A CORDIALL FOR THE AFFLICTED. Touching The Necessitie and Utili­tie of Afflictions. Proving unto us The happinesse of those that thankfully receive them: AND The misery of all that want them, or profit not by them.

By A. HARSNET, B. D. and Minister of Gods Word at Cranham in Essex.

The Second Edition enlarged, with direction touching Spirituall Afflictions.

LONDON, Printed by Ric. Hodgkinsonne, for Ph. Stephnes and Chr. Meridith, at the Golden Lion in Pauls Churchyard. 1638.

TO THE HONO­rable Lady, the Lady JOHAN BARRINGTON, The Wife of that Noble, and renowned Sr. FRAN­CIS BARRINGTON, late of Barrington Hall: and to the Right Worshipfull, The Lady MARY EDEN, the Wife of Sr. THOMAS EDEN, late of Ballingdon Hall.

Much honored Ladies:

IT is too true a saying, that Greatnes, and [Page] Goodnesse sel­dom go together; for not many mighty, not ma­ny noble are cal­led. Yet (bles­sed be God, for his mercies to you-wards) wee finde both of these, in both of you. For your Greatnesse (next [Page] under God) yee are beholding un­to your Parents, out of whose loynes you came. For your Good­nesse, yee are in in some measure beholding unto Affliction, by which The Lord hath done you good: so as I make [Page] no question but that ye may both of you say with David, It is good for mee that I have beene afflicted. Hereupon (wor­thy Ladies) I have adventured to put forth this small Treatise, touching the Ne­cessitie, and utility [Page] of Affliction, un­der your Ladi­ships names, and Patronage: joyn­ing you both to­gether, because God hath alrea­dy conjoyned you so neere in af­finity, by the mar­riage of your Pi­ous and Religi­ous children: be­seeching [Page] your Ladyships to ac­cept of these my poore labors, be­ing such as tend to the furthe­rance, and in­crease of your comfort in pre­sent, or future trials. For all­beit yee bee good proficients in the [Page] School of Affli­ction; Yet (per­adventure) yee may have forgot­ten some good lessons which Af­fliction hath for­merly taught you; or else have not attained (as yet) to that good, wherein it may hereafter instruct [Page] you. To help you in either, or both of these, be pleased (I hearti­ly beseech your Ladiships) seri­ously to peruse, what is here ten­dered unto you: and then I doubt not, but (by Gods blessing) yee shall be able [Page] to make that good use of Af­fliction, that yee shall not only blesse God, the Father of mer­cies, and God of all comfort (who as hee hath affli­cted, so hath hee comforted you, in all your tribu­lations) but yee [Page] shall also be able to comfort o­thers, which are in Affliction, by the cōfort where­with yee your selves have been comforted of God. Which fruit that yee may reape, I shall sow my Prayers before [...] [Page] throne of Grace, and for ever rest,

your Ladyships to be comman­ded in the Lord, AD. HARSNET.

TO THE CHRI­stian Reader; Increase of Faith, Hope, and Patience.

S Ʋch is our blindnesse, and ignorance, that wee are too ready to judg amisse of our selves: as may appeare by two extreames, into which the most runne. The one is self-conceitednesse, or flat­tering our selves, in, and about our spirituall estate: perswading our selves that wee are in the estate of Grace, and that wee have the love and favor of God, when as it is neither so, nor [Page] so. For the redressing of which mischiefe, I have heretofore undertaken the discoverie of true and sound grace, from false & counterfeit; that so we may no longer be deluded by an overweening of our selves, and too high an opinion of our goodnesse, as if we were that which wee are not, or were not that which wee are. The other extream is a diffidence, and distrust of Gods love, and our own happines, through the sense, and smart of some troubles and afflictions wherewith it pleaseth the Lord in mer­cy and wisdom to exercise and trie us. Whence it com­meth to passe, that too ma­ny [Page] of Gods deere ones, are ready to cēsure themselves as out-casts (or at the best) as a people, but meanly be­loved, or regarded of God, in that they are so sorely afflicted. For the healing of which error; that there may be no mistaking, that we neither charge the Lord with any want of love to us ward, or hard dealing with us in afflicting of us, nor surcharge our selves with unnecssary, & needles feares, and cares; nor yet causelesly increase our griefe, by adding of more sorrow to our affliction, I have now undertaken this Treatise. Where­in my desire, and ayme [Page] is to minister some comfort to such as are in affliction, that so they may not cast off their hope of hapines in Heaven, because they are exercised with judgments upon earth: but rather be­leeve that the Lord it now refining and pollishing them, that so they may bee the fitter for that glory which is prepared for thē. I know it is a hard thing to obey in suffering: yet be­cause it is that which ma­keth for our good, we should with the more willingnes, and cheerfulnes, undergo whatsoever afflictiōs it shal please the Lord to exercise us with. If our afflictions brought God out of love [Page] with us, or us more in love with that which God hates and is hurtfull unto us: or if our afflictions were sent unto us as curses, wee had great cause to mourn in them: but seeing they make so much for our good (being sanctified unto us) and the word of truth telleth us, that wee are blessed in thē, have wee not great cause to bee thankfull to God for them? the Lord sees how ready we are to plunge our selves into perils, if we be but a while exempted from afflictions: therefore that wee may not be too bold with sin, the Lord wil have us to fall into affliction, least (being let alone) wee [Page] [...] [Page] [...] [Page] fall into condemnation. For where God is most si­lent in threatning, and most patient in sparing, there is he most inflamed with anger, and purpose of revenge. And seeing we are willing to receive (being sick or diseased) any medi­cine from the hand of him, that can truely say, proba­tum est, good experience hath been made of the worth, & working of it; let my counsel (good reader) be acceptable unto thee, & give me leave to tell thee, how much good thou maist gain by afflictiō, if through thine unbelief, and impa­tience thou doest not put it from thee. I assure thee (by [Page] good experience (that how­soever afflictiō be untooth­some, and unpleasing to the flesh, it is most soveraign, and profitable unto the soul as in the Treatise follow­ing, I have made plaine unto thee. Now if the stile, and phrase dislike any, be­cause it is so plain, and homelike; let him know that I prepared this provi­sion for poore and hungry souls, unto whom course & mean things are welcome, and bitter things are sweet; not for queasie, and full stomacks, which de­spise an hony-combe. He that is falne into a pit, wil refuse no hand that may help him out of it. He that [Page] hath a wound in his body, will be glad of any plai­ster that may heal or ease him. Accept then, of these my poore labors, which (I desire) may be as a hand to help thee out of affliction, or as balsume to heal those gashes which afflictiō hath, or may make in thee, or to give thee some ease & com­fort in them. Read in faith, and receive in love, what is heer tendered unto thee. If any comfort, or content may hereby accrue unto thine afflicted soul, and grieved minde, let God have thy praises, and let me have thy praiers, who desireth to rest

Thy servant in the Lords Worke. A. H.

An Alphabeticall Table of the chiefe things contained in this BOOKE.

A.
  • AFfliction the portion of all Gods children. Pag. 12.
  • Affliction is physick for the soul. 40.
  • Afflictions are instructions. 52.
  • Afflictions fit us for Gods service. 70.
  • Afflictions weane us from the World. 78.
  • Afflictions conform us unto Christ. 110.
  • Afflictions of the godly, and the wicked differ. 190.
  • Afflictions are ordered by God. 348.
  • [Page]Afflictions do not satisfie the Justice of God. 546.
  • Afflictions serve to better us. 554.
  • Affliction must not be added unto the af­flicted. 564.
B.
  • Beleevers though they be weake in faith, are not rejected. 486.
  • Benefits of God never so much prized as in affliction. 74.
C.
  • Censure not afflicted ones. 122.
  • Children of God can not spare afflicti­ons. 228. 230.
  • Children of God, why under long af­flictions. 293.
  • Children of God oft sad in trialls. 424.
  • Children of God may be in horror of consci­ence. 442.
  • Chance, how understood. 275.
  • Comfort for the afflicted. 211.
  • [Page]Conquerors, how wee are so. 142.
  • Conscience when it accuseth, is a sore affli­ction. 438.
  • Contented with our condition. 494.
  • Covenant of God stands firme. 455.
  • Creatures at Gods command. 271.
D.
  • David, his afflictions. 17.
  • Death, how it may be desired. 237.
  • Death frees us from evills. 238. 241.
  • Deliverance out of trouble is Gods worke. 363.
  • Despairing is a sad condition. 440.
  • Devotion quickned by affliction. 102.
E.
  • Our Enemies are Gods rods. 313.
F.
  • Failings do not nullifie Gods Cove­nant. 455.
  • [Page]Faith makes affliction profitable. 490.
  • Feare of God wrought in us by affli­ction. 536.
  • Feare of God is profitable. 540.
  • Fortune a meere Fancy. 274.
  • Francis Spira, his Condition. 439.
G.
  • God in afflicting us, loves us. 387.
  • God will doe us good by our afflicti­ons. 397.
  • Good things are most prized in the time of afflicton. 74.
  • Grace, the truth of it tryed by affli­ction. 59.
  • Grace, the strength of it tryed by affli­ction. 299.
  • Grace weakens sinne, but doth not wholy destroy it. 480.
  • A gracious heart will be thankfull for affli­ctions. 504.
H.
  • [Page]Hand of God in all our afflictions. 257.
  • Hard hearts softned by afflictions. 294.
  • Heart if good, grieves more for sinne, then for punishment. 499.
  • Heathens ignorant of the Divine Provi­dence. 262.
  • Heaven and Earth filled with Gods pre­sence. 267.
I.
  • Injuries and wrongs, must bee put up. 317.
  • Inward and spirituall afflictions are very necessary. 437.
  • Job his afflictions. 15.
  • Joy succeeds sorrow. 301.
K.
  • Wee come to know our selves by afflicti­ons. 5 [...]4.
L.
  • [Page]Love of God seen in affliction. 387.
  • Perswasion of Gods Love will help us to be are affliction. 488.
  • God loves us if our afflictions do bring us neerer unto him. 496.
M.
  • Man, how author of his owne woe. 265.
  • No misery can make a childe of God mise­rable. 401.
  • Mourning for sinne is profitable. 445.
  • Mourning for sinne doth make way for comfort. 466.
O.
  • Offer of God is free. 448.
P.
  • Patience needfull in affliction. 287
  • [Page]Patience, how it is helped forward. 303.
  • Patience, how attained unto. 330.
  • By Patience wee possesse our selves. 339.
  • Patience conformeth us to Christ. 341.
  • Perplexity in affliction, from whence it groweth. 411.
  • Pray in time of affliction. 90.
  • Prayer helpfull in affliction. 197.
  • Divers objections against Prayer in afflicti­on, answered. 204. 207.
  • Prayers of Gods children oft interrupted by Satan. 464.
  • Whither wee may pray for affliction or not. 585.
  • Prepare for afflictions. 134. 140. 147.
  • How to prepare for afflictions. 157.
R.
  • Relapsing is dangerous. 474.
  • Childe of God may relapse, if God leave him. 477.
  • Repentance preventeth affliction. 175.
  • Repentance purgeth out sinne. 444.
S.
  • [Page]Sadnesse in affliction hurtfull. 379.
  • Sadnesse oft in Gods children. 429.
  • Satan must be resisted. 457.
  • Satans assaults shall not hurt us, if wee cry to God against them. 459.
  • Sinne found out by affliction. 29.
  • Sinne purged by affliction. 37.
  • Sinne prevented by affliction. 46.
  • Sinne not hurtfull, if not doubted in. 484.
  • Sinne causeth trouble. 176.
  • Sinne disliked by afflictions. 296.
  • Sinne is beaten by afflictions. 511.
  • Sinne rightly judged of in time of afflicti­on. 518.
  • Sinners are oft met withall in their own kinde. 524.
  • Strength to beare affliction is from God. 356.
  • Spirituall simonie. 448.
  • Stubbornnesse causeth the rod. 550.
T.
  • [Page]Tempests are ordered by God. 283.
  • Thankfull for afflictions. 502.
  • Thirsting shall be satisfied. 449.
U.
  • Virgin Mary, her afflictions. 20.
  • Ʋnbeliefe a childe of God is subject un­to. 446.
  • Ʋnbeliefe a breach of Gods Command­ment. 450.
  • Ʋnbeliefe robs the heart of all sound joy and peace. 486.
  • Ʋnthankfulnesse hurtfull. 470.
W.
  • Want of affliction is wofull. 243.
  • Weaknesse supported by God. 462.
  • Weaned from the world b [...] affliction. 78.
  • Wicked ones, though long spared, yet at last soundly punished. 216.
  • [Page]Will of God works all things. 269.
  • Word of God able to comfort us in all our af­flictions. 163.
  • Word of God is most effectuall in time of af­fliction. 519.
Z.
  • Zeale, what it is. 8.
FINIS.

A TABLE, OF the Contents of this BOOKE.

Doctr. I.
  • AFfliction is the lot, and portion of Gods best children. Pag. 12.
  • Confirmed by the example of Job. 15.
  • Of David, 17.
  • Of the Virgin Mary. 20.
  • And of Christ himselfe. 26.
Reason. I.
  • 1 Affliction helpeth us to finde out sinne. 29
  • 2 Affliction serveth to purge out sinne. 37.
  • [Page] 3 Affliction preventeth sinne. 46.
  • 4 Affliction teacheth us many good les­sons. 52.
  • 5 Affliction tryeth the truth of grace in us. 59.
  • 6 Affliction fitteth us for Gods service. 70.
  • 7 Affliction helpeth us to prize Gods bene­fits. 74.
  • 8 Afflictions weaneth us from the world. 78.
  • 9 Affliction stirs us up to prayer. 90.
  • 10 Affliction quickens our devotion. 102.
  • 11 Affliction conformeth us to Christ. 110.
  • 12 Affliction prepareth us for glory. 114.
Uses.
  • 1 Censure not the afflicted. 122.
  • 2 Prepare for afflictions. 134.
  • 3 Store thy selfe with comfort out of Gods Word. 163.
  • 4 Break off thy sinnes by repentance. 175.
  • 5 Seek unto God by prayer. 197.
  • 6 Comfort for the afflicted. 211.
  • [Page] 7 Desire to be with Christ. 236.
  • 8 Woe to such as are not afflicted. 243.
Doctr. II.
  • 2 All trialls and afflictions come from God. 256.
Reasons.
  • 1 God filleth both heaven and earth. 267.
  • 2 God worketh all things as he will. 269.
  • 3 All creatures are at Gods command. 271.
Uses.
  • 1 Away with Fortune. 273.
  • 2 God disposeth of all tempests. 283.
  • 3 Patient in affliction. 287.
  • Long afflictions upon the godly for divers spe­ciall [Page] end. 293. unto 302.
  • Helpes to the patient bearing of afflicti­on. 339.
  • 4 Comfort for the afflicted. 344.
  • God doth order our afflictions. 348.
  • 5 Seek to God by prayer. 355.
  • Sadnesse in affliction doth much hurt. 379.
Doctr. III.
  • The perswasion of God, love will help us to beare our afflictions, 387.
Reasons.
  • 1 God will then help us to beare them. 396.
  • 2 God will do us good by our afflictions. 397.
  • 3 No misery can make us miserable, if God love us. 401.
Uses.
  • [Page]1 Whence it comes to passe that many are so perplexed in their afflictions. 411.
  • Of inward and spirituall afflictions. 432.
  • Divers objections from feare and unbeliefe answered. 462.
  • 2 Be perswaded of Gods love. 488.
  • Tokens of Gods afflicting of us in love. 493.
  • 1 If he gives us a contented minde. 494.
  • 2 If affliction brings us neerer to God. 496.
  • 3 If they worke godly sorrow in us. 498.
  • 4 If thankfull for afflictions. 502.
Doctr. IIII.
  • The chiefe end of Gods afflicting of us, is the bettering of us. 508.
Reasons.
  • [Page]1 By affliction wee come to know our selves. 514.
  • 2 By affliction wee come to judge aright of sinne. 518
  • How wee may find out that sinne, for which wee are afflicted. 524.
  • 3 Affliction makes us to feare God. 536.
Uses.
  • 1 Satisfaction is not made to God by our af­fliction. 546.
  • 2 Our stubbornnesse provokes God to af­flict us. 550.
  • 3 Amend by little, else greater affliction will [Page] come. 554.
  • 4 Adde not affliction to the afflicted, but ra­ther comfort them. 564.
  • 5 Bee thankfull for afflictions. 578.
  • Whether wee may pray for afflicti­ons. 585.

Errata.

PAge 91. line 14. for complaining, read complaineth. p. 92. l. 17. Esa. 64.7, 8, 9. p. 96. l. 13. for their r. they. p. 105. l. 12. r. set to. p. 159. l. 16. r. so much. p. 190. l. 3. r. it may. p. 199. l. 9. r. as ready. p. 217. l. 1. for, and with r. for. p. 333. l. 7. for original­ly r. organically. p. 340 l. 5. r. makes him. p. 341. l. 13. r. and disquiet. p. 453. l. 16. r. drawest back. p. 456. l. 4. so much, put out. p. 461. l. 6. r. as is implied. p. 480. l. 13. for ever r. never. p. 489. l. 12. for being r. be. p. 524. l. ult. for baiting r. biting.

A CORDIALL FOR THE AFFLICTED. Touching the Necessity and Utilitie of Afflictions.

REVEL. 3.19.

As many as I love, I rebuke, and chasten: be zealous there­fore, and amend.

THese words are a part of that Epistle which was written unto the Lao­diceans. In which Epistle [Page 2] there is set down first, the In­scription, or, Superscription of the party unto whom it was sent, to wit, The Angel of the Church of the Laodiceans, vers. 14.

Secondly, there is a De­scription of the person from whom it was sent, set forth by a twofold property. The first is his fidelity and truth, from whence he is intituled Amen, or according to the originall, the, or that Amen; which is an Hebraisme, and signifies as much as Truly, or Trueth it selfe, explicated in the next words, That faith­full and true witnesse.

The second is his Eternity or Power, noted in these words, The beginning of the Creatures of God.

Thirdly, there is laid down the Narration or matter of [Page 3] the Epistle, wherein there is 1 first of all a Conviction of the Angel his sinnes: the first whereof is Lukewarmnesse, verse 15. which is such a temper as is neither hot, nor cold. He was (as all hypo­crites are) good only in out­ward shew and appearance; for he wanted both the met­tall, and making of zeal, and piety. He had only an out­side, and face of religion, but wanted both the power of Gods word, and the zeal of his Spirit: in this allyed to the Cretians, who professed that they knew God, but by their works they denied him, being abominable, disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. Titus 1.16.

2 Then follows a Commina­tion,or the Punishment which the Lord threatned to inflict [Page 4] upon him for this sinne of Lukewarmenes, and that is Rejection, in the end of the 16. vers. I shall spite thee out of my mouth.

The second sinne for which the Angel (and in him the whole Church of Laodicea) is taxed, is his Pride or Boa­sting, vers. 17. For thou sayest I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of no­thing.

The third sinne was Igno­rance of his wretchednesse, and misery, And knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable. Which misery con­sisted in three particulars, Poverty, Blindnesse, and Naked­nesse, in the end of the 17. verse.

3 The third thing in the matter of the Epistle, is a Remedy prescribed for the [Page 5] curing of these three fore-na­med miseries; unto each mi­sery a severall remedy.

For the bringing of him out of his Poverty the Lord counsells him, verse 18. To buy of him gold tryed by the fire, that he might be made rich. For the covering of his Na­kednesse, he adviseth him to furnish himself with White rayment, that he might be clo­thed. And for the healing of his Blindnesse, he would have him to Annoint his eyes with eye-salve, that he might see.

4 Fourthly, the Lord sets down a way, and course, which he usually takes with his best beloved ones for the reclaming and amending of them; and that is Rebuking and chastening of them, in these words which I have read unto you, vers. 19. [Page 6] Whom I love, I rebuke and cha­sten, &c.

Which words are as a comfortable cordiall prescri­bed by a wise and loving Physitian unto his sick disea­sed patient; to whom hee hath formerly administred some bitter pills, or unplea­sing potions. The Lord be­fore threatned to reject the Laodiceans for their luke­warmnes, whereupon lest they should altogether de­spaire of regaining his love and favor, he doth prevent their fear, by telling of them that his correcting of them was no argument either of his hatred, or of their re­jection, but an evidence of his love; beating them, that hee might better them. Whom I love, I rebuke and chasten: bee zealous there­fore [Page 7] and amend.

These words consist of two parts.

The first acquaints us with the Lords practice.

The second layes down the drift, and end of his practice.

His practice in these words, As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. The end and drift of his practice in the latter part of the verse, Be zealous, &c.

I will briefly unfold the sence of the words, and then (the Lord willing) col­lect Instructions out of them.

As many as I love, I rebuke. [...]. This word rebuke in the ori­ginall signifies not a bare and fingle reproof, but even such a reproof as is uttered with some strong arguments, and [Page 8] reasons to convince the par­ty reproved, implying unto us, that when the Lord re­bukes man for sinne, it is an argument of his dislike and hatred of sinne. And chasten. This also must not be under­stood of ordinary correcti­on, but such a chastisement, as a loving father gives unto the child of his love: [...]. for the originall is taken from a word which signifies a child: that as a father useth to teach and instruct his child, so the Lord correcting all those he loveth, intendeth thereby to teach and instruct them.

Fervent Zeal what it is. Bee zealous therefore. These words are in opposition to their luke-warmnes, and therefore Beza well renders it, be hot. Zeal or spirituall heat, is an affection com­pounded of two qualities, [Page 9] love and hatred. The love of God and his truth, and the hatred of every evill which tendeth to the dishonour of God, or to the clouding, or eclisping of his truth: a­gainst which evils when the childe of GOD shall any way bestirre himself, hee is said to be zealous for the Lord.

So that to be zealous, is to shew love to God, and hatred of error, and false wayes; to be grieved at those things which may dishonour God, or crosse his truth, to oppose them with might and main, and to the utmost of our po­wer to resist them.

And amend, or repent. These words have relation to their Lukewarmnesse. The Lord will have them to leave off their Lukewarmnesse, to [Page 10] repent them of their sinfull temper, being negligent, and carelesse in good duties and promoting the glory of God.

Object. But it may be demanded why the Lord doth here put zeal before repentance, when as zeal is by Paul set down as a fruit and effect of repen­tance. For writing unto the penitent Corinthians, 2. Cor. 7.11. He saith, Behold this thing, that you have been godly sorry, what care it hath wrought in you, yea what zeal: making zeal an effect of re­pentance.

Answ. The meaning of the Lord in this place is to exhort the Laodiceans to the practice of that duty, which they had al­together neglected, being a lukewarme, a remisse, and carelesse people. Therefore [Page 11] having before reproved them for their sinne of Lukewarm­nesse, he doth now exhort them to be zealous; and not only so, but to repent them of their former remisnesse. The words of the verse may be thus metaphrased.

Those that are my dearest chil­dren, my best beloved, I do rebuke, and convince of their sinnes, yea as a lo­ving father tendering their good, I do in mercy correct, and chastise them: therefore see you be not so Lukewarme as heretofore you have been, but shew more love to mee and my word, and more hatred to error and evill wayes, be grieved and sorry for your olde courses, and amend your lives.

[Page 12]Come wee now to the raysing of some Instructions out of the words. In that the Lord telleth the Laodiceans, that he rebuketh and chaste­neth as many as he loveth, wee may in the first place from hence learn, that None, no not the best of Gods dear children are without their tri­als & afflictions. Man is born unto trouble, as the sparkes flie upward, Doct. 1. The best have affli­ctions. Job. 5.1. Affliction is the lot and portion of all Gods children. It was a cup which Almighty God did temper and put into the hands of Christ his best belo­ved Sonne. Shall I not drink of the cup which my father hath given me? John 18.11. And in this cup Christ will have all his members to pledg him, as appeareth, Mat 20.23. Ye shall drink in­deed, [Page 13] of my cup, and be bapti­zed with the baptisme that I am baptized with. Hence it is that Tryals and afflictions are by Paul called the marks of the Lord Jesus. Gal. 6.17. I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. The crosse is Christ his badge, and cog­nizance. If any man will be my follower, let him denie him­self, and take up his crosse dai­ly, and follow me, Luke 9.23. The way wherein Christ went to glory was affliction, and in this path all that shall be glorified with him must foot it after him, for, Acts. 14.22. Thorow many afflicti­ons wee must enter into tho Kingdom of God.

The way to heaven, and happinesse is not strewed with rushes, or set with vio­lets and roses, but with briars [Page 14] and thorns; it is not a milky, but a thorny way; not a faire, broad, smooth, and easie, but a narrow, cragged, crooked and crosse way, through ma­ny difficulties and troubles. As the children of Israel were evill intreated in Egypt, groaned under heavy bur­dens, sighed, and cried for their bondage, before they could be possessed of that land which flowed with milk and hony; so must we know what troubles, and sorrows mean, before we come at our place of rest, our spirituall, and Heavenly Canaan.

True it is, that some have but a few tryals in compari­son of others, yet the most have many, and the best (yea all) have some, for all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution, [Page 15] 2. Tim. 3.12. Do you desire examples for the better set­ling and confirming you in the trueth of this point? Soo­ner may I find where to be­gin, then where, or how to make an end; therefore out of an heap, and a cloud of witnesses I will take but an handfull, some few drops. Job was a holy man as the Lord himself hath witnessed of him. Job 1.8. An upright, and just man, one that feared God and eschewed evill. Yet how great were his tryals; how sharp and bitter were his afflictions? Stript of all his outward means, brought unto a morsell of bread; be­reaved at one time of all his children, and that by sudden death, yea whiles they were eating, and drinking, not ha­ving (it may be) breathing [Page 16] time to call and cry for mer­cy. Wee should take it to be a heavy judgement, and think that the Lord were highly displeased with us, if out of ten children, some two, or three of them, should be made away by an untime­ly and sudden death; but to be at one blow bereaved of all our children, to lose ten at one clap, where is the man that would lay his hand up­on his mouth in so great a tentation, and not murmurre against the Lord? Besides, the Lord came neerer to Job, fighting against him with many personall terrors, af­flicting his body with aches, and botches, vexing his soul in the day time either with the words of a foolish wo­man his wife, or with the bi­ting, and taunting speeches [Page 17] of some which came to visit him, whereas in truth (like miserable comforters, Job 16.2.) they came to vex, and gall him: And in the night time how was he tumbled, and tossed up and down? Job 7.4. for when he said, My couch shall relieve me, and my bed shall bring mee comfort; then was hee feared with dreams; and astonished with visions, Job 7.13.14. So that he was a burthen to himself, grew weary of his life, cur­sing the day wherein he was born, wishing that he had di­ed in his birth, that he might not have lived to see and feel the miseries and sorrows which he sustained.

David also was a man af­ter Gods own heart 1. Sam. 13.14. Yet how sorely did the Lord (almost all his life time) [Page 18] exercise and afflict him? Hee was daily punished and chast­ned every morning. Psal. 73.14. So as he roared day and night through extremity of grief: his bones were consumed with sorrow; and his moy­sture was like the drought in summer. Betrayed by his false-hearted friends, persecu­ted, and pursued from place to place by Saul, 1. Sam. 26.20. As one would hunt a par­tridge in the mountains. And, which went neerer him then any other troubles (his sins excepted) what heart-brea­king sorrows did he sustain through the wickednesse of his children? defiling each o­ther, murdering each other, yea and (most unnaturally) seeking to depose him from the Kingdom. It would fill a volume to set down the [Page 19] manifold afflictions, which are recorded of GODS children. I will therefore speak but of one or two moe, which I cannot omit, be­cause their examples will tend much to our satisfacti­on, if we will compare our tryals and afflictions with theirs, and consider how farre theirs have exceeded ours.

One would think that if any upon earth should scape scot free (as they say) and be without afflictions, the Vir­gin Mary, the mother of our Lord might, she being a wo­man so freely beloved of God, Luke 1.28. and so neere unto Christ. But if God would have the mother to be exer­cised, because a sinner, yet (mee thinks) her sonne (be­ing the onely begotten of the Fa­ther, [Page 20] without sinne, and one in whom the Father was well pleased. Mat. 3.17.) should go untouched? No, no, it might not be; both these drunk deep of afflictions, as I shall make it evident unto you.

First concerning Mary, let us consider what old Si­meon said unto her, Luk. 2.35. A sword shall pierce through thy Soul. Shee under-went not onely out-ward, and bodily afflictions, but also in-ward and spirituall tryalls even such as pierced her very Soul. A sorrowfull spirit drieth up the bones, saith Solomon, Pro. 17.22. And Prov. 18.14. the spirit of a man will sustaine his infirmities, but a wounded spi­rit, who can bear it? It was not then any pinching pover­ty, nor the rough handling [Page 21] of the Romane exactors, who forced her (being bigge with child), to take a painefull journey to Bethlehem; nor the poore entertainment, which she and her tender babe found in the Inne; nor Herods blood-thirsty rage which made her (with her tender little one) to flie into Egrpt, where being a stranger no doubt) she indured adversity her bellie full; nor the fear of Archelaus after her return; nor her long deferred hopes all the while that Christ li­ved a private life (though Hope deferred bee the fainting of the heart. Prov. 13.12. nor yet the malice or hatred of those bloody people, the high Priests, the Scribes and Phari­sees, who not only opposed her son, but blasphemed his person, and doctrine; no nor [Page 20] [...] [Page 21] [...] [Page 22] the paines and torments of his bitter passion, of which she was an eye witnesse, and spectator; none of all these were the sword that pierced her Soul, though these were great burthens for a poore woman to bear, and the last more grievous then all the rest.

How did Jacob take on when hee beheld but the bloody coat of his sonne Jo­seph? Jacob rent his cloths, and put on sack-cloth about his loynes, and sorrowed for his son a long season. Gen. 37.34. How did David lament the death of his trayterous son Absolom, though hee heard but the report of his slaugh­ter? 2. Kings 18.33. O Ab­solom my son, O my son Absolom, would God I had died for thee, O Absolom my sonne, my sonne. [Page 23] And reade wee not that Agar went aside at her childs fain­ting, her mothers heart not enduring to behold the death of an Ismael. Gen. 21.16. How then (thinke we) was Mary affected at the sight of so many and so great miseries which befell her son? And yet all these (as I take it) were but the beginnings, and occasions of greater internall heart-breakings, and spiritu­all agonies, with which her soul conflicted. For what perplexed thoughts (may we think) did assault her soul, nay what did not, when she saw every thing directly to thwart, and crosse her pre­conceived hopes grounded upon the warrant and truth of Divine Oracles? Might not Mary have thus complai­ned, What, is this he that [Page 24] should be the Saviour and Re­deemer of Israel? the horn of Salvation unto them, to be thus maligned and crucified? And yet while he lived, there was some hope (though no like­lyhood) that God might work miraculously for his advancement, and by means unknown, make good his promises; but now that he is done to death, that shame­full and accursed death of the crosse, what hope is left? I thought that he should have re­stored the Kingdom again to Israel. But alas how can that bee, he being now dead, and laid in his grave? Surely Mary had sunk under this burthen, her faith, her pati­ence had failed her, had she not with Abraham (the fa­ther of the faithfull) above hope, beleeved under hope, [Page 25] not regarding the outward miserable condition of her sonne, but fastning the eye of her faith upon the Lord, true of his Word, and just of his promise; yet for all her faith and patience, behold and see if any sorrow were like unto Mary her sorrow? The mourning of a mother for her sonne, her only sonne, the sonne of her hopes, her hearts delight: nay that son, in whom shee expected that all the kindreds, and nations of the world should be bles­sed, and yet now dying, dy­ing a most ignominious, shamefull & accursed death, now perishing without hope of recovery. Loe here was the sword that pierced her soul thorow and thorow: wherupon the Fathers di­spute the case whether Mary [Page 26] were not a Martyr; and they conclude that she was more then a martyr, because in martyrs, the more fervent their love is to Christ, the more it lesseneth the paines of their sufferings, but Ma­ries love the more intense, and the greater it was towards her son, the more it augmen­ted her sorrows. But let us leave the mother and (last of all) take a view of her sonne his sufferings. Who though he were the prince of our sal­vation, yet was he consecrated by afflictions. Heb. 2.10. Was he not in this world reputed as an abject amongst men? lived he not in penurie, in povertie? Mat. 8.20. The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven nests, but he had not whereon to rest his head. How was he reviled and ray­led [Page 27] upon by those foul-mouth'dJewes? who called him a Wine-bibber, a Pot-companion, a friend of Pub­licans and sinners, a Conju­rer, one that wrought by the helpe of Belzebub: was he not buffeted, spit on, whip­ped, crowned with thornes, & last of all despitefully cru­cifyed? 1 Besides all these, hee did inwardly sustaine farre more heavy crosses, then that which was laid upon his shoulders (though the weight of that made him to faint with wearinesse) for he was all his life time assaul­ted by Satan, and towards his end brought into such an agony, as it wrung even drops of blood from his fore­head; before his death his soul was heavy unto the death, through those feares [Page 28] and terrors which had seazed upon him, conflicting with the wrath of God, and un­dergoing the curse with grea­test extremity: all which made him (as one rejected and given over of the Lord) in a most heavy and dolefull manner to cry out, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Matt. 27.46.

If then Job an upright and just man, one that feared God and eschewed evill; If David a man after Gods own heart, one that walked before the Lord in truth and righteousnes, and up­rightnesse of heart with God; 1. King. 3.6. If Mary, the mo­ther of our Lord, a woman so freely beloved of God; And to conclude, if Christ the only begotten of the Fa­ther, could not come to glo­ry but through many tribu­lations, [Page 29] and afflictions: I hope the doctrine, which I have delivered standeth with­out contradiction, and that it is a most undoubted and undeniable truth, that, None, no not the best of Gods children, are without their trials and af­fflictions.

Reason. 1 Affliction findeth out sinnes. And if any should demand a reason, why the Lord doth thus deal with his dear ones, many may be rendered: some whereof respect the sinnes of his children, either as they are past, present, or to come.

Sometime the Lord affli­cteth his children that so they may ransack and search their own hearts and consci­ences, and so find out some sinnes which have a long time lurked in their breasts, and are not as yet repented [Page 30] of: Lament. 3.39, 40. Man suffereth for his sinne, let us search and try our wayes. The heart is deep, yea, deceitfull and wicked above all things, who can know it. Jere. 17.9. It hath many turnings and secret corners, many holes for sinne to sculk and lurk in, so as it will very hardly be found out unlesse a privie watch be set, a narrow search be made. In the examinati­on of a craftie, a cunning thief, the Justice or Judge had need to gather his wits toge­ther, and to have his eyes in his head, least he be not able to find out that villany which will never be confessed, though the evidence be cleer against it. Affliction will quicken our wits, and cleer our eye-sight, so as we shall be the better able to finde [Page 31] out those sins which other­wise (peradventure) would never have beene discovered. That person that cannot by affliction be wrought upon to search what is amisse in him, will never do it. If the conscience which hath been rockt asleep in the cradle of prosperity, cannot bee awak­ned by affliction, it is in a deep, if not a deadly sleep. Josephs brethren could be touched in their consciences for their unnaturall, and cru­ell usage of their brother, when they were in some straights, suspected (as they conceived) to be spies, and one of their brethren taken, and bound before their eyes. Genes. 42.21. Whereas for divers yeares before, they had no check of conscience for their sinne.

[Page 32] Iob in the day of his ad­versitie could call to mind old sinnes, afflictions could bring them fresh to his re­membrance: Thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possesse the iniqui­ties of my youth. Iob. 13.26.

Iob 36 8, 9 Elihu hath an excellent speech to this purpose, If they be bound in fetters, and tyed with the cords of affliction, then will he shew them their worke and their sinnes.

Teaching us hereby, that until such time as the Lord by some affliction or other doth hamper and shackle us, wee have no list to finde out our sinnes, but had ra­ther cover, and daube them over. Whereas affliction (like unto a prospective-glasse) will shew us things a farre off; and discover unto us ma­ny [Page 33] corruptions, which wee have either buried, or else slighted over. In affliction wee can see our formalitie, barrennesse, loosnesse, dead-heartednesse, lithernesse in good duties, pride, hypocri­sie, earthly-mindednesse, un­charitablenesse, and many moe old, and new sinnes, which before we took little, or no notice of. Therefore if thou beest now under the rod of God, or hereafter mayst be, say unto thy heart, surely there lieth some wedge of gold, or Babylo­nish garment hid, which the Lord would have me search, and find out, certainly there is some Ionah that hath ray­sed this storme, there is some sinne or other that hath cau­sed all this affliction to befall me, which must be found out, [Page 34] yea, and cast out of my heart, (as Ionab was thrown out of the ship) before this storm will be calme, before the Lord will take off his hand from afflicting me. Therefore do not repine at the Lords wise and righteous dealing, but let thine anget and in­dignation reflect upon thine own vile heart, cast thy selfe with all humilitie, at the feet of God, begge some of his eye-salve, whereby the eyes of thy understanding may be enlightned, that thou mayst be the more able to gage and search the bottom of thy heart, find out that, or those sinnes which have provoked the Lord against thee, lest thou perish through impeni­tency. St. Paul writing unto the Corinthians, about their prophaning of the Lords or­dinance, [Page 35] their abuse of the Sacrament, telleth them that for this cause many are weake and sick among you: and ma­ny sleep, for if wee would judge our selves, wee should not be judged. 1. Cor. 11.30.31. im­plying thus much; that Gods hand lay upon them, that so they might search out, see and confesse their sinnes, that so God might pardon them. Therefore as at all times, so especially in the time of affli­ction wee should narrowly sift, and search our hearts, lest any corruption lye lurking there to do us a mischief. And if ever we bee brought to a sight and confession of our sinnes, it will be while the rod is upon our backe: when the Lord had through­ly jerked Ephraim, he could smite on his thigh, bee ashamed [Page 36] and confounded, because he did bear the reproach of his youth. Jerem. 31.19. Old sinnes could bleed afresh before them when the hand of God did crush them. The Lord by the Prophet Ezekiel, told Jerusalem, that he would judge her after the manner of harlots, and would give her the blood of wrath and jealousie. Ezek. 16.38. Because thou hast not re­membred the dayes of thy youth, but hast provoked me with all these things; behold, therefore I also have brought thy way upon thine head, saith the Lord God: yet hast thou not had considera­tion of all thine abominations. Vers. 43. Teaching us, that the end of Gods correcting them, was to bring them to a consideration and sight of their sinnes.

Reason. 2 Affliction purges out sinne. A second reason of the [Page 37] Lords dealing sharply with his children, is, to purge them, and cleanse them from all their filthinesse of the flesh and spirit. This appeares by di­vers places of Scripture. I I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy drosse, and take away all thy sinne. Esa. 1.25. And some of them of understanding shall fall to trie them, and to purge them, and to make them white. Dan. 11.35. And so in Esa, 4▪ 4. When the Lord shal have wash­ed away the filth of the daugh­ters Sion, and shall have pur­ged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, by the spirit of judgement, and by the spirit of burning And Esay. 27.9. By this shall the iniquitie of Jacob be purged, and this is all the fruit, even the taking away of his sinne: not by justifying, [Page 36] [...] [Page 37] [...] [Page 38] but by sanctifying them; by the rod of affliction beating sinne out of its old corners; for as Elihu said, Iob 36.10. He openeth their ear to disci­pline, and commandeth them that they return from iniquity. when the Lord doth afflict us, he doth really call upon us, and charge us to turne from our evill wayes. Hee knoweth my way, and trieth me (saies Iob 23.10.) and I shall come forth like the gold. Behold, saith the Lord, I have fined thee; I have chosen thee in the fornace of affliction. Esa. 48.10. The Lord compares af­fliction unto a fornace, into which the Gold-smith doth cast his metals to fine them, to purge them from that dirt and drosse which is mingled with them. Prosperitie, health, ease, libertie, are oc­casions [Page 39] of contracting, and gathering soyle, and drosse; therefore the Lord (who loves to see his children clean) will bring them tho­row the fire, and will fine them as Silver, and trie them as Gold is tryed. Zach. 13.9. Hence it is that the Apostle Peter saith Wee are in heavinesse through manifold temptations, that the trial of our faith being much more precious then gold that pe­risheth, might be found to our praise. 1. Pet. 1.6.7. He doth chasten us for our profit, that wee might be partakers of his holinesse. Hebr. 12.10. Which we cannot be unlesse wee be washed and clensed from the filth of sinne. Let us clense our selves from all filthinesse of the flesh and spirit, and grow up into full holinesse in the fear of God. 2. Cor. 7.1. Hence it is [Page 40] that David Professeth, It is good for me that I have been af­flicted. Psal. 119.71.

Affliction is physick for the soul.Afflictions oft times make a bad man good, they always make a good man better. Therefore take this for a sure ground, That the Lord ne­ver afflicts the body, but for the souls good, he never brings any evill upon our bodies, but with an intent to better the soul. When the Lord doth afflict us, he is in a course of Physick with us, to purge out those malig­nant humors, which in the daies of our prosperity wee have contracted unto our selves.

Therefore as wee are con­tent to receive bitter pils, sick vomits, and unpleasing po­tions for our bodily health, striving to take them down, [Page 41] though they go sore against our stomack: As wee endure sharpe salves, and strong eating plaisters, and powders to be applied to bodily sores, for the taking down of our proud, and eating out our dead flesh; so must wee be patient in the time of afflicti­on, seeing it is a means of helping, and curing our sick distempered souls. Sinne is the souls sicknesse, and affli­ction is that physick which the Lord that wise and good Physician sees meet to be ap­plied unto us for our health, and recovery. Therefore as that mans body is in a dange­rous (if not desperate) case upon which physick will not work, or working but a lit­tle, doth little, or no good unto him, so as still the dis­sease prevaileth, and the bo­dy [Page 42] languisheth: even so it fa­reth with our souls, if afflicti­ons cannot better us, our case is desperate. Eze. 24.13. Thou remainest in thy filthi­nesse and wickednesse, because I would have purged thee, and thou wast not purged: thou shalt not be purged from thy fil­thinesse, till I have caused my wrath to light upon thee.

Gods corrections are for our reformation, and amend­ment, but if they cannot re­form us, they make way ei­ther for greater judgements, as Levit. 26.21. Where the Lord telleth us that, if wee walk stubbornly against him, & will not obey him, he will then bring seven times moe plagues upon us, according to our sinnes. Or else they prepare us for confusion & destruction; for he that hardneth his neck when he [Page 43] is rebuked, shall suddenly be de­stroyed, and cannot bee cured. Prov. 29.1. Some by accu­stoming themselves to sinne, are brought at last into an in­curable condition; so that wee may say of him, and to him, as it was spoken to the King of Ashur, There is no healing of thy wound. Nahum 3.19. To be never the bet­ter for affliction, is to bear the brand of a wicked person. This is King Ahaz, who in the time of his tribulation did yet trespasse more against the Lord. 2 Chro. 28.22. And this will seal up unto all incorri­gible persons, Gods heavier judgements, which he will one day bring upon them.

True it is, that many are so farre in league with sinne, that none of those blowes which God giveth them will [Page 44] break that cursed league be­twixt them and their sinne; all that the Lord doth unto them is little enough to bring them to a sight of sin: But God will have sinne out of request with us, and us out of love with it, that sinne may stink in our nostrills, as it is unpleasing to the Lord. Many having a stinking di­sease in them or upon them, seek not out for cure because it savors not amisse to them, the smell thereof is not offen­sive unto them: but when once they begin to be annoyed with their own stinck, then they seek out for helpe and remedy: Af­fliction searcheth sinne to the quick, stirres up the bot­tome of our corruption, makes it stink in our nostrils, so as wee begin to grow out [Page 45] of love with that evill which somtime hath been most de­lightful and pleasing unto us. Therefore if iniquitie be in thy hand, put it far away, and let not wickednesse dwell in thy tabernacle, said Zophar. Iob. 11.14. This was good coun­sell given to Job in his affli­ction: he must purge his hand & house, yea, and heart too of all wickednes, then he should lift up his face with­out spot, he should be stable, and not feare. Job 11.15. then should he be justified of the Lord, freed from the staine of his sinne, and be without all feare of judge­ment, yea, saith Zophar, Thou shalt forget thy misery: Not onely be an end of troubles, but ease and joy shall come in the place of them.

Reason. 3 Affliction preventeth sinne. Thirdly, as affliction [Page 46] serves to finde out sinne past, and to purge sinne present, so also to prevent sinne to come: which the Lord (who knows us better thē we know our selves) seeth wee would run into. Hence it was that a thorne in the flesh, the messenger of Satan was sent to buffet Paul, lest he should be exalted a­bove measure. 2. Cor. 12.7. The Lord was pleased so highly to honor Paul, as to take him up into Paradice where he heard words which cannot be spoken, which are not possible for man to utter; whereupon, least Paul should grow too high in the instep, and thinke better of himself, then there was cause, the Lord in wisedom takes him down a peg, sendeth a satani­call messenger to buffet him, that so hee might not be ex­alted. [Page 47] The Lord sees we are ready to cast our selves in­to some perils and dangers, or to run into some evils, which would tend to the dishonor of his name, or the scandall of our profession; therefore, by affliction (as with a bit, or bridle put in­to our mouthes) he doth re­strain us, and so, wisely, pre­vents those sins, which (if af­fliction were not) we should fall into. God in his af­flicting of his children lookes not alwayes▪ backward up­on their sinnes past, but some­times forward upon sinnes to come? and makes them his principall aime and end of afflicting his children. There is a preventing Phisicke, for preservation of our health, as well as Phisick for recove­ry, out of some desease al­ready [Page 48] grown upon us. And yet I would have none to be mistaken in this particular; as though God did at any time afflict any without cause. Although the Lord doth sometimes afflict, and not for sinne; yet never without sinne, either inhe­rent, or imputed. God is so farre from picking holes in our coat, so far from afflict­ing any without just cause, that hee may see enough in the best of us, yea even in our best services, & performances to afflict us. The best of us brought with us into the world so much corruption, and do carry about us such bodies of sinne, as may expose us to all the plagues of this and another life. Every one of us hath in himselfe suffici­ent fewell for the fire of [Page 49] Gods wrath to work ever­more upon him, if the Lord in his justice would be plea­sed to kindle it. Let no man therefore question Gods ju­stice in afflicting the best of his children, because (as I have said) he somtimes affli­cteth us to prevent some evill to come, which through our naturall propension, through some violent occasion, or through some strong tempta­tion wee may be drawne into.

Ephraim was mad upon sinne, therefore saith the Lord, Hos. 2.6. I will stop thy way with thornes, and make an hedge, that she may not find her paths. Too much sun-shine will dazle our eyes. Too much honey turnes to gall: so too much prosperity and ease breeds security, and [Page 50] makes us proud, or wanton; therefore lest our ranck blood should cause some in­flamation, it pleaseth God (our wise and loving Physi­tian) to open a veine, to cool us, and to keep us in good temper. Horses that are full fed, and pampered, grow (many times) restif: Vessels unused do quickly grow ru­sty: even so our nature would soon contract some evill, if the Lord should not now and then take us into affliction's scouring house. The Lord sees, that prosperity and im­munity from affliction blunts the edge of our devotion, cools the fire of our zeal, and dulleth our eager pursuit af­ter Heaven and Heavenly things, and therefore he af­flicts us to prevent these evils, as hee took away Jeroboams [Page 51] sonne by death, lest if he had lived longer, he might have trod in the steps of his wick­ed father, and been tainted with his sinnes. It may be the Lord seeth that wee would run into some danger, if he should let us alone, therefore as he snached Lot out of So­dom, lest he should have pe­rished in their flames, so he catcheth hold of us by affli­ction, thereby to deliver us from some sinne wee are fal­ling into.

Therefore whatsoever tri­all and affliction, doth befall thee, lay thy hand upon thy mouth, murmure not against the Lord, but be thankfull unto him, and say, O Lord thou knowest the distemper of my soul, thou knowest how prone I am to sinne and wickednesse, and thou (who [Page 52] seest things to come as if they were present) seest, I was in­clining to some evill, but in mercy hast by this affliction prevented mee, keep mee therefore from falling into evill, by what means thou pleasest, suffer mee not to sin against thee.

Reason 4 Affliction teacheth us. Fourthly, the Lord doth afflict us, to teach us some good lesson, which (with­out affliction) hee sees wee shall hardly learn. Psal. 119.71. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes. Correcti­ons are instructions. [...]. God will have none of his to pe­rish, for want of instruction. he sendeth his word amongst us, to teach us his wayes, that so we may walk in his truth. Psal. 86.11. But out­ward prosperity so thickens [Page 53] our eare, and so hardens our heart, that we cannot, wee will not heare to our profit: Jerem. 22.21. I spake unto thee when thou wast in prosperitie, but thou saidst, I will not hear: this hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou wouldest not obey my voice; therefore the Lord openeth the ear of men, even by their corrections, Job 33.16. For such as will not hear the word, shall hear the rod, Mica. 6.9. Manasses learned that lesson in the school of affliction, which could never be taught him in the school of the Prophets. 2 Chron. 33.12. In his tribula­tion he humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He that was prowd, and could set himselfe against the Lord and his truth, and all that profes­sed it, all the while he was [Page 54] in prosperity, and upon his throne; when the Lord cau­sed him to be cast in prison, and put chaines of iron upon his leggs, in stead of a chaine of Gold about his neck, hee could then learn to be hum­ble, and obedient unto the Lord. Nabuchadnezzar be­ing pulled out of his Babel, driven from men, to have his dwelling amongst the beasts, could at length come to praise, extoll & magnifie the King of heaven, whose works are all truth, and able to abase those that walk in pride. Dan. 4 34. Our hearts are very hard and sturdy, so as the word will not break them, untill the Lord by affliction subdues, and humbles these hearts of ours, making them soft and yeelding, so as the word may take some impres­sion [Page 55] in us. Hence it is that So­lomon tells us, Prov. 15.32. Hee that obeyeth correction, gets understanding. Some say, that many (and I have found it true in some) children af­ter a sicknesse grow both in ripenesse of understanding, and in stature of body: so it is with the Lords children: af­fliction bringeth them to a better understanding of hea­ven, and heavenly things (as Nebuchadnezzar confessed, Dan. 4.33. Mine understan­ding was restored unto me) and causeth the inner man to grow more then before. It teacheth us to walk in the right way, and to keep Gods Word, as Psal. 119.67. Be­fore I was afflicted I went a­stray: but now I keep thy word. What havock did Paul (be­fore the Lord met with him) [Page 56] make of Christs flock? entring into every house hee drew out both men and women, and put them into prison, Acts. 8.3. And being armed with ma­lice, and authority, he po­steth to Damascus, to put in execution his bloody com­mission: but the Lord meets him by the way, unhorseth this persecutor, strikes him down to the ground, and smites him with blindnesse; and what followed? Paul was now a new man: Act. 9.6. He then both trembling, and asto­nied, said, Lord what wil thou that I do? What had become of Paul, if affliction had not beene? Which of Gods chil­dren cannot say as David said, It is good for me that I have been afflicted? Nay, what affliction hath at any time befalne us, which wee [Page 57] could have spared? Nay (let me go a little further) is it not best with us, when wee are under the rod? Would it not be better with us (thinke you) if the Lord should af­flict us more? If thou beest the child of God, I appeale to thy conscience, whether thy case had not been farre worse, then now it is if affli­ction had not been. Many are like unto those kind of fishes which seldom or never (with­out much difficulty, and la­bour) can be caught but when the water is troubled. So before troubles do befall many, they cannot be caught with the net of the Gospel, all the cost that is bestowed upon them, all the pains that are taken with them, do them little or no good. All the good that the most of us learn [Page 58] is in the school of affliction. So that affliction may say (concerning the good wee have) as Laban in another case said to Jacob, Gen. 31.43 All that thou seest is mine. So in some sence may affliction say, Thy humility, thy faith, thy charity, thy obedience, &c. all mine: from whence hadst thou them? of whom didst thou learn them, but of me? and therefore mayest thank me for them, Blessed is the man (saies David to the Lord: Psal. 94.12.) whom thou chastisest and teachest him thy Law. If we can pick no good out of our afflicti­ons, learn nothing from them, woe will be unto us, that ever we were corrected. The judgements which are upon others should better us, according to that of Esay. 26. [Page 59] 9. Seeing thy judgements are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world shall learn righteous­nesse. If God will have us to profit by the calamities, and miseries, which do befall o­thers, how much more by those afflictions, which touch our own skin, or come into our own bowels? But, alas such blocks, such non-profi­cients wee are, that the Lord may justly complain of us, as he did of Israel, in the dayes of Amos, I have thus, and thus corrected you, Yet have you not returned unto mee saith the Lord. Amos. 4.8, 9, 10.

Reason. 5 Affliction trieth the truth of grace in us Fiftly, the Lord doth sometime afflict his children, to try the truth of grace in them: 1. Pet. 1.6, 7. Ye are in heavinesse through manifold tentations, that the triall of [Page 60] your Faith, being much more precious then gold that perish­eth, might be found unto your praise. Apoc. 2.10. Some of you shall be cast into prison, that you may be tried. The Lord thy God led thee (saies Moses to Israel, Deut. 8.2.) this forty yeere in the wildernesse for to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart. Why, doth not God know the secrets of al hearts? doth not he understand our thoughts afarre off? Psal. 139 1. Why then should hee af­flict his children, to prove what is in their hearts? That we being afflicted, may know our own hearts the better, and that others also may di­scern the truth of grace in us. Every one almost will bee good whiles all things goe according to their hearts de­sire; [Page 61] as the old saying is, The devill is good while hee is pleased. Even the wicked whiles there is nothing to thwart and crosse them, will carry themselves temperatly, and smoothly; But let the Lord set fire upon their hedge of prosperity, let the Lord, but a little, lay his hand up­on them, and you shall see that verified in them, which Satan maliciously, and fals­ly layd unto Jobs charge. They will curse God to his face, they will in a blasphe­mous manner, spit out their venome, and poison against the Lord. There is a bottom­lesse gulfe of self-deceit in the hearts even of Gods chil­dren, whence it comes to passe, that they can hardly be brought to beleeve, there is so much corruption in [Page 62] them, as indeed there is: but affliction, yea sometime the fear of danger doth dis­cover it unto us: as appeares in Peter; who (hearing Christ say, that all his Apostles should be offended that night, and flie from him, Matt. 26.31.) ut­terly disclaimes such unfaith­fulnesse, and therefore tel­leth Christ, that whatsoever became of the rest, he would not forsake him; whereas the very fear of some danger or trouble, made him denie, and forsware his master, as if he knew him not. Little do wee beleeve what filthy stuffe lurketh in these wicked hearts of ours, untill such time as the Lord stirreth, and provo­keth us by afflictions. A mans strength is never known, untill such time as it be tried, and he have some [Page 63] enemie to resist him. Affli­ctions are tentations to try both the truth, and the strength of grace in us: our faith, our patience, our hu­militie, our obedience, our love, our courage, and hea­venly mindednesse then ap­peareth, when affliction (which is so contrary unto our nature) doth encounter us. For that corruption which dwelleth in us, being exasperated, and provoked by affliction, will then or ne­ver shew it self in its proper colours. Our frowardnesse, impatience, and infidelity will then appeare, when wee are pained or pinched by af­fliction; for then the flesh begins to kick, and winch, because Heb. 12.11. No cha­stening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous, [Page 64] though afterward it bringeth the quiet fruit of righteousnesse unto them which are thereby ex­ercised. So that by affliction every one comes to have an experimentall knowledge of the truth, and measure of any grace in him. Whence hee may say of himselfe, and others may beleeve, and re­port of him, as the Lord said to Abraham, when hee saw how ready and willing he was to offer up his onely son Isaac, whom hee so dearely loved, Genes. 22.12. Now I know that thou fearest God. Whiles the Gospel doth go with a fair, and calme gale, whiles ease, liberty and pro­sperity doth attend upon the profession thereof, every one will be a Gospeler, as Ester 8.17. Many of the people of the land became Jews, when the [Page 65] fear of the Jews fell upon them. But trouble and persecution tries the sound-hearted, from false and hypocritical profes­sors. So that as Paul spea­keth of heresies, 1. Cor. 11.19. There must be heresies among you, that they which are ap­proved among you may be known. So I may say of af­fliction, there must bee affli­ctions among you, that the truth of grace may be known in you.

Affliction saith Paul, brings forth patience. Rom. 5.31. which words to a carnall ear may sound like Samsons rid­dle; Judges 14.14. Out of the eater came meat. Patience to come out of affliction, it may seem a paradox, but it is a most divine truth; not that afflictions do beget patience in the heart of a man, but by [Page 66] them this gift, and grace of patience is exercised and ma­nifested in us; and in our af­flictions wee come to make experience of our patience. Hence it is, that our Saviour Christ is said Heb. 5.8. To have learned obedience by the things which he suffered. Not that Christ was then to learn obedience, but that in the time of his passions, himself, and others mighr see and dis­cerne his obedience, who preferred the will of his Fa­ther, in drinking of that cup which was given him, though it were never so bitter and unpleasing unto him. Wee are all of us too prone to think better of our selves then there is just cause; wee can promise our selves great things, and build castles in the ayre all the while wee [Page 67] stretch our selves upon our beds, and drink wine in bowles, live at ease and in fulnesse: but these paper buildings, these clay walls of ours, are quickly shaken, and beaten downe, if the Lord do but shoot one arrow of af­fliction out of his quiver a­gainst us. Therefore the Lord in love, and wisedome exerciseth his children, that the truth and strength of grace may be tryed, and seen in us, that so wee may throughly know our selves. The skill of the Pilot is then best discerned, when the windes blow: when the waves & billows rise, moun­ting the ship as it were up to heaven, from whence down it falls again into the deep; e­very gust of winde threatning to turn it over, every wave of [Page 68] the sea comming over the ship, and gaping to swallow it up: In these tempestuous times, in these great perils to keep the ship up-right, and to save it from drowning, this doth manifest, both the knowledge, and the paines of the Pilot: whereas every skuller will be able to crosse the seas in a calme, and when there be no waves to crosse him. So every one will hold up his head, and be cheerfull whiles prosperity blowes up­on him, and nothing to crosse him: but adversity tryes the man, and the truth and strength of grace in him. For Prov. 24.10. If thou be faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. Saint John having spoken of that warre which the beast should make with the Saints, and how they [Page 69] should be led into captivity, and be killed by the sword, ads presently after, Revel. 13.9. here is the patience and faith of the Saints: as if he should say, By these afflictions will the Lord both exercise, and manifest the faith and pati­ence of the Saints. Many drugs, and spices have an ex­cellent savor in them, which wee cannot smell untill such time as they be either grated, or stamped to powder, or burnt in the fire: so when we are grated by trouble, stam­ped in the morter of afflicti­on, or cast in the fornace, and fire of tentation, then (more then before) the fragrant, and sweet smell of grace is discer­ned in us. Arise O North (saith Christ, Cant. 4.16.) and blow on my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. [Page 70] When persecution blew up­on the blessed Martyrs, in those bloody times of Pope­ry, how sweetly did grace smell in them? how meekly, how patiently and cheerfully did they go under their crosse, and undergo what­soever malice and crueltie could inflict upon them? The rage and violence of their enemies was so farre from daunting, and putting out the light of grace in them, that it more increa­sed it.

Reason 6 Affliction doth fit us for Gods service. Sixthly, the Lord doth sometime afflict his chil­dren to fit and prepare them for some speciall work and service wherein they are to be imployed. When wee see a Carpenter tumbling and rowling any piece of timber up and down, wee [Page 71] may conceive that he over­looks it, to see whether it will serve his turn or no: but when hee strikes his axe into it, when he falls to hew­ing, squaring, and sawing of it, then wee know for cer­tain it is for some use, and service. All the while the wheat lies still upon the mowe, it serves for no use; before it can be used it must be threshed, and fanned or winnowed, or cast up and down. Even so the Lord deales with his children, be­fore he imployes them in any speciall service. Affliction is the axe, the saw, the chissell which heweth and pollifheth us; the fan which winnow­eth and cleanseth us, making us fit for that work which he hath appointed us unto. Be­fore Joseph can be promoted [Page 72] in Pharaohs Court, and have the sway (as it were of his Kingdom) that he may store up provision for Jacob, and his family, he must endure much hard-ship; he must be sold as a slave unto strangers; carryed (by men unknown) away from his fathers house, into a farre countrey; and there he must bee cast into prison, Psal. 105.17.18. They held his feet in the stocks, and he was laid in irons. Before Moses is sent unto Pharaoh to charge him to let the chil­dren of Israel depart out of Egypt, before he is appoin­ted to bee the captain and commander of that great and mighty people of Israel, hee must be banished from house and home, from kindred, and acquaintance, and as Heb. 11.25. suffer adversity with the [Page 73] people of God. Before David could have the scepter of the kingdome put into his hands, and the crown set upon his head, hee must endure ma­ny a hard brunt: go tho­row many difficulties, and perills, be tossed up and down from post to pillar, ba­nished from wife and chil­dren, with a world of other troubles, wherewith it plea­sed the Lord to exercise him. Yea, Christ himselfe was by affliction fitted, and prepa­red for that great worke of our redemption: For it be­came him, that he should con­secrate the Prince of their sal­vation through afflictions. Heb. 2.10. Therefore when­soever thou art exercised with any kind of afflictions, say thus with thy self: I per­ceive the Lord hath some [Page 74] work to set me about, some service to imploy me in, and therefore makes tryall of me before-hand, that so I may be the better able to do him ser­vice, in that work hee shall set me about, and call mee unto.

Reason 7 Affliction teacheth us to prize Gods be­nefits. Seaventhly, the Lord doth somtime withdraw from his children these out­ward and earthly comforts, lest through their long, and plentifull enjoying of them, they begin either to grow wanton in the abuse of them, or else begin to underprize, if not contemne them. The Lord sees that wee would not esteem aright of the comforts which we reap from his love, and bounty, if sometimes (more or lesse) wee should not feel the smart of his dis­pleasure for abusing his be­nefits. [Page 75] Plenty (oft times) causeth satietie: as appea­reth by those full fed Isra­elites, who grew to a lo­thing of that food which the Lord (in abundance) provi­ded for them. Wee can see nothing but this Manna, Numb. 11.6. The prodigall mentioned Luk. 15. grew weary of his fathers house; their diet, and fare too coorse, and homely, not fine enough for his dainty tooth: their society, and company too plain and rude for such a gallant as he was: abroad hee must, and from his father he would, to see fashions, or to trie conclu­sions; so long that at length the begger meets with him, poverty pincheth him, and hunger biteth him; then he could looke backe from [Page 76] whence he came, and then he could prize the privi­ledges of his fathers fami­ly. How many hyred servants of my fathers have bread enough, and I die for hunger. Luke 15.17. He should now think himselfe a happy man, if (upon any conditions) he could but get into his fathers house againe; though he were put unto any service, though but as one of his hi­red servants, Luke 15.19.

Absence and intermission of any outward benefits, and desireable comforts, adde a great deale of life to the love of them, and waight to their worth and valuation. The goodnesse of any thing wee enjoy, is better perceived by vicissitude of want, then con­tinuall fruition. Sleep is ne­ver so much longed for and [Page 77] desired, as after the tedious­nesse of some wakefull, and wearisom nights of restlesse tossings up and down, or tur­ning too and fro in our tedi­ous bed. The light (if it were alwayes day with us) would never be so accepta­ble, were it not for the usu­all intercourse of darknesse. The Spring would never be so welcome as it is, had wee not a cold biting and frosty Winter. Wee never come to know the benefit of health, untill such time as the Lord cast us upon our sick bed. We know not what our li­berty is, untill wee bee thrown into prison, &c.

Therefore because wee are so ready to underprize the good benefits of God and to rob him of those prayses wee should yeeld unto him for [Page 78] them: the Lord in wisedome afflicts us, cuts us short of them, that so wee may know the price, and worth of them, by the want of them.

Reason. 8 Affliction weaneth us from the world. Eightly, the Lord doth sometime afflict us to we [...] us from this world. Such is the corruption of our vile and stinking hearts, that the things of this life sit too cloce unno them, cooling the fer­vor of our first love, and by little and little stealing away our mindes from the practise and pursuit of heavenly things. Whence it comes to passe, that too many Christi­ans like moules, are alwayes rooting and scraping in the earth: yea, doting upon the world, with immoderation, and carking, to the great dis­grace of their persons, and the foul reproach of their [Page 79] profession, and calling; ope­ning the mouths of unrege­nerate ones to blaspheme the wayes of God, and saying; These are such as make not godlinesse their gain, but ra­ther, their gain their godli­nes. Nay too often the world by its subtil insinuations lulls them so long upon her lap, that they are cast into a deep slumber, even of carnall secu­ritie: that though the Lord cry aloud in their eares by the voice of his ministers, and speak to their consciences by the inward motions of his holy Spirit, and intreat them to give over their eager pur­suit of the world, to let earth­ly things fall out of their mindes, and to mind hea­venly things to better pur­pose; yet for all this they will not knock off, but forge and [Page 80] frame many shifts, excuses, and delaies, as the Church in the Cantic. 5.3. I have put off my coat, how shall I pat it on? I have washed my feet, &c. Whereupon her blessed Lord, so unworthily repelld, departs for a time, and suf­fers her to be taken by the watchmen of the citie, who smote her, and wounded her: which shee might have esca­ped, had shee not loved her ease too well. A thousand pitties it is, to see how fast the mindes of many are lock­ed to outward things, as if they never knew what joy, or delight in heavenly things meant: hence it is that the Lord afflicts them, to beat them off from resting upon, and too much delighting in these transitory vanities. In our prosperity wee are ready [Page 81] to think wee shall never be removed: and with the rich fool in the Gospel, encou­rage our selves to ease, and liberty, because (as wee think) wee have enough for many yeeres, Luke 12.9. If all things go well with us, we are ready to set up our rest, and (with Peter) to say, Mark 9.5. It is good for us to be heere; nay as the Lao­dicean said, Wee be rich and increased with goods, wee think wee have need of no­thing: wee fear no colours, for the rich mans riches are his strong citie, and as an high wall in his imagination, Prov. 18.11. whereupon lest wee should leane too much upon these outward things, and so have our hearts, our hope, and trust drawn away from the Lord, he in wisedom, and [Page 82] mercy withdrawes from us these weak crutches, and stilts of ours: We are ready to make prosperity our bul­warke to shelter and defend us from all harmes: and those things which wee hold of the free goodnesse of God, and his good pleasure, wee are ready to think wee have them in our own right, and so wee make (as it were) a rent charge of all that which the Lord affords us of his free bountie. Whereupon least wee should challenge Gods gifts as our own right, the Lord will let us know of whom wee hold them, by ta­king them away from us. To please, or flatter our selves with any outward things, is to reckon without our host: those things are not ours ei­ther by fee-tayle, or fee-simple; [Page 83] but as tenants at will, we must hold them of him, who may every day take them from us, or us from them. If God should let us alone, suffer us alwayes to abound and swimme in plenty, wee should be ready to take our selves to be some petty Gods, and wee would not care for any life but this.

Therefore lest wee should dote too much upon this world, and take too much content in these outward things, as Jonas did in his gourd, the Lord will blast them, and smite them, that so wee may see the vanity of them. If the things of this life, begin to steal away our hearts from beter things, the Lord sees it is high time, either to trust us no longer [Page 84] with them, and therefore takes them from us: as pa­rents take a knife from their childe, lest he should hurt himselfe, or others withall. Or else (if the Lord suffers us still to enjoy them) hee will cast in some bitter thing amongst them (as nurses when they would wean their children, rub their nipples with some unpleasing thing) to wean our mindes and af­fections from them. If the Lord send Jacob a Benjamin, he will take away a Rachel. If there be a Ziba to meet Da­vid, 2. Sa. 16.1. with two hun­dred cakes, an hundred bun­ches of raisins, dryed figgs, and a bottle of wine to comfort him: there will be a Shimei at his heeles to cast stones at David and curse him, and to tell him that he was taken in his [Page 85] wickednesse, because he was a murderer.

Certainly, if the Lord should not thus remember us with some affliction or other, wee would quickly forget both God and our selves. For being full, wee be ready to deny the Lord, as Agar said, Prov. 30.9. Man in prosperity is so proud, that hee seeketh not for God. Psal. 10.4.

Hence it is, that the Lord complained of Israel, by Ho­seah, They were filled, and their hearts were exalted; there­fore, they have forgotten me, Hos. 13.6. Prosperity and abundance doth even intoxi­cate many, and make them like drunken men: so besotts and befools them, that they have no thoughts of heaven, or heavenly things: no hearts to be thankfull (as they [Page 86] should) to God the giver of every thing they enjoy. Such is the corruption of our wicked nature, that the more of these temporall blessings wee receive from God, the lesse wee think, wee need him, and the sel­domer wee think upon him. If once, Psalm. 17.10. wee bee inclosed in our own fat (twenty to one but) we shall speak proudly with our mouth: and be ready to aske (as did proud Pharaoh) Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice? Exod. 5.2. Therefore to prevent the manifold mis­chiefs which ease, and pro­sperity (as was formerly said) may bring upon us; to beat us out of our earthly trenches, and to draw up our minds, and affections un­to better objects: that wee [Page 87] may seek better things then this life can afford us, and make heavenly things our chiefest treasure, and portion; the Lord will have us to feed upon this world, as the chil­dren of Israel did eate the Passeover, not only with sowre hearbs, to allay the sweetnesse of their bread, but also with their staves in their hands, as those that were rea­dy to go towards Canaan, their place of rest. For wee are strangers and pilgrims on the earth, here wee have no con­tinuing citie, Hebr. 13.14. This world is but a bayting place, as an Inne to rest our selves in for a while. Therefore God will have us so to use it, as if wee used it not, because the fashion of this world goeth away, 1. Cor. 7.31. They that set their af­fections [Page 88] on things below, do not live as those that lay up for themselves treasures in heaven, seeking better and more durable riches, then the world is able to afford them; but as those that make their belly, or their Mam­mon their God. These may well be compared to a swi­nish sot, who travelling to­wards the place of his inhe­ritance is content to become an hostler in some base or ob­scure Inne, to give content unto the tapster thereof. Little do wee know, how the Lord takes it (and well hee may) to heart, to see us so dote upon the things of this world, and set our hearts so much upon them as wee do. God would have his children to live by faith, to trust in him, and to rest and bear [Page 89] themselves upon his promi­ses. Remember (saith David Psal. 119.49.) thy promise made to thy servant, wherein thou hast caused mee to trust. How can wee trust in the Lord, if wee make outward things our confidence? Therefore it is just with the Lord to strip us, and spoile us of these base props, that so our hope, and confidence, our joy and delight may be chie­fly in the Lord. It is said that Zeno having suffered ship­wrack, addicted himselfe to the study of Philosophy, the sweetnesse whereof after he had once tasted, hee ac­counted that an happy ship­wrack, which caused him to affect such excellent know­ledge. So first, or last, hath, and will every regenerate childe of God say, O blessed [Page 90] be that affliction, whether it be sicknesse, poverty, reproch, or contempt of the world, persecution, imprisonment, &c. which weaned my wick­ed heart from delighting in these transitory things, and brought my mind and af­fections to pitch upon hea­ven and heavenly things.

Reason 9 Affliction stirs us up to prayer. Ninthly, the Lord doth many times afflict his chil­dren to bring them unto the throne of grace; and to make them more ready and desi­rous to seek his face, and to call upon his name, who are too seldom upon their knees before the Lord; and to make those which do daily seek him, seek him more earnest­ly, with greater ardency, and affection then formerly they have done.

Many of Gods children [Page 91] are too great strangers with the Lord, they visit him not so often as hee would have them, and therefore he is constrained to send for them by affliction, a messen­ger, which doth its errand, so well, as he brings along with him those (for the most part) unto whom he is sent. In trouble they have visited thee: they powred out a prayer when thy chastning was upon them. Esay. 26.16. The Pro­phet complaining of the sins of his time, and of the sence­lesse stupiditie of the people, who as it seems were not moved nor affected at the first with their misery; but when troubles came thicke upon them, and the hand of God grew heavie; then they could cry out upon their sinnes, and call and cry to [Page 92] God, Our iniquities like the winde have taken us away: There it none that called upon thy name, neither that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us be­cause of our iniquities. But now, O Lord, thou art our fa­ther: wee are the clay, and thou art our potter, and wee are all the work of thine hands: Be not angry O Lord above measure, neither remember iniquity for ever: loe wee beseech thee be­hold, wee are all thy people. Ha. 6.4.7, 8, 9. Manasses, who (it may be) had never offered up prayer to the Lord, being so grosse an ido­later, one that made Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusa­lem to erre, and to do worse then the heathen whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of [Page 93] Israel. 2. Chro. 33.9. Yet this monster of men, who brought vengeance upon Ju­dah, and Jerusalem, for his sinne, as appeares, Jere. 15.4. When he was in tribulation prayed unto the Lord his God, and humbled himselfe greatly before the God of his fathers. 2. Chro. 33.12. Wee are na­turally like to those proud poor people, who are loth to aske any almes till very need and necessitie drives them out of doores, to make their wants known, and to beg relief: but need will make the old wife trot. Want many times brings proud stout rebells upon their knees. Psal. 107.5.6. They were hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them, then they cryed unto the Lord in their trouble. When they [Page 94] were in any straights through oppression, or in any heavi­nesse, then they cried unto the Lord in their trovble, Psal. 107.12.13. When sicknesse hath brought them low, and made them so weak, that their soul abhorreth all man­ner of meat, and they are brought to deaths doore, then they cry unto the Lord. Psal. 107.18, 19. When Jonah was shipt for Tarshish, the Lord sent out a great winde in­to the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be bro­ken, Jon. 1.4.5, 6. Then the Mariners were afraid, and cryed every man unto his god. And Jonah being asleep, they awaken him, and bid him a rise, and call upon his God, that they perish not. It may be Jonah being conscious to [Page 95] himselfe of his stubbornnesse and disobedience, did not seek to the Lord in the time of the storme; or if hee pray­ed, it may be it was not in faith, for none of their pray­ers could aswage the storme untill such time as Jonah was cast into the sea: and of this thing was Jonah perswa­ded; whereupon said Jonah, Take mee and cast me into the sea, so shall the sea be calme un­to you, for I know that for my sake this great tempest it upon you. Jon. 1.12. And howso­ever the Mariners at first ab­horred the fact, yet when they saw that there was no remedy, into the sea they cast Jonah. Where the Lord pre­pared a Whale to swallow him up. Then Ionah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fishes belly, and said, I [Page 96] cryed in mine affliction unto the Lord, & he heard me. Ion. 2.1, 2.

Which places (with many moe) do teach us how affli­ction drives people unto prayer; and makes them as well as they can, to lift up hands and eyes toward hea­ven, to fall upon their knees, intreat the Lord to save them, to spare them, or to deliver them from that evill, their fear is comming to­wards them: in the time of a tempest at sea, when every wave threatens to swallow up the ship; or in the time of any terrible thunder, and lightning, how godly, how holy, will the prophanest be? out of their beds they must, and to prayer they will (if they be able) themselves, if not, as Pharaoh intreated Moses, Exod. 9.28. Pray un­to [Page 97] the Lord that there be no more mighty thunders and hail. So they will intreat those that can, to pray for them. But what sayes holy Job of such hypocrites as these are? Will God hear his cry when trouble commeth upon him? will be set his delight on the Almighty? will hee call upon God at all times? Job 27.9, 10. Is hee like to speed that seldome or never goes unto the Lord, but when want, & necessity drives him? for if affliction were not, he would not come at God. It fares with many as with young chickins, in á faire, calme, sun-shine day; you may see them all stragling from the hen, one heere and another there: the hen desirous to have her young ones neere here, clucks and [Page 98] clucks again for them, as ha­ving some provision for them: but they regard not her call, untill at length the kyte draws neer them, ready to catch one of them up: then they cry and runne with all speed to their dam for shel­ter. Even so the Lord see­ing us to straggle too farre from him, calls us unto him, but wee regard not his call; whereupon he lets flie at us, hee causeth some affliction or other to terrifie us, and then wee speed it to the Lord, then wee can lay on tongue, Help Lord, &c. So that the Lord deales with us as Absa­lom did with Joab, because we deal with the Lord as Jo­ab did with Absalom. Absa­lom sends for Ioab, but hee would not come to him. 2. Sam. 14.29. Absalom sends again, [Page 99] and Ioab was the same man still, he stirs not a foot, hee would not come. Whereup­on Absalom commandeth his servants to set fire on a field of barley which Ioab had; Io­ab then needs no more mes­sengers, hee can then arise, and come in haste to Absalom without any more sending for. Thus it is with us, the Lord sends for us by the mouth of his Ministers, he would have us come and ap­peare continually before him, Cant. 2.14. Shew me thy sight, let me hear thy voice: but wee have little or no minde this way: he may send in haste, but wee take time, and will goe at our own lei­sure, whereupon the Lord sets on fire something wee have: that is, spoiles us of some-thing, that is pleasing, [Page 100] and delightfull unto us, and then wee can run with open mouth, Save us Lord, &c. So that it is meere need drives many unto God by prayer: If they could have helpe else­where, or by any other wayes be furnished, or have their turn served, they would not come at God. Davids words may well be applyed unto them, Psal. 142.4, 5. I looked upon my right hand, and beheld, but there was none that would know me: all refuge fai­led mee, and none cared for my soul: then cried I unto the Lord, and said, Thou art my hope and my portion. When other refuge and helpe failes, then they can runne unto the Lord for help, and succour. These do in a manner tell the Lord, as many rogues do answere us at our doores. [Page 101] Truely they never asked any thing of us before: and if they could shift it, or if great ne­cessitie did not compell them to begge, they would not now have troubled us. Therefore the Lord deales with these, as many a wise, and discreet tradesman doth with some pedling chapman, whose custome he never had before, neither now should have it, if hee could else­where have furnished him­selfe with wares and commo­dities for his turne; If any wares be worse then other, the tradesman will put them off to such a fellow, because he knows it is not love, but necessitie that brought him unto his shop. As for his choyce and best commodi­ties, those he will reserve for his best chapmen: whose [Page 102] custome he hath alwayes had, and who will not leave his shop to go to another. Even so will the Lord deal with the wicked, who do not continually trade with the Lord in prayer, but now and then when they are at some pinch. Haply the Lord, (who is good unto all, and his mercies are over all his works. Psal. 145.9.) may put them off with some of his refuse wares, helping them at their need with some outward worldly commodity: but as for his choice, and rich wares, his love, his grace, his Christ, his salvation, these shall those have who seeke him continually.

Reason 1 0. Affliction quickneth our devo­tion. Againe, affliction puts life into our devotion, and ma­keth us more instant in Pray­er. For if Affliction, ma­keth [Page 103] us not importunate, no­thing will.

The Lord holds us many times at the staves end, and seemeth to turn away from our prayers, that so our pray­ers may grow more fervent: for though God knows our wants, and takes no delight in our sorrows, yet oft times hee seems not to heare us, till our cries be loud, and strong. God sees it best to let his pe­nitent ones dwell for a time under their affliction, and when he sees them sinking, he lets them alone till they be at the bottome, that out of the deep they may fetch deep sighes, and cry louder to the Lord, and so prevail. For a vehement suiter cannot but speed with God, whatsoever he askes. If our prayers want successe, it is because they [Page 104] want mettall and heart, their blessing is according to their faith and fervencie. In this behalfe affliction is very needfull for the best of Gods children: for too many of them (too often) seek the living God, with dead affecti­ons. Oh the perfunctory, cold, drowsie, lifelesse pray­ers which are made by some! Many (which make consci­ence of the duty, and dare no day omit it) do pray so cold­ly, with so little zeal, and devotion, all the while they are full and at ease, that the Lord is even compelled to lash them, to sharpen their fervency, and to shake off that lythernesse, and luskishnesse wherewith they were wont to come before him. Our God that heareth prayers, knoweth how cold, and [Page 105] feeble, how slight, and per­functory oft times wee be when wee are in prosperity, and the rod of God is not up­on us, so as little or no life, and power appeareth in them; do wee not find by our own experience, that trouble and affliction, whe­ther it be outward or in­ward, not onely drives us to prayer, but causeth us to set all our might, and strength, when wee are wrestling with the Lord, that so wee may be the more able to prevaile with his Majestie. Affliction will fashion and forme the flowest tongue unto this holy duty; and doth oft times furnish us with sighs and grones which cannot be ex­pressed. If ever a Christian will tugge and wrestle with the Lord; it shall be when af­fliction [Page 106] lieth sore upon him. All the while the childe feels the rod, or the stick, hee cries out, hee layes on tongue, hee doth with all eagernesse, and earnestnesse intreat for pardon, or no moe stripes: even so when wee feel the smart of Gods rod whipping of us, there is an edge set upon our pray­ers, wee pray not in that drowsie and sleepy manner wee did before. This appears by that which David speakes Psal. 88.9. Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction, Lord, I have called upon thee, I have stretched out my hands▪ unto thee. In their affliction they will seek me diligently, saith the Lord. Hos. 5.15. You may observe many a dog sleeping in the chimney corner, which will not arise, when he is spo­ken [Page 107] unto; but if you spill but a drop or two of any scal­ding liquor upon him, he is up, and is gone, he cries and laies on tongue. Thus the Lord by affliction awa­kens his children, so as they call upon him in a more live­ly manner then formerly they have done. If you peruse the Psalmes of David, you shall find that very many (if not most) of them were penned in the time of triall and affli­ction. And the sharper his afflictions were, the more fervent, and earnest were his petitions unto the Lord, Out of the depths have I cryed. Psal. 130.1. The lower hee was brought by affliction, the higher was he in prayer, cry­ing out unto the Lord. Thus was it with his forefathers in the dayes of the Judges, the [Page 108] greater their danger was, the more instant, and earnest were they in prayer unto the Lord. To give you one in­stance. The children of Is­rael were sore troubled, and vexed by the Ammonites, whereupon they cryed unto the Lord for help; but the Lord gave them a cold an­swere, saying unto them, Ye have forsaken me and served o­ther Gods, wherefore I will de­liver you no more. Goe and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen, let them save you in the time of your tribulation, Judges 10.13, 14. Whereupon they confessed their sinnes, made hast to put away their strange gods from among them, then they will lay on tongue unto the Lord, beseeching him that he would do unto them whatsoever he pleased: Onely [Page 109] wee pray thee deliver us this day, Judg. 10.15.

Thus I have made it evi­dent, that afflictions are very needfull to drive us unto the Lord in prayer, yea to make us amend our pace: to double both our diligence, and our fervency in prayer. Therefore, If any be afflicted, let him pray. Wee highly dishonor God, and wrong our selves, if wee seek not unto the Lord in our trou­bles, Call upon me in the day of trouble, so will I deliver thee, and thou shalt glorifie me. Psal. 50.15. Wee must make our afflictions our arguments to move God to deliver us, as David did Psal. 25.16. Turn thy face unto mee, and haue mercy upon me, for I am deso­late, and poore.

Reas. 11 Affliction cōformeth us unto Christ. Eleventhly, the Lord [Page 110] doth thus afflict his deare children to make them con­formable unto Christ: who though he were without sinne, yet was he not with­out affliction. If then afflicti­on be a meanes of purging out sinne, and refining of us (as formerly we have heard) then it is needfull wee be af­flicted, that wee may be made more like unto Christ, both in sufferings, and in righte­ousnesse.

Vita cru­cis, vita lucis.The life of the crosse is the life of light, Christ was the light of the world, and his life was in a sort a conti­nuall crosse. Was it thus in the green tree, and shall it not be so in the dry? was the head thus continually exer­cised and should the body go free? especially when all the sufferings of Christ were [Page 111] for our sake: either suffering for us, or to teach us pati­ence by his example, or to sanctifie our afflictions un­to us.

God will have all his elect to be made like to the i­mage of his Sonne, Rom. 8.29. Not onely in holinesse and obedience, but also in suffe­rings. Wee must know the fellowship of his afflictions, and be made conformable unto his death, Phil. 3.10. Not any that shall reigne with Christ, can be exempted or privi­ledged from suffering with him. If any man will follow me, let him denie himselfe, and take up his crosse daily and fol­low me. Luke 9.23. Yea, the dearer and nearer unto him wee be in love, the more conformable must wee ex­pect to be made unto him in-affliction. [Page 112] For the bearing of the crosse is a part of our tenure, or holding of Christ himselfe, as may be gathe­red out of that place last quo­ted Luk. 9. Christ himselfe held by this tenure, Luke 24.26. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And as any of Gods children have obtai­ned a more evident right, and cleare title unto this in­heritance: or as any hereaf­ter shall obtain therein a greater portion of glory, then other, by so much the more strictly are they tied, and bound to observe the custom of the Mannor. For God hath predestinated us (as I said even now) to bee made like to the image of his Sonne, first in his suf­ferings, then in his glory: [Page 113] for we an heires annexed with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him, Rom. 8.17. The end of the Lord his hewing and squaring of us by affliction, is to make us lively stones of that spirituall house. 1. Pet. 2.5. so that we may be joyned with Christ the chiefe corner stone, 1. Pet. 2.6. unto whom wee be made confor­mable by affliction. And a­gaine, 2. Tim. 2.12. If we suffer, wee shall also reign with him. Hence it is that James saith chap. 1.12. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he is tryed, he shall re­ceive the crown of life, which the Lord bath promised to them that love him.

Therefore such as go with­out correction, whereof all the Lords people are parta­kers, [Page 114] cannot be conforma­ble unto Christ, for hee was consecrated through afflictions. Hebr. 2.10. Hee was a man full of sorrows, and had experi­ence of infirmities. Esa. 53.3. He was in all things tempted as we are, that so hee might both have a feeling of our infirmities, and also suc­cour us in them, for in that hee suffered, and was tempted, hee is able to succour them that are tempted, Hebr. 2.18.

Reas. 12 Affliction prepareth us for glo­ry. Lastly, (not to keep you any longer in laying down of moe reasons) the Lord doth afflict his children in this life, that they may not perish in another life: When wee are judged, wee are cha­stened of the Lord, because wee should not be condemned with the world. 1. Corin. 11.32. [Page 115] Prosperity, immunity, and freedom from afflictions, ease liberty, and fulnes, is the broad way which leadeth to death, and condemna­tion. Hence it is that our blessed Saviour hath pro­nounced, woe, to those that are rich, woe to those that live in fulnesse, woe to those that live merriy, &c. Luke 6.24, 25. Now because Gods children doe naturaly linger after these earthly delights, and comforts; the Lord in great mercy, doth hedge up our wayes with thornes, Hos. 2.6. Hee will have us to walke the narrow way (which, as wee have heard, is the crosse way, thorow manifold af­flictions) lest wee should pe­rish, and be damned with the world. What had be­come of Manasses if he had [Page 116] not been afflicted? He was carried into captivity, that so he might be freed from the bondage of sinne, and Satan. Hee was put into chaines of yron, that so he might bee preserved from chaines of eternall darknesse. Hee was cast into prison, that so hee might be kept out of hell.

Therefore saith David, Psal. 94.12, 13. Blessed is the man whom thou chastisest O Lord, and teachest him in thy Law. That thou maiest give him rest from the daies of evill, whilest the pit is digged for the wicked Teaching us, that affliction is very usefull, and necessary to free us fom con­demnation. And not one­ly so, but to help us for­ward in the way to heaven: for our light affliction which [Page 117] is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding, and eternall weight of glory 2. Cor. 4. The afflicted man must needs bee an happy man, because glory, because a crown, be­cause weight of glory, be-a weighty crown of glory is not only promised, but pur­chased, and prepared for him.

The tryall of your faith be­ing much more pretious then gold that perisheth, shall bee sound unto your praise: and honor, and glory at the ap­pearing of Jesus Christ, 1. Pet. 1.7. The afflictions and troubles which do befall us in this life, are the Lords earnest which hee gives us of comfort, and ease in a­nother life. Whereupon Paul tells the Thessalonians, that those persecutions, and [Page 118] tribulations which they suf­fered, were a token of the righteous judgement of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer. 2. Thes. 1.4, 5. As the Israelites could not come at Canaan, but they must first be cast into the desart; and in their jour­ney be set upon by Amale­kites, their enemies: So be­fore wee can come to that heavenly Canaan, our place of eternall rest, wee must look to encounter with our deadly enemies, the flesh, the world, and the devill: with tentations and afflicti­ons: these stop us, or (at the least) offer to stay us in our journey. But these wee must manfully resist, as Israel did Amalek. When Israel went down into Egypt, they [Page 119] met with no afflictions, no rubs in the way: so the way to hell is easie, and smooth. Wee read not of one block, that lay in the rich gluttons way. But when Israel came out of Egypt, what trialls, what afflictions befell them, what enemies to oppose them? So when the Lord calls us out of the world, when wee begin to set our faces toward heaven, the devill will muster his forces against us; but if wee fight the good fight of faith, if we endure to the end, and be faithfull unto the death, great shall be our reward and re­compence; even a crown of righteousnesse, which the Lord that righteous Judge shall give us at that day, 2. Tim. 4.8. Not as if we had merited, and deserved thus much by our [Page 120] sufferings: for the greatest afflictions that ever any Christian hath, or can en­dure, are in themselves, no way worthy of that glory which shall be bestowed up­on him. For I count that the afflictions of this present time, are not worthy of the glory which shall be shewed us, Rom. 8.18. If wee had a thousand lives to sacrifice to God, if wee had ten thousand rivers of oyle to offer up: if wee would give our first-born for our transgression, or the fruit of our bodies for the sin of our souls, we are no way able to satisfie Gods justice, much lesse merit heaven by all our offerings, or suffe­rings. Were our heads wells of waters, and our eyes fountains of teares, and wee ten thousand eyes, and would [Page 121] willingly weep them out for sorrow through our sinnes, yet all were not able to expi­ate one sinne, nor deserve the least corner in heaven; yet because the Lord would have us bear our afflictions cheerfully, and thankfully; hee is pleased to promise us, that if we sowe in teares, wee shall reap in joy, Psal. 126.5. if wee suffer, wee shall reign with him. 2. Tim. 2.12.

The Lord puts none into possession of eternall life and glory in heaven, before they bee made fit for it, before the drosse, and corruption be purged out of them: for there shall enter into heaven no uncleane thing, neither whatsoever worketh abomina­tion, or lies, Revel. 21.27. Now the way to purge, and refine us (as hath beene [Page 122] taught) is to be cast into the fornace of affliction, where the drosse is purged out of us, and so wee fitted, and prepared for the life of glory. Thus have I beene somewhat large in laying down the rea­sons, why the Lord should so correct his deare children; let us now come to make some use of the point.

Vse 1 Censure not the af­flicted. Doth the Lord thus deale with all his beloved ones? then are many of the world much mistaken, who are ready to censure those that are afflicted; especially if their trials be more, or grea­ter then ordinary. Censo­riousnes, is a lesson quickly learned, and every one (like unto Jobs miserable comfor­ters) can make a wrong con­struction both of Gods aime in correcting his children, [Page 123] and of their estate and con­dition, which are by God af­flicted. Whereby they do adde affliction unto the afflict­ed, and persecute him whom God hath smitten, Ps. 69.26. The rule of our Saviour is, that none should judge, or be judged according to appea­rance, John. 7.24. yet how ready are many to give their verdict, and passe sentence upon those that are more then ordinarily afflicted? They cannot believe but there must be some extraor­dinary sinne in such a person, more then all the world sees (but known to God) in that the hand of God is so heavy upon him. Which error our Saviour rebuked in them which shewed him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacri­fices. [Page 124] Suppose ye (saith Christ) that these Galileans were grea­ter sinners then all the other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you nay, &c. Or thinke ye that those eighteene upon whom the towre of Siloam fell, and slew them, were sinners above all men, that dwell in Jerusalem? I tell you nay. Yet let the afflicti­on of any of Gods deare chil­dren be more then ordinary, then our foolish bolt is quickly shot and we are rea­dy to judge of the man by the affliction: as did Davids enemies, Psal. 71.11. God hath forsaken him pursue and take him, for there is none to deliver him. So the Barbari­ans when they saw a viper hang upon Pauls hand, by and by censure him, this man surely is a murtherer &c. This [Page 125] fellow is some villain, some notorious beast, whom (though he hath after ship­wrack got to shoare) yet ven­geance doth now dog and pur­sue him, and will not suffer him to live. Acts 28.4.

Let Christians beware of rash censuring or judging of any by their affliction; for so we may quickly condemne those whom God hath cho­sen and justified. And for any to condemn those whom the Lord will acquit, is to accuse, if not condemn the Lord himself: and not only so, but to make themselves liable unto judgement. For with what judgment ye judge, yee shall be judged, and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again, Mat. 7.2. Therefore, blessed is he that judgeth wisely of the poore [Page 126] afflicted, the Lord shall deliver him in the time of trouble, Ps. 41▪ 1. Because the Lord is plea­sed for speciall ends, to lay his hand more heavily up­on this man then his neigh­bour, shall any dare from hence to conclude that he is the greater sinner? God forbid: we may rather con­clude, that of the twaine) he is the best, the most beloved of God: You onely have I known of all the families of the earth, therefore I will visit you, for all your iniquities, Amos 3.2. Who were they that were tried by mockings and scourgings, by bonds, and prisonment? or those that were stoned and hewen a sunder, and slaine with the sword? or those that wandred up and down in sheepes skinnes and goates skinnes, being destitute, af­flicted, [Page 127] and tormented? Were they not Gods deare ones, those of whom the world was not worthy, Heb. 11.36, 37.

Whose blood was it where­with Manasses died the streets of Jerusalem? was it not innocent blood? the blood of the Lords people? 2. King 21.16. Who was hee that dolefully cryed out, Will the Lord absent himselfe for e­ver! and will he shew no more favor? Is his mercy cleane gone for ever? shall his pro­mise faile for evermore? hath God forgotten to bee mercifull? and will he shut up his loving kindnes in displeasure? Psal. 77.7, 8, 9. Was it not the complaint of David, a righ­teous and holy man, a man after Gods own heart? What was he that cursed the time of his birth? Saying, Let the [Page 128] day perish wherein I was born, and the night when it was said: there is a man child conceived. Why died I not in the birth? or why died I not when I came out of the wombe? Iob 3.3.11. was it not Iob, an upright and just man, one that feared God & es­chewed evill? How then darest thou cēsure the child of God by reason of his affliction? Surely, this must needs pro­ceed either out of ignorance, not knowing the Scriptures; or from the want of charity, or else from the guilt of thine own conscience, taking the length of thy neighbors foot by thine own last, and measu­ring him by thy selfe. Want of judging of thy selfe, is the cause why thou art so ready to judge another. But do not flatter thy self, neither esteem any one to have the more [Page 129] goodnes because he hath the les affliction. For (I tell thee) a man may be a Dives, clad in scarlet and fine linnen, living and wallowing in all manner of pleasure, and prosperitie: faring and feeding every day deliciously, and yet bee a devill incarnate, a man odi­ous and hatefull unto the Lord.

Neither mayest thou con­demne any for wicked, because the Lord judgeth him.

A man may bee a poore Lazar, not having so much as a clout to cover his na­kednesse: living in want, and penury, dying through paine, and misery, and yet be the Lords faithfull servant, and dearely beloved of him.

Therefore thou goest by [Page 130] a wrong line, when thou dee­mest thy selfe (or others) to be good: because thou dost flourish, and prosper: because thou livest at ease, and goest untouched: or takest others to be the worse, because their dayes are dayes of sor­row and adversitie. For neither doth prosperitie de­clare a man to be godly, nor adversitie prove that he is wicked, but rather the con­trary; for whom the Lord lo­loveth, him he chasteneth, and scourgeth every sonne that he receiveth, Hebr. 6.8. whereas if yee be without correction, then are yee bastards, and not sonnes.

Object- But doe not many of Gods children live at ease in ful­nesse and prosperity, with­out troubles and afflicti­ons.

[Page 131] Answer. It is possible that the out­ward estate of the childe of God may be smooth and prosperous (though this be rare, that no rub comes in the way) yet there is no childe of God without his trouble and affliction (as hath been proved) in one kind or other. Afflictions are ei­ther outward in our persons, our personall state, goods or good name; or in those that are in some neere relation un­to us: or they bee inward in the mind and conscience. Now one of these wayes eve­ry child of God, first or last, more or lesse hath been, is, or shall be tried. Many a childe of God that liveth in health, doth not prosper in his outward estate, but bites of the bridle, and hath short commons. Many that live in [Page 132] fulnesse, and feel no want of outward necessaries, do su­staine many wrongs and in­juries through reproaches, slanders and backbitings of the wicked, which are more grievous unto them then the losse of their substance. ma­ny have great troubles in their family, through the wickednesse either of unna­turall, and disobedient chil­dren, or else of unfaithfull, and gracelesse servants. Many have great grief, and trouble for, or from their kindred. And many that taste not of any outward triall and affli­ction, are not without some inward temptations; either they be buffeted by satan, or allured by the world, or sol­licited by their own concu­piscence unto some evill: or else they be disquieted in [Page 133] their minds, or troubled in their consciences. Now how­soever many of the world, which know not what per­turbation of mind meaneth, may think these inward troubles to be no trialls; yet in truth they are the most smarting, the sorest afflicti­ons of all other, for the heart knoweth the bitternesse of his soul. Prov. 14.10. The mind of a man may bear out with patience and fortitude, outward and bodily evills, but who is able (unlesse God strengthen him) to endure the torment and torture of a wounded conscience, and a grieved spirit? A wounded spi­rit who can bear it? Prov. 18.14. So that first or last, in one kind or other, outward­ly or inwardly, in ourselves, or in some dear, or neer un­to [Page 134] us, wee have had, or shall have our troubles, and trialls.

Vse. 2 Againe, Is it thus that the Lord doth afflict his dearest children? then let us put on the whole armor of God, that wee may be able to resist, and stand fast in the evill day, Ephes. 6.13. Let us prepare our selves for troubles: that when they come, wee may not be amazed, or over much perplexed, as though some strange thing were come unto us, 1. Pet. 4.11. Things which wee hear not of, or look not for, when wee meet with them, wee think them strange, and wee know not which way to carry our selves, or what course to bee undertaken of us, whereby wee may either be eased of them, or have ease with [Page 135] them. Hence it is that ma­ny in the day of adversitie, are ready to cry out, they know not what to doe, &c. Another saith, I never loo­ked for this trouble. I ne­ver dreamed of this triall. No did? Why, hast thou not heard what is the porti­on of Gods dear children? hast thou not read, that wee are every day to take up our crosse? Why hast thou not then prepared thy soul for tentation? Art thou now free from affliction? now barrell up against an hard time, the winter of adversity; for the day of affliction is a time of living upon the old store; spending, or using, not get­ting of spirituall strength.

Strength to bear affliction must be provided before af­fliction come. Is it not [Page 136] childish folly, or rather de­sperate securitie for any man that hath his enemie ready to assault, and wound him, to have his weapons to seek? Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that yee may be able to withstand in the evill day. Eph. 6.13. This evill day, is the time of temptati­on, and affliction, which that wee may be the better able to encounter, wee must bee well appointed, and furni­shed with Christian fortitude, and courage, that so affliction although it may at the first daunt us, yet it may neither vanquish, nor foil us. To this purpose first of all, I ad­vise thee to be oft and serious in this meditation, Whose thou art, and whose all thou hast is, Art thou not the worke of Gods hands? hath [Page 137] he not formed and fashion­ed thee? and may not hee alter, and change thee at his pleasure? So the things of this life, health, wealth, honor, libertie and the like, doe they not hold all in chiefe? is not the earth the Lords, and the fulnesse thereof? Is it not lawfull for the Lord to do with his own as seemeth good in his eyes: Do not wee hold these out­ward things with condition of the crosse and with a limitation of Gods cor­rection?

Secondly, know (as afterward you shall hear) that Gods love is immutable, though our outward estate and condition be change­able.

Gods love never chan­geth; [Page 138] he is the same God, and his love as entire and great when wee are in affliction, as when wee are out of it. He may, and doth (as you have heard) for speciall ends change our estate, yet for his own glory sake, and our comfort, hee continues still the same. A loving father (to all that love, and fear him) before affliction, a tender and loving father in afflicti­on, and so for ever after; for whom once he loves, unto the end hee loves. These things setled in our hearts, by the help and assistance of the Lord, wee shall be armed to encounter affliction, strength­ned with all might through his glorious power, unto all pa­tience, and long-suffering with joyfulnesse. Col. 1.11.

Which words do teach [Page 139] us, that the power and strength by which wee stand upright in time of trouble, and bear with patience any affliction, is not of our selves, but from the Lord: It is God that doth stablish our hearts with his grace, hee it is that worketh faith in us, and a feeling perswasion of his un­changeable love, and a vo­luntary, and cheerfull resig­nation of our selves, and all wee have to be ordered, and disposed of by God as see­meth good in his eyes. Whereupon saith Saint Paul, I can be abased, and I can a­bound: every where in all things I am instructed, both to be full, and to be hungry, and to abound, and to have want; I am able to doe all things through the helpe of Christ which strengtheneth mee. [Page 140] Phillippians. 4.12, 13.

Wee say fore-warned fore-armed. Bee warned therefore betimes to prepare for thy triall, that when it comes, thou mayst be the better armed against it. Evils the more suddenly they come upon us, the more grievous they prove unto us, and we are the lesse able to grapple with them, and encounter them. Whereas prepara­tion doth as it were, pull out the sting, or beat out the teeth of affliction, that either it bites us not at all, or else doth not so deadly wound, and hurt us. When Agabus. had told St. Paul what wel­come, and entertainment hee should find at Jerusalem, how they would manacle him, and deliver him over into the hands of the Gentiles, Acts 21.11. [Page 141] Some of his friends besought him that hee would not go up to Jerusalem: unto whom he answered, What do yee weeping and breaking mine heart? for I am ready, not to be bound onely, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus, vers. 13. Saint Paul being thus prepared for his triall could chearefully, and joyfully undergoe it. Hee is like to look his ene­my in the face, and not like a dastard to turn his back upon him, and betake himselfe to his leggs, that armes him­selfe, and prepares for the encounter. The life of a Christian is a continuall warrefare, and wee are souldiers. Thou therefore suf­fer affliction as a good souldier, 2. Tim. 2.2. A good souldier in garrison, or in the field, [Page 142] is every day armed, at all seasons ready for the assault which may suddenly come, the enemie being at hand. Affliction is our common enemie, which as it hath foyled many for want of pre­paration; so hath it been vanquished of many of the Lords worthies, being ever­more armed against it. For thy sake are wee killed all the day long, wee are counted as sheep for the slaughter; Never­thelesse in all these things we are more then Conquerors. What bee killed! and yet be a conqueror? This may seem a paradox, a thing contrary to common reason; but it is a divine truth.How are we said to be conque­rers when conquered Would you know how Gods children do conquer trials and afflicti­ons? it is thus.

First, when troubles, and [Page 143] afflictions cannot vanquish or overcome them: cannot spoyle them of their pati­ence, and inward peace: cannot batter down their comfort, but that they still rejoyce in tribulation, Rom. 15.3. A Christian is then beaten when his heart, and minde is beaten. A man is then overcome when his heart failes, when his pati­ence, joy, and peace is vanquished and put to flight. But if these hold it out, how­soever tribulation, persecu­tion may vanquish, yea de­stroy the outward man, yet the heart and minde be­ing not overcome, wee are conquerers, though outward­ly conquered.

Object. Haply you will reply, and say, That even the best of Gods children, through the [Page 144] extremity of their afflictions do oft times utter many rash and inconsiderate words, and shew much impatience un­der their crosse; how then may these be said to be con­querers?

Answ. True it is that the flesh being pinched, and pained may kick, and winch; but yet the heart is untouched, neither doth the childe of God allow of any impati­ent carriage, or passage, but is ready to take himselfe in the manner, and to reprove himselfe for it. As Job said, I will lay mine hand upon my mouth: once have I spoken, but I will answere no more, yea twice, but I will proceed no farther. Job 40.4, 5. Now the minde (in Gods ac­count) is the man. And so long as the heart is not van­quished, [Page 145] though through the sence, and smart of the affli­ction, the outward man, and flesh may storme, the Lord will crowne such for con­querers.

2. Againe, we are said to be conquerers, when still we hold our own ground, and cannot be beaten from the truth: not brought to deny the faith, nor forced to for­sake Christ. What is the de­vils ayme in our afflictions? Is it not to provoke us (not onely to impatience, but al­so) to deny the truth, and to blaspheme God? As he said of Job, Stretch now out thine hand, and touch his bones and his flesh, to see if he will not blaspheme thee to thy face. Job 2.5. But experience hath proved the Devill a lyer, both in Job, and other of [Page 146] Gods children. For (as we have formerly heard) afflicti­on doth not onely exercise the graces of the spirit in their hearts, but puts more life and vigor into them: as fire in an oven is the hotter, because it is restrained, and kept under. Therefore the Devill and his instruments, vexing and troubling of Gods faithful servants, think­ing thereby to drive them out of their pious practice, and to desist godly courses, do mistake the marke they ayme at, and misse of their mischievous purpose. It is not their subtilty or policie; their rage or cruelty, that can make the godly to shrink from their holy profession, and grow weary of well-doing: nay rather it doth more and mere confirme [Page 147] them in their courses, and makes them lay faster hold of the truth, even as a passen­ger, the stronger the winde blows upon him, the closer he sets his hat to his head, the faster he tyeth or wind­eth his cloke about him, lest through the rage and vio­lence of the winde, either of them be blown from him. So that a Christian is then a conqueror, and gets the vi­ctory over affliction, and per­secutions, when he is chear­full, patient, and constant in the bearing of them: which we shall hardly be, if we do not daily provide against them, and look for them. But alas, it is a trouble unto ma­ny to heare of troubles, a pu­nishment unto them, to heare of affliction: but how are these like to speed when af­fliction [Page 148] cometh? even as A­mycle, a Towne in Italy did, the story is short, and very fit for our purpose. News came once, and again to this Towne, of the enemies ap­proaching towards them, but whatsoever the report was, the enemy did not as yet come, whereupon they made a Decree amongst them­selves, that none should any more speak of the coming of the enemy against them. Not long after the enemy comes indeed, besiegeth, assaults, and sacks the Town. Where­upon did arise this by-word, or proverbiall Epitaph, A­mycle perished through silence. [...]. Oh be not therefore unwil­ling to heare of afflictions, lest (through silence) they suddenly come upon you, and vanquish you before ye be prepared for them.

[Page 149]For affliction may not un­aptly be likened unto the Ba­silisk, of whom it is report­ed, that if it sees a man before it be seene of him, the man dyeth; and so of the contrary. It is in some sort true of af­fliction; if it seize upon us before we see it, we are in danger of being wounded by it, but if we look for it afore hand, and arme our selves a­gainst it, we shall more easi­ly resist it, and those afflicti­ons which are hard unto some in suffering, will prove easie unto us by fore-seeing them, & preparing for them. Therfore in prosperity, look for adversity. In health, pre­pare for sicknesse. In times of plenty, and fulnesse, be­think your selves of a dearth and scarcity. In our best estate we should learne to [Page 150] put our selves in readinesse to suffer adversitie: when we are well and at ease, if we were wise, we would looke for worse times, keeping such a watch, that in plentie we may thinke of want; and in prosperitie fore-see some mi­serie. We must not thinke alwayes to rest in our nest, alwayes to enjoy outward comforts, and know no crosse: but think sometimes to receive frowns, and stripes as well as smiles, and kisses from the Lord; especially when our sinnes offer conti­nuall occasions to the Lord, to exercise us with some pu­nishments, he having roddes enough in store to beate us for, and from our sinnes. Therefore let us look daily to be assaulted, daily to be humbled, and cast downe, [Page 151] that so we may be the better prepared, and also the more willing to suffer affliction, to partake of adversity, there­by to glorifie God, then to sleepe in a whole skinne, to live in ease and prosperitie to our owne wo and shame. Force thy self daily to mind tryals, and betake thy selfe to some serious thoughts of changes, even when prospe­ritie and ease would most divorce thee from the re­membrance thereof. If peo­ple would be thus wise, they should quit themselves better then they do in time of af­fliction. Hence it is that ma­ny of Gods children do un­dergo their afflictions so chearfully above others. They can say (I thank God) it is no other then I have waited for. I have a long [Page 152] time looked for this, or some other tryall. And thus they are able with more alacrity, and chearfulnesse to beare their affliction. Whereas such, as could not endure to heare of these things, are even dismayed by them, and at their wits end: oh what shall they do? Whither shall they go? they scarce know which way to winde themselves: or where to fetch a thought, that may administer any sound comfort unto them. Therefore make account sooner or later, to meet with the crosse, if thou belongest unto the Lord, or makest ac­count to come at heaven. We must not look to go to heaven (as the saying is) in a feather-bed: that is, to live in fulnesse, ease, pleasure, and worldly delights here, and [Page 153] then to heaven after. No, no: thorow many afflictions we must enter into the kingdome of God, Act. 14.22. God will have all those that shall par­take of joy, and glory with him; now and then here to partake of sorrow, and re­proach. God will have those that shall hereafter dwell in light; now and then to know what it is to be in darknesse, and in the shadow of death. This is the way (as we have heard) wherein Christ went before us, and all the godly have (hitherto) walked in the same path after him: then let not us thinke to make a shorter cut, or to chalk out some easier, or smoother way, then that which the Lord himself hath layed out for us.

If the black ox hath not [Page 154] as yet trode upon thy foot, if thou hast not as yet beene entred into the schoole of affliction, make as full reck­oning (if thou belongest to God) to have thy share, and to beare thy part in some dolefull ditty, or other, ere thou dye, as that thou now livest.

Obje. But doth not Christ coun­sell us, Not to care for the mor­row, Mat. 6.34. The day hath enough with his own griefe. I had not need (therefore) to trouble my selfe with thoughts of troubles before they come.

Answ. The meaning of our Sa­viour in these words, is to take us off from anxiety, and worldly distractions, about outward necessaries; he would not have us distrust­full, or solicitous for the [Page 155] things of this life, what we shall eate, or what we shall drink, or wherewith we shall be clothed; for this is meere folly in us, because with all our carking and caring we cannot better our condition: this (I say) was the scope of Christs words, and not to beat us off from a provident and wise fore-casting of bu­sinesse, or from fitting, and preparing of our selves for afflictions; against which we shall be the better armed, if we can weane our hearts, and take off our affections from immoderate, and inor­dinate loving of the world, and the things thereof. Whereupon saith Paul, 1. Corinth. 7.32. I would have you without care, .i. without setting your mindes and hearts upon the world, for [Page 156] the fashion of this world goeth away, vers. 31. and our time here is but short, this night may our souls be fetched a­way from us; for which change of ours, and all other tryals that in the meane time may befall us, we shall be the better fitted and armed, if we will prepare for them. If every morning, thou wilt addresse thy selfe to meet with thy crosse, and arme thy selfe against all assaults, re­solve ere it be night to meet with some trouble, this (I dare boldly and confidently promise, and assure thee) will be an excellent help, yea sin­gular means of carrying thee a great deale more chearfully thorow thy afflictions, or else furnish thee with a great deale more strength and abi­litie to beare, and undergo [Page 157] them so long as it shall please God to lay them upon thee.

But when I speake of pre­paring for afflictions, and ar­ming your selves against them, I would have you know that there must be more then a bare minding of affliction, or a resolution not to be dismayed or daunted with them; the soul must lay in some spirituall provision, we must treasure up faith and a good conscience. A stocke of true holinesse lying by us, will alay the heat, ease the smart, and sweeten the bit­ternesse of any affliction that can befall us. It is from the want of this spirituall and heavenly provision, that ma­ny carnall worldlings, when any crosses or troubles befall them, are struck to the very heart with fearfull amaze­ments, [Page 158] fears, and terrors of minde and spirit, yea with passionate distempers some­times of rage and fury which puts them upon desperate re­solutions. I may instance in Ahitophel, a man of that brain and worldly wisedome, that his counsell was esteemed as the oracle of God, 2. Sam. 16.23. This great statist, finding himself to be over-topped by the counsell of Hushai, and fearing that the reject­ing of his counsell would be the obscuring of his glory, it is said, That he sadled his asse, arose, and went home, and put his houshold in order, and hanged himself. 2. Sam. 17.23. Would this man have laid a little disgrace so neere his heart, if his heart had beene sound towards the Lord, and his anointed? [Page 159] Surely no. But being a trai­terous time-server, and go­ing (as he conceived) with the strongest side, making flesh his arme, and his out­ward esteeme and glory his idoll, he desperately plun­geth himselfe into a sea of horror. Whereas holy Job, having other manner of try­als, severall tydings (one up­on the neck of another) of the losse of all his cattell, substance, yea, and of all his children; the least of which losses would have struck so cold to the heart of many a carnall worldling, that it would have dyed within him like a stone, as Nabals did. What was the cause that Jobs heart was not crusht into pieces under the wait of so many losses, but that still he kept within compasse, [Page 160] and blesseth God for all? Would you know the true ground of his patience, and holy fortitude? Job was one that feared God, one who in the time of his prosperitie, and outward happinesse, laid up store of spirituall riches, and treasures. He had wisely layed in store of faith, and holinesse, and uprightnesse, upon which his soul did feed in the dayes of his affliction: So as no afflictions which befell him could beat him from his hold; he resolves to trust in God though he slay him, Job 13.15. The consci­ousnesse of his former grati­ous and righteous carriage towards great and small, e­specially towards the op­pressed, the poore, and fa­therlesse, did furnish him with strength to undergo the [Page 161] sorest of his sufferings. Oh be then taught by this holy example how to be fitted, and prepared against afflicti­ons. A godly life, the feare of the Lord, faith, and a good conscience, will lay such a foundation for time to come, that though never so many stormes do arise, though the winde of affliction, & waves of tentation do beat upon thee, yet shalt thou stand as a tower impregnable, no af­fliction shall be able to van­quish or overcome thee.

It may be thy afflictions may rise like a spring of bit­ter waters; yet the salt of a good conscience wil sweeten these waters, and heal them. It may be afflictions like to over-flowing Jordan, are come over thee, so as thou cryest with David, I am come [Page 162] into deepe waters, and the streames runne over me. Psal. 69.2. yet a good conscience like to Elias his mantle, will cut and divide this Jordan, so as thou shalt be able to passe over it. For this pro­mise hath the Lord made to every one that is godly, Sure­ly in the flood of great waters they shall not come neere him. Psal. 32.6. That Panoplie, and whole armour of God, which the Apostle exhorts us to be furnished withall, that so we may resist in the evil day, Ephes. 6. that is to say, A gir­dle of vertue, shooes of prepara­tion, the breast-plate of righte­ousnesse, the shield of faith, an helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, are all where a good conscience is; for this is armour of righte­ousnesse on the right hand, [Page 163] and on the left. Righteous­nesse will keep thee from be­ing shaken with afflictions; though the earrh be moved, and the foundations thereof totter, though all things are in combustion about thine eares, yet if iniquitie be put farre away, and no wickednesse dwell in thy Tabernacle, then truly shalt thou lift up thy face without spot, and shalt be sta­ble, and shalt not feare, Job 11.14, 15. For though a just man falleth (that is, into trouble, and affliction) seven times, yet he riseth again. Pro. 24.16. For the Lord putteth under his hand, Psal. 37.24.

Vse 3 Store thy self with comfort out of the word of God. Thirdly, if it be thus, let us be the more exercised in the Word of God, which will teach us, how to beare afflictions, and minister com­fort unto us, even in the heat [Page 164] and extremity of them.

Whiles means and liberty is afforded, be wise now to store thy self with heavenly provision (that is to say) com­fort out of Gods Word, to cheare up thy soul, and re­fresh thy drooping spirits in the day of affliction. If thy law had not beene my delight, I should now have perished in mine affliction, saies David, Psal. 119.92. My affliction would have destroyed me, and made me perish from the right way, if it had not beene lenified, and sanctified by thy Word. The Word of God teacheth us in all times of tryall to rest upon the Lord: assuring us that there is hope in Israel, that there is balme in Gilead, to asswage all griefs, to cure all sores. The Word of God teacheth [Page 165] us how to construe God a­right in all his dealings with us, and to wait for promised salvation, which in due time shall come, when it shall be most for Gods glory, and best for us. How easily would afflictions batter down our confidence, and over-turn our faith, if it were not con­tinually supported, and strengthned by the Word? Satan will be ready to buzze into our eares, that God in wrath afflicteth us, that those are most beloved, which are least afflicted: but the sheep of Christ will not know, nor follow the voice of a stran­ger, that is, they will not sub­scribe, nor yeeld to any temp­tation which tendeth to the withdrawing of their hearts, and hopes from God, but set their seal to the Word of [Page 166] and so through com­fort of the Scriptures rest in hope. For the more plente­ously the Word of God, in the love and evidence there­of, doth dwell in any man, and enable him to prove all things, the more stedfastly will he hold that which is good, and stand immoveable in the mids of all afflictions, and temptations that shall assault him. Though thy bones should be vexed, and dryed like a pot-sheard, and turned into the drought of Summer; though thou wert powred out like water, all thy bones out of joynt, and thy heart melted like wax in the middest of thy bowels; though Gods arrows should stick fast in thee, and his hand presse thee sore; though there should be no soundnesse in [Page 167] thy flesh, nothing but stinch and corruption; yea though innumerable evils should compasse thee about, and thou not able to look up; though fearfulnesse & trem­bling should come upon thee, and horror be ready to over-whelme thee, yet if thou wilt have recourse unto the Word of God, and be­leeve what is there promi­sed, thou mayest with joy draw waters (to refresh thy soul) out of the wells of salva­tion. Isa. 12.3. If thou desi­rest sound and solid comfort, such as will give true content to thy soul, thou must pick it out of the Scripture: Thou shalt never be truly satisfied, unlesse it be with the breasts of her consolation. Isa. 66.11. Thou must suck sweetnesse out of the Word to uphold [Page 168] thee, It is my comfort in my trouble (saies David) for thy promise hath quick­ned mee, Psalme 119.50. When affliction commeth, whether wilt thou run for comfort? to thy honors, thy revenews, thy possessions? thy friends? I may say of them, in this respect, as Job speaks to his friends, Mise­rable comforters are ye all, Job 16.2. Thou maiest as well fetch water out of thy brick­walls, as draw sound com­fort from those outward things, which are worse then vanitie, for they are vexation of spirit. Eccl. 1.14. These outward things can afford thee no comfort, for they are nothing. Prov. 23.5. He is a very simple and silly Arith­metician, who knows not that of nothing comes no­thing. [Page 169] If thou placest thy comfort, or puttest thy con­fidence in the best of earthly things, thou buildest upon the sands, every little blast, and tempest will overthrow thy building. The ground of all our comfort, the onely anchor to stay our souls in any spirituall tempest, the only staffe we have to rest up­on in the time of afflictions, are those sweet and precious promises made known unto us in the word.

What ever other carnall comforts men may for a while rejoyce in, they will prove but a flame of stubble, or as a blaze of thorns, which can yeeld no solid, or abiding light unto the soul. A man may as soon drink up the wa­ter of the sea with spunges, or remove mountaines with one [Page 170] of his fingers, as be able (by vain sports, youthfull recrea­tions and pastimes, songs and musick, though hee adde to these, the consideration of his honors, greatnesse, and riches) to alay those sorrows and paines, which sinne and affliction may bring upon him, All these vanities will but respite them for a little time, that they may return the fiercer. I say it again, so­lid and lasting comfort must be fetcht out of the word, or no where, if thou expect comfort from other things, thou wilt be deceived. Eve­ry toy and trifle, a bable, a thing of nothing, will cut the throat of thy comfort, if thou joyest especially in earthly things. Haman was second to a mighty Monarch, and wanted nothing that the [Page 171] world might afford a subject. In the 5. of Ester, at the 11. you may read how he boasted of the glory of his riches, and all the things wherein the King had promoted him, and how he had set him above the Prin­ces, &c. One would think that this mans condition was farre enough from vexation, or discontent. No, no, the want of a cap, and a knee from poore Mordecai sitting at the Kings gate, did so per­plexe and vexe this proud Courtier, that all hee had could avail him nothing, as he professed, vers. 13. Ahab (you know) was King of Is­rael, and therefore had the world at will, yet the want of a little vineyard of Na­boths, which lay full in Ahabs eye, because Naboth would neither sell it unto him, nor [Page 172] yet exchange with him for a better, it is said, 1. Kings 21.4. That Ahab came into his house heavie, and in displea­sure, because of the word which Naboth had spoken unto him; he throwes himself down upon his bed, turned his face, and would eat no bread. Sure­ly a poore triall for a rich man, for a King to bee so much troubled about. Yet so it is, and shall be, with all those that set more by their outward glory, their gar­dens, and pleasures, then by the Word of God. If they set their hearts upon these outward things, as they fail, (as fail they will, be­ing subject unto corruption) so their heart fails them, and they are all a mort: halfe dead for want of com­fort.

[Page 173]Whereas that soul that can truely say, as did Jere­miah, Chap. 15. vers. 15. Thy word was unto mee the joy and rejoycing of mine heart. What­soever affliction can befall him, he shall be sure to have comfort by him, yea with­in him. Delight thy selfe therefore in the Word of God. Now barrell up, whiles these cunduits of com­forts be full, and the pipes do runne.

Learn Wisedome of the men of the world, to take that oportunity which the Lord doth now afford thee. Make hay whiles the Sunne shines. The seasons (you know are not alwayes faire. After a long calme, oft times there follows blustring stormes. As goodly gleams (as these of ours) are now [Page 174] clouded in other places. And little do wee know how soon the Sunne may goe down over the Prophets, when night shall bee unto us for a vision, and darknesse for a divination, Mic. 3.6. When Agabus had signified by the Spirit, that there should bee a great fa­mine throughout the world, Then the Disciples purposed to send succour unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea, which thing they also did, Acts. 11.29, 30. Wee now (blessed be the name of our good and bountifull God) live in plen­ty of the Gospel, so as wee may speak of the food of our souls, as Moses doth of bo­dily, Lev. 26.5. Our threshing reacheth unto the vintage, and the vintage unto the sowing time, and wee eat our bread in plenteousnesse. But little do [Page 175] wee know, how soon the Lord may send a famine of the word, as hee threatned Israel: Amos 8.11, 12. When wee shall wander from Sea to Sea, from North, to East, too and fro, to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it. Churches and people of o­ther nations, who (not many yeares sithence) had as lit­tle cause of fear, and dread as wee, do now feel the smart of this famine. The Tabernacle of David is fallen amongst them. Idolatry and superstition is in the place of the Gospel. And why may not wee fear the like judgement? especially seeing the Gospel is so much contemned of many amongst us.

Vse 4 Break off thy sinnes by repen­tance. Fourthly, doth the Lord thus afflict his dear children? [Page 176] be wee then admonished to break off our sinnes by repen­tance: that so the Lord may either divert his judgements, or else aswage, and alay the heat of them. For if wee will sinne, God will punish. Sin is that seed, which being sown, grows up unto a har­vest of punishment. Hee that soweth iniquitie, shall reap af­fliction. Prov. 22.8.

Trouble waits upon sinne; for affliction followeth sinners. Prov. 13.21. Yea, it so fol­lows them, as it will be sure to catch hold of them. All these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be de­stroyed, because thou obeyedst not the voice of the Lord thy God. Deut. 28.45.. Is there any thing under the Sunne that is able to make a separa­tion [Page 177] between sinne and pu­nishment? If the one be wel­comed and entertained, the other will not be shut out.

Paradice could not shelter nor priviledge our first pa­rents from punishment, after they had once sinned. How then shall those be able to escape the wrath and venge­ance of the Lord, who make it their pastime to do evill, into whose hearts and affe­ctions wickednesse hath war­ped and woven it selfe? these must (if speedily they repent not) look to have the judge­ments of God to light upon them. For what saies Job, Is not destruction to the wicked and strange punishment to the workers of iniquitie? Iob 31.3. Notorious offenders have (oft times) notable judge­ments. [Page 178] Wicked ones may revell and be joviall, and go on in their own wayes, and pleasures, but which of them can say, I will continue my game, my sport, my lusts unto the end, without feare or danger? little do they know how neer at hand some judgement or other is to ar­rest them (as it did Balshaz­zar) to interrupt and turn their jollitie into woe and miserie. Shut sinne out of dores, if thou wouldst have that punishment either sanctified, or taken away, which doth now lie upon thee.

To complain of troubles, or to seek to be eased of them, and not to mourn and be sorry for those sinns which have procured them, is folly, and madnesse. Do not our [Page 179] children when wee are cor­recting them, confesse their faults, and promise to do no more so? by these words ho­ping to have their correction lessened, and ended: Wee shall shew our selves to have lesse understanding, and wisedome then young chil­dren, if wee take not the same course, when the rod of God is laid upon us: Re­pentance will make us gai­ners by our afflictions. What wise man will not be willing to take that course (albeit painfull) which may be be­neficiall and profitable unto him? Repentance so sancti­fies our affliction, or removes it, that a blessing comes with it, or follows in the room of it. If when our heavenly fa­ther correcteth us, wee doe unfainedly promise and pur­pose [Page 180] to cast away our sinnes from us, the Lord will speedi­ly, either lay aside his rod, or else bestow upon us some blessing, which shall make it evident that hee is pleased with our humiliation, and will love us the better after it. So well is the Lord pleased to see his children stoop under his hand, that he will be so much the more gratious, and mercifull unto them, by how much the more he hath afflicted them, so as they shall see the curse tur­ned into a blessing unto them. Repent thee of thy transgressions, and the Lord will repent him of his cor­rections. For that which the Lord promiseth unto a Kingdom or Nation, Iere. 18.8. shall also be made good unto every person, If wee will [Page 181] turn from our wickednesse, the Lord will repent of the judge­ment, which hee thought to bring upon us: I will cast them into great affliction, ex­cept they repent them of their works, Revel. 2.22.

As our impenitencie ha­stens judgements threatned, and continues them being in­flicted; so our repentance di­verts them being threatned, and removes them being in­flicted. The Ninivites repen­tance wrought repentance in God. God saw their works, that they turned from their e­vill wayes, and God repented of the evill that he said he would do unto them, and he did it not. Ion. 3.10. Thus by their re­pentance, the sentence pro­nounced was reversed. Is not this a strange thing, that the repentance of condem­ned [Page 182] malefactors should re­peal the Judges sentences. It were strange to see this in the Courts of men, but with God it is not so strange as true: our repentance not on­ly frustrates Gods condem­ning sentence, but turns it in­to an acquitting sentence; it turns away the evill, and (as I said even now) brings good in the stead of it. Da­vids murtherous and adulte­rous marriage with Bathshe­ba, brought many direfull curses, but yet unfained re­pentance turned all those cur­ses into blessings unto them, and us; for of this marriage came Christ the worlds Savi­our. Therefore (as Daniel said unto the King. Dan. 4.24.) Let my counsell be accep­table unto thee, and break off thy sinnes by righteousnesse, for [Page 183] man suffereth for his sin, Lam. 3.39. If wee will forsake Gods law, and not walke in his judgements, if wee break his statutes, and keep not his commandements, then will the Lord visit our trans­gressions with a rod, and our iniquitie with strokes, Psal. 89.31, 32. The more libertie that any of Gods children shall take to sinne, the more liable are they to punish­ment. The more care the Lord takes of them, the more love he beares unto them, the readier will he be to chastise them offending. Is not the whole history of the Jewes, (a people once as dear unto the Lord, as ever any were, even as the signet on his right hand, and as the apple of his eye, Zach. 2.8.) a pattern and example of an ungratious [Page 184] child continually exercised under the rod of his loving father, evermore labouring (as he trespassed, so) to cor­rect him for his sinne? The Scripture doth plentifully tell us, how the Lord nur­tured his people with severe discipline, sending them one judgement upon the neck of another, and all by reason of their sinnes, Iere. 30.15. Why criest thou for thine affliction? because thy sinnes were increa­sed, I have done these things unto thee. Thus visiting even the best of his children, with the rods of men, yea, and sometimes scourging their transgressions with whips of scorpions; which hath made them roar through anguish, and to cry night and day, through extremi­ty of gtiefe. For if a man [Page 185] will sinne, God will, yea, must punish, unlesse hee should let us perish, for hee that spareth the rod hateth his sonne, but he that loveth him, chasteneth him betimes, Prov. 13.24. Bee not therefore ven­trous in sinning, Though Israel transgresse, yet let not Ju­dah sinne, Hos. 4.15. The Lord hateth sinne, whereso­ever hee sees it, and will soo­ner punish it in his deare children, then in the wicked, although hee will not do it with that rigor, wrath, and severitie, wherewith hee plagues the wicked. They are the people, by whom his name is called upon, of his houshold, his servants, friends, sonnes, yea, his beloved spouse: and there­fore do not only shame them­selves by sinning, but high­ly [Page 186] dishonour God, their Lord, their father. The lewd prankes, which rogues commit in streets, or vagrant persons by high-way sides, do not redound to the reproach of the housholder: but if any of his family, especially son, or daughter, do grow out­ragious, hee thinkes his credit is neerly touched and it is a matter which much concerns him to look unto. Even so the prophane and li­centious lives of open and notorious sinners do not so much dishonor God, there­fore many times he lets them have their swinge, and take their course: but if such as make profession of piety and truth, will be bold with sinne whereby the mouthes of the wicked are opened, and the name of God blasphemed, [Page 187] the Lord (if he love such, and purpose to save them) will not suffer them to go unpu­nished. For as the Lord is zealous of maintaining his own glory, and will have it known to men and Angels, that he is no patron of sinne, or sinners: but will punish the wicked, sinning, be they never so great: neither will he give alowance unto ini­quitie in the godly, be they never so good: so also is he tender of the good of his children, and therefore must not suffer them to go on in sinne, which they would do, if the Lord should nor re­strain them; being so ready to cast themselves into perils, if they be but a while exemp­ted from affliction. There­fore let none of Gods chil­dren say, I am safe, and farre [Page 188] enough from correction, be­cause sure of salvation. If thou beest bold with sinne, thou maiest fall into sore af­fliction in this life, though thou beest in a state of happi­nesse for the life to come. As appeareth by old Eli, whose sonnes wickednesse (which hee connived at when as he should have sharply punished it) was in the eye and mouth of all Israel; so that Gods glory should have been much wronged, and his name as much blasphemed, as his offerings were abhorred: if they had escaped unpuni­shed. No doubt, but Eli re­pented him of his sinne, but this might not quit him from temporall judgement. The chastisements of the Almigh­tie are (many times) deadly, though the sinne be remitted, [Page 189] by which the Lord was pro­voked; God had said, that the wickednesse of Elies house should not be purged with sacrifice for ever. 1. Sam. 3.14. Repen­tance doth not alwayes free us from outward afflictions. Freedom from damnation doth not free a man from af­fliction. What punishment unlesse it bee eternall tor­ments in hell fire, can any of Gods children think to e­scape, unlesse he will for­beare such sinnes, as pro­voke the Lord to wrath a­gainst him? David was as far from damnation (if wee con­sider Gods purpose and de­cree) as the devill is from salvation, yet you have heard how his afflictions made him roare and roare a­gaine.

Obje. If it be thus, that upon [Page 190] every sinne the Lord is thus ready to afflict his children, may bee demanded what pri­viledg the godly have, more then the wicked; or what difference there is betwixt them; seeing the one must be corrected, and punished as well, if not before, or more then the wicked, if they do sinne?

Answer. Afflictions of the god­ly and wic­ked differ. Surely the child of God, hath no more (rather lesse) liberty, and priviledge to sin then the wicked. Yet there is a great deal of difference in their afflictions. For though all things fall alike to both in respect of the evills them­selves, as the childe of God may perish through famine, fall by the sword, die of the pestilence, &c. Yet in re­spect of the effects and ends of these outward evills, there [Page 191] is great difference betwixt them. For their nature is much altered, and there is as much difference betwixt the afflictions of the Godly, and the wicked, as is betwixt poison corrected, and rectifi­ed by the arte and skill of the Physitian, that so it may be medicinable and wholsome, and that poison which re­mains in its naturall temper. The Lord in afflicting his children, doth it with a fa­ther-like heart, and hand, in mildnesse and mercy to a­mend, and better them: Whereas hee correcteth the wicked with the rod of his wtath in justice, and severity, to plague and torment them. The wicked shall be cast away for bis malice, but the righte­ous hath hope in his death, Pro. 14.32. In respect of the wic­ked, [Page 192] the Prophet Nahum, 1.2. speaks thus, God is jea­lous, and the Lord revengeth, even the Lord of anger, the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies. Loe here is anger, wrath, and vengeance belonging to the wicked. Whereas in respect of the godly, Mica. 7.18, 19. speakes thus, He taketh away iniquitie, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage. Hee retaineth not his wrath for ever, because mercy pleaseth him, Hee will turn againe, and have com­passion upon us: hee will subdue our iniquities, and cast all our sinnes into the bottom of the sea. By which places it ap­peares, that afflictions are nothing but the messengers of Gods wrath; the rods of [Page 193] his indignation; the arrows of his vengeance to plague, and punish the wicked for their sinnes, and to give them an earnest, and taste of those endlesse torments which they have purchased by their wickednes. Whence ariseth in them feare, and terror, horror of consci­ence, rage and desperation. Whereas to his children, af­flictions are tokens of the tender, and father-like care the Lord hath of them: they are cords of his love to draw them neerer unto him: Yea, they be badges of their adoption, For whom the Lord loveth, hee chasteneth, and scourgeth every sonne that hee receiveth, Hebr. 12.6. And this bringeth forth the quiet fruit of righteousnesse to them that are thereby ex­ercised.

[Page 194]Again, the Lord takes pleasure in avenging the wickednesse of the wicked upon their own pates. I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies, Esay. 1.24. And not only so, but I will laugh at their destruction, and mock when their fear commeth, Prov. 1.26. Whereas it is a grief unto him to afflict his peo­ple: His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel, Judg. 10.16. So concerning Ephraim, the Lord said, his bowels were troubled for him. Jere. 31.20.

There is a conflict betwixt Justice and Mercie, when he goeth to correct his chil­dren as appeares, Hos. 11.8, 9. How shall I give thee up O Ephraim? How shall I deli­ver thee, Israel? Mine heart is turned within me: my re­pentings [Page 195] are rouled together, I will not execute the fiercenesse of my wrath: I will not destroy Ephraim. When hee puni­sheth the wicked he doth it in the fircenesse of his wrath, as appeareth, Psal. 78.49. Hee cast upon them the fierce­nesse of his anger, indignation and wrath. And to conclude; The godly have libertie, yea a command to come unto the Lord, to call upon him, and cry unto him in the day of trouble. Ps. 50.15. and he wil hear their cry, and will save them. Ps. 145.19. Whereas, the wicked shall cry unto the Lord, but hee will not heare them: hee will even hide his face from them at that time, because they have done wickedly. Mi­cah. 3.4. For the Lord may justly answere them as Iphtah did the Elders of Gi­lead, [Page 196] Judg. 11.7. Did ye not hate mee? How then come yee unto me now in the time of your tribulation? Wicked persons are haters of God; therefore these seeking to God in their need, are like to have cold comfort from him. What answere did the Lord make to Israel, when in their di­stresse they sought unto him? Yee have forsaken mee, and served other gods, Go and cry unto the gods which you have chosen, let them save you in the time of your tribulation. Judg. 10.13, 14. So will he answere all those that make either their lusts, or their belly, or their Mammon, their god; you have devo­ted your selves unto the world, and your lusts, why then seek you not help and comfort from them? You [Page 197] have hitherto observed, and served these, let them now help and save you. What hope have the wicked? Will God hear his crie, when trouble comes upon him? saies Job 27.9. By all which it appeareth that there is a great diffe­rence betwixt the afflictions which the Lord doth exer­cise his withall, and those judgements which hee lay­eth upon the wicked.

Vse 5 Seek to the Lord by prayer. Fiftly, Is it so,that the best of Gods children go not without affliction? then let all that desire to have a good use of their affliction, or a good issue out of them, bee earnest suiters at the throne of grace, and humbled before the Lord in prayer. Is any among you afflicted, let him pray. James. 5.13: Of all other helpes which wee can [Page 196] [...] [Page 197] [...] [Page 198] use, wee may say as David of Goliahs sword, There is none to that, 1. Sam. 21.13. so none to prayer. As the Load-stone draweth Iron un­to it, so our prayers, if they be made in faith, and proceed from a broken heart, do draw God unto us. Thou drewest neere in the day that I called upon thee. Lam. 3.57. As the Lord gives us power to aske (for it is his spirit which helpeth our infirmi­ties) so somtimes he gives us benefits without asking, that wee may bee the more bound unto him; and his benefits may be the more welcom un­to us, by how much lesse they are deserved or expected. When God bids us to call upon him, and pray unto him, it is not for that hee needs to be intreated; but [Page 199] that he may make us more capable of blessings by desi­ring them: It being his own ordinance, that if wee ask, we shall have, &c. And there­fore he that oft gives ere wee ask, will not fail us when we seek aright unto him.

The Lord is ready to hear, as wee are to pray, and if wee send up our requests un­to him, hee is ready to send down comfort and help unto us. Call upon mee in the day of trouble, so will I deliver thee. Psal. 50.15. But to whom (think you) is this sweet and comfortable promise made? even to such as have a desire to glorifie God. Therefore (as followeth in the next verse) Ʋnto the wicked said God, What hast thou to do to take my covenant in thy mouth, seeing thou hatest to be refor­med, [Page 200] and hast cast my words behind thee. Psal. 50.16, 17. Although the Lord be a God hearing prayers; yet hee is a God that heareth not sinners. Job 9.31. Let every one that calleth upon the Name of the Lord, depart from iniquitie. 2. Tim. 2.19.

It is not obedience, but impudencie for such as in their health and prosperitie have not harkned unto God speaking unto them in his Word and Works, to presse upon him in their need, and affliction, for help and com­fort; if their hearts be not more rent and broken by re­pentance and godly sorrow for their sinne then their e­state or bodies are hurt or wounded by their punish­ment. The Lord hath pro­tested against such. When [Page 201] affliction and anguish shall come upon you: Then shall they call upon mee, but I will not answere: they shall seek me ear­ly, but they shall not find mee. Prov. 1.27, 28.

If hee that stoppeth his eare at the crying of the poore, shall also cry, and not be heard? Prov. 21.13. How much lesse hee that stops his eares against the Lord, cal­ling and crying unto him in his holy Word? His prayers shall bee abhominable. Pro. 28.9. O how miserable and la­mentable must his case needs be, unto whom that exer­cise becomes sinne, by which the godly, and peni­tent obtain remedy against sinne, and comfort in af­fliction? Therefore let us be humbled under the hand of God, in the sight and sence of [Page 202] our sinnes, and then as our troubles will bee a motive to stirre us up to prayer, so will they be a motive to pro­cure ease and comfort from the Lord. O Lord turn unto mee according to the multitude of thy tender mercies, hide not thy face from thy servant, for I am in trouble. Psal. 69.16, 17 Such is the goodnesse of God toward sinners, that all that seek unto him by prayer, shall fare the better for it. Whosoever returned in his af­fliction to the Lord God of Is­rael, and sought him, hee was found of him, 2. Chron. 15.4. Jonah did behave himselfe stubbornly against the Lord, and the Lord was even with him for his stoutnesse, he was thrown into the sea, and swallowed up of a Whale, Then Jonah prayed unto the [Page 203] Lord his God out of the fishes belly, and hee heard him. Jon. 2.1, 2. Wee have heard what a vile and wicked man Manasses was, Hee had done evill in the sight of the Lord, like the abominations of the heathen: hee built the high pla­ces, which Hezekiah his fa­ther had broken down; he set up Altars for Baalim, and wor­shipped all the hoast of Heaven, and served them. And he cau­sed his sonnes to passe thorow the fire: hee gave himselfe to witch-craft, to charming, and to sorcery: hee did very much evill in the sight of the Lord to anger him, shedding excee­ding much innocent blood. Yet for all these abominati­ons, when hee was in tribu­lation, hee prayed unto the Lord, and God was intreated of him, and heard his prayer, [Page 204] 2. Chron. 33.13. For God is neer unto all that call upon him in truth, hee will fulfill the desire of them that feare him: hee also will heare their cry, and will save them, Psal. 145.18, 19.

Object. Oh but my troubles are such, as there is no possibi­lity of being delivered out of them: therefore I feare it will bee but lost labor for mee to pray unto the Lord.

Answ. Though it bee impossible in thine eyes, should it therefore bee impossible in my sight, saith the Lord of hosts, Zach. 8.6. Is there any thing too hard for the Lord? Jerem. 32.27. Is thy condition worse then Manasses was? Is thy case more desperate then Jonahs was? yet hee prayed out of the deepe, and was helped. [Page 205] Therefore be not dismayed, but draw neere with a true heart in assurance of faith. Hebr. 10.22. It is a hard taske, I confesse to beleeve, that God will deliver us out of al our troubles; but as hard as it is, faith makes it easie, by apprehending Gods po­wer, and truth in all his pro­mises. Thy troubles thou sayest are great. But faith tells thee that God is grea­ter, and mightier to helpe thee out of them, then the devill and all his instruments are able to keepe thee in them.

Object. But I have a long time prayed and hoped, but cold comfort appeares for all my prayers.

Answ. It may be there lieth some sinne secretly in thy bosom unrepented of, and so long, [Page 206] never look that God should heare thee in mercy, Your iniquities have separated be­tween you and your God: and your sinnes have hid his face from you, that hee will not hear, Esay, 59.2. Therefore, Let every one that calleth upon the Name of the Lord, depart from iniquitie, 2. Tim. 2.19. For God heareth not sinnrrs. John. 9.31.

It was a curse laid upon Moab, That hee shall come into the Temple to pray, but hee shall not prevail. Hab. 16.12. It was a token of Gods heavie displeasure, and judgement upon Saul, That he sought unto the Lord, but hee would no way answere him, neither by dreames, nor by Ʋrim, nor yet by Prophets. 1. Samv. 28.6. Thus will the Lord deal with all ungodly persons. [Page 207] When you shall stretch out your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: and though you make many prayers, I will not heare: for your hands are full of blood. Isay. 1.5. Mine eye shall not spare them, neither will I have pittie, and though they cry in mine eares with a loud voice, yet will I not heare them. Eze, 8.18.

Object. But I have searched my heart, and sorrowed for my sinnes, and yet God answeres not my pray­ers.

Answer. It may bee thou art not instant, and earnest enough in prayer; thou must be fer­vent, and wrestle with God in thy prayers if thou woul­dest speed. The prayer of a righteous man availeth much if it bee fervent. Jam. 5.16. God is a living God, and [Page 208] therefore will not be sought unto with dead, and drowsie affections. Thou must cry and be instant with the Lord, if thou wouldst have him to heare thee.

Object. I have been as instant, and earnest in my prayers, as I can, but yet I have no an­swer from the Lord.

Answ. It may be so: but it may be thou hast not prayed in faith, which if thou dost not, it is impossible, that thou shouldest be able by any prayers to prevaile with God.

Hee that commeth to God, must beleeve that God is, and that hee is a rewarder of them that seek him. Hebr. 11.6. True it is, that the strength of our wrestling, and prevai­ling with God, lieth in our prayers; but how? not as [Page 209] they be a forme, and sound of words, but as they are the worke or fruit of faith. Let our prayers be never so many, never so loud, never so long, yet if faith be wan­ting, they want their virtue, they will be as weake as Sampson was, when he wan­ted his haire. The stronger thy faith is, the freer is thy accesse with boldnesse, and confidence to the throne of grace, and the better successe shall thy prayers finde with God, though he do not by and by answere thee: for the Lord (peradventure) inten­deth to exercise thy faith, and make triall of thy patience, to see whether thou wilt grow weary or no. For hee loveth to bee importu­ned, as appeareth by that parable. Luk. 11.8,

[Page 210]Let us therefore use this excellent help of Prayer, see­ing it is so prevalent with the Lord, as the Scripture doth plentifully witnesse unto us: Prayer being a service so ac­ceptable, and well pleasing unto God, hee cannot but heare the cries, and satisfie the requests of his children, if they faithfully, holily, and uncessantly do seek unto him.

Object. But have all (that do thus pray) their requests granted unto them?

Answ. Either they have their re­quests, or that which the Lord sees better for them. As the Lord doth sometimes deferre, so hee doth some­times transferre his benefits, giving unto us (in stead of that which wee aske) some­thing better for us. As he [Page 211] answered not Paul in that particular he desired, but in bestowing his Grace upon him, which was sufficient for him. 2. Cor. 12.9.

Vse 6 Comfort for the af­flicted. Sixtly, is it thus? Here then is a ground of admirable comfort unto the children of God in the midst of all those afflictions which shall befall them: This may strengthen the weak hands, and comfort the feeble knees, Esay, 35.3. of all such as are by God afflicted, when they consider, that hee intendeth our great good in afflicting of us. For our afflictions are as eye-salves ro cleer our dim sight, that our sinnes may more evident­ly appeare: they serve for sowre sawce, to bring us out of love with our sweet sinnes; and as sand to scoure off the drosse and corrupti­on [Page 212] of our nature. They are occasions of preventing many evills, which (if they were not) wee should be ready to runne into. They are as a School-master to teach and instruct us in the way of godlinesse. They serve to manifest unto the world, but especially unto our selves, the truth and soundnesse of our faith, obe­dience, patience, and the rest of Gods graces, to the honor of him that hath be­stowed them upon us, and to the comfort of our own soules, who have received them. They are instru­ments of fitting us for that service, wherein the Lord is pleased to use us. They teach us how to prize the be­nefits of God, and to make more account of them, then [Page 213] formerly wee have done. They are as wormewood, to wean us from the love of this world: Whose pleasing delights, and bewitching pleasures, wee should lin­ger after, and be ever and anon sucking of them, if our mouthes were not im­bittered, and so distasted with some afflictions. They are as cords, to draw us unto the Lord in prayer, and to seek him more often and more diligently at the Throne of grace; then for­merly wee have done. They bring us into some conformi­ty with Christ. Wee can­not deny, but that the crosse is somthing an uncomfor­table companion to consort with flesh and blood. But blessed bee that affliction which so farre estrangeth [Page 214] us from the world, that it changeth us into the simili­tude of Christ, unto whom wee must be conformed in sufferings: that so wee may (as hath been formerly deli­vered) bee like him in glo­ry; unto which glory wee are furthered by affliction, it being a means of driving us out of the broad way of the world, which leadeth unto de­struction: and bringing us in­to the narrow, and crosse way which leadeth to salva­tion.

If thus much good comes by afflictions, then it is good for a man to beare the yoke in his youth, Lam. 3.27. The sooner wee be afflicted the better for us. If these bee the ends of Gods afflicting us, are wee not shrewdly hurt when the Lord corrects [Page 215] us? is there any cause of mourning? Vnlesse it be for our rebellion, and stubborn­nesse, which puts the Lord as it were out of his course, besides himself (if wee may so say, with reverence to his Majestie) to do his work, his strange work, his act, his strange act, Esay. 28.21. Have wee then any cause to bee angry: or do wee well to be an­gry? as the Lord asked Jo­nah, 4.9. When as the Lord hath more cause to bee angry with us, for putting him to that trouble, and grie­ving him with out sinnes. No, no; let us rather be an­gry with our sinnes, which provoke the Lord to afflict us, and let us be comforted in all our tribulation, that wee may bee able to comfort them which are in any afflicti­on, [Page 216] by the comfort wherewith wee our selves are comforted of God, 2. Cor. 1.4. Bee cheer­full therefore in thine affli­ction, say as David, Psalm. 42.11. Why art thou cast down O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Think not the worse, but the better of thy self for the Lords correcting of thee; Thy case is no other then the case of Gods deare children; yea of Christ himselfe. There hath no tentation taken hold of thee, but such as appertaineth to man. 1. Cor. 10.13.

Affliction is the beaten path of all the Lords people. Which of the godly, and faithfull before us have not drunk of this cup, and been baptized with this bap­tisme?

This being a common [Page 217] case, me thinks it should be a common comfort. Why should any man that loves, or feares God, or is any way desirous to honor God in that condition the Lord hath set him, seek, and with a pri­viledge above all the chil­dren of God that ever were? yea above Christ Jesus the sonne of God himselfe. Is it not a favor, is it not a mer­cie, nay, is it not an honor to be used and to be dealt with­all as Christ and all the god­ly have been before us? And should not the consideration of this comfort us? It may be the Lord hath taken away thy goods, thy plenty from thee, and brought thee to a morsell of bread. It may be he hath taken away thy health, and welfare, and doth afflict thee with desea­ses, [Page 218] and sores, and aches, so as thou hast no rest, day nor night. Was not this Jobs condition, who lost more goods and substance in one day, then thou hast in all thy life? besides hee had painfull dayes, and long nights of sorrow. And art thou better then he was? It may bee, the Lord hath cast thee into prison, and spoi­led thee of thy liberty. Was not faithfull Joseph, (unjust­ly) kept divers yeares in prison, where they held his feet in the stocks; and he was laid in Iron, untill his appoin­ted time came, and the coun­sell of the Lotd had tried him, Psalm. 105.18, 19.

It may be thou hast ma­ny great and malici­ous enemies, which with­out any just cause of thine, [Page 219] who doe backbite thee, slan­der thee, speake all manner of evill of thee, and with (more then Vatinian) hatred doe persecute thee. Was not this the case of Christ? and did not he tell his Apo­stles, John 15.18, 19. that they should meete with the same entertainment in the world that he had found a­mongst them? It may be the Lord doth exercise thee with gracelesse, stubborn and re­bellious children. This can­not be but a great griefe to the heart of a parent, especi­ally if he be one fearing God; but have not Gods deere children been thus tryed? Had nor Noah that just and upright man, a wretched Cham, that discovered and scoffed at his fathers infirmi­ties, Gen. 9. Had not good [Page 220] Isaack a prophane Esau, as he is termed, Heb. 12.16. who of set purpose to vex his pa­rents, tooke unto him wives of other nations, which was a griefe of minde unto Isaack and Reb [...]ckah; Gen. 26.35. What wicked children had Ely the Priest and judge of Is­rael? such as abused the wo­men that assembled at the doore of the Tabernacle of the Con­gregation, that men abhorred the offering of the Lord, 1 Sam. 2.17, 22. the sin of the sonnes of Ely was so great before the Lord. It may be the Lord hath taken unto himself some of thy children, which were as deer and neer unto thee as thine own soule. But what if the Lord had taken them away by the sword of the enemies? as he did Fly his sonnes, 1. Sam. 4.11. Or by fire from heaven? as he [Page 221] did the sonnes of Aaron, Lev. 10.2. Nay, what if the Lord should have taken away ten of thy children, all of thy children at one blow by o­verwhelming the house upon them where they were eating and drinking? as he did Jobs children, Job. 2.19. And to conclude, what if the Lord should raise up evill in thy fa­mily; suffering one child to defloure and to devoure each other; yea, to seeke thy life? as Davids children did? Were thy case and condition in any of all these [...]o [...]e afflicti­ons, worse then those of Gods deer and faithfull ser­vants of the Lord, who have been thus exercised and affli­cted? yea and now are? Know­ing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your breth [...]en that are in the world. 1 Pet. 5.9

[Page 222]Let us therfore learne to judge wisely of our selves conflicting with afflictions. Afflictions, though they be judgements upon us for our sinne, yet are they not judge­ments upon us unto con­demnation.

We shall then adde unto our affliction and sorrow, and needlesly increase our griefe, if we condemn our e­state because the Lord cor­rects us for our transgressi­ons. If we cast off our hope of happinesse in heaven because we be recompensed with judgements on earth; we shall both wrong God and our selves: Therfore he will have us to rejoyce in tribulation, Romans 5.3. Though he visit our iniqui­ties with rods, Psal. 89.32, 33. Yet his loving kindnesse [Page 223] will he not utterly take away from us, nor suffer his faithful­nesse to faile. Therefore be­ware of charging the Lord with any hardnesse or unrea­sonable dealing with us; as if he marred his gold by ca­sting it into the fornace to re­fine it. But let us rather look into our own hearts, and mourne for our own stub­bornnes and rebellion, which hath moved the Lord thus to shackle and hamper us, that he might take down our proud hearts (O proud hearts of ours) subdue our stubborn and rebellious wils and make us vile and nothing in our own eyes. And be we thankfull unto our good God and loving Father, that he will be at these paines to refine and purge us: that so he may make choice of us [Page 224] for his glory before others. Behold (saith the Lord Esay 48.10. I have fined thee, but not as silver; I have chosen thee in the fornace of affliction. When God doth cast thee into the fornace to refine thee, take heed thou dost not say or think, I am cast out of his eyes; the Lord hath re­jected and forsaken me; for this were to bring an evill report upon the waies of God, and to turn his truth in­to a ly. Ezek. 20.37. I will cause you to passe under the rod, and will bring you into the bond of the covenant. Yet such is the peevishnesse of our na­ture: such is our unbeliefe, that if any extraordinary af­fliction doth befall us, espe­cially if it be such as tarrieth and sticks by us, we are rea­dy to mutter and murmur: [Page 225] yea ready to feare that God hath forsaken us. Whereas we should rather gather ar­guments of comfort to our selves; that the more he af­flicteth us, the better he lo­veth us; in that he carrieth such a straite hand and vigi­lant eye over us, that we shal no sooner step aside, but he will be ready to fetch us in a­gaine. The Lord might give us over to our own hearts lust, even unto hard­nesse of heart, to a reprobate minde: giving us leave to eate of the fruit of our own way, and be filled with our own de­vices, Pro. 1.31. But his love compels him to take a­nother course with us, to cha­sten us, That we should not be condemned with the World. 1. Cor. 11.32. Whereupon one of the antient Fathers prayed [Page 226] Lord, seare me here, that thou maist save me hereafter: cut and wound me here, that thou maist for ever heale and spare me. Consider what the wiseman saith, Pro. 3.11, 12. My sonne, refuse not the chastening of the Lord; nei­ther be grieved with his corre­rection; for the Lord cor­cteth him whom he loveth, e­ven as a father doth the child in whom he delighteth. Chil­dren will hardly be brought to beleeve thus much: and therefore they are ready to measure their parents affecti­on, by their correction: and to think there is most love, where ther is least correcti­on. But this is their error, for wisedome telleth us Pr. 13.24. that Hee which spareth the rod, hateth his sonne, but hee that loveth him, chasten­eth [Page 227] him betimes. Least if he let him alone with out cor­rection (as too many foolish indulgent parents do) he go to Hell in the end. There­fore thou shalt smite him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from Hell. Pro. 23.14.

So wee are ready to think wee might do well without affliction: but the Lord knowes us better then wee know our selves: and hee seeth we would to hell here­after, if hee should not af­flict us here. I am sure it had been wo with some of us, if the Lord had not afflicted us. Nay some of us can say (blessed bee God for his un­speakable mercie) that there never did befall us any af­fliction which we could have spared, either for the nature and kinde, or for the mea­sure [Page 228] and quantity thereof.

And may we not all say, that, wee are then in the best temper, when we are afflict­ed? Even the wicked will be somewhat good in afflicti­on Pharaohs proud heart will stoope and yeeld a little: then the Israelites shall go and sacrifice to their God, Exod. 10.14. But their goodnesse lasteth no longer then their troubles last. When afflictions end, their goodnesse ends: And they returne with the dog to their old vomit, 2. Pet. 2.22.

Their hard heart will be a little softned, whiles they are in the fire; as iron bend­eth, as the Smith would have it, all the while the fire is in it. But as their affliction abateth, so their hardnes and wickednesse returneth: as [Page 229] iron growing cold, grows as hard as it was before, nay oft times harder: as water waxeth colder after heating, then it was at first.

Therfore we have more cause to be thankfull to God for afflictions, then for meate and drinke; seeing the Lord doth us more good by them, then by these.

Which good, though at the first thou seest not, be­cause thy physick is now but in working; yet, if thou be­long to God, thou shalt here­after both see it and feele it too. And thou wilt justify the goodnesse of God in eve­ry particular, and say, I could not have spared any of Gods rods: I would not have been without this or that affliction for all the world: None could have [Page 230] been invented to doe me more good, so to hit me in the right veine: I had been undone, I had perished for e­ver, if the Lord had not thus and thus afflicted me. Hap­py art thou who canst thus say. But this is a lesson which flesh and blood can hardly be brought to learne, and some are more dull then others; that is, more proud, more stubborn, more carnall, more earthly minded then o­thers; and therfore the Lord keeps those longer in the schoole of affliction then those his children that are more tractable and teacha­ble. But (as I said) it is a hard taske for the best; and therfore, if we might be choosers we would be no sufferers: if we could shift it, wee would not be afflict­ed. [Page 231] How hardly are we brought to beleeve, that the Lord intendeth or will do us good by this evill of af­fliction? What? meate to come out of the eater? sweet out of the sowre? this is a ve­ry riddle unto us. But faith makes it plaine and easie to be understood: for faith will shew us one contrary in ano­ther: good in evill: health in sicknesse: ease in paine: glory in shame, and life in death.

Without this eye of faith, thou canst not possibly see the Lords goodnes towards thee in afflicting thee: nor yet reap that good by thine afflicti­ons,M. Cul­verwell of faith. which otherwise thou maiest by beleeving. And for proofe herefore, I wish the to peruse such treatises as do tend to this purpose. [Page 232] In the meane time, let this which I have spoken serve to comfort thee in thine afflicti­ons. Howsoever they may be tart and sharp for the pre­sent: bitter and grievous un­to nature: as if the print of every stroke did pierce thy flesh, and fetch blood from thee; yet God is where he was; yet God loves thee as much as ever he did, if not more; and loving thee will lay no more upon thee, nor suffer thee to be tempted above that which thou shall be able to beare 1. Cor. 10.13. Some the Lord doth chastise with rods: othersome he doth whip with scorpions (as it were;) laying on greatest loade, where he hath given greatest strength to beare: as a father will lay those bur­dens upon the shoulders of [Page 233] his elder, and stronger sons, which will go neere to break the backs of his little ones. Or as a wise Physitian, who tempereth and prescribeth Physick answerable to the constitution and strength of his sick patient. How should this comfort us in our trials: when we know they be no other then our good God will make us able to beare? And not onely so, but he will give issue with the tentation, 1. Cor. 10.13. We say all is well that endeth well: then must it needs goe well with the afflicted children of God; because all their trials end in peace and glory. Marke the upright man, and behold the just: for the end of that man is peace, Psal. 37.37. And if wee suffer, we shall also reigne, and be glorified with [Page 234] Christ, 2. Tim. 2.12. By which, and and many moe places it appeares, that, howsoever afflictions bee painefull and grievous to our nature, in the bearing of them, yet the issue and end of them, will be the most happy and comfortable. The consideration whereof hath caused some to suffer with joy the spoile of their goods; know­ing that in heaven, they have a better, and more induring substance. Heb. 10.34. This was that which put a song of praise and thanks giving in the mouthes of the blessed Mrrtyrs: that the Lord would honor them so highly as to bring them to suffer for him. And though they might have e­scaped, yet would they not be delivered: that they might receive a better Resurrection, [Page 235] Heb. 11.35. Seeing then such a cloud of witnesses have gone before us, whose trials and afflictions have been as smart, and tart, as ours can be: let us become followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises, Heb. 6.12. be not too much taken up with the sence and smart of thy present afflicti­on. But let thy thoughts be occupied about the good which thereby is like to ac­crue unto thee. And assure thy self that all shall worke to­gether for thy weale. Rom. 8.28. Yea that the Lord takes much delight in thee, in that he is ever, and anon pruning of thee. That man, or woman, which takes con­tent in their orchard and gar­den, will ever be plucking up of those weeds that grow in [Page 236] them: cutting, and pruning all superfluous branches or slips. Whereas if it be a place hee takes no content in he careth not what rubbige, or baggage do overgrow it. If the Lord takes delight in thee, there shall not a weed spring up in thee, but with the pruning knife of afflicti­on he will cut it off; whereas if he regarded thee not, he would lay the reines upon thy neck, and let thee have thine own swinge, to fill up the measure of thy sinne, that so in justice he may mete un­to thee a ful cup of his wrath and vengeance.

Vse 7 Desire to be with Christ. Seventhly, if we be sub­ject to so many afflictions in this life, me thinks we should then be willing (if the Lord see it good) to remove out of this place of sorrow and trou­ble, [Page 237] to lay down these our earthly Tabernacles, and to be with the Lord: that so there may be an end put to all our evils, both sinne and punishment; and the con­trary good enjoyed of us. For, blessed are the dead which die in the Lord; for they rest from their labors, and their works follow them, Revel. 14.13. Desire we then to be dis­solved and to be with Christ, which is best of all. Phil. 1.23.

Object. But is it lawfull for any to wish for death?

Answ. Yes, if he wish it aright. That is, not out of an unwil­lingnesse to beare the yoke of God any longer: as if he were weary of doing that which the Lord injoyneth him: or suffering that which the Lord shall lay upon him. For this was Jonah his fault, [Page 238] who in an impatient mood would needs be gone, being weary of his life. Besides, as we must be willing to a­bide the Lords pleasure, so also to tarry his leisure; which if we be, we may de­sire death for these causes.

Death how it may be de­sired.First, to be freed from those evils which here we are pestered with. And second­ly, to enjoy that good which can no where be had but in Heaven. The evils which death will free us from, are bodily and spirituall.

The bodily evils are di­vers, to wit, sicknesses, disea­ses, paines and aches; of all which, death will heale and cure us at once. Death will also set us free from the rage and malice of all our enemies If death have once seized up­on us, we shall be out of their [Page 239] reach. They shall be able to doe us no more mischiefe nor harme. The righteous is taken away from the evill to come. Peace shall come, they shall rest in their beds, Esa. 57.1, 2. Last of all, death will free us from all troubles and afflictions; for when sinne and corruption ceaseth, then correction and affliction endeth.

But we should desire death especially, that we may be freed from spiritual evils. First, that sinne and corrup­tion may cease, and be no more in us. O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death, Rom. 7.24? Sinne is that which worketh us all woe, Jerem. 30.15. Sinne is the make-bate betwixt the Lord and us, Esa. 64.5. Behold [Page 240] thou art angry, for we have sin­ned. Yet we are not to de­sire death, that we may be rid of sinne in these respects, only because it worketh our woe, but rather because God is dishonored by it: and it is displeasing unto his Ma­jestie. For the glory of God should be more deare unto us, then our own lives. Sin is that which clouds the glo­ry of God. And death is that which freeth us from sin, Rom. 6.7.

Secondly, that we may be freed from the temptations and malice of the Devill. Whiles we abide in the flesh, he will never leave sollici­ting of us unto evill. He goeth up and down like a roa­ring Lion, seeking whom he may devoure 1. Pet. 5.8. And the longer we live, the more [Page 241] will his rage and malice a­gainst us increase, because of the shortnesse of his and our time. The neerer the childe of God is to heaven, the more Satan and his accursed in­struments will rage: and the fiercer will their assaults be; as it was with the children of Israel, the neerer the time was, that they should bee delivered out of Aegypt and go to Canaan: the more cruell did their taskmasters grow, and the heavier bur­dens were laid upon them.

And last of all, we shall by death be freed from all in­ward vexations and griefes of mind and spirit. So many sorrows and feares do com­passe about many of Gods children, that it makes them weary of their life, at Rebekah said to Isaac, Genes. 27.46.

[Page 242]But our desire of death must not bee so much for the avoyding of evill, as for the injoying of good. For there we shall have a crown of glo­ry and immortality, 1. Pet. 5.4.

There we shall be like un­to Christ. Colos. 3.4. There we shall have joy unspeakable, 1. Pet. 1.8. Yea such joy as if we could but conceive the sweetnesse, the greatnesse thereof, we would despise the joyes and pleasures of the world, in hope of assurance to enjoy them. Yea there we shall for ever be with the Lord Christ. 1. Thes. 4.17. In whose presence is fullnesse of joy, at whose right hand, there are pleasures for evermore. Psal. 16.11. And which is the summe of all, wee shall have everlasting communion with the Father, Sonne, and Holy [Page 243] Ghost, and with all the quyre of heaven, all those blessed Saints and Angels singing and praising the name of the Lord for evermore.

Vse. 8 Woe to those that are not af­flicted. Eightly and lastly, Is it so that Gods dearest children go not without affliction? then woe to those whom God afflicts not: Which live at ease and in fulnesse: Wal­lowing in their sports and pleasures, And are not in trouble like other men, neither plagued like other men, Psal. 73.5.

These carry a black brand, being marked for wicked ones. Loe, these are the wick­ed, they alwayes prosper, and increase in riches, vers. 12.

The houses of the wick­ed, saith Job, are peaceable without feare, and the rod [Page 244] of God is upon them, Job 21.9.

Which shewes that they are but as Oxen fatted a­gainst the day of slaugh­ter.

For if judgement begin at the house of God, what shall the end be of them, which o­bey not the Gospel of God, 1. Pet. 4.17. If Gods dear children, if his faithfull ser­vants, who are zealous for the Lord, whose soules do mourn in secret for their own sinnes, and the abomi­nations of the time and place where they live: Who labor to walk before the Lord in truth, and with a perfect heart: who desire and indea­vor to do the will of God in all things, and to yeeld a cheerfull obedience unto his Commandments, bee so of­ten, [Page 245] so many wayes, so sharply (many times) cor­rected and afflicted: what will become of profane foul­mouth'd blasphemers, of scoffers and scorners of piety and godlinesse; of proud and voluptuous persons: of co­vetous earth-wormes, of gluttons, drunkards, forni­cators, unclean persons; such as take no other thought but to fulfill the lusts of the flesh? certainly if the Scrip­ture be true, and God bee just, these shall one day have the full viols of Gods heavie wrath, and eternal vengeance powred out upon them. If Gods own deare children must drink of that bitter cup of his displeasure, Surely all the wicked of the earth shall wring out, and drink the dregges thereof, Psal. 75.8. [Page 246] Behold the righteous shall be re­compensed in the earth, how much more the wicked and the sinner? Pro. 11.31. If it be true that God chastiseth eve­ry sonne whom he received: What will become of those whose bones are full of the marrow of sinne? who sing to the viol; who drink wine in bowls: unto whom wick­ednesse is as sugar in their mouthes, and wantonnesse, like oyle, doth make them look with a merry counte­nance: whose life is spun with such an even thred, both warpe and woofe, as scarce a knot to bee seen: No breach in their estate: No crosses, no losses, but all things go as they would have them? surely these are in a pittiful, in a fearfull condi­tion. For howsoever they [Page 247] put farre away the evill day, and approach to the seat of ini­quitie, Amos 6.3. How­soever they may vaunt it, and flatter themselves, as Babel doth Revel. 18.7. saying, I shall see no mourning, yet when they say peace, and safety, that is, think themselves to be most secure and farthest off from evil, then shall come upon them sud­den destruction, as the travail upon a woman with childe, and they shall not escape, 1. Thessal. 5.3. For God useth slow, but sure punishment: it is long in comming, but when he strikes the wicked, hee will pay them home for all their wickednesse: and hee will make good the slownesse of his revenge, by the great­nesse of their punishment when it lighteth upon them. The higher the Lord lifteth [Page 248] up his hand to strike, the lon­ger it is ere it fals: but when it fals, it fals more heavily. The longer it is that Gods justice is boiling upon the fire of his wrath, the more scalding hot it shall be pow­red upon the pates of the wicked. For though the Lord be slow to anger, yet is he great in power, and will not surely cleare the wicked, Nahum. 1.3. They have not venge­ance presently executed, but the Lord reserveth wrath for them, as in the verse be­fore.

If the Lord be pleased to continue his heavie hand, and that a long time upon his deare children, how heavie, how long and continuall shall those tortures, and tor­ments be, which are pre­pared for stubborn, rebelli­ous, [Page 249] and impenitent sin­ners?

If humble, meek-hearted, dutifull and obedient chil­dren lie (many times) in ling­ring and languishing affli­ons, how smarting, I, into­lerable shall those judge­ments be, which one day the wicked and ungodly shall en­dure? If the Lord seems many times not to regard the teares, nor cries of his chil­dren; that they seem as it were to welter in their sor­rowes; how are impenitent, stiffe-necked, and hard­hearted sinners like to speed, when they shall cry, and roar againe? Surely he will laugh at their destruction, and mock them when feare and trouble comes upon them. Prov. 1.26. Then shall that wrath which they have treasured up unto [Page 248] [...] [Page 249] [...] [Page 250] themselves, come upon them to the uttermost.

Woe be unto thee whoso­ever thou art that fearest not the Lord.

Woe bee to those that re­vell and Jove it, as if they feared neither God nor De­vill: as if they regarded neither Heaven nor Hell. The Lord is tempering of some bitter potion for them, which one day they shall drink down to their eternall woe.

If God humble his dear ones under his hand, he will trample his enemies under­neath his feet. If the Is­raelites must be baptized in the red sea, the Egyptians shall bee overwhelmed and drowned in it. If Lot must lose all his goods and sub­stance in Sodome, the Sodo­mites [Page 251] shall lose both goods and lives too. If Gods fin­ger lie heavie upon his chil­dren here on earth, with the weight of his loines, hee will presse downe the wicked into Hell here­after.

Object. But doe wee not see the wicked flourish and prosper in their wayes, and enter­prises?

Answ. Yes, for I have seen the wicked strong and spreading himselfe like a green bay-tree; but his glory lasted not long, hee passed away, and loe, hee was gone. Psal. 37.35, 36.

Object. But are not the wic­ked honored and advan­ced?

Answer. Yes: but though his ex­cellencie mount up unto the Heaven, and his head reach [Page 252] up unto the cloudes, yet shall hee perish for ever like his dung, and they which have seen him, shall say, Where is hee? Job. 20.6.7.

Object. But are not the wicked mighty, and of great ri­ches?

Answ. Yes: yet neither their silver, nor their gold shall bee able to deliver them in the day of the Lords wrath, Zep. 1.18.

Object. But they are allied un­to great personages, and have great ones in league and confederacie with them.

Answ. It may bee so, yet, though hand joyne in hand, the wic­ked shall not go unpunished, Pro. 11.21.

Object. But they have deepe reaches, unfathomed plots and projects; they com­bine [Page 253] themselves together, and consult how to e­scape from the power of evill.

Answ. And, what of this? though they take counsell together, yet it shall be brought to nought, though they pronounce a decree, yet shall it not stand, Esay, 9.10. There is no wisedome, neither understanding, nor counsell against the Lord, Pro. 21.30.

Thus wee see how the stayes and props of the wick­ed are but like reeds, or Aegyptian staves which can­not helpe them. Neither Heaven, nor Earth, can save or priviledge those whom the Lord will punish. Then there is little cause, why wee should grieve at the prosperitie, or impuni­ty of godlesse persons: they [Page 254] are sorer plagued then the world takes notice of, though no apparant judge­ment be seen upon them. For doth not the Lord give them up to a reprobate mind, even to fill and glut them­selves with sinne? and can there bee a greater punish­ment, an heavier judge­ment then this, not to be restrained from evill courses? Desperate is the case of that patient, whom the Physici­an gives over to his own ap­petite, to eate and drinke what liketh him best. When a father begins to cast off the care of his sonne, suffering him to take his swinge, sink, or swim, hee will not look after him: doth it not ap­peare that he intendeth to disinherit such a childe? E­ven so (as the water, where [Page 255] it is stillest, is deepest,Note. and most dangerous to drown) when God is most silent in threatning, and patient in sparing, there is hee most inflamed with anger, and purpose of revenge. For the fewer judgements are pow­red upon the wicked in this life, the more are reserved for them in the life to come. Therefore, fret not thy selfe because of the wicked men, nei­ther bee envious for the evill do­ers, for they shall soon be cut down like the grasse, and shall wither as the green hearbe, Psalm. 37.1, 2. Peruse the whole Psalme, and it will teach thee, that how pro­sperously soever the wicked do live for a time, yet their happinesse is but transitory, because they are not in the favor of God, for in the end [Page 256] they shall be destroyed as his enemies.

Againe, in that the Lord saith not, they which I love, shall be rebuked and chaste­ned, but whom I love, I re­buke, Doct. 2. All our af­flictions come from God. I chasten, wee may in the next place observe this doctrine, that, All our tri­alls, and afflictions, come from the Lord. Of what na­ture, and condition soever the affliction bee wherewith wee are exercised, it is Phy­sick of the Lords preparing, hee hath his hand in it: and therefore by a kind of pro­prietie afflictions be termed his judgements. Wee have waited for thee, O Lord, in the way of thy judgements, Esay, 26.8. And in the next vers. Thy judgements are in the earth, &c.

That which Naomi spake [Page 257] to the people of Bethlehem, makes much for the proof of the point in hand. Call me not Naomi, but call me Mara, for the Almighty hath given me much bitternesse. I went out full, and the Lord hath caused mee to return empty: why call ye me Naomi seeing the Lord bath humbled mee, and the Al­mighty hath brought me unto adversitie. Ruth. 1.20, 21. All her crosses, and losses, of what nature soe­ver they were; all her sor­rows and bitternesse shee fa­thers upon the Lord. As personall so nationall evills come from the Lord, as ap­peareth 2. Cron. 15.6. Na­tion was destroyed of Nation, and citie of citie: For the Lord did trouble them with all adversitie. To the same purpose speaketh the Pro­phet [Page 256] [...] [Page 257] [...] [Page 258] Isaiah, Who gave Ja­cob for a spoile, and Israel to the robbers? Did not the Lord, be­cause wee have sinned against him. Isa. 42.24.

Whatsoever the outward means, or instruments bee, Gods hand hath a principall strok in all those afflictions which befall either the church in general, or any par­ticular member thereof, whe­ther it bee pestilence, or sword, or famine, or cap­tivity. It is not the heed­lesnesse and wilfulnesse of people which will adventure into places infected, or up­on goods that are contagi­ous, which beginneth, or continueth the plague a­mongst us. It is not alone the malice and cruelty of the enemie, which bringeth the sword, or causeth any to [Page 259] fall by it. It is not unsea­sonable winter, or summer, which causeth and bringeth the famine amongst us: these are but secondary causes, the prime and supream cause is, that all disposing wisedome, and providence of God, which causeth and ordereth both the one and the other. Such as hee hath appointed to death, shall go unto death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for captivitie, to the cap­tivitie. Jerem. 15.2. So likewise for particular judg­ments, whether in our bo­dy, or estate, all commeth from the Lord. Who hath made the dumb, or the deafe, or the blind? have not I, saith the Lord? Exod. 4.11.

From whom come con­sumptions, [Page 260] burning agues, & other bodily diseases? Doth not the Lord apoint them? Lev. 26.16. Hence the Church professeth, Hos. 6.1. The Lord hath spoiled us, and hee will heale us; he hath wounded us, & he will bind us up. If wee per­use that bedroul of curses, Devt. 28. It will appeare, that neither povertie, sick­nesse, nor any crosse, or losse doth befall us, but that which God doth send us. Is there any evill in the citie, and I have not done it? Amos 3.6. I the Lord do all these things, Esay, 45.7. Here I might quickly lead you into a La­byrinth, by propounding ambiguous and unnecessary questions, how farre God hath his hand in every evill; but such questions will breed strife, rather than godly edify­ing, [Page 261] 1. Tim. 1.4. Know therefore, that something the Lord effects in, and by himselfe, without the helpe, or assistance of inferior cau­ses: such are the workes of creation and some mi­racles. Some things the Lord causeth to be effected by means, as castigations and deliverances. And some things the Lord suffers to be done by his permissive will, yet so as (if hee pleased) he could easily prevent and hin­der, or alter the doing of them; thus the Lord may be said to have a finger in every sinne, not as it is a breach of his revealed will, but that it may be an occasion of the manifestation of his power, and justice in punishing and revenging of it. These truths the heathen which ei­ther [Page 262] knew not God, or else did not glorifie him as God, were utterly ignorant of, and therefore turned the glory of the incorruptible God, into the si­militude of the image of a cor­ruptible man, and of birds, and foure footed beasts, and of creeping things, Rom. 1.23. And hence it came to passe that they forged unto them­selves so many Gods: one of the sunne; another of the moone; one of the sea, ano­ther of the windes, &c. By whose wisedome, provi­dence and power (as they conceived) the whole world, with all occasions and oc­curences therein were orde­red and swayed. Whereas there is but one only true God, Who by wisedome hath laid the foundation of the earth, and hath stablished the heavens [Page 263] through understanding; by his knowledge the depths are bro­ken up, and the clouds drop down the dew. Prov. 3.19, 20. See Jerem. 10.12.13. of him, and by him, and for him are all things. Rom. 11.36. The Pelagians of olde were much puzled about the divine Pro­vidence, thinking it an un­seemly thing to make God the author of an evill; and therefore affirmed that there were two gods. The one was the Father of mercies, and author of all good that doth betyde man. The other was an evill god, the enemie of mankind, the actor of such evills as do befall man. But wee acknowledge onely one God: the wise and just di­spenser of good and evill: for out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth both evill and [Page 264] good, Lam. 3.38. Plato, and other Heathens would say, That God was the cause of all good things in Nature; beleeving and acknowledg­ing a Divine Providence in prosperity; but when adver­sity, came, they were of ano­ther minde. It is reported of Cato, that hee stoutly held and defended a Divine Pro­vidence all the while that Pompey prospered, and the citie flourished: but when he did see Pompey to bee over­thrown by Caesar in so just a cause, when hee beheld the body of Pompey cast upon the shoare, with­out any honor of buriall, and himselfe exposed to danger by Caesars army: hee then changed his opinion, denying that there was any Divine Providence, but that all [Page 265] things fell out by chance.

It were well with many Christians (which know, or at least should know more of Gods minde then Coto knew) if they were not somtimes sicke of Cato his disease; for they can trust God, and ac­knowledge [...] his Providence, all the while they live at ease, and in prosperitie; but let the Lord change their e­state, and then they change their minde, or an the least they begin to demurre a­bout the truth of this do­ctrine.

Object. But how can it be said, That God ordereth and di­sposeth of all afflictions, when there be many euils which wee bring upon our selves, and may thank our selves for? as appeareth in divers places of Scripture, Hast [Page 266] thou not procured this unto thy selfe, in that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God? Jerem. 2.17. Againe it is said, Hos. 13.9. O Israel, thou hast de­stroyed thy selfe. And ordina­ry experience tells us how many mischiefes many bring upon themselves through surfets, ryot, &c.

Answ. Wee procure unto our selves (by reason of our sins) whatsoever evills do befall us. Besides God by with­drawing or with-holding of his grace, gives us over to our own lusts or Satan [...] ten­ta [...]ions, and so makes us his instruments to worke our selves that mischiefe, or to bring upon our own paies those evills hee intended should befall us.

Therefore it is un­doubted truth, that God [Page 267] hath his hand in our af­flictions, and it may bee confirmed by these rea­sons.

Reason. 1 God filleth both hea­ven and earth. First, in regard of the in­finitenesse of his being, fil­ling both Heaven and Earth with his presence. Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afarre off? Can any hide himselfe in secret pla­ces, that I shall not see him, saith the Lord? Doe not I fill Heaven and Earth. Jerem. 23.23, 24. Whither shall we goe from his spirit? or whi­ther shall wee flee from his pre­sence? Psal. 139.7. If wee be in hell, there shall the Lords hand take us, yea, though wee more hid in the bot­tome of the sea, the Lord can thence command the serpent to bite us, Amos 9.2, 3. So that the Lord is every where. The [Page 268] Heaven, and the Heaven of Heavens is not able to containe him: 1. King. 8.27. Hee is above us, beneath us, he is before us, and behind us; he is without us, and within us; hee is not only all eye to observe all, for his eyes be­hold all nations, Psal. 66.7. But he is also all hand to or­der and dispose of all parti­culars. If any thing were out of Gods reach, or did fall out beyond his presence and privity, then were not the Lord infinite, and then were he not God. But the Lord being every where, and filling every place, must needs have the ordering and dispo­sing of all things which are done in Heaven, or in the earth; for as it pleaseth the Lord, so all things come to passe.

[Page 269] Reason. 2 Againe, it must needs be,God wor­keth all things as he will. that the Lords hand should bee in every affliction, which befalls us, because, Hee wor­keth all things after the counsell of his will, Ephe. 1.11. Man may devise and plot what he please: hee may take others into confederacie with him, but the Lord laughes them to scorne, Psal. 37.13. Their counsell shall bee brought to nought, their decree shall not stand. Esay. 8.10. But the counsell of the Lord shall stand, and the thoughts of his heart throughout all ages, Psal. 33.11. So Esay. 46.10. My counsell shall stand, and I will do whatsoever I will. If the Lord hath a will to any thing, that thing must needs follow: for his willing of it, is the doing of it, I have pur­posed it, and I will do it, E­say [Page 270] 46.11. Therefore they blasphem the omnipotencie, and power of God, who say, That Gods will attendeth and follows mans; and wor­keth in many things, as our will inclineth: which is to set the cart before the horse; to make the supreme gover­nesse come after the hand­maid.

Object. But doth it not please the Lord to afford so much li­bertie to his creature, that some thing may bee done as wee will, and best li­keth us?

Answ. The Scripture doth no where tell us, that God doth at any time suspend his om­nipotencie, and purpose so farre, as to put the staffe, at any time out of his owne hand; that man may will any thing against or with­out [Page 271] the will of God. Wee may not say, wee will go to the next towne, But if God will, Jam. 4.15.

The heart of man purposeth a way, but the Lord directeth his steps, Prov. 16.9.

Howsoever the wicked may bandy themselves a­gainst the Lord & his anoin­ted, they can do no more, nor other, but whatsoever his hand, and counsell hath appointed to bee done, Act. 4.28.

Reason 3 All crea­tures are subject unto the Lord. Thrdly, because all the creatures both of Heaven and Earth, and under the Earth, are ready prest as so many servants, and souldiers to be sent forth, and commanded at the will of God, their Soveraigne Lord and chief­taine. If the Lord will lead any of his hosts against Pha­roah [Page 272] and his people, for the rescue and deliverance of Is­rael his chosen, they shall march in battell aray, and they shall follow in ten seve­rall troups, and at the heeles of one another. The least, the meanest, and the vi­lest of these hosts, though of Lice, or Grashoppers, un­der the conduct of the Lord, shall be able to make head a­gainst this great Monarch Pharoah: and bring down the spirit, and stomack of this proud King, who a lit­tle before asked, Who is the Lord, that I should heare his voice, and let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go, Exodus 5.2.

All which considered, namely, That the Lord is every where, fulfilling all [Page 273] places; and that all things are effected as hee will: and that all creatures are at his bay, wee may safely con­clude, That no affliction can befall us, but that which the Lord appointeth unto us, as 1. Thes. 3.3. No man should bee moved with afflicti­ons: for ye your selves know that wee are appointed there­unto.

Vse. 1 Away with Fortune and luck. Is it so, that all our affli­ctions come from God? Away then with that hea­thenish conceit, or dreame of Fortune, Luck, or Chance; words too frequent in the mouths of Christians. If any thing befall our neighbor better then ordinary, and beyond our expectation, wee are ready to congratulate his good fortune,

If any thing succeeed e­vill, [Page 274] contrary to his desire, or if any affliction doth befall him, wee are ready to be­mone or condole his ill luck, and his bad chance. Would you know from whence For­tune did first spring? One tells us from nature. [...]. I ra­ther think from ignorance of nature. Nature is nothing else but that order and course which the Lord hath set and established in all his crea­tures. Why doth bread strengthen us rather then stones? You will say it is the nature of bread, to nourish and strengthen us; and why so? even because God hath said it, and appointed it to be so. This order and course of nature the Heathen being ignorant of, as also of the Divine Providence guiding and disposing of all particu­lars, [Page 275] they ascribed the event of things to a power of their own devising, which they called Fortune. Now for Christians, who have the light of truth so clearely shining amongst us, that wee should take up the lan­guage, and termes of blind Pagans; what a shame is it to our profession, and re­proach to our God?

Object. But doth not the Scrip­ture speake of chance, Luk. 10.31. By chance there came down a certaine Priest that same way.

Answer. In regard of God, there is no chance, although things may be said to bee casuall in respect of our ig­norance, who know not the causes of many things, which fall out many times sudden­ly, and beyond our expecta­tion; [Page 274] [...] [Page 275] [...] [Page 276] but all things past, pre­sent and future are present with the Lord. And that all things in appearance casuall are ordered and governed by God, may be gathered by that Vision of Ezechiel, 1.18. Who beheld all things in the World, in appearance to runne upon wheeles, the ring of which wheeles hee observed to bee full of eyes: implying hereby the univer­sall and intentive Provi­dence of the Lord, over­seeing all things.

Neither may wee ascribe any thing to that unluckie, and (as many call it) unfor­tunate or fortunate Planet, under which any may be said to be borne, as the starre-gazer doth fondly hold, and maintaine; or that [Page 277] some dayes be good, and some bad, is a heathenish conceit. For the Lord God Almightie, that Most High and Incomprehensible JE­HOVAH, that Everlasting Alpha and Omega, He that was, that is, and is to come, He is the former, framer and governor of all things; Who made Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, those famous starres, and placed them in the fir­mament of heaven? Who limited the North, and South climats? Hath not the Lord formed them, and doth not He governe them? Hath not He appointed them their se­verall spheares, and moti­ons? Have they not their in­fluences from him? and doth not He withdraw from them at His pleasure? Do they not remaine, and continue as [Page 278] servants for the behoof of man: as other creatures do? and are not as gods, or go­vernors of mans nature: nei­ther can they dispose of our inclinations, constitutions, and affections, or make us happy, or unhappy at their pleasure; but are ruled and commanded by God, to stand or move at His will and pleasure: Did not the Sunne stand still in Gibeon, and the Moone in the valley of Aja­lou a whole day. Josh. 10.12. By which, and many other places it is evident, that Sun and Moon, and so all other creatures are subject to the will of the superior Gover­nor, who needeth not the helpe of such weake instru­ments to draw out, or to shorten the life, and well­fare, the happinesse, or the [Page 279] miserie of man; to make our portion the more fat or lean, to further or hinder us, either in our spirituall, or bodily welfare. Thinke not there­fore that either thy good, or bad successe in thy procee­dings, the prosperous or ad­verse issues of thine indea­vors, thy riches, or thy po­vertie proceedeth from the influence, domination, or power of the creatures, but that all are ordered, and dis­posed of by a higher cause, the wise, and righteous Providence of Almighty God.

Let us not therefore so much as name Fortune, see­ing all things in the World (though many of them seem casuall and contingent to our weake and shallow appre­hension) are notwithstan­ding [Page 280] regulated by Divine Providence. Some will say that Jonah being cast into the sea, had good fortune, that a fish should be ready at hand to swallow him up, and so carry him a shore againe: but this fortune was no other then Gods providence, For the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah 1.17.

The selling of Joseph unto the Ishmaelitish Mer­chants, in appearance see­meth to be no other then the cruell act of his unnaturall brethren, disputing and de­bating with themselves, what they were best to do with him: Yet Joseph telleth his brethren, You sent me not hi­ther, but God, Gene. 45.8. Can any thing appeare more casuall then the drawing of a [Page 281] lot? yet it is the Lord that directeth my hand to this lot rather then unto another. The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord, Prov. 16.33.

Gods Providence exten­deth it selfe, even to the smallest things, the falling of every sparrow on the ground, Matt. 10.29. The numbring of the haires of oun heads, the feeding of the birds of the ayre; and what not?

Hold wee it therefore as an undoubted truth, that there is no fortune: and that nothing comes to passe with­out the decree of God: no, not any of our afflictions, nor any judgements, which at any time befall any wicked person. When the Drun­kard [Page 282] hath besotted himselfe with excessive drinking, and even transformed himselfe into a swine, he takes his horse, homeward goes the beast, but the man (more sencelesse then the beast) is carried he knowes not whi­ther; down at last hee tum­bles from his horse, and breaks his neck: or being on foot, falls into the ditch, and there is drowned; you will say, This man hath hard for­tune. And so when two roaring ruffians, shall fall to word it upon some indigni­tie or wrong received, or conceived: and from words proceed either to blows or stabbing each other: their companions will say, the wounded party had a hard mischance befalne him, ve­rie ill lucke. No, no; these [Page 283] had the just and righteous hand of God against them, the Lord in justice and wrath appointing these heavie judg­ments unto them. Hence it is that Jude speaketh of some, which were before of old ordained to this condemnation, Jude, [...]. 4. The word ordained is very emphatical in the ori­ginall, and signifies as much as if they were inrolled or set down upon record, or re­gistred, and set down by the hand-writing of God to this condemnation. Fortune be­fits the mouth of a heathen, but Gods Providence the heart and tongue of a Chri­stian.

Vse. 2 God dispo­seth of all tempests. Againe, this doctrine meets with another error too rife, and ranck amongst us. In the time of any great tem­pests, especially if they bee [Page 284] such as cause any spoile, or havock at sea, or upon land; by and by, many mouths are opened, and this they sup­pose to bee the work of some conjurer. As if the Lord (as Eliah ironically said to the Priests of Baal, of their god) were all this while a­sleep, or sate still, and did nothing. If there bee any great winde blowing hard at sea, The Lord sends that great winde into the sea, and he rai­seth every mighty tempest, Jo­nah, 1.4. If there be any winds or stormes upon rhe land, the Lord raiseth them: For the Lord hath his way in the whirlewind and in the storme, Nah. 1.3.

God alone is the Lord both of sea and land, and by his over-ruling hand, and po­wer he ordereth and dispo­seth [Page 285] of all particulars, whi­ther in the seas, or upon the earth. For he commandeth and raiseth the stormie winde, and it lifteth up the waves thereof. Psal. 107.25. They cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and then he bringeth them out of their distresse. But how doth he this? It fol­lows in the 29. vers. He tur­neth the storme to calme, so that the waves thereof are still, for he ruleth the raging of the seas. Psal. 89.9. So that if there be storme or tempest) it is evi­dent God causeth and cea­seth all.

Object. But is there not conju­ring sometimes?

Answ. Very like there is; for men and devils do many times compact, and joyn toge­ther, for the doing of some mischiefe. But are not men [Page 286] and devils under the rule and command of the Almighty? It is true, that the devill hath a large walke, even the whole earth, which he com­passeth, Job 2.2. Yet hath he his bounds and limits set him, which he cannot exceed. Although he be full of malice, and spight, and takes plea­sure in doing evill, and wor­king of mischiefe: and there­fore hee is called the evill spi­rit, Act. 19.16. Yet can he not hurt so much as one swine, untill the Lord give him commission, Mat. 8.31. Hee and his wicked instru­ments may vaunt it, as Pilate did, Have I not power &c. but wee may say of them, as Christ answered Pilate. Thou couldest have no power against me, except it were given thee from above. John. 19.11. [Page 287] Consider what Satan said to the Lord, Iob. 2.5. Stretch now out thine hand, and touch his bones, and his flesh: by which words it is evident, that whatsoever power, and libertie Satan had over Iob, was no other then Gods hand.

Vse. 3 Patient in afflictions. Is it so, that God hath his hand in all our afflictions? let us then be patient in time of affliction, because wee are then under Gods hand, who intendeth not our hurt but our good in afflicting us. Hee that hath any dangerous wound, or sore upon him, will patiently endure the sur­geon to cut and search his wound unto the quick: though strong eating plai­sters or powders, or any sharpe corrasives he applied, he beares it out with a man­like [Page 288] courage, because hee beleeveth that otherwise hee cannot be cured. Though it be more then ordinary tor­ment to be cut, for the ta­king out of the stone, yet a man will suffer himselfe to be bound hand and foot: the searching instrument to bee put into his body, that so he may prolong his life. Shall these exquisite paines, and grievous tortures, which man doth oft put us unto, be indured of us for the good and welfare of our bodies: and shall wee not as willing­ly and patiently lie under the hand of God, and beare that affliction which he layes up­on us, for the good of our souls? Bee wee therefore patient, first in respect of God, and secondly in respect of any of those instrument [...] to [Page 289] which God shall use in affli­cting us.

We must be patient in all our afflictions; first, because they be messengers sent unto us from God our Father, our pittifull Father. Shall I not drinke of that cup which my Father hath given me, John 18.11. We have had the Fa­thers of our bodies, which corrected us, and wee gave them reverence: should wee not much rather bee in subje­ction unto the father of spirits, that wee may live, Heb. 12.9. Do wee not daily pray, that the will of our father might be done? then bee we patient in our afflictions, be­cause it is our fathers will, by these to exercise us. This was the ground of Davids patience, Psalm. 39.9. I was dumb, and have not o­pened [Page 290] my mouth, because thou diddest it. It was dreadfull newes, which Samuel told Eli, How that the Lord would visit his house for ever for the iniquity of his sonnes, and he staied them not: now there­fore the iniquitie of Elies house shall not bee purged with sacri­fice nor offring for ever, 1. Sam. 3.13, 14. At the hea­ring whereof, Eli answers verse 18. It is the Lord, let him doe what seemeth him good Oh admirable patience and obedience! well beseeming the antient judge, and aged president of Shiloh, who had sacrificed his heart to that God, whose justice had re­fused to expiat his sinne by sacrifice. Although Eli she­wed himselfe to be an ill fa­ther unto his sonnes▪ yet he proves a dutifull and obedi­ent [Page 291] sonne to God, being wil­ling to kisse the rod he shall smart withall. It is the Lord, whom I have alwaies found most holy and just and gra­cious, and he cannot but be himselfe; let him doe what seemeth him good; for, whatsoever seemeth good to him must needs be good, howsoever it seemeth to me. Thus patiently did Eli ex­pose himselfe to Gods affli­cting hand, and kneels to him that severely scourgeth him: So good king Hezekiah, Esay 38.15. What shall I say? for he hath said it unto me, and he hath done it.

Againe, wee should be patient in our afflictions, be­cause they come from the hand of a pitifull father. In bodily deseases, wee are the more content to endure [Page 292] that paine, which our Sur­geon shall put us unto, if we beleeve and know him to be a pittiful and tender hearted man. How much more ought we to be patient un­der the hand of our heaven­ly Father: for the Lord is very pittifull and mercifull, or of tender mercy; as the new translation hath it, Jam. 5.11. The Prophet David having abundantly made ex­perience of the Lords good­nesse, tels us in very many places; that the Lord is a pit­tifull God, slow to anger and great in kindnesse and truth, Psalm 86.15. And Psalm 131.4. The Lord is mercifull and full of compassion. So full that howsoever for a mo­ment he may hide away his face from us in a little wrath, yet with everlasting mercy he [Page 293] will have compassion upon us, Esay, 54.8. Hence it is that speaking of his people it is said, Esay 63.9. In all their affliction he was afflicted; in his love and in his pitty he re­deemed them.

Object. Here some will bee ready to object, If God be so pitti­full, and takes no pleasure in afflicting us, how is it that many of his deare children groane under many long and tedious, sharp and biting afflictions?

Answ. The Lord hath many ends in dealing thus with his chil­dren. First, because they have been a long time deligh­ted with some sinne, which through custome is become as it were naturall; and be­ing so, will not easily, will not quickly be purged out of them. That which is got­ten [Page 294] to the bone, will not ea­sily be had out of the flesh. Hard knubbs and knurles, must have great and long wedges driven in to them, many hard and great stroaks given them before they will yeeld.

Many hard and stony hearts will not be broken with little and short afflicti­ons; some kinde of mettles must be kept a great while longer in the furnace then o­thers, or else they will never be dissolved, even so it fa­reth with some natures; little and short afflictions work not upon them, no whit at all molifie nor soften their hard and stony hearts; therfore the Lord is forced to keep them down the longer. Ma­ny men, when any trouble befals them, think to out­growe [Page 295] it, or to beare it off by head and shoulders, and to make as good a shift as they can, never looking up to God whom they have of­fended and provoked by their sinnes: but let these know that God will bow them, or else he will breake them. The Lord is the Lord of hosts, he can send crosses thick and three-fold upon us to abate our lofty and proud spirits, to break our rocky and stony hearts. Gods wrath is answerable to his power, as this is infinite, so he can make the other insup­portable. Many are stiffe and stubborn, as the Lord complaines, They obeyed not, neither inclined their eares, but made their necks stiffe, and would not heare, nor receive correction, Ier. 17.23. Lit­tle [Page 296] and short afflictions will not serve to reclaime such as these are; therefore the Lord keeps them longer under his hand.

Againe, the Lord doth thus deale with many of his children to work their hearts to a greater dislike of their sinne as that which hath brought upon them all those troubles which now lye up­on them; therfore in the time of our affliction we should fall upon our sinne, upbraiding it, and charging it with all our crosses. Ah thou vile and loathsom sinne, I may thank thee for this ex­pence, for this reproach and shame; Ah cursed sin, how hast thou heretofore doma­niered over me? Thou hast hitherto been too strong for me, but God by this afflicti­on [Page 297] (I trowe) will tame and hamper thee. Is this the fruit I reape by entertaining thee? Oh cursed be the time that ever I knew thee, that ever I was ruled by thee. The more grievous our affli­ction is, the greater hatred we should beare our sinnes, the causes of them; and the more fearfull should we be for time to come of medling any more with them. We say, The burnt child dreads the fire. Ephraim had been a long time polluted with idolatry: The Lord stops her way with thorns, and makes a wall, that she may not finde her pathes, Hos. 2.6. exerciseth her with long affliction, un­till shee come to say, What have I any more to do with I­dols, Hos. 14.9. If I must buy my sinne at so deare a [Page 298] rate; if thus long I must be afflicted for my sinne; away with all, I will no more of it.

Theirdly, the Lord doth oft-times keepe the rod long upon his children for their greater and deeper humilia­tion.

Great sinnes, must bee greatly repented of. Great transgressions require great and long humiliation. Da­vids sinnes of adultry and murder, killing the husband with the sword, that he might injoy his wife, were great sinnes, and those which cau­sed the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme: therefore the Lord threatned him with long affliction, The sword shall never depart from thine house. 2. Sa. 12.10. Neither will the Lord give us over, or [Page 299] cease to afflict us one way, or other, untill hee hath brought us upō our knees, broken our hard hearts, and sufficiently humbled us under his hand. For if we walk stubbornly a­gainst him he will walke stub­bornly against us: then their uncircumcised heart shall be humbled, and they shall wil­lingly beare the punishment of their iniquity, Lev. 26.41. Remembering mine affliction, and my mourning, the worm­wood and the gall, my soule hath them in remembrance, and is humbled in mee, Lament. 3.19, 20.

Fourthly, the Lord by continuing his hand of affli­ction long upon his children doth hereby make known the strength of his Grace, which is sufficient to support his children under long and te­dious [Page 300] afflictions, A wise builder will lay the heaviest burden upon that peece of timber which is most heart, and most able to beare it: Greatest peeces are put to greatest stresse, because little peeces would warpe and yeeld, if not break asunder. Even so, where there is most strength of Grace, there the Lord oft times laies on the greatest load of affliction; which, as it makes for the praise and glory of his Grace so doth it serve much for e­xample unto all that are neer unto them; that they may live by faith, and hope that (if ever they come into the like trial) the Lord, as he is able to support and streng­then them, so he will doe it, and graciously stand by them even in long and sharpe affli­ctions, [Page 301] as he hath upheld o­thers in the like case.

Fiftly and lastly, the Lord doth this, that so he may afterward replenish the hearts of his children with aboundance of inward and spiritual joy. After they have tasted of more gall then o­thers, they shall eate of more hony then others. Heavines hath some long time sojour­ned in their hearts; but joy and gladnesse followeth af­ter to inhabit in them for e­ver. The spirit of the Lord is upon mee (saith Esay) to com­fort all that mourne, ap­point unto them that mourne in Sion, and to give unto them beauty for ashes, the garment of gladnes for the spirit of heavi­nesse that they may bee called trees of righteousnesse, the plan­ting of the Lord; that he might [Page 302] be glorified, Esay, 61.2, 3. Yee shall sorrow (saith Christ) but your sarrow shall be turned in­to joy, Iohn 16.20. If thy sorrows and afflictions have been longer then ordinary, they shal make way for more then ordinary joy, and thankfulnes for issue and de­liverance; according to that which the Church uttered, Lam. 3.21, 22. I consider this in mine heart, therefore have I hope. It is the Lords mer­cy that we are not consumed, because his compassions faile not. Have wee not then good cause to bee patient in afflictions although they bee sharp and tedious, seeing they proceed from the hand of our pitifull and mercifull father?

To helpe forward and fur­ther your patience do but [Page 303] consider of these 4. things.

First,1 Helps to the patient bearing of affliction. how exceedingly we have a long time provoked the Lord by our sinnes, a­mongst which our unbeliefe is that which hath most of­fended him. If the Lord should deale unto us our weight and measure: that is, punish us according to our deserts, what would be­come of us? If the Lord should dispute with us, wee could not answer him one thing of a thousand, When hee visiteth, what shall I an­swer him, said Iob, 31.14. Whereupon David saith, Psalm. 130.3. If thou, Lord, shouldest marke iniquities: O Lord, who shall stand?

The least sinne wee com­mit, makes us liable to the vengeance of eternall tor­ments. How grear a mea­sure [Page 304] of punishment do wee then deserve, for our many, for our grievous sinnes? our sinnes being like unto the sand by the sea shore which is innumerable. What e­ver our afflictions are, or may be, they come short of our sinnes; they fall short of that which wee have deserved: and that which the Lord may justly (without any wrong to us) lay upon us. Amongst many other, one maine cause why we are so troubled and vexed with affliction is, be­cause we are so little galled with our sinnes; a true sense of these would make our af­flictions to be more easie, and us lesse sensible of them then many times we are. Do we not see it by experience that when the stone and the gout, or some other bodily [Page 305] malady meet together, the paine of the stone being the more grievous, alaies, if not takes away, the sense & pain of the gout; even so would it be here, when sinne and af­fliction are both upon us at once, the consideration of our sinnes (deserving farre greater punishment then we beare) should so grieve us, that the punishment it selfe should not move us, much lesse stirre us up to impati­ence. Is there not then great cause that we should willingly and patiently bear Gods chastisements? as the Church resolved, Mica. 7.9. I will beare the wrath of the Lord, because I have sinned a­gainst him. And confesse with the good theef in the Gospell, We indeed are justly here, for we receive the due re­ward [Page 306] of our deeds, Luke 23.41 And thus did that Emperor Mauritius, who beholding his wife and children mur­thered before his face, cried out. just art thou o Lord, and just are thy judgements. And thus David confessed, I know O Lord that thy judgements are right, and that thou hast afflicted me justly, Ps. 119.75.

Secondly, compare thine afflictions with the sufferings of many of the Lords Wor­thies, and thou hast great cause to be patient. Looke but into the 11. Chap. to the Heb. ver. 35, 36, 37. and tell mee if thine afflictions be an­swerable, or sutable to their fiery trials. Looke into the sufferings of Christ. Consi­der him, that indured such spea­king against of sinners, lest you should be wearied and faint in [Page 307] your mindes: ye have not yet resisted unto blood, Heb. 12.3, 4. If the Lord deal so sharply with many of his deare chil­dren, and with thee so mildly, so gently, wonder at Gods clemency and lenity; lay thy hand upon thy mouth, and bee patient.

Thirdly, consider how short thine affliction will bee in comparison of that eter­nall torment, the Lord might lay upon thee. our af­flictions are but light and mo­ment any, as Paul calls them, 2. Cor. 4.17. The Lord him­selfe saith, Esay 54.8. For a moment, in mine anger, I hid my face from thee for a lit­tle season, but with everlasting love have I had compassion on thee. Who would not bee content with a course of phy­sick, for a few daies, though [Page 308] the physick be untoothsome, and very bitter, in hope of health for ever after? What if thou hast indured months of sorrow, and painfull nights have beene appointed unto thee? as they were to Job, 7.3. What are they in comparison of those eternall torments the Lord might throw thee into, in which there will be no ease, out of which there shall be no re­lease?

A great cause of impati­ence and storming at afflicti­ons, is the ignorance of our selves, and of the desert of our sinnes, which if we knew aright, we would confesse with Ezra, let our miseries and troubles be what they will, that the Lord hath pu­nished us lesse then our ini­quities have deserved, Ezra [Page 309] 9.13. I will beare the wrath of the Lord, saith the Church, Mic. 7.9. I will not repine at his dealing with me; I wil not open my mouth by way of complaint or murmuring; but from what doth this ho­ly resolution and patience proceed? It followeth in the same verse, because I have sinned against him. I have carried my selfe proudly, stoutly and rebelliously a­gainst him; I have provo­ked the eyes of his glory, I have many waies, many times broken his holy lawes, I have deserved farre more farre greater judgements then he hath laid upon me, it is his mercy that I am not confounded, that I am of this side hell.

Fourthly and lastly, the consideration of the blessed [Page 310] end that God for the most part makes of the afflictions of his servants, will further our patience. After they have endured any great fight in affliction, he doth usually bestow some speciall favor or other upon them, yea pro­portionable to the measure of the affliction hath the recompence and the blessing been; such as have had the bitterest crosses, have recei­ved the sweetest comforts, Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and what end the Lord made Jam. 5.11. What this end was is recorded Iob. 42. where it is said that the Lord turned a way the cap­tivitie of Iob; and gave him twice as much as he had be­fore. So the Lord blessed the last daies of Iob more then the first Iob 42.12. This [Page 311] hope of future mercy kept David from fainting in his affliction. Psal. 71.20, 21. Thou hast shewed we great troubles and adversities, but thou wilt return and revive me, and wilt come againe and take me from the depth of the earth. Thou wilt increase mine honnor and receive and comfort me: if not with temporall, assuredly with spirituall comfort here, for they bring forth the quiet fruit of righteousnesse unto them, that are thereby exercised Heb. 12.11.

They are occasions (as hath been formerly proved) of purging our corruption, and bringing of us neerer God, and into more con­formity with Christ: and should not this comfort us?

Besides they make way [Page 312] for glory, and endlesse com­fort, They that sow in teares shall reape in ioy, Psalm. 126.5. Afflictions cause unto us a farre more excellent and eter­nall weight of glory, 2. Cor. 4.17.

Art thou in any affliction? thou art but under a short cloud, it will quickly blow o­ver, and thou shalt have a faire season, a most comfor­table, and glorious sun-shine, when all teares shall be wiped away from thine eyes, Rev. 7.17. After two dayes hee will revive us, and in the third day he will raise us up, and wee shall live in his sight, Hos. 6.2. Art thou in affliction? be patient, the third day is comming, wherein the Lord will deliver thee.

There must be a time for thee to sow thy prayers in, [Page 313] and a time for thee to water them with the teares of true repentance, and then present­ly comes the joyfull harvest, in due season thou shalt reape, if thou thou bee patient, if thou faint not, Gal. 6.10. What made Steven in his martyr­dome to bee so patient and chearefull, but the sight of Heaven? What was it that carried those blessed Martyrs so joyfully thorow flames of fire, but hope of glory? Af­ter their sharp break-fast, they were assured of a sweet and Royall supper.

Againe,Our ene­mies are but the Lords rods to whip us. wee are to be patient, in respect of our enemies, whom the Lord is pleased to use as his instru­ments, to afflict and scourge us. Whosoever they bee that trouble us, they are but the Lords instruments, [Page 314] whom he sets on work for the execution of his will and purpose. If we consider Jobs afflictions, wee shal find three Agents in them, God; Satan, and the Sabeans: and all these three had their severall end in afflicting ho­ly Job. The Devill stirres up the Sabeans, and God permits both. The Sabeans spoile Job of his substance that so they might inrich themselves. The Devill sets upon Job to provoke him to impatience, and to stirre him up to blaspheme the Lord. And God per­mits all; first, for the pu­nishment of the Sabeans, wronging, and robbing his servants; secondly, to prove the devill a malicious lier; thirdly, to justifie the innocency and patience of [Page 315] his servant Job; and last of all, to crown his patience, and constancy with greater honor and glory, both in this life and in the world to come. But of all these three Agents, whose hand was Jobs eye upon? did he curse the Sabeans? did he raile upon the Devill? no such matter. As the by-word is, he set the saddle upon the right horse. Hee lookes up to the hand of God. The Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken it: blessed by the name of the Lord, Job 1.21.

So in that most bloody and nefarious fact which ever was under the sunne commited, I meane the murthering of the Lord of life & glory? there cōcurred, the Jewes malice, Judas [Page 316] his treason, and Pilate in his injustice. And yet all these were ordered by a superior power, the Lord using these as his instruments for the execution of his purpose, Acts 4. To do whatsoever thine hand, & thy counsell had determined before to bee done. Now then if the Lord inten­deth to afflict thee, who shall let him from using what instruments hee pleaseth? Looke not then upon secon­dary causes, lest thou swell against them, and grow im­patient. Look up to the hand of God, that thou maist be quiet, whatsoever, or who­soever the instruments be.

As David asked the wo­man of Tekoa, Is not the hand of Joab, in all this? 2. Sam. 14.19. So bee thou assured the hand of the Lord [Page 317] is in all thine afflictions. And yet alas, in trouble and affliction, wee can see any thing before, and more then the hand of God that smiteth us, and our sinnes which have drawne forth the hand of God against us. The want of which spirituall eye to behold Gods hand, is the ground of that impatience, which is too often seen in our afflictions, and bewrayes it selfe in our uncharitable speeches; I may thanke such a villain for this trouble: I am beholden to such a neigh­bour for this crosse: such a one hath done me thus much wrong, these injuries: I will therefore be revenged of him, &c.

Many there be which set down by that affliction which comes immediately [Page 318] from God, but can not be so still & quiet in those wrongs and injuries which come from man. They know there is no striving against the streame, a vaine thing for man to contend with his ma­ker; and therefore fret not, lost there impatience should open a new gappe, or make the old breach wider, to let in more, if not, greater af­flictions. But why they should be thus dealt withall by man, it may be their in­ferior, one that they can shift withall, one that (it may be) they thinke they can crush; to put up such a wrong, this goes against the haire, they can not beare it, no wise man (they say) would put it up at his hands. These words argue too much selfe, too much pride, and too [Page 319] little grace, too little pati­ence. It will be our glory to passe by offences, from whomsoever they come. The greater the injurie is, or the more able thou art to avenge thy selfe of thine enemie, the greater will be thy glory to passe it by. No wise man will fight against an enemie with his own weapon: Christian wisdome teacheth us, not to render evill for evill, and rebuke for rebuke. If thine enemie provoke thee either by his words, or by his deeds, and thou through impatience be stirred up to revenge, what difference is there in both your faults, and folly? Only this: Hee sinnes first, and thou art second in evill. Hee sinnes by provo­king of thee, and thou by being provoked by him. [Page 320] Hee sinnes in offering the wrong, and thou by revenge­ing it.

Are thou angry with thine enemie for troubling thee? He may answere thee as Da­vid did his brethren, when they were angry with him, 1. Sam. 17.28, 29. What have I now done? Is there not a cause? What hath thine enemy done unto thee which the Lord did not see cause to set him about? Know there­fore that how malicious, and potent soever thine enemies are, they can do no more unto thee, or against thee, nay they shall do no lesse, then the Lord hath appoin­ted them to do. There is not so much as one poisoned arrow shot at thee, but the hand of the Lord doth nock it: not one bitter, taunting [Page 321] or reproachfull word utte­red against thee, but the Lord wills it: Suffer him to curse (saith David to Shimei) for the Lord hath bidden him, 2. Sam. 16.11. And yet how soon is our blood up? How ready are our hearts to rise against any of the Lords in­struments? like dogges run­ning after the stone, which was cast at them, never loo­king to the hand that threw it. Common humanity teacheth us, not to flie in the face, or fall about the eares of that mans ser­vant, which doth only bring us a message from his ma­ster.

The enemies of Gods Church and people, are but the Lords servants. The Lord calls Nebuchadnezzar the King of Babell, his servant, [Page 322] Jere. 27.6. Our enemies doe but bring us a message from the Lord, as Ehad said unto Eglon, Judg. 3.20. I have a message vnto thee from God. If they doe but their errand, why should wee be offended with them? Were it not fol­ly, if not madnesse, for him that is beatten with a wand, to rent and teare it; The wicked of the World are but Gods wands or rods, to beat and lash his children withall.

Ashur, the rod of my wrath: and the staffe in their hands, is my indignation, E­say, 10.5. A rod (you know) can do nothing of it selfe, any further then that hand which holdeth it doth put force unto it: it falls heavier, or lighter, according to the strength of the hand that u­seth it.

[Page 323]Bee patient then, and fret not, swell not against thine enemies. It may bee they revile thee, raile upon thee: they backbite and slan­der thee; be patient, for the Lord hath bidden them, as David said, 2. Sam. 16.11. It may bee they hinder thee in thine estate, they offer violence to thy person: in all these, or any other wrong they can do unto thee, they are but the Lords rods to whip thee withall. Seeke not revenge against them, but leave them to the Lord, and hee will one day re­compence them for their malice and cruelty against thee.

Implacable is the malice and rage of the wicked a­gainst the godly; so furious, that if the Lord should not [Page 324] curbe and restrain them, as Jezebel vowed to take away the life of Eliah, 1. King. 19.2. So they would not suffer a soul to breath amongst them, which feareth God, and walketh not after the course of the World. But blessed be our good God, that giveth not up his chil­dren as a prey into their teeth, Psalme 124.6. but a­vengeth the afflicted, Psalme 140.12. And will recompence the wicked according to their deeds, Psal. 28.4. For it is a righteous thing with God, to re­compence tribulation to them that trouble you, and to you (which are troubled) rest. 2. Thess. 1.6, 7.

Object. But is the Lord just in this? is it equall that any should bee punished for that worke which the [Page 325] Lord hath set them a­bout?

Answ. Yes: if they do it not to that end, and in that manner which God would have them. True it is, they can do no other then God will have them to do: but God wills them not to do his worke in that man­ner, which they perform it.

The Lord commanded Jehu, to root out the poste­rity of Ahab, which Jehu according to the Word of the Lord fulfilled: Yet the Lord by the Prophet Hose­ah, 1.4. saith, I will visit the blood of Israel upon the house of Jehu.

For though Jehu was Gods instrument and ser­vant, and did that worke which the Lord imployed [Page 326] him about: and the Lord was well pleased with the doing of it, yet the manner and the end of his doing it, caused God to be offended with him. For Iehu did it not in conscience and obedience to the will of God: hee did it not with an upright heart, but with an ambitious and wicked mind.

Hee did it not in zeal of Gods glory, as he boa­sted, but hee did it to ad­vance himselfe, and to set­tle the crown more surely upon the head of his poste­rity.

Hee threw down Baal Ahabs Idoll, to set up Jeroboams calfe. Hee did it not in detestation of Ahabs sinne, but in the hatred of his person, and love unto him­selfe: [Page 327] and therefore the Lord threatned and after­ward punished him. So ma­ny, that trouble and vexe the Lords people, do that which the Lord would have them, but not to that end, or in that manner; as the Lord speakes by the Prophet Zachariah, I was angry but a little and they helped for­ward the affliction, Zach. 1.15.

Therefore when our ene­mies have done their worst: spit out all their malice, and spewed out all their venom against us; which they can disgorge, then will the Lord take them to taske, then will hee recompence and re­ward them for their malice and mischiefe. Behold thus saith the Lord, (unto the Am­monites) because thou hast [Page 328] clapped thy hands, and stam­ped with thy feet, and rejoyced in heart with all thy despight a­gainst the land of Israel. Be­hold, therefore I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, &c. Ezek. 25.6.7. This shall they have for their pride, because they have reproached, and mag­nified themselves against the Lords people, Zepha. 2.10. The more our enemies do insult over us, and wee patient, the sooner wil the Lord help and deliver us, Jere. 30.17. If wee did but seriously con­sider of these things, much matter of patience would be administred unto us. Men would not swell with the de­sire of revenge, if these truths could enter into them. Did wee beleeve that what­soever wrongs and injuries either by word, or deed, any [Page 329] of our enemies offer unto us, the Lord sets them on worke, the Lord wills them to do it, for the exercising of our faith, the triall of our pati­ence, and other ends; would wee, durst wee fret and fume and chafe (as wee do) at our enemies? Were wee but per­swaded of this truth: That if wee patiently sat down by our wrongs, seeke not re­venge, but commit and commend our causes and our enemies to our God, hoping that the Lord wil do us good for that evill they have done unto us, as David said, It may bee the Lord will look upon mine affliction, and do me good for his cursing, 2. Sam. 16.12. Wee would be more patient, and there would be lesse heart­burnings, and fewer quarrells and suits at law amongst us, then be.

[Page 330]Before I passe from this use of the doctrine in hand, it will not be amisse to lay down some helps how a Christian may attaine to this gift of patience which is so needfull to the carrying of him on cheerfully, and peace­ably in his race, for wee must runne with patience the race that is set before us. Hebr. 12.1.

How may wee come to bee furnished with pa­tience?

First by our profitable, and fruitfull entertaining, and welcoming the Word of God: for this being effectu­all in us, will still the heart in all stormes, and cause us quietly to sit downe by all wrongs done unto us; by all afflictions that befall us. Hence it is that the Lord cals [Page 331] the Word, The Word of his patience. Revel. 3.10. And so it is called, either because it teacheth and instructeth us unto patience. For what­soever things are written afore­time, are written for our lear­ning, that wee through pati­ence, and comfort of the Seriptures might have hope. Rom. 15.4.

Or else because it is an in­strument and means of wor­king patience in us, promi­sing unto us peace with God through Christ, and not only so, but also a sanctified use of all our afflictions heere, and salvation hereafter to all that keep this Word: which doth much pacifie the heart, and cause us to be patient in our afflictions.

Or else it may be called a word of patience, because [Page 332] without patience, the Word cannot be rightly professed, nor wee hold out in a holy profession unto the end, whence wee may safely con­clude; that it is either through ignorance of the Word, or neglect of the Word, or want of the po­wer of the Word, that wee are impatient.

2 A second meanes of fur­nishing the heart with pati­ence, is the exercising of our faith. Knowing that the trying of your faith brin­geth forth patience. James, 1.3.

Object. But doth not Saint Paul say, Rom. 5.3. That tribu­lation bringeth forth pati­ence.

Answ. Yes, and both speake the truth, and meane one and the same thing. Know; that nei­ther [Page 333] faith, nor tribulation do beget & procreate patience, for patience is a fruit of the Spirit. Gal. 5.22. Tribula­tion doth not naturally, and of it selfe beget and bring forth patience, but origi­nally, and by accident: for to speak properly, it is the work of the Spirit to still and pacifie the troubled mind of man; but tribulation is a means, and instrument by which patience is brought forth, that is, is exercised, and manifested. Neither doth faith bring forth patience, as the mother bringeth forth the daughter, but as a trades­man bringeth forth his wares, and shewes them to others, what they are; or rather as the Sun in the spring bring­eth forth hearbs, and fruits, by its working influence. [Page 332] [...] [Page 333] [...] [Page 332] [...] [Page 333] [...] [Page 334] For first of all faith perswades the heart that the cause of all evill that befalls us, lieth in our owne bosomes; our sins (as you have heard) are the ground of all, and therefore if wee will be angry with any body, it should be with our sinnes.

Secondly faith perswades us, as you shall heare anon, that God in afflicting of us loves us, and deales with us, as a father with that child in whom he delights. Nay a father may somtime bee transported with passion, and correct his childe above measure, laying on that in his heat, which in his cool blood he doth heartily wish were off againe; Whereas our hea­venly Father is so wise as he puts not in one dramme of any ingredient more then [Page 335] shall serve the turne, and need requireth.

A third and last helpe un­to patience, is Heavenly-mindednesse, or the setting our affection on things that are above, and not on things which are on the earth, Col. 3.2. For he that immoderately, and inordinately loves the world and earthly things, will bee impatient at the losse of them. How waspish and impatient was Ionah for the withering of his Gourd? even so much, that hee durst tell the Lord to his face, that he did well to be angry unto the death. Ion. 4.9. Our blinde judgements making a false report unto our affections of these outward things, wee come to set them at too high a rate, and so grow impati­ent at the losse of them; [Page 336] Whereas, if wee did esteem them, as the wise man reports them to be, and as they are in truth, that is nothing, Pro. 23.5. wee would be lesse moved with the losse of them. There is a kind of venom in worldly things, to puffe up, and swell the heart of a man. By thy wisdome, and by thine occupying hast thou increased thy riches, and thy heart is lifted up because of thy riches. Ezek. 28.5. Now when trou­ble and affliction comes to encounter with a proud heart, every veine swells, and the heart rebells, and breaks out into impatience, and they can not beare it. And the greater their tryalls are, the more do they fret, and fume, as a running wa­ter, the greater the flood, and stream is, the more doth it [Page 339] foame and roare, where there be any arches to with­stand it.

And now that wee may be willing to take the more paines to be furnished with patience; I will lay down a few priviledges which wee shall partake of through pa­tience; every one of them a strong motive to stirre us up to labour for pati­ence.

1 First by the helpe of pati­ence wee shall be the better able to manage those gifts, and graces which God shall endow us withall. Pati­ence keeps the mind in such a stayed and setled temper, that wee shall be able to manage and direct our selves in all our straights, and advise and counsell others in their doubts, and difficulties: By [Page 340] our patience wee possesse our soules. Luk. 21.19. Wee en­joy and command our selves; for impatience puts a man out, and makes to be beside himselfe. By faith wee possesse Christ, by love wee possesse our neighbor, yea our enemie, and by pa­tience wee possesse our selves. He hath but a weak hold of Christ, or of his neighbor, that hath no hold, or command of himselfe. An impatient person is as one out of the way, or as a bone dislocated, and out of joynt. What stabilitie can be, where Patience sits not at the stern to direct and govern? A ship that rides at sea well ballan­ced, is steddy, and so proves comfortable unto the Passen­gers that bee abord her: whereas an unballanced ves­sell [Page 341] reels (like a drunken man) and tumbles too and fro with every little gale, and blast of wind, and so make those weary, if not sick, that be in her.

How sick must that soul needs be, whom troubles, and afflictions (the waves, and billows of this world, a ra­ging, and tempestuous sea) through the want of patience the stearsman, do tumble up and down, and are disquiet? Where patience is, there is quietnesse; because patience brings a Christians minde unto his estate, when his e­state and condition cannot suite with his minde.

2 Secondly, Patience will conforme thee unto Christ, and make thee a compleat Christian; Let patience have her perfect worke, that ye may [Page 342] be perfect, and entire, lacking nothing. Jam. 1.4. That soul which wants no patience, wants nothing; for patience is able to supply all wants, and make up all defects. A patient, and contented mind is rich; and hee that is rich cannot want, unlesse he will.

3 Thirdly, patience will make thee to be a profitable entertainer of Gods Word, it will make thee fruitfull in Christianitie, the honest and good heart brings forth fruit with patience. Luk. 8.15.

So many evills there bee to encounter goodnesse, so many oppositions and re­proaches to nip, if not blas [...] good beginnings, so many troubles to attend Pietie and godlinesse, so many princi­palities and powers, and spi­rituall [Page 343] wickednesse in high places, to stop our course, and to interrupt us in our holy profession, that without pa­tience, little or no fruit will appeare in our lives and con­versations.

4 Fourthly, patience wil make thy life comfortable, whatso­ever thy afflictions be, Thou art armed with mettall of proof: no dart of Satan, no malice of the world can wound thy soul, if patience have got the keeping of it. Outward calamities and af­flictions may make a great noise about thine eares, as hailstones falling thick upon the tyles over thy head keep a great ratling, but cannot come neere to hurt thee: So afflictions may rattle about thine eares, but patience shelters thee from receiving [Page 344] any hurt by them. Let thy afflictions be never so mis­chievous, and noxious in themselves, they shall not prove so to thee, If patience possesse thy soul, so many afflictions as befall thee, will fall out to be so many argu­ments of Gods love, so many consolations unto thee; espe­cially if they be such as wee undergoe for Christ. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us: so our consolation aboun­deth through Christ. 2. Cor. 1.5. Misery it selfe shall not be able to make thee miserable, for patience is a most sove­raigne antidote and preser­vative against the venom of any affliction which can be­tide thee.

Vse 4 Comfort for the af­flicted. Fourthly, is it so, that all our afflictions come from God, then here is a ground [Page 345] of comfort, and matter of rejoycing in affliction; not that we have ministred mat­ter, and occasion unto the Lord to chastise us, but in that (having sinned against the Lord) hee will take the rod into his hand, and have the ordering of that afflicti­on which befalls us. For nothing (as hath been said) can bee, in which our hea­venly Father hath not a chiefe stroke, before it can be brought to passe. The consideration whereof, as it should settle and quiet us, so should it minister much com­fort unto us, because our sa­fety and security lieth in it. As God loveth a cheerfull doer, so hee loveth a cheer­full sufferer. A childe that is willing to kisse the rod, wherewith it was beaten, [Page 346] gives great content unto the parent which corrected it, and makes halfe amends, for the fault it hath committed. Christ will have every one of his to take up his Crosse dai­ly. Luk. 9.23. the taking up of our crosse implyeth wil­lingnesse, and cheerfulnesse in the bearing of it. Many a childe of God is content to beare his crosse when the Lord hath laied it upon his shoulders, as the Prophet Jeremiah speakeath, Woe is me for my destruction, and my grievous plague: But I thought, yet it is my sorrow, and I will beare it, Jerem. 10.19. Hee dares not mutter, or repine at the Lords doing: but here was no rejoycing in tribula­tion: Whereas James tells us, that wee must count it exceeding joy, when wee fall [Page 347] into divers afflictions, Jam. 1.2. When the Lord com­meth (as it were) in open hostilitie against us, muste­ring his forces towards us; when one affliction comes up­on the neck of another, when wee fall into divers afflicti­ons, even then we have cause of rejoycing. For our af­flictions comming from the hand of our loving Father, cannot be hurtfull, but pro­fitable unto us. Hee chaste­neth us for our profit, that wee might he partakers of his holi­nesse, Hebr, 12.10. Indeed if our afflictions brought God out of love with us; or us more in love with sinne, which God hates, and is hurtfull unto us: if our affli­ctions were sent unto us as curses, wee had cause to mourn in them; But when [Page 248] the Word of truth so often pronounceth us blessed in them, as Psalme 94.12. Bles­sed is the man whom thou cha­stisest, O Lord. Have wee not then great cause of re­joycing in them? especially seeing our Heavenly Father hath the ordering, and dispo­sing of all our afflictions, both in respect of their kinde, and nature, and also in re­spect of their measure, ei­ther of quantity or continu­ance.

First, in regard of their kind.God doth order our affliction. If you would know why this affliction befalls thee rather then another, it is because the Lord (the on­ly wise and soveraign Phy­sitian) knows how to strike thee in the right veine: hee knowes thy heart, and the nature of thy corruption, and [Page 349] therefore applieth such mede­cines unto thee, as will bee most available for thy cure. Which thing Job teacheth us, Behold, hee will break down, and it cannot be built, he shut­teth a man up, and hee cannot be loosed. Behold hee withhol­deth the waters, and they drie up, but when he sendeth them out, they destroy the earth, with him is strength and wise­dom, Job 12.14, 15, 16. Yea hee is mighty in strength and wisedom, Job 36.5. Which he could not be said to be, if any other course were better for us, then that which he taketh with us. The Lord is perfect wisedom, and therefore will not, cannot but go the best, the safest and wisest way to worke for the good of his children. Some peradventure may think, that [Page 350] some other kind of affliction might have been better for them, then the present; some other they thinke, would have done them more good, then this can do. But they speak they know not what. And I may say unto them, as Christ to his Disciples, Luk. 9.55. Yee know not of what spirit yee are. The choosing of the rod belongeth unto him, that is to give the cor­rection, not to him that ta­keth it. Indeed the Lord did once put David to his choice, 2. Sam. 24.12. I offer unto thee three things, chuse thee which of them I shall do unto thee. But this was an extraordinary favor, shewed unto David, first to make triall of his Faith, whether he had rather fall into the hand of the Lord, then into [Page 351] the hand of man; and second­ly, to let him know that the Lord would correct him in mercy, in that hee gave him libertie to make choise of the punishment. The Lord knew that either of those rods would bee sufficient to scourge David withall. And none knows so well as the Lord, how to meet with our corruptions, or what afflictions are meet for us. If thou canst not profit by that affliction which the Lord appointeth unto thee, thou wilt profit by none.Note. To say some other kind were bet­ter for thee, were to con­troll the judgement of the wise God, as if hee knew not better then our selves to order and dispose of us. Is it fit the patient should pre­scribe his Physitian, what [Page 352] course to take with him? wilt thou teach him what he shall administer unto thee? this were to dishonor the Physitian: therefore thou submittest to his judgement, and takest what hee prescri­beth thee, resting upon his skill: And wilt thou dare so highly to dishonor God, as to question his wisedome and knowledge: as if some other affliction were better for thee then this which hee is pleased to administer unto thee? No, no; say as Ely did, 1. Sam. 3.18. It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.

Secondly, the Lord hath the disposing of our afflicti­ons for quantitie: for hee doth order all things in their measure, number and weight; but especially the afflictions [Page 353] of his children, Jerem. 30.11. I will not utterly destroy thee, but correct thee in judgement; or, in measure: as the new translation hath it. God therefore metes out unto his children, not according to their merit, but in mercy according to their strength, looking more what they are able to undergoe, then what they do deserve to be laid up­on them. Hee correcteth in judgement, that is, wisely proportioning our affliction to our strength, and not in an­ger, least he bring us to nothing, Jere. 10.24. Feare not, there­fore O Jacob my servant, saith the Lord, for I am with thee, I will not utterly destroy thee, but correct thee by judgement, and not utterly cut thee off, Jerem. 46.28. Comfort thy selfe therefore in this, that God [Page 354] is faithfull, who will not suffer thee to be tempted above that thou art able to beare, but will with the tentation make a way to escape, that thou maist be able to beare it, as was for­merly spoken.

Thirdly and lastly, the Lord disposeth of all our af­flictions in respect of their time and continuance, which he hath promised shall be but short? For the rod of the wick­ed shall not rest on the lot of the righteous, Psal. 105.3. Hee indureth but a while in his an­ger. Weeping may abide at the evening, but joy commeth in the morning, Psal. 30.5. Who is a God like unto thee (saith Mi­cah) that taketh away iniqui­tie, and passeth by the trans­gression of the remnant of his heritage. He retaineth not his wrath for ever, because mercy [Page 355] pleaseth him, Mic. 7.18. Therefore wait patiently up­on the Lord for issue out of thine affliction, which in due time thou shalt bee sure of. For the Lord deals not with his children, as the De­vill doth with his servants, bringing them into the bri­ars, and there leave them to scratch and rent, and teare themselves: but the Lord, as he bringeth afflictions upon us, so will hee also in due season bring us out of them. Great and many are the troubles of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. Psalm. 34.19.

Vse. 5 To draw to a conclusion of this point. Is it so that all our afflictions come from Gods hand? be we then in the fift and last place, exhor­ted to have recourse unto the [Page 356] Lord, in all our troubles, both for strength and comfort in them, and also for issue and deliverance out of them. The Prophet complained of the way wardnesse, and stubborn­nesse of the people in his daies, Esay 9.13. The people turneth not unto him that smi­teth them, neither do they seek the Lord of hosts. This was Asa his folly, who though his disease was extream, yet hee sought not the Lord in his di­sease, but to the Physitians, 2. Chron. 16.12. Such is the folly, and madnesse of some people, that they will seek to any body, yea to the De­vill; running to his cunning (rather couzening) man, or that woman, in their afflicti­ons, before they seek unto the Lord. As if any hand could take off that affliction [Page 357] which the Lord layeth upon us. Deliverance out of trouble is a prerogative roy­all, and belongs wholly un­to the Lord: For hee (saith Moses) will take away from thee all infirmities. Deut. 7.15. Call upon mee in the day of trouble, saith the Lord, so will I deliver thee, and thou shalt glorifie mee. Psalm. 50.15. Whereupon the Prophet Je­remiah set his eyes towards the Lord, Thou art my force and strength, O Lord, and my refuge in the day of affliction, Jerem. 16.19.

Such as seek unto others, and not unto the Lord in af­fliction, do wait upon lying vanities, and forsake their own mercy, Ion. 2.8. They have in­herited lies and vanity, where­in there was no profit, Jere. 16.19. Therefore if thou desi­rest [Page 358] abilitie and strength to beare thine afflictions, go un­to the Lord for it, Power be­longeth unto God, Psalm. 62.11. The God of Israel is hee that giveth strength and power unto his people. Psalm. 68.35. And so the Prophet Esay speaketh; Hee giveth strength unto him that fainteth, and un­to him that hath no strength, hee increaseth power, Esay 40.29. Say not therefore in time of trouble, mine affliction is greater then I can beare: for though thou beest weak and ready to sink under thy bur­then, yet the Lord hath made thee a promise, that hee will uphold thee with his hand. So that though thou canst do little of thy selfe, thou maist be able to do all things through the help of Christ which strengtheneth [Page 359] thee, Phil. 4.13. Go there­fore boldly to the throne of grace, that so thou maist re­ceive mercie, and find favor to help thee in the time of thy need. Trust in the Lord, and he will helpe, and save thee; for who ever hoped in God and was asha­med? Commit thy selfe, and thy condition to God, and he will stand by thee, and helpe thee, he will not be absent from thee over long. Fall down at his footstoole, make him thy hope, and fortresse, in whom thou wilt alwayes trust, and he will imbrace thee in love, he will lay thee upon the shoulders of his gracious Providence, and protection, hee will bind up all thy wounds, he will heale and cure all thy diseases, hee will refresh thy feeblenesse, [Page 360] he will comfort thine affli­cted spirits, he will put under his hand, so as thou shalt not faint under thy burden, and in his good time will put a­way all pensivenesse, and mourning from thee. There­fore if thou bee able to hold up thy head in any storme, if thou faintest not in the day of adversitie, if thou standest fast, and quit thee like a man; say not, my power, or my strength hath carried mee thorow this affliction, or made mee able to stand under this burthen: but as Moses speakes to the Israelites, con­cerning their outward sub­stance, Remember the Lord thy God, for it is be that giveth thee power, Deut. 8.18. So must thou say, I have no abi­lity to undergoe any afflicti­on, but that which the Lord [Page 361] is pleased to help me with­all.

Object. But will some poore wea­ther-beaten soul say, Hither­to the Lord hath supported mee, but my heart now be­gins to faint, I feel my spi­rits to abate, and my strength begins to decay; therefore if the Lord do not speedily deliver mee, and send me ease the sooner, I feare I shall sinke under mine afflicti­on, I can beare it no lon­ger.

Answ. What, is the Lords hand shortened? Numb. 11.23. Is the Lords power weakened, that hee cannot helpe thee for time to come, as well as he hath hitherto supported thee; Is the Lords staffe so weake that thou durest not trust unto it?

Or is the Lord unfaith­full, [Page 362] to leave thee and for­sake thee? No, no; the Lord is where he was, as ready at hand, as willing and as able to helpe thee, and stand by thee, as ever hee was, if thou by thine unbeleef do not put his strength from thee: for if ye beleeve not, sure­ly ye shall not he established, Esay 7.9. Whereas if yee put your trust in the Lord your God, yee shall be assured, 2. Chron. 20.20. For I am the Lord, I change not; and yee sonnes of Jacob are not consumed, Ma­lac. 3.6. Therefore though thy flesh faileth, and thine heart also, as Davids did, yet God is the strength of thine heart, and thy portion for ever, Psalm. 73.26. Trust there­fore in the Lord, and still wait upon him, for they that wait upon the Lord, shall [Page 363] renew their strength, they shall lift up their wings as the Eagles: they shall runne and not bee weary, and they shall walke and not faint, Esay, 40.31.

Againe,Go to God for issue and delive­rance. if all our affli­ctions come from God, it will bee our wisdom to go unto him for issue, and de­liverance out of them: Call upon me in the day of trouble, so will I deliver thee, and thou shalt glorifie mee. Psalm. 50.15. Mine eyes are ever to­ward the Lord, for he will bring my feet out of the net, Psal. 25.15. Joseph was unjustly cast into prison by his too credulous and unrighteous master, but God was with him, and delivered him out of all his afflictions. Act. 7.9.10. If ever thou hopest to be hea­led, or helped out of, or in [Page 364] any affliction, it must be by the Lord his hand. Refuse not the chastening of the Al­mighty (saith Eliphaz) for he maketh the wound, and bindeth it up: he smiteth; and his hands make whole. Hee shall deliver thee in six troubles, and in the seventh, the evill shall not touch thee. Job 5.17, 18, 19.

Hereupon they call one to another. Hos. 6.1. Come, let us return to the Lord, for he hath spoiled us, and hee will heale us: hee hath woun­ded, and hee will bind us up.

As the Lord took his time to bring thee into trouble, so hath he his time set for thy deliverance. To all things there is an appointed time, and a time to every pur­pose under heaven, Eccles. 3.1. [Page 365] Gods Providence hath set and limited the time how long his children shall suffer, and bee afflicted. Revel. 2.10. Yee shall suffer tribulation ten dayes.

This time thou canst not shorten, but lengthen it thou mayst, through thy impati­ence. As an earthly father correcting his childe for some fault, doth resolve with himself to give him but a lash, or two; to keep him but a while under the rod, if hee take his correction pati­ently; but if he kicke or murmurre, hee resolves to hold him down the longer, and give him the more stripes. Even so our hea­venly Father deales with his children: the more patient­ly wee take our affliction, the sooner wee are like to come [Page 366] out of it, The patient abiding of the righteous shall be glad­nesse, Prov. 10.28. Trust in the Lord and thou shalt bee safe. Hee that beleeveth ma­keth not haste, Esay 28.16. But is content to tarry the Lords leisure. Many are ready to compound and in­dent with God; thus long they will wait, thus long they will pray, and if by that time no helpe, nor de­liverance come, they will give over in their impatient mood, as the messenger of the King of Israel said, Behold this evill commeth of the Lord, should I attend the Lord any longer? 2. Kings 6.33. O beware of such thoughts, but let thy heart bee in the feare of the Lord continually: for sure­ly there is an end, and thy hope shall not be cut off, Prov. 23, [Page 367] 17, 18. Wee cannot denie but, The hope that is deferred is the fainting of the heart, but when the desire commeth, it is a tree of life, Prov. 13.12. The longer the Lord delaies our deliverance, the sweeter will it bee when it comes. Wait therefore with pati­ence, seeing the Lord by his writing, seal, and oath, hath promised to deliver us out of all our troubles. And what hee hath promised, hee will most certainly perform; for though God may bee an­gry with us for our sinnes, yet he cannot be unfaithfull, though he may, like Joseph, conceale his affection for a time, yet impossible it is that he should shut up his compas­sions, and renounce the protection of such as depend upon him, or denie delive­rance [Page 368] to such as do seek a­right unto him. Therefore, Who is there amongst you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant that walketh in darknesse, and hath no light, let him trust in the Name of the Lord, and stay upon his God. Esa. 50.10. By darknesse is heere understood affliction, out of which the Lord will assuredly bring all such as seek unto him, and rest upon him. Beware of making more haste then good speed to procure free­dom from our delive­rance out of troubles by unlawfull and sinfull cour­ses.

Wee rob the Lord of a great deal of honor, and our selves of a great deal of com­fort, which wee should reap by waiting upon the [Page 369] Lord. Too many are ready to thinke, that if they have some little time besought the Lord, that hee (forsooth) is bound presently to an­swer them. As those hypo­crites, Esay 58.3. expostula­ted the matter with the Lord saying, Wherefore have wee fasted, and thou seest it not? wee have punished our selves, and thou regardest it not. Some are ready to cry with David, How long, how long Lord, wilt thou forget me for e­ver? how long wilt thou hide thy face from mee? Psal. 13.1. Againe, Have mercy upon mee O Lord, for I am weake, O Lord heal me, for my bones are vexed. My soul is also sore trou­bled, but Lord how long wilt thou delay? Psal. 6.2, 3.

Beware of measuring the Lord by thine own line and [Page 370] plummet; let not thy car­nall reason, or fleshly wis­dom seem to direct or limit Gods Providence, thou maiest not joyn thine own fantasies to Gods will, but what thou seekest at his hands, thou must commend it to his good pleasure, with­out saying to thy selfe, Let it be thus, or so. God doth many times delay his chil­dren, and not by and by af­ford them that helpe, and comfort which he intendeth them: yea, sometimes he suf­fers them to be ready to sink, before he saves them. As he dealt with his Disciples, who were tossed up and down of the waves, the ship reeling too and fro, and ready to be overwhelmed before hee would awake, and bid the tempest be still: yet when he [Page 371] saw time, hee rebuked the winde, and seas, and delive­red his Disciples from their danger, and feare: Know and beleeve that the mea­sure, and issue of any tentati­on belongeth unto God. Therefore howsoever the case standeth with thee, ex­postulate not with God, en­tertain no hard conceits of him. The Lord in wisdom may delay our deliverance out of affliction, because haply hee sees that it hath not as yet throughly wrought upon us, nor done us that good he intendeth us. Do Goldsmiths use to take their mettall out of the for­nace before it be fined from the drosse? There be some kind of plaisters applied to the bellies of children, which will sticke fast so long as the [Page 272] wormes bee alive, but if the bed of them be broken, and they killed, the plaister will fall off: and so of many sores. If affliction still cleave unto thee, it is be­cause sinne is not yet killed in thee. This plaister lieth on us no longer then till the sore be whole, and the disease be cured in us. It may be the Lord sees wee are not fit for deliverance, wee would too quickly forget the rod, and return to our own byas, if hee should by and by ease us, as soon as wee cry un­to him. It may be the Lord sees wee would not be thank­full enough for delive­rance, if it should bee granted upon the first re­quest.

Things lightly attained unto, are oft times slightly [Page 273] regarded. Whereas those things which we get through the pikes, wee prize at a high rate. Therefore thou forgettest thy selfe, and the Word of truth, in saying, God hath forgotten to be mercifull and gracious, be­cause he doth not by and by answere thee. Can a wo­man forget her childe, and not have compassion on the son of her wombe? Peradventure there may bee some such un­naturall monsters, that cast off all naturall affection, and lay violent hands upon their children; but though they forget, yet will I not forget thee, saith the Lord, and for as­surance hereof, Behold, I have graven thee upon the palmes of my hands, Esay. 49.15, 16. When wee are afraid, wee shall forget a thing, we tye [Page 374] a thred about our finger, for our better remembring thereof; but when wee tie threds upon both hands, wee then make sure wee will not forget it; thus doth the Lord set down his children, in the palmes of both hands, that they may not be forgot­ten. Therefore still wait, and deliverance will come, when thou dost least think of it.

Object. I have no hope; I can­not thinke I shall be delive­red.

Answ. Gods thoughts are not your thoughts, Esay, 55.8. You know your own thoughts, you know not Gods, Jerem. 29.11. I know the thoughts that I thinke towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evill, to give you an expected end.

[Page 375] Object. But I see no way, no means of comfort.

Answ. Gods wayes are not your wayes, Esay, 55.8. The Lord hath his wayes many times in the deep, many times in the darke and secret. Hap­ly deliverance shall come some other way then thou canst imagine, or thinke of. When thou thinkest com­fort and deliverance is far­thest off, it may be neare at hand; yea, when thou seest least likelyhood of it: for, In the mount will the Lord be seen, Gen. 22.14. It may be thou seest no means, but the Lord can worke without means; yea, by contrary meanes, that his wisedome and power may appeare the more in thy deliverance. What means had Daniel to save him from the fury of [Page 376] those hungry and devou­ring Lyons? yet you know the Lord did deliver him.

Therefore, Commit thy way unto the Lord, and trust in him, and hee shall bring it to passe, Psalm. 37.5. So that all things considered, wee have little cause to bee dis­quieted in our afflictions, see­ing our heavenly Father sendeth them in love for our great good? and lesse cause we have to fret, or be dis­heartned if they tarry by us longer then wee would have them; for when wee are fit for deliverance wee shall bee sure of it; In the mean time, if dangers, or feares do in­crease upon thee, say to the Lord as good King Jeho­saphat, 2. Chron. 20.12. Wee know not what to do, but our [Page 377] eyes are towards thee. Con­sider into what great di­stresse and strait the Lord brought the people of Israel when they came out of Egypt; the sea before them, their enemies behind them, death (as it were) round a­bout them, yet how miracu­lously did the Lord make way for them?

So assure thy selfe whatso­ever thy trouble, or dan­ger bee, the Lord will one way or other give issue to his glory and thy good, al­though thou seest not how; because hee is the same God, no changeling in his goodnesse towards his children.

It is a sweet motto which one hath; I suffer, I hope. Fero, spero. Though sorrows and affli­ctions increase upon thee, yet [Page 378] give not over thy confidence, but resolve with holy Job, Loe though he slay me, yet will I trust in him, Job 13.15. The motion of a thing, the neerer it comes to the center, the swifter it is. Doth thy sor­row, thy paine, thy trouble increase upon thee? hope it is neere at an end. The chil­dren of Israel, the neerer they were unto comfort and deliverance, the sorer grew their afflictions, and the grea­ter were the burthens which their cruell taske-masters layd upon them; and so doth the Lord oft deale in other kindes, with his children. Therefore wait with pati­ence, seeing the Lord ma­ny times doth (suddenly) turne tragedies into come­dies, sorrow into joy, as he dealt with his people in E­sters [Page 379] dayes, to day in heavi­nesse, through feare of be­ing swallowed up, and made a prey unto their enemies, to morrow triumphing over their enemies, and treading them underneath their feet, Ester, 8.15, 16. For what thing can there bee under Heaven so heavie upon the heart of his children,Note. which the Lord cannot remove, and put joy in the place of it be­fore the day be light? There­fore hope in the Lord, and bee strong, and hee shall comfort thine heart, Psalm. 27.14. Be cheerefull therefore in thy af­fliction.

Object. Some will be ready to say, I hope I hurt no body by my sadnesse;but they are decei­ved, for,

Answ. Vncheer­fulnesse doth much hurt. First, they wrong the Lord by their uncheerful­nesse, [Page 380] not only in going, and doing against his word, which willeth us to bee joy­full in the Lord, as Psal. 32.11. Be glad ye righteous, and rejoyce in the Lord: and bee joyfull all ye that are upright in heart: but they do also wrong the Lord, in robbing him of that honor and praise which they might bring un­to him by their rejoycing in affliction.

Secondly, they wrong if not hurt their brethren, be­ing occasions of discourage­ment and disheartning them, making them to feare, and doubt of Gods goodnes, and their own abilitie, to bear any burden which the Lord shall lay upon them, seeing others or longer standing in Christ his school, and of greater knowledge, to shrink and [Page 381] buckle under their affli­ction.

Thirdly, they wrong their profession, by opening the mouthes of those that are without, or by putting a stumbling-blocke before them, causing them to ab­horre the way and practise of godlinesse, when they see so great troubles to at­tend upon it, and so little courage and cheerefulnesse in those that professe it.

Fourthly and lastly, they wrong and hurt themselves not only by disinabling and indisposing themselves to the generall, and particular due­ties of their callings (for a joyfull heart causeth good health: but a sorrowfull spirit dries up the bones, Prov. 17.22. that is, makes the body [Page 382] weake, and feeble: for a man is said to bee in his full strength, when his bones run full of marrow, Job, 21.23, 24.) but also in spoiling themselves of that peace, and comfort which they might enjoy by their cheerfull un­dergoing of afflictions; and loosing that holy vigor, and strength they might partake of by rejoycing in the Lord, for the joy of the Lord is your strength, Nehe. 8.10.

Besides, by their lumpish­nesse they make themselves unfit for holy dueties; they cannot serve God as they should, being oppressed with sadnesse. For we are to serve the Lord with glad­nesse of heart. Serve the Lord in feare, and rejoyce before him, Psal. 2.11.

How can any serve God [Page 483] joyfully, or praise him hear­tily, when the heart is laden with griefe, and the mind op­pressed with sorrow? If no joy in the sweet promises of God, what delight can be had in his worship and ser­vice?

And last of all, they ex­pose themselves unto Satans tentations: when they are dejected with worldly sor­row, then are they baits for Satan to catch at, and fit sub­jects for him to worke upon.

How many have been brought to a shamefull and miserable end, through Sa­tans subtiltie and malice, working upon them, and ta­king them at advantage in the time of their sorrow, and heavinesse? So that it is evident that such by their [Page 384] sadnesse, oft times do wrong both others, and them­selves.

But admit it were so (as you see it is false) that wee hurt no body but our selves by our sadnesse, is this a sufficient warrant to bear us out in our lumpish­nesse?

In what court was that commission sealed unto us, which gives us liberty to harme, or wrong our selves? Are wee not delinquents a­gainst Gods law, and the law of nature, in offring wrong unto our selves? Therefore seeing thy afflictions are but for a season, hold fast the Con­fidence, and the rejoycing of thy hope unto the end, Heb. 3.6. Live by faith, and (as the Prophet exhorteth) enter into thy chambers, and shut [Page 385] thy doores after thee: hide thy selfe for a little while untill the indignation passe over, Esay 26.20. By chambers, the Prophet meanes a quiet and peaceable conscience, into the which he would have us sequester our selves all the while the storme of affliction bloweth, that so with pati­ence we may waite for the e­vent of them.

And whereas he exhor­teth us to shut the doore af­ter us, hereby he perswades us unto courage & constan­cy; or else to keep our selves close from Satans temptati­ons, that he may find no chink nor crevis open, whereby he may enter into us, to disturbe us; for, if our hearts lie but a little open, so as he may have but the least ad­vantage, he is at hand to dis­quiet [Page 386] and perplex us. And whereas he bids us to hide our selves, he would have us to enjoy a secure freedom under Gods promise and pretection; in faith and hu­mility we should shrowd our selves under Gods wings that so he may keep us from inordinate fears and terrors, untill the affliction be past, which is but as a cloud or storm, that will not last al­waies, but will blowe over ere it be long, and be at an end. Therefore be cheere­full in thine afflictions. A­gaine, in that it is said, As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; not barely I rebuke and chasten you, but I re­buke and chasten as many as are deere unto me, or belo­ved of me; this manner of speech is used for the confir­mation [Page 387] of our faith in time of trouble, and to keep us from sinking through grief or despaire. For what ar­gument can bee more forci­ble to perswade us to the qui­et and patient bearing of our afflictions then to beleeve they be Gods love-tokens sent us for our good:Doctr. 3. Perswasi­on of Gods love will helpe us to beare our affli­ction. Whence mee may learne this Instruction, that A great helpe to keep us from sinking, and to enable us to beare up our heads with patience and cheerfullnesse in the time of affliction, is to be perswaded of Gods love, in afflicting of us. This hath been in part touched before, therefore I shall bee the briefer in the point. How fearefull our nature is of troubles, how unwilling the flesh is to taste of the cup of affliction; yea [Page 388] how we labor to shift and a­voyde it with a kinde of ab­horring it, common experi­ence teacheth us. And the mistrust of Gods providence and love wherewith natu­rally the best are infected, makes us to shun and avoyd afflictions as much as possi­bly wee can, lest wee should not bee able to grappie, and encounter with them. Wherein as wee bewray much weaknesse, so do wee expresse great incredulity: for hereby we do manifestly shew that wee thinke that God in afflicting doth not love us, and that therefore hee cannot or will not helpe us to beare them, that hee cannot or will not bring us fairely off them. There­fore let us not give way to carnall reason, nor heare [Page 389] what flesh and blood shall suggest unto us, but what is delivered from the Word of truth, which tels us, that the Lord correcteth him whom he loveth, even as the father doth the childe in whom hee delighteth, Prov. 3.12. If wee give eare to carnall wisdome it will tell us, sure­ly if God loved us, he would not thus afflict us. As if our afflictions were a wall of separation twixt Gods love and us. But what saies Paul, Ro. 8.38, 39. I am perswaded that neither death nor life, nor Angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Je­sus. This strong perswasi­on [Page 390] of Gods love; carried Paul on cheerfully in his troublesome pilgrimage, and made him joyfull in all his sorrowes and afflictions. Thus strongly should wee bee perswaded of Gods love; for hath not the Lord said, Esay 54.10. The mountaines shall remove and the hils shall fall downe, but my mercy, and love shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace fall away: as if hee should have said, though the whole world be turned topsy tur­vy, and heaven, and earth do meet together, yet standeth still my love and affection firm to theewards. The change and alteration of our outward estate and condition causeth no change of Gods love; for hee is still [Page 391] the same unto us and with us, though the face and fashion of the world goeth a­way 1. Cor. 7.31. The things of this life are muta­ble, and our condition is subject to daily change and alteration. Times have their vicissitudes, to day it is well with us, to morrow ill; to day at ease, to mor­row in paine: to day we have something, to morrow lesse, it may be nothing; to day in honor, to morow in disgrace, seldome continu­ing in one stay. In which variable condition of ours, and amids all changes and chances of this life, here is comfort to the child of God, that God is the same and changeth not, but as he now loveth him so hee will for ever continue loving and [Page 392] gracious to him, John 13.1. And hosoever we cannot tell what shall bee to mor­row, James 4.14. wee know our beginning (as the old saying is) but we know not what our end shall be; as Paul went up to Jerusalem but knew not what things should come unto him there, Acts 20.22. Yet such is our happinesse and comfort; that come what will come, no event whatsoever can keepe back, or turne away Gods love from us: and though our state be changed, yet Gods love to us is not changed, but still the same, as true, and as intyre as o­ver it was. My enemies may take away my liberty, my goods, my good name, my deare friends, and that which of all other things is [Page 393] most deare unto me, even my life; but I have one Jew­well, all the devils in hell, all the powers of darkenes, all the rage and malice of the world can never spoile me of, they cannot rob me of the love of my God. This confidence and per­swasion of Gods love and favor beares up the godly from sinking under the bur­den of their affliction, and makes them cheerfull, when as the wicked wanting this assurance are either sence­lesse, or else faithlesse and impatient under the crosse. The faithfull making God and his favor their portion and happinesse, enjoy this priviledge in time of adver­sity, as well as in the day of prosperity, and therefore their hearts (or their desire [Page 394] is to) bee as joyfull when they are in trouble and af­flictions as if they were most free from them: Where­as the wicked placing their whol felicity in these earthly things their profits, pleasures, &c. When their wealth, and worldly things faile, their joy, their hope and comfort ends with them: These have nothing but nature to helpe them beare their bur­dens: Whence it commeth to passe that infidelity and impatience do make them more grievous and burden­some; whereas the faithfull having the perswasion of Gods love, and the pre­sence of his Spirit to support them, take comfort in their troubles during the time of their tryall, and wait for a seasonable and cumfortable [Page 395] issue and deliverance out of them. So that it is a truth not to be questioned, that the perswasion of Gods love in afflicting of us, is a great help to keepe us from sinking under afflictions, and to enable us with patience, and cheerfullnesse to under­go them: this perswasion will carry us on comforta­bly in our pilgrimage, it will make us willing to beare whatsoever the Lord shall be pleased to lay upon us, and to want that which wee see, hee is not willing wee should injoy. Wee rejoyce in tribulations, saith Paul, Rom. 5.3. because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given us, verse, 5.

Reason 1 Because God will helpe our crosse. And that first of all, be­cause he that is perswaded [Page 396] of Gods love, cannot but beleeve that God will helpe him to beare his crosse, and to undergo his afflicti­on, bee it what it will. For God is faithfull and will not suffer his to be tempted above that they are able to beare, 1. Cor. 10.13.

Object. But I am weake (saith one) and I shall never bee able to beare such or such trials: if the Lord laies any more upon mee I shall never beare it.

Answ. Comfort thy selfe, God will either make thee able, or else hee will lighten and lessen thy affliction. Thy God who loves thee, will put to his hand, hee will helpe at a dead lift, his po­wer is made perfect through weaknesse, 2. Cor. 12.9. Hee loves thee and therefore [Page 397] will not overloade thee. His grace shall bee sufficient for thee. Therefore say as did Jeremy, O Lord thou art my force and my strength, and my refuge in the day of afflicti­on, Jer. 16.19.

Reason 2 God in­tends our good in af­flicting us. Secondly, the perswasion of Gods love will be help­full unto us to the cheerfull bearing of affliction, be­cause if wee beleeve that God loves us, wee know that he intends our good in afflicting of us, yea, will do us good by our affliction, For hee chasteneth all his chil­dren for their profit, Heb. 12.10. It is good for me (saith David) that I have been af­flicted, Psal. 119.71.

Haply wee can see no good that is like to come unto us, out of this affliction, or that trouble, but rather evill or [Page 398] hurt; yet through the good­nesse and wisdome of the Lord, good shall bee ex­tracted out of this evill, as the best treacle is made of deadly poyson. When we are in a course of Physick, at the first wee see not, we feel not any good it doth us, but it makes us rather worse then wee were before: and causeth many a sicke qualme, many a fainting fit, and we wish the Physick had never been prescribed unto us, or not taken of us: but when wee consider of whom wee tooke it, even from him whose judgement and knowledge we approve of, whose care and love wee doubt not of, then we are the more quieted and pluck up our spirits in expectati­on, and hope of ease, ere [Page 399] it be long. It may be thou findest no good thine affli­ction hath yet done thee, it being now working upon thee; Yet if thou canst but rest a while and bee perswa­ded of the wisdome, and love of God, who hath administred this physick unto thee, thou wilt bee contented, and looke for good to follow it: When rhe sonnes of Zerviah, would faine have been doing with that dead dogge Shimei, for cursing their Lord and Ma­ster no, no, saies David, suffer him to curse, it may be the Lord will looke upon mine affliction, and do mee good for his cursing this day. 2. Sam. 16.11, 12. But the Apo­stle Paul being more full of faith, putting the question past peradventure, hee puts [Page 400] it out of question, resolves and builds upon it, wee know that all things worke to­gether for the best to those that love God, Rom. 8.28. Now wee know that every one that loves God, is beloved of God, for wee love him be­cause he loved us first, Iob 4.19. How cheerfully do wee use to welcome those that bring us but tidings of good? but if any one brings us any great benefit, we thinke wee cannot bid him too wel­come; Is affliction come un­to thee? Welcome it, for certainly (if thou beest the Lords) I dare boldly (as David said of Abimaaz the sonne of Zadock, Hee is a good man and commeth with good tydings, 2. Sam. 18.27.) say of affliction, it is a good thing and bringeth [Page 401] not only tydings of good, but good it selfe unto thee. For no sooner comes affli­ction to Gods children, but, if it be welcomed, good will bee at the heels thereof to follow after it.

Reason 3 No mise­ry can make Gods peo­ple mise­rable. Thirdly, it cannot bee but the perswasion of Gods love, will make us cheer­full in affliction, because being beloved of God, no misery can make us miser­able. Art thou in Gods favor, then thou art ever in his eye, he lookes after thee, and is carefull that no evill shall befall thee? Nay thou art unto him, as the apple of his eye, Zach. 2.8. tender, and deere un­to him, and therefore what­soever danger doth beset thee, the Lord will bee at thy right hand to uphold and [Page 402] comfort thee. Being in Gods favor, thou art sure of his protection, for thou Lord wilt blesse the righte­ous, and with favor wilt compasse him, as with a shield Psa. 5.12. Noah was safe enough in that great and deadly deluge, because the Lord prepared an arke for him, and shut him up. Daniel was safe enough amongst the Lyons, because God sent his Angel shut the Lyons mouths, that they could not hurt him, Dan. 6.22. The Lord hath made a gracious promise, that When thou passest thorow the waters he will be with thee, and tho­row the floods, that they do not overflow thee. When thou walkest thorow the fire, &c. Esay 43.2. from [Page 403] whence is this? it followes in the 4. verse because thou wast precious in my sight and thou wast honorable, and I loved thee.

Therefore if God love thee, thou art happy, thou canst not be miserable, Nay, shall I speake boldly unto thee? I tell thee, if thou wert (if possible) in Hell, in the deepest gulfe of ca­lamity that can bee, yet for all this being beloved of God, thy estate and con­dition is happy, hee will gaine glory and thou shalt get good by all that evill which hath or shall befall thee.

Reason. 4 Nothing can sepa­rate us from God. Fourthly and lastly, the assurance of Gods love will make us willing to bear our affliction, because we know that nothing can separate us [Page 404] as was said before) from this love of God, but be­ing once beloved of him, we shall so continue for e­ver. It is not all the wit, or will, the cunning or sub­tilty, the power, or pol­licy of all the creatures on the face of the earth or un­derneath the earth, let there bee a confederacy a­mongst them, yea let them all cast in their lot and make one common purse, Prov. 1.14 to do thee mischief; let them all plod, plot, com­bine, and bandy themselves against thee, they shall never bee able to winde thee out of Gods love or favor, if once beloved of him. It is possible that thou mayest lose the love and favor of the World, and the more, because thou art [Page 405] beloved of God; for the World loves none but her owne brats, Joh. 15.19. It is a very stepdame or ra­ther beldame to all that are beloved of God. It is pos­sible that thy friends may become thy foes, and their former love may be turned into future hatred. It is possible that those that are nearest and dearest unto thee, may reject thee, Yet though thy father and thy mother should forsake thee, the Lord will not, he will take the care of thee, Psal. 27.10. If God hath once chosen thee for his own, and set his love upon thee, whether thou beest in health or in sicknesse, in ease or in paine, in prosperity or adversitie, in life or in death all is one, God loveth thee [Page 406] neverthelesse. Before he shewed thee his love, he knew what would befall thee; yea nothing (as wee have heatd) can betide thee but that which he intended and provided in love for the; so that whether you live or die, you are the Lords, Rom. 14.8.

The Lord for special ends may give thee over unto af­flictions, he may give thee up into the hands of those that hate thee (yea even unto the death) and therfore will take away thy life from thee, As it is written, for thy sake are we killed all the day long, we are counted as sheep for the slaugh­ter, Rom. 8.36. Yet none of these, nay, not all these put together can any whit dimi­nish or abate the love of God towards thee, much [Page 407] lesse spoile thee wholly of it, and take it cleane away from thee, when they have done the worst they can against thee or unto thee. When thou art plunged into the deepest distresse that might, or malice can bring thee in­to, thou art still as deere and precious in the Lords eye as ever thou wert: nay (if it were possible) deerer now then ever thou wert before, if those troubles and afflicti­ons which thine enemies have devised and brought upon thee, be for righteous­nesse sake.

One friend may love ano­ther deerely, yet when the one shall expose himself to danger or trouble for the o­thers sake; when I see my frend hath not regarded his life for my good, but adven­tured [Page 408] and hazarded his own life in my defence and safety; how doth this increase mine affection towards him? as it was said of Jonathan, his soule was knit with the soule of Da­vid, and Jonathan loved him as his own soule, 1 Sam. 18.1. So this will knit my heart and love unto him, and I shal love him as mine own soule. How much more then may we be assured, that if our af­flictions be for Gods cause, in his defence, he will abun­dantly recompence, and more deerely love us? Then let no man say that he is lesse beloved of God then others, because he is more afflicted then others be; God still loves his and will own them for his people whatsoever outward sorrowes or mise­ries may befall them, I have [Page 409] surely seen the trouble of my peo­ple and have heard their cry and I know their sorrowes, Exod. 3.7. Though wee bee in trouble, yea and such trouble as makes us cry out for griefe and sorrow yet still we bee the Lords people. Outward miseries and trou­bles cannot make God to respect any of his any thing the lesse. God is not like some proud people of the world, who will acknow­ledge their friends no lon­ger then they are in prospe­rity, and be able to requite their kindnesse with kind­nesse againe. Some such beasts there bee, that if they bee either advanced into high places above their pa­rents; or their parents, their brethren, sisters and friends fallen into decay and pover­ty, [Page 410] will scarse own them, but grow to bee ashamed of them. It is farre otherwise betwixt the Lord and his people; when they are up to the knees in durt, when they are cruelly oppressed, when in a poore, and base condition, it may be not ha­ving cloaths to cover their nakednesse, when their cheekes looke pale, and their faces leane, and wan through hunger, sorrow, or sicknesse, when they be grown out of favor through bodily diseases, they are (e­ven then) as lovely in the Lords eyes as ever, and hee will then acknowledge us for his people aswell, nay better, then in our great prosperity. If a childe be sick in the family, how are the thoughts and minde of [Page 411] the parents; taken up about that child? how do they tend it, and pitty it? O my poore sicke child, &c. thus doth the Lord pitty his chil­dren, and tender them in their affliction.

Vse 1 We learne from hence why we be so troubled with our affliction. Now to make some ap­plication of the point.

Is it so, that the perswa­sion of Gods love is a great help to carry us cheerfully through afflictions? here hence then we may be instructed, what the cause is that wee are so much troubled and per­plexed with afflictions, as if they were the meanes of our undoing, that the very thought, or expectation of them is most grievous and irkesome unto us, certainly here is the ground of all our feares, and doubts, the want of a sound perswasion, [Page 412] and assurance of Gods love, in correcting us. Did we beleeve that when we are af­flicted wee are in the hands of our holy, righteous, e­verliving, and everloving God, who never did us any wrong who never intended us any harme, but alwayes goeth the best, the wisest, and the most loving way to worke with his children, would wee not bee lesse a­fraid of afflictions then we be? more willing to under­goe them then we are? Lit­tle do wee know how highly we dishonor God, how much we gratify and please the Devill, when wee re­pine against the hand of God, when wee bee impa­tient in afflictions, and que­stion his love for correcting us. The Devill desired that [Page 413] Job might be sorely afflicted that so he might bee brought to curse God, Stretch now out thine hand and touch his bones and his flesh to see if he will not blaspheme thee to thy face, Job, 2.5. It is a pa­stime unto the Devill to set God, and his children at variance; and therefore hee desires to vex, and perplex us, that so wee may open our mouths against the Lord, and quarrell with him; for when we are discontented with the Lords dealing; when wee mutter, and mur­mur against the Lord, what do wee lesse then rebell a­gainst him? Hence it is that Moses called the murmuring Israelites, Rebels, Numb. 20, 10. Heare now ye rebels, shall wee bring you watter out of this rocke? Therefore murmure [Page 414] not against the Lord, for then thou rebellest against him, and robbest him, as much as in thee lieth, of his most glorious attributes, his power, his goodnesse, his love, his truth. When we deal with that man which makes cōscience of his word, wee question not the truth of his promise, but rest up­on the performance and ma­king good of that which he hath said. If a father pro­miseth unto his childe any thing, the childe makes as sure reckoning of the thing promised as if hee had it al­ready in possession. Shall wee dare to give lesse credit to God, then to man? when hee telleth us, hee correcteth us in love, and intendeth our good in afflicting of us shall wee dare to question [Page 415] the truth of his word, espe­cially when hee hath secon­ded his Word by oath, yea and sealed both with the blood of his deare Sonne? Is any man so mindfull and carefull of keeping covenant and promise as the Lord? Is any so able to make good his word, as God?

Tricks of Law and the wilie subtilties of mans braine are oft occasions of frustrating promises made betwixt man and man, but there is no wisedom, neither understanding nor councell a­gainst the Lord, Prov. 21.30. God is not as man, that hee should lye, neither as the sonne of man, that he should repent: hath hee said, and shall he not do it? hath hee spoken, and shall hee not accomplish it? Numb. 23.19. God is so faithfull [Page 416] of his Word that nothing is able to make him goe back, or to falsify his promise: Gods Word shal stand when Heaven and Earth shall fall. To mistrust Gods promise is to question whether there be a God or no. For either to deny or doubt of his truth and fidelity, is to deny, or doubt him to bee God. E­very honest man scandeth upon his credit, for his cre­dits sake he dares not eate his word, hee keepeth pro­mise though it bee to his own losse, and hindrance. How much more will the Lord, who is jealous of his glory, bee carefull to make good whatsoever hee hath said?

What greater indignity can bee offered to an honest and godly man, then to [Page 417] question the truth of his word? What greater di­shonor can be unto the Lord, then to call into que­stion his truth? which wee do when wee either say or thinke hee loves us not in af­flicting of us. Howsoever crosses and afflictions do oft times present themselves to the apprehension of car­nal men with much terorr, & horror, yet even in the very bitternesse, and extremity of them, thou (by the helpe of faith) maist draw a great deal of joy and comfort from them; if thou wouldst fix thy minde upon such places, and promises as these are Isa. 43.2. and 63.8. Rom. 8.28. 2. Cor. 4.17. Heb. 12.6. A patient sub­mission to Gods will, and a perswasion of his love in [Page 418] correcting of us, is an infal­lible evidence that thou art a sonne, and not a bastard. Is there not more sweetnesse in those afflictions which are evidences of Gods love, & tokens that thou art in the right way to Heaven; then in out­ward ease, worldy pleasures, and carnall liberty which clearly demonstrate to thy conscience that thou art in the broad way to Hell? hence it was that the Apostls rejoyced, when they were beaten. That they were counted worthy to suffer rebuke for the name of Christ, Act. 5.41.

Nay, all the scorne and contempt, all the contu­melious reproaches which the world shall spit out at thee, do crown thy head (and therefore should fill [Page 419] thy heart) with aboundance of glory, blessednesse, and joy. If ye be reproched for the name of Christ, happy are ye, for the spirit of glory, & of God resteth upon you. 1. Pet. 4.14.

Schoffes, spitefull and taunting speeches, odious nick-names, and lying im­putations cast upon thee by those, whose tongues cut like sharpe raisors, are but so many honorable badges of thy profession, and Christian resolution of stan­ding for Christ, & his truth; and shall pull down a bles­sing upon thee. Blessed are ye when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all evill against you for my sake, re­joyce and be glad, for great is your reward in Heaven. Mat. 5.11, 12.

I define to beate this mile [Page 420] home to the head; & therfore I tarry the longer upon this use; for if we could but bee thorowlie perswaded of this truth, that God loveth us in that he correcteth us, all differences betwixt the Lord and us about affliction, would bee at an end, and our sorrow would be turned into joy, and rejoycing in tribulation, Rom. 5.3. our unquietnesse would bee tur­ned into patience, our lum­pishnesse into cheerfulnesse, and our murmurring into thankfullnesse. Therefore I would have you know that the Devill our adversary hath not a more forcible en­gine, or any more cunning stratageme to batter our peace, and patience, and so to draw away our hearts from resting upon God in [Page 421] the time of our afflictiō, then to make us to question Gods love, and so to mistrust his truth.

Who did ever trust in the Lord and was decei­ved? Our Fathers (saith Da­vid) trusted in thee, they tru­sted & thou didst deliver them, they called upon thee, and were delivered, they trusted in thee, and were not confounded Psal. 22.4, 5. Whereupon Da­vid praies, My God I trust in thee, let mee not bee con­founded, so all that hope in thee shall not bee ashamed, Psalme, 25.2, 3. And was the Lord the God of David only? Is he not also their God that do put their trust in his goodnesse and mercy? Is Gods love and kindnesse, his mercy and goodnesse lesse unto his people, now then [Page 422] it was to those of old? Or is the Lord more feeble and lesse able to helpe, and do good to us, then to our fa­thers before us? No, no, hee is the Ancient of dayes, Dan. 7.22. the same God now that ever hee was; as able, and as willing now to do good to those that be­leeve in him, as he hath beene of old. Therefore in all thine afflictions learne to judge of, and to measure Gods love, by his word, not by thy present feeling and comfort. Let thine eye bee upon that love which will one day change thy estate, and give thee a plentifull croppe of good, out of this sorrowfull seed time of affli­ction. Should any hus­bandman measure his e­state, and wealth by his seed [Page 423] time, there were poore comfort to bee found; for doth hee not weary his body through painfull toile and labor? doth hee not empty his store and cast away his corne out of his hand? but when hee doth consider that without a seed time, there is no possibility of an har­vest, and withall, that, Hee that soweth liberally shall reape liberally, 2. Cor. 9.6. He is then contented both with his paines, and expen­ces. Even so, if our eyes bee so fixed upon our present afflictions, that wee see not the future good, which (through the love of God unto us) they will bring us, wee shal very hardly bee up­held in the time of our af­fliction; but if wee look off the affliction, and fasten our [Page 424] eye upon the love of God, and that good he will doe us for that evil which we pati­ently and thankfully sustain, how joyfully, how conten­tedly, how sweetly may we sit down and blesse God for afflicting of us? Object. But may some weak beleever object and say, I make no question but that God in love doth chasten some of his children, but how can I beleeve that my afflictions are tokens of his love, when as I find and feele no good that hath come unto me through them? nay I feare I am the worse for them; for I am now more impatient, more uncheere­full, and more distrustfull of the love and providence of God then ever I was before.

Answ. To favor thy weaknesse a little: let mee tell thee, that [Page 425] it may be this is but one of Satans wiles & enterprises to rob thee of that good hee sees thine affliction is like to do thee: and that thou art not so distrustfulll of Gods love, nor so unbeleeving as the Devill doth beare thee in hand thou art. But admit it bee so, and that thou art as thou speakest of thy selfe: wilt thou judge of the good effect of thy bodily physicke, or the skill and love of thy Physician by the sick and painfull working of the Phy­sick? What wise man would so do? This were all one, as if a man should judge of his future strength, or a woman of her beautie by their pre­sent condition of sicknesse. Therefore howsoever no good by affliction may ap­peare at first, but the con­trary, [Page 426] rather there being much impatience, infidelity, &c. Yet know thou that no mans grace is to be judged of in the time of temptation: for certainly many even of the Lords deare children, when the hand of God is up­on them (especially if it lie more heavily and longer then ordinary) do doubt of Gods love and favour, and do be­wray much corruption by their unadvised and inconsi­derate words, by their sowre and lumpish cariage in the time of their afflicti­ons.

The Scripture commen­deth Moses for faith and obe­dience, yet being perplex­ed, and vexed with the dogednesse, and rebellion of the Israelites, hee so of­fended the Lord by his unbe­liefe, [Page 427] that the Lord did cut him short of Canaan, and would not suffer him to set foot on that promised land. Because yee beleeved mee not to sanctifie mee in the presence of the children of Israel, there­fore yee shall not bring this people into the land that I have given them. Numb. 20.12.

Admirable and invincible was the patience of Job: Yet when the hand of God was first upon him, how did hee curse the day of his birth, wishing that hee had died as soon as he was born? Let that day perish wherein I was born, &c. Job. 3.3. And after­ward againe, Oh that God would destroy me, that he would let his hand go and cut mee off, Job. 6.9.

Was not David beloved [Page 428] of God, and a man after his own heart? yet hee was so overwhelmed with the cloud of afflictions, and so batte­red with the storme of adver­sity, that he could not di­scerne the love of God to­wards him, but hee cries out, Will the Lord absent himselfe for ever? and will hee shew no more love, or favor, Psal. 77.7. And againe, Lord, why dost thou reject my soul, and hi­dest thy face from mee? Thine indignations go over mee, and thy feare hath cut me off, Psal. 88.15, 16.

I alledge not these ex­amples for the fostering of any in their impatience and unbeliefe; nor that any should take libertie from hence, for the like behavior in the time of affliction; but I speak this the rather, partly [Page 429] to uphold and comfort weak beleevers; that they listen not to Satans temptations, who will be ready to bu [...]e it into their eares, that none of Gods children do question his love in the time of triall, or shew any impatience un­der the rod: and partly to stop the mouthes of the wicked, and to stay their uncharitable censure from going too farre; they being so ready to measure the child of God either by his affli­ctions, or by his behavior in them.

Objects. But may Gods children be sad and heavie in time of affli­ction?

Answ. No doubt they may: for doth not Saint Peter say, now for a season (if need require) yee are in heavinesse through manifold tentations, 1. Pet. 1.6. [Page 430] but in our heavinesse, these cautions must be ob­served.

First, our sorrow must be greater for our sinne, which brought the affliction, then for the affliction it selfe.

Secondly, wee must not bee excessive, but moderate in our heavinesse.

Object. But how may wee know that our sorow for afflictions is moderate?

Answ. First, if it exceed not the measure of our sorrow for sinne. If our sinnes bee our greatest heart-smart, our sor­row for affliction is mode­rate.

Secondly, if our sorrow for affliction hurt us not, that is, drieth not up our bones, impaireth not our strength, or make us unfit for publique imployment.

[Page 431]Thirdly and lastly, if it withdrawes not the heart from God, and the dueties of his worship and ser­vice.

Object. But the weake beleever will still object and say; If my troubles and afflictions were only bodily and out­ward, I make no question but I should see Gods love in them: but my wound and griefe is inward and spiritu­all, I cannot finde, or feel the sweet comforts of Gods Spirit, I see the angry coun­tenance of God bent against me, for my sinnes; God (mee thinkes) lookes not now upon mee with the ami­able countenance of a loving Father, but with the face of a severe and strict judge, rea­dy to take vengeance upon mee for my sinnes, how can [Page 432] I then be perswaded either or Gods love, or that my case is good, or that good is in­tended mee by this afflicti­on?

Answ. Howsoever these inward and spirituall afflictions be the sorest of all trials, for the spirit of a man may sustaine his (bodily) infirmities, but a wounded spirit, who can beare? Prov. 18.14. Yet I would have thee know, that even these inward and sad afflicti­ons, are no other then are incident unto the best of Gods children, and where­with the Lord in love doth afflict them.

For the Lord seeth) as wee have spoken before) what his children stand in most need of; out of his deep and unsearchable wisedome, hee singles out, and makes [Page 433] choice of those tryalls which shall make most for our spiri­tuall good: the Lord ever pitcheth upon that affliction which shall worke best upon us, and serve most punctually to humble and awe us. Some he afflicts with varietie of worldly crosses, as in their children, or outward estate. Some he doth extraordinari­ly exercise with spirituall conflicts, and troubles of conscience: thus sorting out unto his children those seve­rall crosses, and corrections, which out of his unsearch­able wisedome, and their spi­rituall necessitie hee sees most expedient for them. There­fore of what nature soever thy crosse be, do thou take it up, seeing it pleaseth our wise God to exercise thee with it, as thy portion. It [Page 432] [...] [Page 433] [...] [Page 434] may be thou thinkest that no outward, and worldly crosse could go so neere thee, as doth this inward tentation; but who knowes what thou wouldst be, if this tryal were removed? It may bee, the Lord sees that (without it) thou wouldest grow world­ly, or waspish, or secure, or proud; now high spirits must be abased low;Note. and the Lord sees that these inward and spirituall conflicts are the best, and surest way to hum­ble us, and to bring us out of love with sinne, and our selves, and more in love with his majestie. He breaks up, hee rents, and teares the heart and conscience with fears, and terrors, that so it may bee made more ply­able, and gentle, more fit to receive, and to retaine that [Page 435] seed of grace which the Lord is now casting into them. Therefore assure thy selfe that it is not for any want of love that the Lord doth lay so heavie a load upon thine heart, and conscience, or keeps thee (it may be) upon the rack; it is not because thou shouldst thinke or say, hee hath cast thee off from being his child, but that thou mayest be the better fit­ted for that good hee inten­deth thee, and that thou mayest make more account of his love, when it is shed a­broad in thine heart. God will have those which shall hereafter partake of his light, now and then to know what it is to fit in darknesse, and to bee in the shadow of death. Now, because of all other tentations and tryals incident [Page 436] unto us, there are none so grievous and unsupportable as are inward and spirituall afflictions; let it not be ac­counted lost time, if (before I proceed any further) I make here some little stand, both to take a view of some inward afflictions, and also to prescribe some remedies for the easing (if not the cu­ring) of such malladies as are most obvious, and oft times prove most dangerous, for want of applying, or impro­ving of those helpes, & means which may be used: Almigh­ty God our most wise Physi­tion, who sees us inwardly, and is better acquainted with our constitution, and temper then wee our selves are, knoweth how to strike every one in the right veine: and because people full fed, are [Page 437] oft full of grosse humors, and bad blood; and those that live idly, live (oft times) un­profitably; the Lord) in great wisedome) doth exer­cise some of his deare ones with fightings within, that so the inward man may be the better able to withstand out­ward evills: as souldiers in many places are trained, that so they may bee the more skilfull, and better able to resist a forraign enemie.

Somtimes the Lord is pleased to withdraw the sweet comforts of his spirit, from the hearts of his deare children, and to strike them with inward terrors, and feares of his wrath, and vengeance; which condition of theirs, although it be un­comfortable for the present, yet it proves profitable in the [Page 438] end. Of all afflictions inci­dent to the soul of man, there is none so grievous, and in­tolerable, as a wounded con­science; this transcends all other malladies, and mise­ries whatsoever; and there­fore Solomon asketh, Who can be are it? Prov. 18.14. An ac­cusing conscience tortures the soul with hellish horror here, and (as it were) plun­geth a poore sinner into hell whiles he lives. When that gnawing, and biting worme begins to fasten its teeth up­on a poore soul, his anguish and vexation becomes un­speakable, and unconceivable of any, but those that have felt it.

No favor of man, no love of friends, no preferment of the world, no outward ho­nors, nor abundance of ri­ches, [Page 439] will be able to quench the fire, or alay the heat of a tormented conscience. As may apeare by that memora­ble story of Francis Spira, who being upon the rack of a guilty and accusing consci­ence, oft wished himselfe (as is reported) in Cains case, and in Judas his place, and that his soul might exchange with theirs; wishing, and desiring rather to be in hell torments, then to be racked and rent with such hellish horrors, and raging feares, as did continually affright his poore soul. And being by one demanded, If hee feared not greater tortures, and tor­ments after this life, then hee now sustained; hee answe­red, Yes; but yet he wished he were in hell, that so his torturing fears might be at an [Page 440] end. This mans condition (no boubt) was terrible, and dredfull; yet who can say, that hee perished everlasting­ly? What warrant have any (as some have done) to judge him to bee a desperate casta­way? They will say, that God might condemne him out of his own mouth. But is this sufficient evidence for any, peremptorily to passe sentence upon him? The words of a distempered per­son are of no validitie in any civill court whatsoever. Is it not an usuall thing for brain-sick and distempered persons to belie themselves, and others too.

Object. But Spira despaired of mercie.

Answ. And what of that? Have not many of Gods deare children done so, many [Page 441] yeeres together? Did any thing befall him in the time of his desperation, but that which is incident unto the childe of God? hath not our age afforded us examples, as deep in dispaire (in outward appearance) as ever Spira was; whether wee consider the matter of his tentation, which was Apostacie, or the deepnesse of his desperation; and yet through the good­nesse, and mercie of God, they received comfort in the end. Hee that will avouch Spira to be a castaway, must prove, that he despaired both total­ly and finally; which (as I conceive) they can hardly do; seeing it is said, That in the midst of his desperation, hee complained of the hard­nesse of his heart, which (as hee said) lockt up his mouth, [Page 442] and tyed up his tongue from prayer. Hee felt the hard­nesse of his heart, complai­ned of it, and lamented it: the Word of God may disco­ver corruption in us; but is it not grace that makes any to be waile corruption? Who knowes what case, and com­fort he might find, and feele within, before his soul went out of his body, albeit hee ne­ver made any expression of it, nor any neere him could perceive it?

Object. But doth God deale so sharply with any of his chil­dren, as to exercise them with such horror of consci­ence?

Answ. Yes, very often. The conscience of a deere child of God may a long time be vexed with feares, and hor­rors, lie a long time upon [Page 443] the rack of unquietnesse and torture, so farre from appre­hending, or hoping for any comfort or mercie, that hee may receive the sentence of death against himselfe, and subscribe to his own damna­tion; yea, he may confident­ly avouch himselfe to have no grace, no faith, to be a ve­ry castaway. And yet (wee see) these blustring stormes have (in good time) blowne over? and God upon unfai­ned humiliation hath pacifi­ed their accusing conscience, stilled, and quieted their troubled minde, by the ap­prehension of his love in the pardon of their sinnes.

For after the soul is once kindly soaked in godly sor­row, and the heart sufficient­ly humbled in the sight of [Page 444] our unworthinesse; the Lord (at length) shewes us his lo­ving countenance, tells us by his Spirit, that he is reconci­led unto us, and that through Christ wee are freed from the guilt, and so from the punish­ment of all our sinnes. For though wee have been pollu­ted, and stained with all manner of iniquitie, and im­pietie, even from top to toe; though our sinnes have been of a crimson and skarlet hue, as great and grievous as may be, so as peradventure, in our conceit there is no possi­billity of being cleansed from them, yet God is able to make them as white as snow, and wool. Isa. 1.18.

There is no sinner so abo­minable, and loathsome, whom true and sound repen­tance will not make as holy, [Page 445] and as righteous as Adam was before his fall. Mistake me not; not that any peni­tent (if his heart-strings should breake with sighing, and sobbing, or his eyes fall out of his head with weeping and mourning) can of him­selfe be personally holy, and pure, free from all fault, without any blot, or blemish of iniquitie; but hee is holy, and unblamable in regard of Gods gracious acceptation of him through Christ, as if he had never sinned. For you must know, that where sinne is pardoned, it is pur­ged. If thou canst truely mourne for thy sinne, thou art forthwith disburdened of the guilt, and freed from the eternal punishment of all thy former wickednesse. Repen­tance if it be true, doth cast [Page 446] sinne out of the heart, and where this is done, God laies down all quarels against such a person.

Therefore nourish no sin, abandon it, banish it from thee; break off thy course of sinne betimes, even whiles it is called to day, and then Gods countenance will ap­pear friendly, & comfortable unto thee, and thy conscience will be quiet, and speak peace unto thee.

Object. This were some comfort, if I could beleeve what you say, or be able to apply it un­to my selfe, which I can not doe.

Answ. This indeed is another sore affliction, which lies hea­vie upon the hearts of many of Gods dear children; They are for the most part annoy­ed, and pestered with doubt­tings, [Page 447] and unbeliefe. The glad tidings of the Gospel (some say) are too good to be true, or if true, too good for them to share in. And why for them? because (they say) they are such sinners? And came not Christ into the World to call sinners? yea, the greatest sinners, such as Manasses, and Paul was, who acknowledged himselfe to be the chiefe of sinners. 1. Tim. 1.15. The greater thy sinnes have been, the more thine unworthinesse is, the more will the grace of God shine in receiving of thee into grace and mer­cie.

Object. If it were with me, as it is with good people, I could beleeve this: if there were that grace in mee I perceive to be in others, I make no [Page 448] question but God would be good unto me.

Answ. Oh beware of spirituall Symonie. Too many thinke that the mercie of God must be purchased by somthing of theirs; if they were thus, or thus quallified they durst be­leeve, if they had thus much sanctification they durst hope. But these erre, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the goodnesse of God, whose grace is freely bestowed up­on all that partake of it. Ho every one that thirsteth, come yee to the waters, and yee that have no silver: come buy wine and milk without silver, and without money. Isa. 55.1. In which words all condition of merit (on our part) is ut­terly excluded. Christ in the Gospel is offered freely unto sinners, and there is [Page 449] no more required at our hands, but to receive and welcome him being offered freely unto us. The water of life is tendered freely to all that desire it. I will give to him that is athirst of the well of the water of life freely. Revel. 21.6.

The Spirit, and the Bride say, Come, and let him that is athirst come. Revel. 22.17.

Object. But I cannot thirst as I should.

Answ. But hast thou a will? Dost thou desire to thirst? woul­dest thou faine thirst, hast thou a will? These words are also added to draw on fear­full and doubting sinners, and let whosoever will, take of the water of life freely. Revel. 22.17. O sweet words, O comfortable words. Thou [Page 450] sayest thou wouldst faine have mercy, faine have Christ; what hinders thee from receiving him, from be­leeving? Heere is a word: heere is thy warrant to take Christ. Nay, thou art per­emptorily commanded to be­leeve. 1. John 3.23. This is then his Commandment, that wee beleeve in the namt of his Sonne, Jesus Christ. Thou hast as good warrant to be­leeve the promises, and to receive Christ, as to love thy neighbor, or to absteine from theft, murder, &c.

Darest thou kill, commit adultrey, or steale? No. And why so? Because these are breaches of Gods Com­mandment. And dost thou not also break Gods Com­mandment when thou doubtest of his goodnesse, [Page 451] when thou beleevest not?

God commands thee to receive Christ for thy salva­tion; therefore, if thou hang back through doubting, if thou question Gods truth, thou committest a greater sinne then if thou didst break the whol morral law; ther­fore stand not on rhine own termes with God. The Lord knew how base & unworthy the best of us were when he tendred his Christ unto us. The Gospell was to be prea­ched unto every creature, and Christ tendred unto e­very sinner, for of what kind soever our sinnes have been, the blood of Jesus Christ clean­seth us from all sinne, 1 Jo. 1.7 If thou wilt accept of Christ he will aceept of thee; thou hast his word and promise Come unto me all ye that are [Page 452] weary and laden, and I will ease you. Mat. 11.28. Christ requires no more of thee but to come unto him, no more but thy hearts consent to re­ceive him before any other, If thou canst but come, and desire, and take Christ to be thine, it is enough for thy happinesse and salvation. If thou hast but so much humi­liation, as may cause thee to abhorre thy selfe, and to disclaime thine own worth as dung and dogs meate, if thou hast but so much sor­row and heart breaking as may divorce thee from thy sinnes and make thee willing to accept of Christ, thou art a happy person. How darest thou then stand a loofe, up­on termes of thine own un­worthinesse? Is it any other then ingratefull rudenesse [Page 453] to prescribe the Lord upon what termes we shall have his wine and milke, when as he bids us come and take it for nothing? If any master should call one of his ser­vants unto him, and he should draw back and go a­way, saying I am not fine enough to come before thee, would this frivolous excuse be sufficient to beare him out in his unmanner like dis­obedience? So when the Lord cals thee to partake of his mercy, if thou hangest back, because thou art not good enough as thou sup­posest; what dost thou else but slight, yea scorne the free grace, and undeserved kindnesse of the Lord. Therefore be perswaded to make choice of Christ to be thine; which if thou dost, [Page 452] [...] [Page 453] [...] [Page 454] I dare assure thee thou art a justified person, although thou dost not by and by feele the sweet influence of his grace nor the presence of his spirit, perswading thy heart that heaven and salvation are questionlesse thine.

Object. But some will say, I have falne off from Christ I have broken that vow and cove­nant made betwixt us, I have not walked so closely with the Lord as is required of me and as I have promised, I have abused his love and fa­vor, and turned his Grace in­to wantonnesse; nay, which is worse, my heart hath not melted nor dissolved into teares upon the view of my faylings, which makes me feare that the Lord in dis­pleasure hath cast me off, and is departed from me.

[Page 455] Answ. If he be so, it will be but for a moment to humble thee & to see how thou wilt take his absence; but whereas thou saist thou hast broken covenant, and therfore thinkest that the Lord hath cast thee off; know, that not any of thy failings can nuli­fie Gods covenant which he hath made, because it is an everlasting covenant Jer. 32.40. The best of Gods chil­dren do daily faile in one part of the covenant or o­ther: yet if there be not a re­volting, a turning back, a falling away from God, a betaking of thy selfe unto an other husband, another love, thou art no breaker of the covenant: tho there be failings. All this is come upon us, yet do we not forget thee, neither deal we falsly [Page 456] concerning thy covenant Psal. 44.17. As the Lords love towards us did not begin in us, so doth it not so much depend upon us, but upon the mercy goodnesse and truth of him, with whom there is no variablenesse, nei­ther shaddow of turning Jam. 1.17. For I am the Lord, I change not, and ye sons of Jaakob are not consumed. Mat. 3.6. If Gods grace and mercy should depend upon our deservings, the Devill would alwayes pick some hole or other in our coate, we should never have inward rest nor assurance, either of Gods love, or of our own salvation: For, Satan is subtle and deceipt­full, and he will not faile to tell us that we have broken covenant, and therfore God [Page 457] hath cashiered us and cast us off; therefore whensoever Satan comes to parlie with thee, it must be thy wisdom, and it will be thy safety not to hold him chat, but to break off reaso­ning and dispute with him.

Object. But Satan doggs, and fol­lowes me with restles as­saults, he daily casts his firy darts at me, he is daily bat­tering my faith.

Answ. Then go to Heaven for helpe: encounter him in the name of Christ, as David set upon Golia in the name of the Lord, have recourse unto the promises, which being well, and wisely man­naged by faith, will be a­ble to foile the Devill, and send him packing from thee. A greater and a surer signe of victory we cannot have [Page 458] then this, viz. To re­nounce our own confidence, not to stand upon our own bottom, but to cast our selves upon the Lord; and so wee shall be strong, in the po­wer of his might. Ephesians, 6.10. Therefore give no way to Satan, howsoever for the present he may bang thee, and cause thee to bauke, yet be stedfast in the faith, and thou shalt be able to re­sist him, because the Lord ta­keth thy part; For the excee­ding greatnesse of his power is toward us which beleeve. Eph. 1.19. Assure thy selfe, Sa­tan shall be foiled, if the po­wer of God doth underprop thee: which power, if thou wilt call for, and beleeven thou art sure to partake of: and then, if thou chance to be foiled, thou standest as [Page 459] one undefiled in Gods ac­count. In the old Law, if any womans chastitie was as­saulted by any varlet, if shee cryed out for helpe, shee was blamelesse. Deutr. 22.27. Even so when satanicall ten­tations do assault us, if wee (in the assault) crie unto the Lord for helpe, the Lord will not require the tentation at our hands, but of Satan, whose worke it was. The ravished woman was chaste in Gods account, because her heart and mind was so, though her body was defi­led: So if Satan draw not consent from us, his tentati­ons may prevaile with us, but shall not be layd unto our charge. Therefore slie to God for help, cry unto him, and hee will either weaken Satan, and stren [...]hen thee, [Page 460] or else not lay the tentation to thy charge. And take heed that thou beest not o­ver much disquieted, or unset­led by any of Satans tentati­ons, for this may give Sa­tan some advantage, if hee sees thee to be dejected, hee will be the more insolent, and double his forces against thee. Therefore be strong in the faith, feare not, be not disheartned, the Lord will be thy defence, and under the shadow of his wings shalt thou have shelter. Thinke never the worse, but the bet­ter of thy selfe, because Satan assaults thee; it is a signe thou goest not the way that hee would have thee. When any man drives his cattle to pasture, if they go the way that hee would have them, he is well pleased with them, [Page 461] but if they hap to straggle out of the way, he throwes a stone at one, and his staffe at another: even so, when wee go the way Satan would have us, hee lets us alone, as implied by those words of our Saviour, Luk. 11.21. When a strong man armed keep­eth his palace, the things that hee possesseth are in peace: but if wee disquiet him, hee will not faile to disquiet us, so far as he may or can; for satan can not tempt thee longer then the Lord wil permit him; and hee that suffers Satan to tempt thee, will not suffer thee to be tempted by him, a­bove that which thou shalt be able to beare, but will even give issue with the tentation. 1. Cor. 10.13.

But I am feeble, and weak, and am not able to hold out [Page 462] against such fierie darts, such furious oppositions as I am assaulted withall.

Answ. But if thou wilt trust in the Lord, hee will not faile thee, nor forsake thee.

Object. But I feele my heart to faint, and my strength to faile.

Answ. Hee giveth strength to him that sainteth, and to him that hath no strength, hee increaseth power. Isa. 40.29.

Object. I had a little strength, but it is gone and vanished, my faith begins now to flagge, and therefore I feare I shall not hold out long.

Answ. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall runne, and not be weary, they shall walke, and not faint. Isa. 40.31. If thou hadst strength of thine own▪ it were not to be trusted un­to: [Page 463] and though thine bee gone, the Lord remaines, his arme is not shortned, his power is not lessened. There­fore cheere up thy drooping, and fainting heart, let the tentation be never so smart, or tart, yet it is no other then that, out of which God in­tends to fetch some glory, and thou in the end shalt re­ceive some good. And know it for truth, that the more restlesly Satan doth follow thee with varietie of tentati­ons, the more sweetly, and securely thou maist repose thy perplexed soule upon this comfortable perswasion, and assurance that thou art the Lords.

Object. But I feele much lumpish­nesse, and dead-heartednesse in the best duties I performe; my prayers have little or no [Page 464] life in them, my mind is full of wandrings, and idle vaga­ries, as soone as I have be­gun to seek the Lord: where­upon I am oft times at a stand, not knowing whether I were best proceed, or re­cede, and leave off. And which doth most of all per­plexe mee, Satan spares not to cast in oft times Atheisti­call, and blasphemous thoughts, which makes me to feare, that when I have en­ded my prayer, God may justly begin my punishment, seeing I have more offended him (I feare) in my prayers, then I should have done with my silence.

Answ. But dost thou admit of any of these evill thoughts, are they not such as make thy heart to ake, and thy soul to bleed within thee? Dost [Page 465] thou not ever tremble at the thought of them? Then feare not; they shall not be layd to thy charge. Assure thy selfe those sighes, and groans which proceed from thy per­plexed soul, shall find so much grace, and favor with God, as they shall be able to prevaile with him for that blessing thou hast begd, and standst in need of. And although thou canst not pray as thou wouldst, yet sigh, and groane as thou shouldst, and hee which knowes the se­crets of all hearts, will be able to understand the meaning of thy sighs, and groans of the spirit within thee, which doth plead and speak to God for thee.

Object. But I feare, the Lord doth abominate my sacrifice and service, as loathsome; hee [Page 466] may cast it as dung in my face, and lay some judge­ment upon mee for offering up such a strange sacrifice un­to him.

Answ. If God hath given thee a heart to mourne for sinne, he hath made thee able to offer him such a sacrifice, as hee is well pleased with; and there­fore he can not but accept of thy person, whatsoever thy failings have been. Thy grieved soul, and sorrowfull spirit is a sacrifice which casts a sweet savor in the Lords nostrills, Psalm. 51.17. And would God accept of thy sa­crifice, if hee had rejected thee? No, no: assure thy selfe that God hath accepted of thy person, if hee accepts of thy sacrifice. The Lord had [...], and to his of­fering. G [...]e. 4.4. The mel­ting [Page 467] of thy soul, and the kind­ly mourning over him whom thou hast pierced with thy sinne, is a most infallible evi­dence of Gods love towards thee, and of the saving pre­sence of his holy Spirit, abi­ding in thee. Therefore let thy spirit rejoyce, in that thou art able to mourne for sinne. Those teares which proceed from a grieved soul, and wounded spirit, may be compared unto Aprill show­ers, which bring on May­flowers; although these showers wet where they fall; Yet (through the heat of the Sunne working with them) they produce a great deale of sweetnesse in those plants, and hearbs which they fall upon.

There is abundance of joy in all godly sorrow.

[Page 468]As the harvest is potenti­ally in the seed: so the har­vest of true and sound joy growes out of this seed of sorrow, Psalm. 126.5. They that sow in teares, shall reap in joy. Why is thy soul then so troubled within thee? why art thou still so sad, so heavie, and de­jected?

Object. Howsoever I grieve, and mourn, yet I can not be­leeve that there is any truth of grace in mee, in that I am not so fruitfull, and profitable in my place and calling, as I should, and faine would bee: I am a barren fruitlesse tree, one that cumbers the earth, fit for nothing but the fire.

Answ. But is it not with thee, as it fareth with some cove­tous earthly gripple-minded [Page 469] persons, which spend their time in scraping, and raking together these outward things, pinch their bodies, and are ever and anon whi­ning, and complaining that they have nothing, when as their chests are full of good linnen, their houses stored, and stuffed full of utensills, and their purse full of mo­ney; but being blinded with the love of the world, think they have nothing, because they have not so much as their covetous eye would look over? and therefore do neither thankfully acknow­ledge what they have recei­ved, nor profitably improve any thing they do enjoy, ei­ther to Gods glory, their own comfort, or others good. Even so many affli­cted souls being overladen [Page 470] with anguish of mind, and de­luded by Satan, oft times complaine of the want of grace in the midst of plentie, not seeing, as the saying is, wood for trees, and thus do bely both God, and them­selves. And it is just with the Lord somtimes to hold his children down with feares, and doubtings, be­cause they have not been suf­ficiently thankfull to God for that rich grace they have re­ceived from him. Our un­thankfulnesse is not only as a great fogg, and mist, which doth exceedingly obscure, and darken the grace of God in his children; but is also as a worme or canker which eats into the sap, and heart of grace, so as it thrives not, nor fructifies as otherwise it would do.

[Page 471] But such as are planted in the house of the Lord, shall flou­rish in the courts of our God. Psalm. 92.13. Doth not the Prophet Jeremiah also tell us, that those that trust in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is, shall be as a tree plan­ted by the water, which sprea­deth out her roots, shall not care for the yeere of drought, neither shall cease from yeelding fruit. Jere. 17.8.

Answ. And is not this good fruit, to bemoane thy barrennesse? Admit that for the present, thou dost not increase thy spirituall stock, as thou desi­rest; thou dost not perceive grace to thrive, and grow in thee, as thou dost behold it in others; must it needs fol­low that thou are therefore utterly destitute, and void of grace? A man whiles hee is [Page 472] asleep, makes no use of ma­ny good things hee hath: a hand benummed with cold, feels not that which it holds fast. It may so fall out that grace may be somthing chil­led in thee, doth it therefore follow, that it is quite killed in thee? Thou must learn to put a difference betwixt no grace, and grace some way infeebled for the present. It fares with grace in the hearts of many of Gods chil­dren, as it doth with the Moon, somtimes in the full, and somtimes in the wain, or as with the Sea, which somtimes flowes, and some­times ebbs: even so through Satans malice, and our own frailtie, grace may seem somtime to ebbe in us, and then no wonder, if the heart be deaded, and out inward [Page 473] peace disturbed through feares and doubtings. As­sure thy selfe, this off and on, this up and down, this heat and cold, ariseth from those principles of grace, and cor­ruption abiding in all the Lords people. Corrupti­on somtimes prevailes, and this royles, and troubles these living waters within us, and makes them thick, and muddy, so as little good ap­peares in us; but anon, when the wind of the spirit blowes againe, with its holy blast it cleanseth, and refineth these troubled waters, whose cleernesse may again be seen, and whose goodnesse may be tasted.

Object. But my case is worse then ordinary: for I have retur­ned with the dogge, to lick up my old vomit; after re­penting, [Page 474] and cleansing, yea, covenanting with God for e­ver to renounce, and aban­don my former sinnes, I have with the swine wallowed in the old mire of filthinesse, and therefore I cannot think that ever grace was in truth begun in mee.

Answ. If it be so, thy case is the more lamentable, and feare­full but yet it is not despe­rate. For divers of the Lords people, many worthie ones have relapsed, have fal­len back unto old sinnes, and yet by the goodnesse and mercie of God, have reco­vered themselves againe, and gained the love, and favor of God. Did not Abraham sinne the matter of Sarah his wife? hazarding her cha­stitie by a poore plot, yea a sinfull pollicie, exposing his [Page 475] wife to adultrey for his own outward peace and safety? Who can say that Abrahams heart (at the first) smote him not for this evill? Yet it is evident, that hee fell into the same sinne againe. Hee that peruseth the book of the Judges, shall find Israel fal­len into idolatry, and upon correction, humbled and pe­nitent; and yet afterwards againe, and again fallen into the same wickednesse they had formerly repented of. Was not Jonas (thinke you) thorrowly humbled for his sinne of stubbornnesse, and disobedience, when hee felt the smart of it, in the Whales belly? yet for all this, when he saw the Lord so mercifull as to spare Ninivie upon her humiliation and repentance, how angry was he with God, [Page 476] justifying his former sinne; which in effect, and before God, was all one to have committed the same sinne a­gaine? yet the Lord forgave these, and received them a­gaine to mercie. Doth not the Lord enjoyne us to for­give our brother offending us daily, even unto Seventy times seven times, if hee re­pent? Matth. 18.22. And will the Lord enjoyn us that act of mercie, and compassi­on wherein himselfe will not be exemplar unto us? Is there any drop of pittie, or kindnesse in us, which comes not out of that bottomlesse sea of love, and mercie in the Lord? if wee must forgive our brother so many times in the day, no doubt but the Lord (in whom is the ful­nesse of goodnesse and com­passion) [Page 477] will receive hum­bled sinners, as often as they returne unto him.

There is no sinne, but blasphemie against the holy Ghost, which upon repen­tance shall not be pardoned. If residnation, and relapsing into the same sinne may bee repented of, questionlesse it may, it shall be pardoned at Gods hand. And whereas some may think that true grace will preserve any from falling into the same sinne a­gaine, whereof hee hath for­merly repented, it is a fond error: for if the Lord leave any unto themselves, they will be as ready, nay more ready, to fall into the old sin, then into a new; the dispo­sition, and naturall temper being more inclinable to that evill then any other; and [Page 478] Satan knowing which way the poore sinner hath been most foiled, will that way most strongly againe assault him. It is therefore a bind­ing of the Lords hands, a confining, and limiting of his boundlesse mercie, and compassion, yea, an under­valewing of the all-suffici­encie of Christ, his merit and passion, to say that relapsing into former sinnes is a thing unpardonable; or that a person so offending was ne­ver in the state of grace, or can be a true member of the Lord Christ. The covenant of grace excludes none, but impenitent and unbeleeving persons. Truth it is, that the burnt child dreads the fire; and it is not an ordina­ry thing for the childe of God, in the state of grace, to [Page 479] fall back againe to his old byas; but that it is not pos­sible for him (it God leave him) so to fall, or that true grace will not admit of any such falls, is more then can be warranted, or proved by the Word of God. I speak not this (God knowes) to countenance, or bolster any in their sinne; but part­ly to magnifie the boundlesse and unlimited patience, and mercy of our good God, and partly to underlay and com­fort that poore afflicted soul, & wounded conscience, who through his owne pride, selfe confidence, or securitie, and Satans pollicie, hath been a­gaine intangled in that snare, out of which, by former re­pentance, hee hath been de­livered. This is the chil­drens bread, it belongs not [Page 480] unto dogs. Impudent, and impenitent sinners can claim no interest in this comfort: it is baulme to heale onely wounded consciences; whom I would not have to be so strongly deluded by satan, as to be beat off from repen­tance, and the throne of grace, or to think that they never had any true grace, or that their former repentance was ever sound, because old sores are againe broke out in them, they have re­lapsed into old sinnes. The worke of grace doth not wholly take away all sinne, nor free us from it, but only weakens it, and workes the heart to a hatred and detesta­tion of it. And know, that if thy sinne, when thou wert Gods enemie, could not pre­vent his love, much lesse [Page 481] shall it now thou art re­conciled.

Object. But by my relapsing, I have made the Lord such a gracelesse requitall of his for­mer love and kindnesse, as I know not how to look him in the face againe: yea, I be­gin to feare I shall never a­gaine recover that which I have so wretchedly lost.

Answ. I pitie thee. Doth thy heart faint? hath thy faith lost its former feeling, or working in thee? dost thou now behold Gods angry countenance bent against thee? hath the Lord (as thou concievest) set thee up as a spectacle for men and An­gels to wonder at? throw thy self prosttate at Gods feet, let not thy soul leave cleaving to the dust, never leave knocking at the dore [Page 482] of his goodnesse, and com­passion, intreat him to look upon thee a poore confoun­ded wretch, beseech him to behold thee in the face of Christ; tell him here lyes a miserable caitiffe a forlorn creature, a wounded and forsaken sinner, one that re­solves to lye, and dye at his feet, one that will set down at the threshold of his tender mercyes, and never depart without some almes, some crums of mercy to revive, and refresh thy languishing soul withall; and (my life for thine) in due time the Lord will satiate thy heart with comfortable tydings (from Heaven) of his re­conciliation and of the par­don, and forgivenesse of all thy sinnes.

Object. There were some hope, if [Page 483] I had not gon on so long in my sinne, as I have done: there was a time (I am per­swaded) when I was capa­ble of mercy, but that time (I feare) is gon and past, Gods mercy is out of date with me, and therefore I am undone for ever.

Answ. No, no, the Lord waites that he may have mercy upon thee and therefore will he be ex­alted, that he may have com­passion upon you Isa. 30.18. The Lord hath proclamed himself to be abundant in goodnesse, reserving mercy for thousands, Exod. 34.6, 7. Hee hath mercy in store for thee as well as for others, if thou canst truly repent thee of thy former wickednesse. The Lord forgiveth iniquity, transgression and sinne, Ez. 34.7. It would highly de­rogate [Page 484] from the Lords power, from his all-suffici­encie, and boundlesse good­nesse and mercy it he should not forgive capitall and foul sinnes, as well as petty and small sinnes.

Consider what the Lord hath promised, Ezek. 18.21, 22. None of all his trans­gressions shall be mentioned. And againe verse 23. Hath the Lord any desire thou shouldest perish, or shalt thou not live if thou returne from thine owne wayes? It is not any sinne, but the love of sinne and the going on in sinne, that seperates be­twixt God, and a poore sinner. Now then cheer up thy drooping spirits, stand it out no longer against the Lord, and his goodnesse: lay downe, not only thy [Page 485] weapons of disobedience, but also all carnall reaso­nings: captivate thy will un­to Gods will, and then what­soever thy sinns have been, whatsoever thy tentations, distractions, feares, or doubtings be, if thou wilt beleeve, the Lord will gra­ciously accept of thee for his sonns sake. The Lord stands not upon thy sinns, nor thy unworthynesse (as I have formerly said) he bids thee beleeve: therefore tho thou beest unworthy of Gods fa­vor, and mercy, yea be­leeve because God com­mands thee, and he is wor­thy to be obeyed. By belee­ving, Christ and his righte­ousnesse become thine: and having Christ, neither sin, nor the law shall be able to hurt thee, for faith reprives [Page 486] us from the law, and puts us under grace. Therefore beleeve, else never looke to have any sound joy, or true peace to thy soul, the heart is filled with joy, and peace in beleeving. Rom. 15.13▪ Where there is doubt­ing of Gods love, or our own salvation, there can bee neither joy, nor peace, but anxiety, trouble, vexa­tion, and griefe. Faith pacifies and quiets all. For being justified by faith we have peace towards God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and rejoyce under the bope of the glory of God, neither do we so onely but also we rejoyce in tri­bulations. Rom. 5.1, 2, 3. True faith tho never so little is able to keepe thy soul from sinking under any af­fliction, be it never so great, [Page 487] or grievous; When Peter was strong in faith he could cast himself into the Sea, but his heart and faith failing, he began to sink: little and weak faith will be able to keep us from drowning, but not from beginning to sink. When Peters faith was wea­kest, Christ was nearest at hand to helpe him, Christ, who never did, nor will reject the weakest beleever, put forth his hand, and sa­ved Peter, but yet withall reproved him for doubting. O thou of little faith wherefore didst thou doubt. Mat. 14.31. Doubt not therefore but beleeve: And be per­swaded that if the Lord in­tended not to shew mercy unto thee; he would never haue given thee an eye to see thy sinnes, a heart to grieve, [Page 488] and mourn for them, or a tongue to desire the pardon and forgivenesse of them. Therefore assure thy selfe, that a grieved spirit, a sor­rowfull heart, a wounded conscience is no sure argu­ment of a forlorn condition, or of the want of the love of God.

Vse 2 Be perswa­ded of Gods Love. Againe, is it so? is this the best way for us, to bee patient and cheerfull in af­fliction, to bee perswaded of Gods love? Labor wee then to get our hearts setled in this perswasion and thou shalt finde the anguish of thy affliction much alaied, thou shalt feel the smart of it much abated. Holy Job was brought to a low, and pit­tyfull condition, when he desired to he let alone whiles he might swallow his spittle. Job [Page 489] 7.19. Yet even then Job wondred at the goodnesse and favor of God that he would think him worthy the melting and trying. What is man that thou dost magni­fie him, and that thou settest thine heart upon him? And dost visit him every morning, and triest him every moment. Job 7.17, 18.

Being then undoubtedly perswaded, that when God comes neer thee with affli­ction, he is neer thee in af­fection, that when he cor­rects thee, he loves thee, for until the heart of man be thorowly perswaded hereof, hee shall never take comfort in, nor pick any good out of his affliction. Imagine with me a man who hath e­very day his full feed of the best and what outward com­fort [Page 490] he will call for; what true content can hee take in these things when hee knows that hee is under the dis­pleasure of his Prince, and so in danger every day of be­ing cast into prison? where­as if (through the rage and malice of some of his ene­mies) hee were cast into prison, if he were perswa­ded of the Kings love, hee would rest contented, knowing and beleeving that the King will honor him for his reproach, and ere it be long set him free againe. Even so it is with every one that is perswaded of Gods love in his affliction.

Therefore as at all times, so especially in the time of affliction, Gods children should live by faith. Af­fliction is like to do us [Page 491] little good, if it be not tem­pered with faith. As that meate which we take into our stomack concocteth not if the native heat be defe­ctive and wanting; even so that affliction which is ad­ministred unto us will pro­fit us little if faith be wan­ting unto us. Faith stilleth the heart even in our sorest, and greatest afflictions, per­swading us of Gods love in correcting us, and that the Lord intendeth our great good by this affliction which lyeth upon us, the love and care which parents have of their childrens good and wellfare, doth not wholy consist in pro­viding of meat, drink and apparel for them, but part­ly in correcting of them for their good, and partly in [Page 490] [...] [Page 491] [...] [Page 492] providing of physick for them when they are any way distempered. Even so almighty God our merci­full and loving father, doth no lesse love us when he cor­rects & afflicts us, which (as you have heard) is the phy­sicking of our soules then when he provideth out­ward necessaries for us; and this faith doth perswade the heart of. For faith judg­eth not of things by sense or outward appearance, but as the truth is in Jesus Christ, justifying the Lord in all his waies, alway magnifying the wise and holy pro­ceedings of our good God, as the only best, and most profitable for us. It is on­ly the apprehension of some losse, the feare of some e­vill, or the sense of Gods [Page 493] wrath, and displeasure in our affliction, which makes the heart so sad, and the spirits so lumpish in the time of affliction: then set thy faith on work, and it will blow over all these clouds, it will answer all carnall doubts and reaso­nings and so settle the heart in a constant perswasion of Gods love, that we shall rejoyce, and be thankfull for our afflictions, because we know and beleeve that God in afflicting of us, loves us. And to put the matter out of all doubting, I will lay down a few (but sure and certain) evidences of Gods love in correcting of us

Dost thou desire to know whether God in afflicting of thee loveth thee?Tokens of Gods af­flicting of us in love. whe­ther [Page 494] his stripes bee the blowes of an enemy, or the chastisement of a loving fa­ther? thou mayest know it by these tokens.

First, when God gives thee a heart to be conten­ted; and a minde to be wil­ling to beare whatsoever he shall lay upon thee, and to want whatsoever thou seest the Lord is not willing thou shouldst injoy. Hee that doth not rest content with the love and favor of God in the want of outward, yea the best of outward things, doth not rightly prize the love of God; in that the want of other things doth more affect him and take up his minde, then the consideration of Gods love, and he more discon­tented in the missing of the [Page 495] one, then contented with the possession of the other. He that cannot be content to part with any earthly benefit when God shall call for it, it is to be feared, that man ne­ver felt the sweetnes of Gods love in the assurance of the pardon and forgivenesse of his sinnes. Skin for skin, and all that ever a man hath will he give for his life, Job. 2.4. Then much more will hee part with all that hee hath, so be it he may have his part in Gods love, for thy loving kindnesse is better then life, Psal. 63.3. for what is life but death, if it be not upheld by the love of God? Art thou then heartily content with the Lords handling of thee? Dost thou with all cheere­fulnesse take up thy crosse and beare thine affliction? [Page 496] Canst thou truely say, Behold here am I, let him do to mee, as seemeth good in his eyes. 2. Sam. 15.26. I dare be bold to say, thou art an happy man, God in afflicting thee, loveth thee.

Secondly, if God loves thee, hee will fetch thee neerer unto him by thy af­fliction. See what the Church professed, Esay. 26.8, 9. Also wee, O Lord, have waited for thee in the way of thy judgements, the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. With my soul have I desired thee in the night, and with my spirit within me will I seek thee in the morning. By which words it appeares that Gods people, those that are belo­ved of him, are so farre from being driven from God by [Page 497] affliction, that they are brought thereby neerer unto him. Afflictions are so farre from extinguishing grace in Gods people, that they in­crease it rather; as water cast upon the smiths fire doth not put it out, but increa­seth the flame thereof. Af­flictions drive us unto the Lord in prayer, Esay, 26.16. In trouble have they visited thee, they powred out a prayer when thy chastning was upon them. Affliction will send us to the Sanctuary, and make us more diligent in hearing the Word, more conscionable in the practise of good dueties. So that as judgements lighting upon the wicked do come from Gods avenging wrath and justice, and so are as pikes and clubs, to beat them [Page 498] further off from God, even so those afflictions which be­fall his people, proceeding from his love, are as cords to draw them neerer unto him.

Thirdly, thou mayest as­sure thy selfe of Gods love in afflicting of thee, if thine afflictions do raise up godly sorrow in thy heart, causing thee to grieve, and be dis­quieted that thou shouldest by thy wickednesse thus pro­voke the Lord, and put him as it were out of his course, forcing him to do that which he goeth unwillingly about, for Hee doth not punish wil­lingly, nor afflict the children of men, Lam. 3.33. This was that which did break the heart of David, to consi­der how hee had offended the Lord, who had been so gra­cious, [Page 499] and bountifull unto him. Against thee, against thee only have I sinned, and done evill in thy sight, that thou mayest be just when thou speakest, and pure when thou judgest, Psalme, 51.4.

A good heart grieves more that by his sinnes hee hath grieved God,Note. then that God hath grieved him by some affliction. And there­fore had rather the Lord would take away his sinne then his affliction. And therefore when the Lord had so severely threatned David, by the mouth of his Prophet Nathan, David cries not out through feare of Gods judge­ments) as some would have done upon so hard tydings, Alas, I am undone, how shall I ever be able to hold up [Page 500] my head, if Gods judge­ments come so thick upon mee, &c. No, no, the sword which pierced Davids heart, was his sinne against God, and therefore hee praies, Wash mee throughly from mine iniquitie, and cleanse me from my sinne, Psal. 51.2. Hee that in the time of affliction can find his sinne the greatest cause of his humiliation, may assure himselfe of a sanctified use of his affliction, and of Gods love in so dealing with him. Wee shall find little fruit, and lesse comfort to grow out of our griefe, sor­row, and humiliation, if it be for outward things, and not for sinne. Grieve wee never so much, never so long for our outward afflictions and crosses, our griefes can neither abate them, nor re­move [Page 501] them: whereas godly sorrow, sorrow for sinne, if it doth not batter our crosse, it weakens it, and in the meane time, procureth much ease to the minde, and peace to the conscience.

Assure thy selfe, that sor­row is no where so well be­stowed, as upon sinne: God­ly sorrow is the salve appoin­ted to heale, and cure sinne; now to apply this salve to a wrong sore (to affliction) is lost labor. Learn therefore to turn thy sorrow against thy sinne, and then thou wilt say as David speakes, Psalm. 119.75. I know O Lord, that thy judgements are right, and that thou hast afflicted me justly, as the old translation hath it. And so saying, thou mayst boldly proceed with David, and pray, Let thy mercy com­fort [Page 502] mee according to thy pro­mise unto thy servant, Let thy tender mercies come unto me that I may live, vers. 76.77. Therefore whensoever the Lord entereth into judgment with thee, fall thou to judg­ing of thy selfe. Accuse thy selfe, that God may be justi­fied. And let thine own heart speak unto thee in the words of the Prophet, Hast thou not procured this unto thy selfe, because thou hast forsa­ken the Lord thy God? Jere. 2.17. This is a good signe that God will do thee good by thine affliction, which hee would not, if hee did not love thee.

Fourthly, and lastly, thou maiest bee assured that God afflicteth thee in love, if hee gives thee a heart to be thankfull to him for thine af­fliction. [Page 503] Canst thou blesse God, taking from thee as well as giving unto thee? I dare then confidently avouch that thine afflictions are sanctified unto thee, and that in love he hath afflicted thee. Thus did Job, The Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken it, blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1.21. For pro­speritie, and good things many wicked men will (in their manner) be thankfull to God; but for adversitie, and such things as are in ap­pearance evill, to be thank­full, this is the property onely of good men. Wee can easily bee brought to praise the Lord when hee pleaseth us, but when hee crosseth us, when he cuts us short, and keeps us to hard meat, then to blesse and [Page 504] praise his name, this is clean against our nature; it is onely the worke of grace in us, for grace will make those things easie which are very hard and difficult un­to nature. And therefore there cannot be a better evi­dence of a gracious and sanctified heart, then to praise and glorifie God for af­flictions. For in so doing, a man doth justifie the Lord in his dealing; yea by our thankfulnesse for afflictions, we magnifie the glorious at­tributes of God, wee ac­knowledge his justice, Psal. 119.75. I know, O Lord, that thy judgements are right, and that thou hast afflicted me justly. Wee acknowledge his truth, Psalm. 19.9. The judgements of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. [Page 505] Wee acknowledge his mer­cie, Psalm. 25.10. All the pathes of the Lord, are mercy and truth. Therefore most true it is, that whosoever in affliction, offereth praise, doth glorifie God, Psalm. 5.23. Men may be thankfull for peace, plenty, seasonable times, de­liverances, and the like, in selfe-love: but for troubles, and afflictions, crosses, and losses to bee thankfull, this manifesteth our love to God, which none can shew un­till hee bee beloved of God.

Thankfulnesse in affliction is a notable soule of faith, for faith will tell as, that nothing can befall us, which shall ei­ther lessen Gods love, or en­crease our hurt; yea faith perswades us that God in af­flicting of us, loveth us, [Page 504] [...] [Page 505] [...] [Page 506] though the affliction bee un­to death, and hence it comes, that wee are thankfull for af­flictions, and patient in the bearing of them.

Now lay all these toge­ther. Art thou willing to kisse that rod wherewith thou art beaten? Canst thou cheerefully say, as it is, Mic. 7.9. I will heare the wrath of the Lord, because I have sinned against him? Art thou taken off from thine old courses, thine old consorts, thine old comforts, and brought neerer unto God? Is thy heart dissolved into teares of contrition for thy sinnes and transgressions?

Dost thou cordially, un­fainedly blesse God that ever hee took thee to do, that ever he laid his hand upon thee? then is it as evident as the [Page 507] Sun at noon day, that God in afflicting of thee, loves thee; because hee hath taught thee to make so good and holy use of thy affliction. For afflicti­ons of themselves, and in their own nature, are fruits of the curse, and such as (being unsanctified) will make us storm and rage, and beat us further off from God; but when wee feel, and find them to worke contrary to them­selves, their nature altered, and changed, this is a most evident and infallible signe of Gods love and mercie, ex­tracting Treacle out of this ranck poison, and good out of this evill. Thou mayst hold it as a certaine truth, that God in afflicting of thee loveth thee.

Now I come to the latter part of the verse, the drift [Page 506] [...] [Page 507] [...] [Page 508] and end of Gods afflicting us; in these words, Be zea­lous therefore, and amend. I purpose not to make any dis­course upon Zeal, or Repen­tance, for then I should go out or my intended course, which tendeth wholy to the setting forth of the necessity, and utilitie of Afflictions. The Lord having said, As many as I love, I rebuke, and chasten, addeth by way of ex­hortation, these words, Bee zealous therefore, and amend, from which words wee may gather this conclusi­on.

Doct. 4. The chiefe end of Gods af­flicting us, is the bet­tering of us. The chiefe, and speciall end of Gods afflicting us, is the bet­tering and amending of us. The Lord knows that grace is beter for us then great pos­sessions, and a healthfull soul is more to be desired then a [Page 509] strong and lusty body, and therefore for the good of the soul doth many wayes afflict the body. That ground from which wee expect and desire good, wee digge, or plough, and harrow; but that ground which wee re­gard not, wee meddle not with it, wee take no paines about it, but let it lie waste. Even so dealeth the Lord with man. Hee lets the wicked alone, hee looks for no good from them: but hee ploweth over his children, and harroweth them with af­fliction, that so they may be fruitfull; that in their lives they may bring forth a rich and plentifull crop of grace, and godlinesse. Why do we beat our wall-nut trees? Why do wee prune, and cut our vines, is it not to make [Page 508] [...] [Page 509] [...] [Page 510] them more fruitfull? So deals the Lord with his chil­dren, hee breaks, and cuts off many superfluous evils with the pruning knife of Affliction, that so they may grow more fruitfull in well doing. The end of Gods correcting of us, is not (as some may think) to avenge himselfe upon us, for those evils which wee have com­mitted against him; nor yet to please himselfe in our smart, as if hee took delight in our punnishment and sor­row: but it is for the bet­tering of us.

Moses tells the Israelites, that the Lord was their guid in the great and terrible wil­dernesse, to humble them, and to prove them, that he might do them good at their latter end. Deut. 8.16. Hee chasteneth us [Page 511] for our profit, that wee might be partakers of his holinesse. Heb. 12.10. Hee woundeth us, that hee may heale us. A legge that is crooked, and groweth awrye, must bee broken before it can be made right and streight. If the Lord should not break those crooked and perverse wills of ours, they would never be rectified. The Lord useth to beat out one evill with a­nother, the evill of sinne, with the evill of punishment. There is a great deal of folly in the hearts of his wisest children; they are slow of heart to beleeve, and practise that which will make for their good; this folly, the Lord (in wisdom) drives a­way from them by the rod of correction. By this shall the iniquitie of Jacob be purged, [Page 512] and this is all the fruit, the ta­king away of his sinne. Esa. 27.9.

Naturally wee sport with sinne, and make it a pastime to do evill. Prov. 10.23. Many drink iniquitie like wa­ter. Job, 15.16. Wicked­nesse is sweet in our mouths, and wee are loth to part with it untill the Lord (in love) doth administer unto us some affliction or other, which (like unto Stibium) shall make us to vomit up these sweet morsells, and make us out of love with our former evill wayes and courses, as things, not only unpleasing, and distastfull unto the Lord, but such as are noxious, and hurtfull unto us.

Therefore for the preven­ting of that evill which sinne may bring upon us, and for [Page 513] the bestowing upon us that good which the love and practise of sinne would hin­der us of, the Lord doth af­flict and chastise us. How did his people Israel go a whoring from him? they were set upon gadding, yea madding after sinne; and therefore the Lord was con­strained to fetch them back againe by his judgements. Wee are as ready to wander out of the way, as sheep go­ing astray, so that the Lord must send some affliction or other after us to call us back again, as David, Psal. 119.67. Before I was afflicted I went a­stray. The prodigall in the Gospel turnes his back upon his father, and takes his jour­ney into a farre countrey, where he consumed and wa­sted his goods with riotous [Page 514] living: but having spent all, and being pinched with penury, he could then mind home, and returne againe un­to his father with griefe, and shame; which had not affli­ction been (no doubt) hee would never have done. The like may be said of many moe, who (for ought wee know to the contrary) had perished if they had not been afflicted. So that few or none of Gods children but can say, It had been wrong with them, if they had not been afflicted, for by afflicti­ons they have been much bet­tered.

Reason. By afflicti­on wee come to know our selves. And that first of all, be­cause by affliction they have been brought to know them­selves, and to see and ac­knowledge the damnable e­state whereinto they were by [Page 515] sinne plunged. Hence is it said, That the prodigall (of whom I spake even now) be­ing brought to that extreame want, that hee would faine have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eate, but no man gave him them, then hee came to himselfe, Luk. 15, 16, 17. Being before as it were out of his right wits, that is, ignorant of that mise­rable and wicked condition, into which (through sinne) he had brought himselfe. How many of Gods people have forgotten the Lord, and themselves, untill such time as the Lord hath remembred them with some affliction?Note. wee never come to a thorow understanding and know­ledge of our own hearts, un­till affliction hath gaged, and sounded them. In prosperi­tie [Page 516] wee can carry our selves moderately, and cheereful­ly towards God and man; for the corruption that is within us lieth still, and is not stir­red, and therefore not seene, or discerned; as the stinking smell, and savor of some dunghill, or bumby is kept in, and not smelled, untill it be stirred; but if once you meddle with it, then it casts up those stinking vapors that are in it: even so, let God lay affliction upon us, then that corruption which be­fore lay hid, is now manifest­ed. Wee never come to make experience (as was said before) of our impati­ence, testinesse, rebellion, in­fidelity, love of the world, and the like, untill afflicti­on come unto us. Wee are so blinded with selfe-conceit [Page 517] and privie pride, that when wee heare of, or see others distempered with affliction, wee can be ready to con­demne them, and (in our own breasts) justifie our selves, and thinke that wee would beare out the afflicti­on more manfully then so, if the same, or the like should befall us. Whereupon the Lord to humble us, and take us down, sendeth us some affliction or other, that so wee may thinke no better of our selves then there is just cause; for when afflicti­on comes, wee can doubt of Gods promise, wee can que­stion his Providence, wee can murmurre and repine, or at the least, hang down the head in a discontented, and su [...]len manner, as if wee had neither faith, nor hope, [Page 518] nor any dramme of grace in us.

Reason 2 By afflicti­on wee come to judge a­right of sinne. Secondly, by affliction wee come to judge aright of sinne, as well as of our selves. It is that which will make sinne as heinous, and odious in our own view, as it is in its own nature. Did not the God of this world cast a mist before our eyes, or else shew us our sinnes in false glasses, wee would be so farre from pleasing our selves with any sinne, that upon the commit­ting of it, wee would cry out with the leper in the law, I am unclean, I am unclean. Lev. 13.45. Wee would ab­horre our selves in dust and ashes, if wee saw how loath­some sinne hath made us in Gods eye; and this wee sel­dome see, but when affliction opens our eyes. Indeed af­flictions [Page 589] of themselves can not do this; it is the Word of God which inlightens us, and brings us to the know­ledge of our estates. But wee seldome find instructi­ons to enter home, untill af­flictions have sharpned them. Those that live in prosperi­tie, ease and fulnesse, are rea­dy to passe by rebukes, and to slight reproofe as unsea­sonable, and as that which belongs not unto them, but when the chastisements of God have seazed upon them, awakened their consciences, and mollified and humbled their hearts, then rebukes have a keener edge, and pierce more deeply. Instru­ctions are the light that guides us in the way, but cor­rections joyned with them, do make our eye-sight more [Page 520] cleere, and cause us more heedfully to follow the di­rections of the Word. Af­fliction makes us to heed that which before wee regarded not. As our eares are opened by correction, which were formerly sealed, Job 33.16. so also our eyes are enlight­ned, which were formerly darkned. After the Lord had smitten down Paul to the ground as hee was journey­ing towards Damascus, it is said; that there sell from his eyes as it had been scales, and suddenly hee received sight, and arose, and was baptized, Acts 9.18. untill affliction had seized upon Paul, hee could never be brought to see the oudiousnesse of his sinnes. If the Lord should alwayes sit still, and never come forth to judge us for our sinnes, many [Page 521] would not only flatter them­selves in their evill wayes, not only justifie themselves, but condemne the Lord, in be­ing ready to thinke that the Lord himselfe were well e­nough pleased with them, and their practise. These things thou hast done, and I held my tongue: therefore thou thoughtest that I was like thee, but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thee. Psal. 50.21. Impunity, and prosperity makes many think, that sinne is not so dangerous a thing, nor so foul an evill, as many Prea­chers would beare them in hand it is, whereupon they take heart, and are embold­ned to the committing of sin, and continuing in it, as the Preacher saith, Eccle. 8.11. Because sentence against an e­vill [Page 522] worke is not executed spee­dily, therefore the heart of the children of men is fully set in them to do evill. Whereupon to beat us out of these wick­ed conceits, the Lord sen­deth some affliction or other home unto us, to be an eye-salve to anoint our eyes, that wee may see both the nature, and the danger of our sinnes, how odious and hateful they are unto the Lord: How noxious and hurtfull they will one day prove unto us, if by speedy repentance we do not turn away from them, especially from those sinnes for which chiefly the Lord doth afflict us.

Naturally wee are all children of darknesse, so blind and blockish, that ma­ny know not (like blind­folded people) who smote [Page 523] them, nor yet wherefore they are smitten. In afflictions (for the most part) wee are like blind men, or those that grope up and downe in the dark, to feele the doore, but cannot find the way out. It is a master-peece of Satans pollicie to delude our under­standings and judgements with carnall reasonings, that so when God afflicts us, to bring us unto the sight of our sinne, wee should either hold on our old course, or else do more wickedly by not seeing, and so not amen­ding that sinne for which we are punished, that by sinne wee might be plunged into punishment, and for want of repentance, our punish­ment continued, & increased.

Object. But how may I be certi­fied what sinne it is for which [Page 524] I am corrected of the Lord?

Answ. First of all, look upon thine affliction, and weigh well with thy selfe the nature, and quality of the same; for oft times the Lord meets with us in our own kind, and paies us home with judge­ments sutable unto our sins. Adonibezek had cut of the thumbs of the hands, and feet of divers Kings, and there­fore God rewarded him as hee had done to others. Judges 1.7. If David will kill Ʋriah with the sword, the sword shall never depart from his house. 1. Samu. 12.9, 10. Thus wee see how the Lord oft times meets with sin­ners in the same kind where­in they have sinned: what (may wee say) is the cause of this sore and baiting famine, [Page 525] which thus rageth amongst us? Surely our great un­thankfulnesse, and our hor­rible abuse of Gods good creatures. Doth the Lord punish thee with losses, or with povertie? Consider whether these outward things did not make thee proud, or else were occasi­ons of imboldening thee to the committing of some sin or other. Are thy children stubborne, and disobedient? Twenty to one, but it is to punish thy disobedient, and undutifull carriage (for­merly) towards thy parents. Thus might I instance in di­vers particulars, by which it is evident, that the Lord doth oft times proportio­nate punishments to our sins; so as by our affliction, wee may easily guesse at what sin [Page 526] the Lord aimeth, and of which hee would have us most heartily repent us.

Secondly, look into the book of God, whither thou canst there find any that have formerly drunk of thy cup, have been exercised, and cha­stised with the same rod that thou art: if thou dost not find any such example there, aske and enquire of thy friends whether they have knowne any to be punished as thou art; now if thou find any upon record in Gods booke, or by report from others canst heare of any that have been in thy condition, then seek and enquire what their sinnes have been, what manner of persons they have been, and think with thy selfe thus; surely I am sick of their disease, in that my Physitian [Page 527] takes the same course with me, which he did with them; I have committed their sins, in that I partake of their pu­nishment.

Thirdly, if thou wouldest faine find out that sinne for which especially thou art afflicted, consider (when thou art under the rod) what sinne lieth heaviest upon thy conscience; very probable it is, that, that sinne which now cries loudest in thine eares from the voice of thy conscience, cried loudest in the eares of God for pu­nishment. Too many com­mit sinne with delight, thin­king they shall never heare more, or worse of it. But when affliction commeth, the consciencc begins to tell tales, and lay open things done in secret. Dost thou [Page 528] not remember how at such a time, in such a place thou didst commit such a villany? Dost thou not know how once in such a kind thou didst highly dishonor God? Hast thou forgot how thou didst once wrong thy neighbor in such a thing? Thus (in affli­ction) the conscience many times brings to mind that sinne of ours which wee had buried in forgetfulnesse (as appeares by Joseph his bre­thren) and so should never have repented of it, if the Lord (by affliction) had not made our conscience to dis­cover it unto us.

Fourthly, if the Lord doth not meet with thy sinne in its kind, or if thy consci­ence, do not reveal unto thee all thy wickednesse, or that sinne for which thou [Page 529] art punished; then bee earnest with the Lord in prayer, that hee would bee pleased to inlighten thine understanding, and helpe thee to make a narrow search, and tryall of thy wayes, or else that hee would discover unto thee that or those sins for which his hand doth now lye so heavily upon thee.

Thus did Job, I will say unto God condemne mee not; shew me wherefore thou con­tendest with mee. Iob 10.2. Before Ezekiel could behold the wicked abomi­nations of Israel, the Lord taught him to digge in the wall. Ezek. 8.8, 9. So before we shall be able to discerne that sinne (or any other of our sinnes) for which we are afflicted, the [Page 528] [...] [Page 529] [...] [Page 530] Lord by his spirit must de­molish that wall of hardnes of heart, which hindereth us from seeing our sinnes; or else he must give us of his eye-salve, wherewith anointing our eyes, those scales of ignorance, and spirituall blindnes may fall from our eyes, that so we may the better see our sinnes. Intreat the Lord to shine into thy dark un­derstanding by the light of his Word; that it may en­ter thorow, even to the di­viding asunder of thy soul, and spirit of thy joynts, and marrow, that it may be a discerner of thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart as the Apostle speakes. Heb. 4.12. And be thou well assured of this for thy com­fort that he that is truely [Page 531] desirous, and withall scedu­lous and deligent to finde out his speciall sinnes, hee shall have them in the end discovered and layed open unto him; because (as you have formerly heard) this is one end why the Lord doth correct us, that so we may search and trye our wayes, and turne again unto the Lord. Lam. 3.40. That we may be brought to a true sight and sense of our sinnes, and so be throughly humled for them. Affli­ction serves to ransack the bottome of the heart, to launch our festred consci­ences, and o let out (by confession) the festred and corrupted matter there in­gendred, Iosephs bre­theren never came to see the odiousnes of their sin, [Page 532] untill affliction enlightned them, and then they could say, Wee have verily sinned against our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul when he besought us and we would not heare him, Gen. 41, 21. Now if once we come to see sinne in its proper colours, and to be perswaded of the na­ture and danger of it, then we are in the broad way to repentance: and this will worke our hearts not only to a loathing, but to the leaving, and forsaking of our former evils. For what man, but hee that is desperately carelesse of his own welfare and happines will dare to put on a gar­ment infected with the Plague? What man that is in his right minde will take [Page 533] a snake into his bosom? Who is so foole-hardy as to pull a Lyon by the beard, or take a mad Dog by the eare? He that wilfully & wittingly lives in sinne, doth a great deale more en­danger the safety and good of his soul, then any man by the Plague or any other meanes doth the welfare of his body. Light­en mine eyes (saith David Psal. 13.3.) that I sleep not in death. Prosperity thickens these eyes of ours or else doth cast such a mist before them, that we can­not see sinne in its coulours: yea the worse and more wicked any man is, the lesse doth he see his evill, the lesse is hee perswaded of the danger of sinne. All the wayes of a man are clean [Page 534] in his own eyes, Prov. 16.2. Through Satans sub­tilty, and mans infidelity, it comes to passe that those which commit the grossest sinnes, and greatest offen­ces, imagine that their faults bee the smallest: and those that are plunged in­to deepest dangers do dreame of greatest safety and security: as many who have their hands dee­pest in the troubles and persecutions, yea in the blood of Gods servants, will thinke that they do God best service, Ioh. 16.2. Of this minde was S. Paul all the the while hee brea­thed out threatnings and slaughter against the disci­ples of the Lord, Acts 9▪ 1. Therefore least such as belong to God should [Page 535] sleep in death by their blind­nesse, flying from repen­tance, shunning reformati­on, and running into de­struction, the Lord in great love opens their eyes by af­fliction, as hee did the eyes of Nebuchadnezzar, Dan. 4.31. At the end of those dayes I Nebuchadnezzar lift up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine un­derstanding was restored un­to mee: being a blinde beast before afflictions came.

Object. But what if neither my conscience telleth me of any great sinnes committed by me, nor the Lord revealeth unto me any sinne which hath provoked him to punish mee?

Answ. Then thou must know, and beleeve that thy affliction, and crosse is for tryall, for [Page 532] [...] [Page 533] [...] [Page 534] [...] [Page 535] [...] [Page 536] example, for prevention, and not for punishment. The Lord will have the truth and strength of thy grace tryed: God will have thee to bee a pattern unto others of obe­dience, and patience; or else by this affliction (as hath been said) he intendeth to prevent some sinne which (if thou wert let alone) thou wouldest fall in­to.

Reason 3 Affliction makes us to feare God. Thirdly, it must needs bee, that God by afflicting of us intendeth the bettering of us; because by afflictions hee workes our hearts to a holy feare of his Majestie. The judgements of the Lord make the very wicked oft to tremble, as it is evident in divers places of the Scrip­ture. Egypt shall be like unto a woman, for it shall be afraid [Page 537] and feare because of the moving hand of the Lord of hosts, which hee shaketh over it. Esay 19.16. The shaking of Gods rod makes many oft to trem­ble, That all Israel may heare and feare, and do no more any such wickednesse among you, Deutr. 13.11. God whips his own to keep them in awe, that the feare of God may ever be in our hearts; not such a feare as is in the wicked, who dread him on­ly because of his power, and will, to punish them for sin, and is therefore called a ser­vile, or slavish feare, be­cause it hath not the love of God, or the hatred of sinne annexed unto it: but a holy, and a pious feare of God; such a feare as is joyned with the hatred of evill. Prov. 8.13. and so causeth an eschew­ing [Page 538] of evill, as it is said of Job, hee was one that feared God, and eschewed evill, Job 1.1. This is that feare the Lord wisheth might take up the hearts of his people, Deut. 5.29. Oh that there were such an heart in them, to feare mee, and to keep all commandments alway. Which feare the Lord increaseth in the hearts of his children by afflicting them, 1. Sam. 12.18. The Lord sent the Israelites thunder and rain in har­vest, and the people feared the Lord.

Prosperity, and immunity from affliction, makes many people secure, careles feare­lesse. Because they have no changes, therefore they feare not God. Psal. 55.19. Implying by these words, that the want of the feare of God groweth [Page 539] from the want of affliction▪ So Psal. 73. the prosperity of the wicked is made the ground of their iniquitie, There are no bands in their death, they are lusty, and strong, They are not in trouble as other men, neither plagued with other men. Therfore pride is as a chain unto them, They are licentious, they speak wickedly, they talke presumptuously, &c. These are the wicked, who although they be long spared, shall in the end be destroyed, perish, and horribly consumed, be­cause they did not chuse the feare of the Lord. Prov. 1.29. If then affliction is the means of working this feare in us, it must needs be, that God in-intendeth our great good, by afflicting of us, for no good thing shall be wanting to those that feare him, Psal. 34.9. [Page 540] The feare of God may bee compared unto the needle, which makes way for the thred, and drawes it after it; even so the feare of the Lord makes way for much good, and as it were draws it along withall.

The feare of Gods is very pro­fitable.First, it is a means of our humiliation, it will take downe our high thoughts, and abate, and abase our lof­ty spirits. Jacobs feare of Esau, made him to bow seven times unto his brother Esau. High-mindednesse and feare are opposite one to the o­ther, hence Paul exhorteth us, Rom. 11.20. Be not high-minded, but feare.

Secondly, the feare of God is, as a bridle unto our unruly wills, and as a curbe unto our disordered affecti­ons, to represse sinne. This [Page 541] kept the mid-wives from murdering the infants of the Hebrew women, Exod. 1.21. This kept Joseph from yeeld­ing to the lust of his adulte­rous Mistris, How can I do this great wickednesse, and so sinne against God? Genes. 39.9.

Thirdly, the feare of the Lord will make us couragi­ous in Gods cause; so as wee shall not feare the face of man. Say not a confederacy, neither feare you their feare, nor be afraid of them, sanctifie the Lord of hosts, and let him be your feare, and your dread, Esa. 8.12, 13. There be a­mongst us too many face-fearers, who had rather sinne against the Lord, then dis­please sinfull men; these I may compare unto little children, which are afraid [Page 542] oft times to touch toyes, and bables, yet will be bold to put their finger into the fire. But those that feare man more, or before the Lord, [...] look to meet with the Judgement of God, Jere. 1.17. Therefore let us feare the Lord, and this will swal­low up all needlesse feare of men, as Aarons rod devou­red the rod of the inchanters; for the feare of the Lord pro­cureth a good conscience, and where a good conscience is, there is holy courage and boldnesse, the righteous are bold as a Lyon. Prov. 28.1.

Fourthly, the feare of God, keeps the heart and conscience waking and watchfull; it leaves no place for security. Hence the A­postle exhorts the Philipians, [Page 543] to work out their salvation with feare and trembling, Phil. 2.12. Serve the Lord in feare, and rejoyce in trembllng, Psal. 2.11. Hee that feareth the Lord, considereth that Gods eyes do alwayes be­hold him, that whatsoever hee goes about, though in se­cret or in darknesse, yet all things are open, and mani­fest unto the Lord; Yea that he understands the thoughts and secrets of every heart, Psal. 139.2. and that nothing is hid from him. The con­sideration whereof will make us to watch over our very thoughts, seeing wee are lyable to Gods Judgements, for evill thoughts, as well as for evill words and workes, Rom. 2.16.

Fiftly and lastly, the feare of God, will make us hap­py: [Page 554] for wonderfull are the benefits, both temporall and spirituall, which the feare of God procureth to us and ours. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, his generati­on shall be blessed, riches and treasure shall be in his house, Psalm. 112.1, 2, 3. Such as feare the Lord, have a pro­mise of great prosperity, Deut. 5.29. How great is thy goodnesse which thou hast laid up for them that feare thee, Psalm. 31.19. Not onely temporall good things, but spirituall also, for the secrets of the Lord are with them that feare him, Psalm. 25.14. Yea the Angels of the Lord do pitch, and tent about those that feare him, Psal. 34.7. Great are the priviledges of such as feare God, which in this life they partake of, but the privi­ledges [Page 545] and mercies of ano­ther life, are so great, as wee are no way able to con­ceive of them. May wee not then safely conclude, That the end of Gods afflicting of us, is the bettering of us? When as by affliction hee brings us to a thorow know­ledge, and understanding of our selves: to judge aright of the nature of sinne, and so to come to abhorre, and de­test it, and last of all, by af­fliction wee are brought to feare the Lord. Not that afflictions of themselves do work this good in any, for they only make the wound, they do not heal: they only cast us down, but can­not raise us up againe: they are as a Schoolmaster, to bring us unto Christ, they bring not Christ into the [Page 546] heart of a sinner. It prepares the heart, and makes a way for good, it is only the spi­rit of God, working with the Word, and helping us to ap­ply the same aright unto our selves, which is the efficient cause of all good that beti­deth us: yet because the Lord doth work good by afflicti­on, that thing is figurative­ly applyed unto afflicti­on, which is the proper worke of Gods Spirit in the hearts of his chil­dren.

Vse. Wee do not make satisfaction by our af­flictions. Is it so that the chiefe end of the Lords afflicting of us, is the bettering of us? Then are the Romanists grosly mistaken, who say that God hath another end in cor­recting of us, and that is (say the Papists) for the punish­ment of our sinnes, and the [Page 547] satisfying of Gods Justice. All sinne doth deserve a dou­ble punishment, both tempo­rall and eternall. This lat­ter (say they) Christ hath undergone for all his mem­bers, but the former, the temporall punishment lyeth upon our necks, and must be undergone by us, as a satis­faction to be made (of our parts) to the Justice of God. And for proofe hereof, they alledge the example of Da­vid, who howsoever hee was received into mercie, up­on his humiliation, and contrition, and so freed from eternall punishment; yet was hee not quit of that satis­faction, which he was in his own person to make unto God for his offences; there­fore did hee (say they) in­dure temporal punishments. [Page 548] A foul and a grose error, and that which doth not only de­rogate from the all-sufficien­cie of Christ his merrit and satisfaction, for with one offe­ring hath hee consecrated for ever them that are sanctified, Hebrewes 10.24. But it al­so takes much from the goodnesse of God; his love and mercie is wonderfully clouded & eclipsed by their doctrine. For whereas the Lord telleth us, that hee doth afflict us in great love, for the bettering of us, for the beating of sinne down in us, and driving it away from us, they say that God cor­recteth us for the punishment of sinne in us, and the satis­fying of his justice.

Away therefore, with their blasphemous doctrine, and beleeve wee the Word [Page 549] of truth, and be wee assured that our afflictions are rather furtherances of sanctificati­on, then any helps or means of satisfaction: administred unto us, rather as medicines, and preservatives to help us, then as swordes to wound, or hurt us. For the Lord in afflicting of us, seeks us, not himselfe alone, and rather the bettering of us, then the satisfying of his own minde, for hee goeth unwillingly to punish, Lam. 3.33. And yet how ready are wee to turn the truth of God into a lie? wee are ready to think that the Lord doth punish us, to ease his mind of us, and that wee suffer to satisfie. Truth it is that the Lord doth punish the wicked his enemies to ease himselfe, and to be aven­ged of them, Esay 1.24. But [Page 550] hee hath other ends (as we have heard) in afflicting his children; therefore wee may not say, by our tempo­rall punishments wee are any way able fully to satisfie the justice of God for one sinne. If this debt had not been discharged by Christ our surety, wee should be cast into prison, wee should perish everlasting­ly.

Vse 2 Our stub­bornnesse provoketh God to af­flict us. Therefore hold wee this as an undoubted truth, that God may forgive us our sins, yet here punish our persons; not to exact any satisfaction of us, as if Christ his satis­faction were insufficient, and wee reconciled unto God by halves;but to make us bet­ter for time to come.

Secondly, if the end of Gods correcting us bee the [Page 551] bettering of us, wee may take notice of our perverse and crooked nature and tem­per, with whom gentle and faire means (that is, the Word of God, and benefits bestow­ed upon us) cannot prevail, but that the Lord must bee forced to take this tart, and unpleasing course with us (namely correcting us) for our amendment. The Lord (as hee proclames himselfe) is a father of mercies, slow to anger, and of great patience, long in his long-suffering, one that delights not in our griefes, but is rather grieved for our miseries, Judges 10.16. and his bowels are trou­bled for us, Jeremie, 31.20.

Object. If the Lord were so un­willing to punish his chil­dren, and so grieved for [Page 552] their sorrow, and miserie, as the Scripture telleth us, why doth hee not (which if it please him he might) spare himselfe that labor, and us those paines hee putteth us unto?

Answ. His love, and your good constraineth him so to deal with you. Suppose thou hadst a childe that had bro­ken his leg, what course wouldst thou take with him, for the helping, and healing of him? wouldst thou not bind him hand and foot, tye him down to some place or other, &c? Thy childe it may be cries out, good father let me alone, you hurt me, &c. Wouldst thou give over be­cause of his cry? Dost thou not rather cry with him, to consider what paine thou art constrained to put him unto? [Page 553] Wouldest thou not tell him: O childe, I may not let thee alone, for then thou wilt be lame for ever, yet still thy childe renews his cries, good father, if you love me let me alone. Wouldst thou not reply againe, O childe because I love thee, I cannot let shee alone, for then thou wert spoil'd for e­ver. Even thus dealeth the Lord with us, it is for our good, and in love that hee doth any way chasten us, this course hee must take with us, unlesse hee should suffer us to perish, which thing his love will not give him leave to do. He smites us with the rod, that wee die not, and that our soules may bee delivered from hell, Proverbes 23.13.14.

[Page 554]Oh the wickednesse of our hearts, and the rebellion of our wils, that wee must bee thus hampered, and handled before we can be bettered. We may see and confesse (if wee were not blind and hardned) that cor­ruption is deeply setled in us, in that such sharp phy­sick, such bitter, and un­pleasing potions must be administred (and that again and again) unto us, before we can be cleansed from that filthinesse of the flesh and spirit, which is innated and setled in us.

Vse 3 Amend by little, else greater af­fliction will come. In the third place, wee are to be admonished from hence to profit by those light, and gentle afflictions wherewith it shall please the Lord to exercise us. For if little ones will not serve [Page 555] the turn to reclaim us, grea­ter shall bruise if not breake us. If we shal dare to walke stubbornly against the Lord, Then will he walk stubborn­ly againist us, and he will also chastise us seven times more accordng to our sinnes, Lev. 26.28. If lighter afflictions wil not serve the turn great­er shall. The Lord came to Ephraim first like a moth Hos. 5.18. you know that a moth though it be a noxious and hurtfull creature, yet (if it bee looked unto be­times) the harme is little which it doth, and the breach, or hole which it maketh, may easily be dar­ned up again. Thus dealt the Lord at first with E­phraim; hee did favorably and gently afflict them: but this salve was not strong [Page 556] enough, to take down their proud flesh, yet would not E­phraim bee healed, nor cured of her wound. Therfore saies the Lord, I will be unto E­phraim as a Lyon. Hos. 5.13, 14 A Lyon we know rents & teares where he comes; so the Lord (when gentle meanes will not serve the turne) comes like a Lyon, with tearing and devouring judgments God (when he see good to exercise his power) will make the prou­dest Pharoah, the stoutest sinner to stoop, and yeeld, else he will not spare to fol­low them, with one judgment, upon the neck of another. All these cur­ses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtak [...] thee till thou be destroied, Deu. 28.45. Consider [Page 557] what is spoken by the Pro­phet Nahum 1.9. What do ye imagine against the Lord? he will make an utter destru­ction; affliction shall not rise up the second time. The Lord tarrieth long before he comes to smite his enemies: he forbeareth much: but when his patience is abused, then he (oft times) gives a deady blow: The spirit of the Lord did a long time strive with man in the daies of Noah, but when their sinnes began to bee multi­plied against the patience, and long suffering of the Lord, When the Lord savv that the vvickednesse of man vvas great in the earth, and that al the imaginatiō of the thoughts of his heart, vvere onely evill continually Gens. 6.5. Then the Lord could [Page 558] beare with them no longer, then the Lord comes with his sweeping judgment, de­stroying from the earth, the man vvhom he had created, from man to beast, to the creeping thing, and to the sowle of the heaven, vers. 7. The Lord suffered Sodom & Gomorrah so long that the cry of their sins did ring up to heaven; but at length the Lord was even with them, and paied them home for all their wickednes; destroying them with fire and brimston from heaven. Many other such like examples might be brought to shew how the Lord comes out against sin­ners at last, with sweeping, and devouring judgements, if they will not take war­ning by lesser ones. The history of the Jevvs (a peo­ple [Page 559] sometime as deare un­to God, as the apple of his eye, and as neere unto him as the signet on his right hand) doth plainly teach us, how severely the Lord at last deales with stiffe, ob­stinate, and impenitent sin­ners. The favors, the benefits which God besto­wed upon them, the privi­ledges which they injoyed were above all the nations of the world; yet for all this did they (above all o­ther people) provoke the Lord to anger against them. They mocked the messenger, of God, they despised his Word, and misused his Pro­phets untill the vvrath of the Lord rose against them, and there vvas no remedy, 2. Chron. 16.26. They did not onely kill the Pro­phets [Page 560] and stone those that were sent unto them, but they crucified the Lord of life Acts 3.15. Yea and preferred a murderer before him; provoking the Lord so long, as hee could endure them no more; and there­fore hee sends against them Titus the son of Ʋespatian the Roman Emperour, who besiged and sacked the Ci­ty of Jerusalem, and made such havock of the people, as is most lamentable to heare of. It is reported that they were besiged so long as many thousands of them perished through the famine, and many of them isuing forth in hope either to escape, or to finde mercy with their enemies, were most cruelly hanged upon crosses and gibbets set [Page 561] up before their walls: 500. of them somtimes hanged in one day; so long untill there was no more space left un­to them for execution. The number of dead carcases carried out of the Citie, for want of buriall, to be cast into the ditches (if wee will credit histories) was num­berlesse; for at one of their gates, the keeper thereof took the the tale of one hun­dred and fifty thousand dead bodies. Nay, through the exttemity of famine, they were driven to eate their old shooes, the dung of their stables, and the fruit of their own loynes. And after all this, thousands of them murdered by the sword, and many moe thousands carried into captivity, to be a specta­cle to all succeeding ages of [Page 562] Gods indignation, and wrath against them. And these things are recorded for our good, that wee may not dare to stand it our against the Lord, but speedily to a­mend upon the first warning, and blow given us; else the Lord will not give over, but come with seven times more, and greater judgemenes a­gainst us.Note. If wee belong unto the Lord, hee will never leave afflicting, till wee cease provoking him. If wee be beloved of God, hee will still follow us with correcti­on, till wee fall to unfained and sound humiliation & re­pentance. For we shall never be able to overcome the Lord, and make him give over by our stubbornnesse, and resisting his blow, but by falling down, and yeelding [Page 563] unto him. The sturdy oke is rent and torne in pieces by the tempest, when poore and weak reeds stand still, by yeelding and bowing. There is no standing out against the Lord; no resisting by force of armes; what is a silly sheep to grapple with a Li­on? The sooner wee yeeld, and turn from our evill wayes; the readier will the Lord be to repent him of that evill which otherwise hee will surely bring upon us. Thou that by the Word of God, and by loving, and gentle correction canst not be perswaded to leave thy sinne, must know that (if thou belongest to God) hee will never leave following of thee with one affliction upon the neck of another, untill hee hath his will of thee. What [Page 564] may wee then think of those that are little, or nothing at all amended and bettered by any judgements that have be­fallen them? assuredly, if they be such as belong to the Lord, hee is preparing of sharper Physick for them; if they be none of his, it may be hee will give them over to their own hearts lust, and reserue them unto those eter­nall, and unavoydable torments of the second death.

Vse 4 Adde not affliction to the af­flicted, but pitty them. Fourthly, is it so, doth God correct his children for their great good? let us then beware of doing them hurt by persecuting those whom the Lord doth smite, lest we adde afflict on unto the affli­cted; and this wee do, when wee shall either uncharitably censure, or deride and scoffe [Page 565] at those that are afflicted, or else in our mindes contemn, and scorne them, because it pleaseth the Lord in love (for their great good) to humble them. Such is the unmerci­fulnesse, and crueltie of ma­ny, that they are ready to set their feet upon the necks of those whom the Lord hath cast down. Indeed it is an easie thing to go over, where the stile is low; hee that is cast down to the ground, may easily bee crowed over; as the Chaldeans would make themselves merry with the poore captived Jewes, They that led us away captive, re­quired of us songs, and mirth when wee had hanged up our harps. Psalm. 127.3. To require a song from those, whose cheeks were bedewed with teares, and whose [Page 566] heart within them was as heavie as lead, yea even rea­dy to break with sighs, and sobs, was a thing unreaso­nable, even adding of sor­row to their misery. Where­upon saith the Lord unto those Babylonians, Esay 47.9. I was wroth with my people, I have polluted mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand, thou didst shew them no mercy, but thou didst lay thy very heavie yoke upon the anci­ent, therefore now shall de­struction come upon thee. Though God doth afflict his children for their good, yet hee will not give their ene­mies leave to trample them underneath their feet, or un­mercifully to triumph, and insult over them, because he hath brought them under. When Jobs miserable com­forters [Page 567] began to crow over him, and to censure him for his great afflictions, Job tells them, that hee that is in mise­rie, ought to be comforted of his neighbour, but men have forsa­ken the feare of God, Job. 9.14. What dost thou know to the contrary, but that the Lord hath brought thy neighbor into misery, to be the object of thy mercie? that thou shouldest exercise thy chari­tie upon him, releeve and comfort him; which if thou dost not, it is an argument that thou wantest the true feare of the Lord, for the Lord hath commanded us to relieve the oppressed, Esa. 1.17. It is a service most ac­ceptable unto God, to re­lieve and refresh our bre­thren when they are in any trouble, or distresse, and such [Page 568] a service as seldome or never goes without a blessing. Bles­sed is hee that considereth the poore, the Lord will deliver him in the time of trouble. Psalm. 41.1.

Therefore as thou desirest that God should blesse thee, be thou as willing, as thou art able to succor and com­fort those that are in adversi­tie. If thou wantest out­ward means of helping and relieving of them, let them have a word of comfort from thee to support them; ad­vise, counsell and direct them as thou art able: if not, yet pittie them, pray for them, that God would sanctifie their crosses, give them faith and patience to beare their crosses, and to give them (in good time) a good issue out of them: and in the [Page 569] mean time, do thou enter­tain a charitable opinion of them, do not say, or think that they are greater sinners then others, because (perad­venture) their afflictions and crosses are greater, but that the Lord is pleased to prove them more then others, for their greater good. This wise judging, and mercifull considering of the poore af­flicted, even when some hea­vie and strange calamities do befall them, is a thing which God much respecteth, yea, and will certainly recom­pence with some blessing or other. But if thou beest censorious, or regardlesse of others woe, and miserie, it is a signe that thou wantest bowells of pitty, and com­passion, thou wantest true charity; for this would [Page 570] teach thee to remember them that are in affliction, as if yee were also affli­cted in the body. Hebr. 13.3.

Thus it is with Christ the head of the body, hee is touched and affected with all their afflictions, hee hath a feeling of every evill that be­falls them, as if it did befall himselfe. They may be brought unto a low ebbe, and pittifull plight by reason of afflictions, yet doth not Christ esteem them the worse, neither is he then a­shamed to call them, and take them for his brethren; yea hee esteems of poore af­flicted Christians, as a part of himselfe; though they be vile and contemptible in the e [...]es of the world, yet are they honorable and pre­cious [Page 571] in his sight; though they be hated of the world, yet are they beloved of him. Thus should it bee with all true and sound members of the body of Christ: we must have a fellow-feeling of the afflictions of our brethren: to weep with them that weep, and to be of like affection one to­wards another, Rom. 12.15, 16. So full of pitty and cha­rity was Paul, that hee was touched with the misery of all his brethren. Who is weake, and I am not weake? who is offended, and I burn not? 2. Cor. 11.26. Nehemi­ah was a man in favor, and credit with King Artaxerxes, hee enjoyed the pleasures of the Court, and felt no want, yet when he understood of the affliction of his brethren, and in what contempt, and [Page 572] miserie the people of God were; it is said, that hee fell down and wept, and mourned certain dayes. Nehe. 1.4.

The Prophet Jeremiah wished that his head were full of water, and his eyes a foun­taine of teares, that hee might weep day and night, for the miseries of the people, Jerem. 9.1. But alas! how few are they that do lay to heart the afflictions of their neigh­bors? They sing to the sound of the violl, they drink wine in bowles, and anoint themselves with the chiefe ointment, but no man is sorry for the afflicti­ons of Joseph, Amos, 9.5, 6. Thus too many Christians shew themselves to be Sto­icks, or rather stocks, with­out any charitable affection, without any bowels of com­passion. [Page 573] Many will be kind unto their friends, all the while they are able to re­quite their love with kind­nesse againe, but in the day of adversitie (as was touched before) they are ready to turn their backs upon their neighbors: whereas a true friend loveth it all times, and a brother is borne for adversitie, Pro. 17.17. These are hol­low-hearted, and false friends, who like many a dog, will fawn upon a man, and follow him all the while hee hath somthing to give him, but when all is gone, hee is gone also. So that it is true, which the Wise man speakes, Wealth maketh many friends, but the poore is separated from his neighbor, Prov, 16.4. Take wee heed therefore, that wee be not so taken up [Page 574] with our own fulnesse, and prosperity, that wee for­get the wants and miseries of others, so as there is left no place in our hearts to grieve for them: for if wee be with­out compassion, God will one day smite these incom­passionate hearts of ours, that wee shall stand in need of, and be glad to have pit­tie from others, but it shall be denied us. For there shall be judgement mercilesse, to him that sheweth no mercie, Jam. 2.13. Therefore let us beare one anothers burthen, and so fulfill the law of Christ, Gal. 6.2. Thou helpest to beare thy neighbors burthen, when thou labourest to com­fort him in the time of affli­ction; for it is a great ease and comfort unto him, that is in any distresse to have o­thers [Page 575] to condole with him▪ to have companions of our sorrow, to have those that fellow-feele with us, can­not but be a comfort to any that are in misery.

Little do you think what refreshing (if not ease) it is to one in affliction, to heare, or see another to pit­tie his case: to weep with those that weep, and mourn with those that mourn, doth excedingly abate, though not remove and take away the smart of their affliction. We shall be the more ready and willing to put forth our hand of comfort, to lift our neigh­bor out of the ditch, if wee consider how soone his case may be ours, and our selves (before it be long) may stand in as much need of pitty and comfort as our neighbor [Page 576] now doth. What measure you meat, it shall be measu­red to you againe. Matt. 7.2. Therefore denie not unto the afflicted any comfort which thou art able to afford him. But above all, beware (as I said before) of insulting over those that are afflicted. This was the sinne of the E­domites, which the Lord re­proveth, and threatneth by the Prophet Obadiah, Thou shouldest not have rejoyced over the children of Judah, in the day of their destruction, neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of their af­fliction. As thou hast done, it shall be done to thee, thy re­ward shall returne upon thine head. Obadiah, vers. 15. The Lord will not have any to solace themselves with o­thers sorrow; nor make them­selves [Page 577] merry at others mise­ry; though hee were our enemie. Bee not thou glad when thine enemie falleth, and let not thine heart rejoyce when hee stumbleth, least the Lord see it, and it displeaseth him, and hee turn his wrath from him, to­wards thee, Prov. 24.17, 18. But rather pitty those that are afflicted, and then no doubt, but the Lord will stirre up the hearts of others to extend mercy, and bowels of compassion towards thee, when thou art in affliction. And if there be no man to pittie thee here, the Lord himselfe will most certainly remember and recompense thy kindnesse hereafter, in that day, wherein hee will reward every one according to his workes, and will say unto the mercifull, Come yee [Page 578] blessed of my Father, inherit yee the kingdome prepared for you from the foundation of the World; for I was an hungry and yee gave me meat; I thir­sted, and yee gave me drink; I was a stranger, and yee lodged me; I was naked, and yee clo­thed me; I was sicke, and yee visited mee; I was in prison, and yee came unto mee; for as much as wee have done these things to the least beleever (yea, if wee do them to a bad liver for Christs sake, wee have done them un­to Christ, who will abun­dantly recompense us.

Vse 5 Live by faith in af­fliction. Fiftly, is this the end of God afflicting of us, that hee may better us? Then let faith perswade thy heart, and wait in hope of a blessed and hap­py issue, and end of thy af­fliction. Though thou hast [Page 579] not wisedome enough to make good use of thy chastis­ments, yet thy God who is perfect wisedome will make good his promise, and perfect his own handy-wotke, so as (if thou beleeve) thou shalt finde thy selfe one day much bettered by thy affliction. If thou beleeve, thou wilt pa­tiently wait for the fulfilling of Gods promise, a belee­ving patient had rather be held to a long and conti­nuall course of physick in hope of future health, then to be in danger of his life, by interrupting his course of Physick. And for asmuch as our understan­dings are exceedingly blin­ded through ignorance and selfe love, and much dark­ned with fleshly lusts (as you shal see a looking glasse to be [Page 580] sometime covered with dust) that we can neither see what is amisse in our selves, nor yet amend on the suden what we find amis in us, we had need to exercise our faith in praier & in patience to wait for the accomplishing of that good the Lord intends us by afflicting us. For as God prescribes the physick, so he must cause it to work, & blesse it unto us: we of our selves are like children who being taken in som fault and feeling the smart of the rod, are ready to promise a­mendment, but presently for­get both the fault, the punish­ment, and our promise. Faith will teach us, not only to beg grace from God to amend our lives, but also help and strength from him to walke more closly with him. For as no force of the hammer [Page 581] can worke the Iron unto any forme unlesse it be softned by the fire, even so afflictions will beat in vaine upon us, until God by his spirit mo­lifie, and soften these hard hearts of ours, and teach us to profit by our afflictions.

And although thou dost not presently finde or feel that good to be wrought in thee which the Lord inten­deth, yet live by faith, and wait with patience, and in the end thou shalt confesse, that God hath shewed thee his love, made good his promise; and much bettered thee by afflicting thee.

Vse 6 Be thank­full for af­fliction. Lastly, if the end of Gods afflicting of us bee the bet­tering of us; be wee then both thankfull to the Lord for our afflictions and joy­full in them. Suppose thou [Page 582] wert fallen into some dange­rous pit, or quagmyre in danger of perishing, wouldst thou not be glad to see any comming neere to help thee? wouldest not bee thankfull to that person that should bee a meanes of thy deliverance, though it were by putting some hook into thy flesh which may for the present hurt, and wound thee? Sinne is a dangerous pit, and gulfe, wherein many soules do perish; When the Lord afflicts thee he doth cast a cord unto thee to lay hold of, or it may bee hee strikes some hooke into thy flesh, some sore affliction, by which he desires to pull thee out of thy sinne; hast thou not then great cause of thanks, and rejoycing offered unto thee when the Lord afflicteth [Page 583] thee? If wee had wisedome and understanding to con­sider aright of Gods good­nesse and love toward us, there would be more thanks for, and cheerfulnesse in af­fliction, and lesse repining and mourning amongst us, then there is. If wee were not poysoned with infidelity and distrust, it could not be, but wee should be more joy­full in afflictions, and thank­full for them, then wee many times seeme to bee. Some (when the hand of God is upon them) are like to a man cast into a deep lethergie, which is a drousie, and forget­full sicknesse, when the use of memory and reason is almost, or altogether taken from us; so they are like stocks, and stones, insensible of their af­flictions, they have neither [Page 584] hearts, nor eyes to consider of, or see their sinnes which have pulled this judgment upon them, nor yet the end which God aimes at in smi­ting them. And there be other some of a contrary tem­per, and these are like to a man in a phrensie; hee rages, and stormes, if not blasphems the hand of God upon him, kicking, and spurning against the Lord, unwilling to beare that burthen the Lord is wil­ling should lye upon him: of both these sorts of people the Prophet Jeremiah speaketh, Thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive cor­rection, they have made their faces harder then a stone, and have refused to return, Jerem. 5.3. They were unwilling ei­ther to beare their correcti­on, or to be bettered by it. [Page 585] But let it not be so with any that love the Lord, or their own good: let both these ex­tremities be avoided of us, and let us exercise the golden mean, to be sensible of the hand of God, and to be cheerfull and thankfull for our affliction, seeing (as hath been proved) so much good commeth unto us by them.

Object. If it be so, that afflictions are so profitable, then may wee, yea ought wee to pray that God would afflict us; for may not every one, nay should not every one pray for that which may be profi­table for himselfe and o­thers?

Answ. Those things which in themselves are evill, howso­ever by the wise Providence, and mercifull disposition of [Page 586] God they may have a good issue, and work together for the best to those that love God: yet may wee not law­fully pray for such evills to light upon our selves or o­thers, upon presumption of Gods goodnesse to turn them to the best.

The disasters, and misera­ble calamities which for ma­ny yeeres together have rent and torn the Church, have stirred us up to seek, and cry mightily unto [...]he Lord, and to be humbled with fast­ing before him; may wee therefore pray that the rod of God may still lie upon the backs of his people, that ru­ines and the breaches of Sion may not be repaired? Surely no: for wee are to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, That peace may be within her walls, [Page 587] and prosperitie within her pal­laces. Psal. 122.6, 7.

Death in it selfe is an evill thing, for it is the wages of sinne. Rom. 6.23. Yet by the infinite power and mercy of God, who delights to bring good out of evill, it is made the period of all our labors, and an entrance into Gods own presence, may we there­fore (being wearle of our lives) desire death sooner then the Lord will? Albeit afflictions, when the Lord sendeth them unto us, shall bring good unto his chil­dren, yet ought wee not ei­ther to pray for them, or wilfully to cast and plunge our selves into them. There­fore Agar praies unto the Lord, Give me not poverty nor riches; feed me with food conve­nient for me, Prov. 30.8.

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[Page 588]Wee are to pray for such a condition in which the Lord sees wee shall be best a­ble to honor and glorifie him, and procure most good to our selves and others. Now whether this will be by prosperitie, or adver­sitie, wee must leave it to the wisedome of the Lord, who knoweth better then our selves what is ex­pedient and needfull for us.

Object. But if it be so, that af­flictions are so profitable unto us, whether being in them, may wee pray for de­liverance out of them or no?

Answ. Wee are to pray for deli­verance out of them, if wee have received that good by them, which God inten­ded us; otherwise wee [Page 589] are to be willing, nay desi­rous that the Lord would not take off his plaister, un­till the sore be healed, lest it ranckle, and grow worse, and so wee cause the Lord to ap­ply some sharper medicine, to lay upon us some greater affliction. Therefore in thine affliction, call upon the Lord, and say, Smite Lord, correct me still, untill thou hast done me good by thy rod, let me have this affli­ction sanctified, else let mee not be eased; let it not be ta­ken off me. Are there not many delivered oft times out of sicknesse, for whom it had been better in respect of their souls, they had still con­tinued upon their sicke bed? The like may bee said of many other kinde of afflictions, and that it [Page 590] had been better for some they had never come out of them.

Therefore when wee are in affliction, let us not pray for freedome, and delive­rance, but conditionally, if it be the will of God to inlarge us, and if he seeth that delive­rance will be better for us. Otherwise, to desire the Lord to keep us still under, and to give us patience and faith to beare his rod, and to profit by it. But if any shall unwillingly beare the Lords yoke, using all means he can to cast it off, and to pull his head out of the collar, this shewes, that such a person doth not desire that the Lord should do him good, neither doth hee acknowledge the Lords wisedome and righte­ousnesse, but seemeth to tell [Page 591] the Lord what hee thinkes were better for him. And let him know, that the Lord will either keep him in affli­ction longer, then other­wise hee would, or else, that this affliction shall be but a fore-runner of some greater judgement. Therefore let us not vexe, or disquiet our selves in our afflictions, and so make them more grievous unto us then the Lord would have them. Lee us cast our selves upon the Lord, and resolve to abide his pleasure; and assure wee our selves, that the longer wee are under his hand, the more good he will do us,Note. and the better able we shall be to beare his hand. You shall heare a new cart in the street which will squeak and make a noise, if the least load that can be, lie upon it, [Page 592] whereas an old seasoned cart will go under a great weight, and make no noise; even so many a Christian (not used to beare affliction) will squeak, and cry out upon eve­ry little trouble, whereas hee that hath been seasoned long, and exercised with af­flictions, undergoes many great and grievous ones cheerfully, and contentedly. Wert thou never in afflicti­on untiil now? then look up to the promises of God, ac­quaint thy selfe with them, and they will make thee cheerfull and thankfull for thy affliction.Dan. 3.17. It is my com­fort in my trouble, for thy pro­mise hath quickened me, Psal. 119.50. Say as Sydrac, Me­shac and Abednego said, our God whom wee serve is able to deliver us, and hee will [Page 593] deliver us. Hast thou been formerly afflicted, and deli­vered, let former deliveran­ces confirm and strengthen thy faith in this present, or fu­ture afflictions, as it did Paul, wee should not trust in our selves, but in God, Who deli­vered us from so great a death, in whom we trust that yet here­after hee will deliver us, 2. Cor. 1.10. In the mean time re­solve to tarry the Lords lei­sure, consider not what now thou feelest, but what good hereafter thou art like to find by thine afflictions. Blesse God that hee will take this course with thee, as Job said, What is man, that thou dost magnifie him, and thou settest thine heart upon him, And dost visit him every mor­ning, and triest him every mo­ment? We would take it as a [Page 594] great grace and honor, if the King should every day send to know how we do: but if hee should daily come in per­son to visit us, how highly should wee think our selves honored? It is thy case that art afflicted. The King of Kings hath sent his servant, nay comes with his servant to visite thee, when he sendeth affliction unto thee. Assure thy selfe he mindes thee, nay, sets his heart upon thee: if he regarded not thy good and welfare, hee would suffer thee to take thy swinge in sin; but because he loveth thee he correcteth thee. It is a truth, the Lord hath spoken it; As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; bee zealous therefore and amend. So be it.

FINIS.

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