperity is the nurſe of A­theiſm; the underſtanding being clouded with the ſteams and vapors of thoſe luſts which are incident to a proſperous eſtate, men grow brutiſh, and the reverence and ſenſe of God is by little and little defaced: But now by affliction the Soul being taken off from ſenſe-pleaſing objects, hath a greater diſpoſition and liberty to retire into it ſelf: and being freed79 from the attractive force of worldly allurements,Maturant aſpera men tem. the apprehenſions are wont to be more ſerious and preg­nant, and ſo more capable of divine illumination. The clearer the glaſs is, the more fully doth it receive in the beams of the Sun. When the warm breath of the the world hath blown upon us, we are not ſo capable of the Viſions of God. Iob 21.14The wicked through the pride of his heart will not know God; they ſay to the Almighty, De­part from us, for we deſire not the knowledg of thy ways. Who is the Lord? ſaith Pharaoh. And truly the very godly themſelves are exceed­ing dark and low in their apprehen­ſions of God; our ignorance of God being never perfectly cured till we come to Heaven, where we ſhall ſee him face to face, and know him as we are known. In the mean time, as by the ſtrokes of divine vengeance God makes the wicked know him to their coſt; ſo by the rod of cor­rection he makes his people to know him to their comfort. As God brought all his plagues upon Pharaohs heart,80 that he might know who the Lord was in a way of wrath; ſo he lays affliction upon the loyns of his peo­ple, that they may know him in a way of love; Iſrael ſhall cry unto me, My God, we know thee. Moſes never ſaw God ſo clearly, as when he deſcended in a Cloud. Exod. 34.5And truly that diſpenſation was but a type of the method which God uſeth in ma­king himſelf known unto his Saints: He puts them into the clefts of the Rock,Exod. 33.21, 22, 23. & 34.5, 6, 7. covereth them with his hand while he paſſeth by, and then pro­claimeth his Name before them, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious,By afflicti­on God makes known his Attributes. &c. The people of God have the moſt ſenſible experience of his Attributes in their ſufferings; his Holineſs, Juſtice, Faithfulneſs, Mercy, Alſufficiency, &c.

His Holineſs:Holineſs. Affliction ſheweth what a ſin-hating God, God is: For though his chaſtiſements on his Church be in love to their perſons, they are in hatred to their corrupti­ons; while he ſaveth the ſinner, he deſtroyeth the ſin. By this ſhall the81 iniquity of Jacob be purged,Iſai. 27.9. and this is all the fruit to take away his ſin: If the Soul live, ſin muſt dye.

His Juſtice:Iuſtice. Afflictions are cor­rection to the godly, puniſhment to the wicked; in both God is righte­ous: Thus Iſrael knew God, Neh. 9.33. Howbeit thou art juſt in all that is come upon us, for thou hast done right, but we have done wick­edly: In the ſevereſt diſpenſations they judg themſelves, and juſtifie God; Thou art juſt, &c. Yea when they cannot diſcern his meaning, they adore his Righteouſneſs; Righteous art thou, O Lord,Ier. 12.1. when I plead with thee; yet let me talk with thee of thy Judgments; wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? &c. When the Soul is unſatisfied, God is not unjuſtified; Righteous art thou, O Lord, &c.

His Faithfulneſs. Faithful­neſs in the affliction it ſelf. Pſa. 119.7.Faithfulneſs in the very affliction it ſelf. I know, Lord, that thy Judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulneſs haſt af­flicted me: Faithfulneſs to his Cove­nant; for affliction is ſo much threa­tened82 as promiſed to Beleevers; as Pſal. 89.30, 31, 32. of which more hereafter. The more David was af­flicted, the more Gods faithfulneſs appeared. Oh ſays the holy man, I could not have wanted a blow of all that diſcipline wherewith my Father hath chaſtiſed me.

Faithfulneſs in hearing Prayer:In hearing Prayer. This poor man cryed, and the Lord heard him,Pſal. 34.6. and ſaved him out of all his troubles; I never loſt a prayer by God: Even when David want­ed faith, God wanted not faithfulneſs. I ſaid in my haſte, I am cut off from before thine eyes; nevertheleſs thou heardeſt the voyce of my ſupplicati­ons when I cryed unto thee. God was faithful with a non-obſtante to Davids unbelief: I ſaid in my Haſte, and he that beleeveth will not make haſte; nevertheleſs thou heardeſt. Unbelief it ſelf cannot make the faithfulneſs of God of none effect. I conceive that of the Apoſtle 2 Tim. 2.13. to bear this ſence, If we be­leeve not, yet he abideth faithful, he cannot deny himſelf: It is not to be83 underſtood of a ſtate of unbelief, but of an act of unbelief; not of a want of faith, but a want in faith; neither of which can render God unfaithful; who is engaged not ſo much to our faith, as to his own faithfulneſs, to himſelf, to hear the prayer of his troubled ſervants; Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee, and thou ſhalt glorifie me. Pſa. 50.15

This faithfulneſs of God, Beleevers do beſt experience in their ſufferings: Partly becauſe then they are most powerful. When our elder brother Eſau is upon us, we can wreſtle with our elder brother Jeſus, and not let him go till he bleſs us. And partly becauſe then they are moſt vigilant to obſerve the returns of prayers: My voyce ſhalt thou hear in the morning, in the morning will I di­rect my prayer unto thee,Pſal. 5.3 and will look up. In adverſity we are early with God in prayer; In the morn­ing ſhalt thou hear my voyce, in the morning will I direct my prayer; it implyeth double earlineſs, and dou­ble earnestneſs in prayer; In their84 affliction they will ſeek me early: And when we have done praying, we will begin harkening; I will look up: In proſperity we put up many a prayer that we never look after; God may deny or grant, and we hardly take notice of it: But in af­fliction we can preſs God for the re­turns of prayer; Hear me ſpeedily, O Lord, my ſpirit faileth, hide not thy face from me, leſt I be like to them that go down into the pit; not only denyals, but delays kill us: Then we can harken for the eccho of our voyce from Heaven;Pſal. 85.8 I will harken what God the Lord will ſay, for he will ſpeak peace to his people. As God cannot eaſily deny the prayer of an afflicted Soul, ſo if he grant, we can take notice of it, and know our pray­ers when we ſee them again; This wretch cryed, and the Lord heard him; and this endears the heart to God and to prayer: I love the Lord, becauſe he heard my voyce and my ſupplications;Pſ. 116.1, 2 becauſe he hath en­clined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.


As faithfulneſs in hearing prayer,In accom­pliſhing the pro­miſe. ſo alſo in making good the promiſe; The afflicted Soul can witneſs unto God, as we have heard, ſo have we ſeen, Pſal. 48.8. What we have heard in the promiſe, we have ſeen in the accompliſhment: God was never worſe then his Word. Afflic­tion is a furnace, as to try the Faith of Gods people, ſo to try the faith­fulneſs of God in his promiſes: and upon the tryal the Church brings in her experience;Pſa. 12.6 The Words of the Lord are pure words, as ſilver try­ed in a furnace of earth, purified ſe­ven times: Let a man caſt in the Promiſe a thouſand times into the furnace, it will ſtill come out full weight: As for God,Pſa. 18.30 his way is per­fect, the Word of the Lord is tryed: It is to be underſtood in both places of the Word of the Promiſe: A man may ſee Heaven and Earth upon a promiſe, and it will bear them up.

As affliction gives out the experi­ence of Gods faithfulneſs,Mercies in modera­ting the affliction. ſo alſo of his mercy: mercy in the moderating of the chaſtiſements: In meaſure86 thou wilt debate with it, &c. Iſai. 27.8. In the midſt of judgment he remembreth mercy, Habak. 3.2. Even when God in his compaſſions ſaith of his afflicted Church,Iſai. 40.2 She hath received double of the Lord for all her ſins; in the ſenſe of her own merits and his mercy ſhe can reply,Ezra 3.13 Thou haſt puniſh'd us leſs then our iniquities deſerve: too much ſays God, too little ſaith the Church. Oh bleſſed ſight, thus to ſee God and the Soul contending together! It is of the Lords mercies that we are not conſumed, becauſe his compaſſions fail not, cryeth the Church in Baby­lon; q. d. it is baniſhment, it might have been deſtruction; we are in Babylon, we might have been in Hell; and it is the Lords mercies, and his mercies alone, that we are not there. So faith the afflicted Soul; If my burning feaver had been the burning lake, if my priſon had been the bottomleſs pit; if my baniſhment from ſociety with friends had been expulſion (with Cain) from the preſence of God, and87 that for ever; God had been righte­ous. It is never ſo bad with the peo­ple of God, but it might have been worſe: any thing on this ſide Hell is pure mercy. In ſuppor­ting under affliction. Pſa. 94.18

And as Mercy in moderating, ſo Mercy in ſupporting: when I ſaid, my foot ſlippeth: now I ſink, I ſhall never be able to ſtand under this af­fliction, I cannot bear it: Thy mer­cy, O Lord, held me up: when Da­vid was ſinking, God put under­neath him his everlaſting arms, and held him up. Even when Gods ſuf­fering people are not ſenſible of any great raviſhments, yet then they finde ſweet ſupports; His left hand was under me, his right hand em­braced me. In giving in comfort in afflicti­on.And yet it is not ſup­porting mercy onely which they ex­perience in their ſufferings, but not ſeldom his refreſhing his rejoycing mercy; ſo it follows,Verſe 19In the multi­tude of my thoughts within me, thy Comforts delight my Soul: My thoughts were dark and doleful, and full of deſpair, and not a few of them; multitudes brake in upon88 me, and even ſwallowed me up; but thy comforts were light and life, and delight to my Soul: my thoughts did not ſink me ſo deep, but thy comforts raiſed me up as high: my thoughts were an hell, but thy com­forts were an heaven within me: The Soul hears of Gods mercy in proſperity, but it taſtes of Gods mercy in affliction, and, as it wereppreſt with delights, can call to o­thers, O taſte and ſee how good the Lord is. Hence it is, that of all the days of the year the Apoſtle would chuſe as it were a Good-Friday, a paſſion day, to rejoyce in; God for­bid I ſhould rejoyce in any thing but in the Croſs of Jeſus Chriſt: Chriſts ſufferings for him, and his ſufferings for Chriſt.

The Al ſufficiency of God is the laſt Attribute I mentioned,Alſuffici­ency in delivering out of af­fliction. which God proclaims before his ſuffering people: Now thou ſhalt ſee, ſaith God to Moſes, what I will do to Pharaoh, Exod. 6.1. Hitherto thou haſt ſeen what Pharaoh hath done to Iſrael, now thou ſhalt ſee what89 I do to Pharaoh; and ſo they did: The doubling of their burdens was the diſſolving of their bondage; the extinguiſhing of their line was the multiplying of their ſeed: The ſame waters which were Iſraels rocks were the Egyptians grave;Exod. 15 9 I will purſue, I will overtake, I will divide the ſpoil; my luſt ſhall be ſatisfied upon them: I will draw my ſword, my hand ſhall deſtroy: ſo boaſts the proud Tyrant; I will, I will, I will &c. nay, not ſo faſt Pharaoh; let God ſpeak the next word:Verſe 10 Thou didst blow with thy wind, the ſea covered them, they ſank as lead in the mighty waters: Oh ſudden turn! there lieth Pharaoh and his ſix [I will's] and [I ſhall's] drown­ed in the Sea: Thus did God appear to his oppreſſed Iſrael in the very nick of their extremities; In the thing wherein they delt proudly,Exo. 18, 11 God was above them: And Iſrael SAVV that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians; and the people feared the Lord, and his ſervant Moſes, Exod. 14.31. Iſrael SAVV;90 in proſperity God works, but we ſee him not: affliction openeth our eyes; when we ſee our dangers, then we can ſee God in our deliverances. God could have brought Iſrael to the Land of Promiſe a ſhorter cut, in fourty days; but he leads them a­bout