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a rancour and spleen in the heart against God, are but the preludiums of hell torments: for, there, the damned for ever fret under the acrimony of their punishments; and foam out blasphemies and curses against that God, whose dread justice and infinite power eternally triumph over them in their ruin and destruction. And, if thy sufferings do thus exasperate thee against God, know, that thou makest that a kind of damnation to thyself, which he made but an affliction; and fear, lest that, which doth so near resemble the torments of hell, do at last end in them.
And thus I have given you these Three Cautionary Rules; If you would glorify God, do not unwarrantably rush into sufferings; use no unlawful means to free thyself from them; and, lastly, be not exasperated and embittered by them.
2dly. The next thing is to give you some Directive Rules bow you ought to glorify God in an afflicted and suffering condition.
(1st) You ought to glorify God, by a meek patience, and humble submission unto his good will and pleasure.
Those, who murmur and tumultuate under afflictions, accuse God of injustice, and carry themselves as if he had done them wrong, and they suffered undeservedly. And therefore the Prophet Jeremiah expostulates with us the unreasonableness of this sin of repining, upon the consideration of God's justice: Lam. iii. 39. Wherefore doth (t living man complain, a man for the ,punishment of his sins?
And there be Three considerations exhibited to us in this Scripture, that tend mightily to confirm our patience under the sharpest afflictions which we can suffer in this life.
[1st] That there is no affliction, but it is mingled and sweetened with a great deal of mercy.
Why doth a living man complain? Possibly, thou art racked with torturing pains, or consumest away in lingering diseases, reduced to extreme necessity and pinching want: yet, still, thou art a living man; and life itself is such a vast blessing, that all miseries and afflictions compared to it, are but drops to the ocean. , .
[2dly] Consider, that thou art but a man: Why doth a living man complain, a man, #c.? a frail, feeble creature; naturally subject to many miseries and sorrows?
Thou hast received thy being sub hoc onere, with this burden affixed to it, quietly to bear all the various accidents and troubles, which the wisdom of God shall see good to bring upon thee.
[3dly] Consider what thou hast deserved; and this will be a most effectual means to teach thee patience under what thou feelest. A man for the punishment of his sins.
If God should mix together all the bitter ingredients, all the stings and venom in the world, and compound of them all one unexampled affliction, and lay that upon thee all the days of thy life; yet this were nothing, to what thou hast deserved; this were nothing, to one gripe of hell torments; how much less is it nothing, to an eternity of them! This, thy sins have demerited: and why then should a living man complain for the punishment of his iniquities? When thou liest under any pain or sickness, or whatsoever thy affliction be, think with thyself "How happy is it for me, that I am not now in hell! God hath cast me here, indeed, upon my bed; but it is mercy, that he hath not cast me into eternal flames. If I now find so much pain, when I am but lightly touched by his hand; oh, what intolerable anguish should I feel, were I now under the unrebated strokes of his almighty arm! and shall I howl, and fret, and be impatient; when I have infinitely more reason to bless God, that it is not worse with me, than to complain that it is thus? Whatsoever is short of hell, is mercy to such a wretch as I am; who have ten thousand times deserved to be scourged with scorpions, whereas my gracious Father only chastiseth me with rods."
Thus, I say, under all your sufferings glorify God, by a patient submission to his good will and providence: and let it appear, by the meek and calm resignation of yourselves to him in the saddest circumstances of your lives, that you think him neither unjust nor cruel.
(2dly) Glorify God in your sufferings, by a patient expectation of a happy deliverance out of them.
Wait upon God, in the way of his judgments: firmly rely upon his power and his goodness to release you. And, although he may not presently answer your expectations, nor fulfil your desires, yet still continue waiting: for the Lord knoweth how to deliver the righteous out of temptation, and he will do it in the fittest and best season. And therefore we have that expression, Isa. xxiv. 15. Glorify ye the Lord in the fires: i.e. in the most scorching, afflictions that happen, depend upon him for deliverance, either from or by them.
(3dly) Glorify God in your sufferings, by putting good Cob* structions and interpretations upon them.
Be not witty to torment yourselves beyond what God intends, by the afflictions which you endure. Do not conclude that he is casting you off, or become your enemy, or that they are only the pledges and foretastes of eternal sufferings and torments in hell: but reckon that all the afflictions, which he brings upon you, are only for- your good; that they are corrections, not curses; and that the issue of them shall be joy and peace. Judge so justly and kindly of God, that he takes no pleasure in the woes and tortures of his creatures; that he chastiseth us only if need be, and corrects us here that he may not punish us hereafter. When we can thus look upon God, and biess him that he is pleased to take so much notice of us as to discipline us, this will be a most effectual means to glorify his mercy and goodness; and to make even a chastising God the object, not only of our fear, but of our love.
(4thly) Glorify God in thy sufferings, by bearing them not only with patience; but, if they be for righteousness' sake, with joy and triumph.'
Be not ashamed of the cross of Christ, but glory in it as the greatest honour and ornament of thy profession. So saith the Apostle, 1 Pet. iv, 16. If any man suffer as a Christian, i.e. suffer upon the account of his being a Christian, let hitn not be ashamed} but let him glorify God o?i this behalf. Indeed the sufferings and martyrdom of the saints reflect a great deal of honour upon God^ in that it shews they prize him above all the world; and account no torments, no sufferings so considerable, as the loss of his love and favour. And therefore it is said, John xxi. 19. when Jesus had foretold to St. Peter somewhat obscurely what should befal him, that he spake this, signifying by what death he should glorify God.
Thus I have shewn you how you ought to glorify God under outward sufferings, whether they be afflictions from God, or persecutions from men. 'i,r (' ..
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' Let Us, in the next place, consider how we ought to glorify him under* inward sufferings, which concern the soul. And these are reducible to Two heads: for they are either
Temptations, which we suffer from Satan; or
Desertions, which we suffer from God. 1st. As for Temptations.
"That they are great spiritual afflictions, ask but those, who have stood exposed to these fiery darts; and they will readily confess, that, next to the unspeakable regret they feel for sometimes yielding to temptations, the greatest burden and trouble of their lives is the continual labour and difficulty of resisting them. For what can be imagined more irksome to an ingenuous Christian, than to be restlessly importuned to do that, which he is assured will be to his own wound and ruin, and to the dishonour of that God whose glory he prefers above hit chief joy? and when they are haunted with direful injections, and blasphemous thoughts cast into their minds by the Devil; thoughts, contrary to the fundamentals of religion, and the common sentiments of natural reason; how could they even shrink from themselves, and abandon their own beings, rather than be forced to hear those horrid suggestions, which their great enemy, the Devil, is still impudently whispering unto them!
It is, therefore, of concern to enquire how we may, when we are thus grievously pestered with these hellish injections, glorify God under so great an affliction.
To this I answer, in the general, If thou wouldst glorify God under temptations, be sure still to maintain a most vigorous and resolved resistance against their assaults: for, by this means, thou wilt glorify God, especially in two of his attributes, his Power and his Truth.
(1st) By resisting temptations, thou glorifiest the Almighty Power of God.
Thou fightest his battles, not only against thine, but his great enemy, the Devil. And, as the honour of a prince is,engaged in the valour and resolution of his soldiers; so God hath, as it were, pawned his honour upon thy courage : thou art his champion, chosen and selected out by him purposely for the combat. Now if thou basely yield, thou leavest not only thine own soul, but God's honour bleeding upon the place: thy consqience becomes a spoil to the Devil, and thy name a reproach to religion. Certainly, God intended to make the almighty power of his grace exceeding glorious, by making use of such inconsiderable instruments as you are; instruments, like Gideon's pitchers, frail earthen vessels, but yet such as have the lamp of divine grace burning in them, to rout and put to flight all the legions and black musters of hell. See how God exults in the victorious constancy of his servant Job; and upbraids the Devil, that, though he had with his utmost malice assaulted him, yet he still persisted in his integrity, and defeated all the attempts of his impotent malice: Joh ii. 3. Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in all the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity; yea, although thou movest me against him, to destroy him without cause: God speaks of him with delight, and glories in him as a heroic champion. And, if you set yourselves vigorously to oppose the temptations of the Devil, God will likewise glory in you; and triumph over Satan to his utter shame, that such weak and feeble creatures should, through the assistance of his grace, be able to subdue all the power, that hell can. arm against them. And this will, to his infinite regret, make that proud and cursed spirit know how utterly in vain all his raging attempts are against their Almighty Lord and Master; since he cannot turn away the face of one of the least of his servants. And, therefore, when St. Paul had prayed thrice, i. e; often, that God would remove that temptation and messenger of Satan which buffeted him, he receives this answer, 2 Cor. xii. 9. My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness: not that God's strength, which is infinite, can receive any addition of perfection from our weakness; but only it is declared and demonstrated to be infinitely perfect and infinitely powerful, when, by such contemptible instruments, it can overthrow all the powers of hell.
(2dly) By resisting temptations, thou glorifiest the Truth and Veracity of God.
For both God and Satan deal with the soul in somewhat a like way, though to different ends. They both urge promises and threatenings, as motives to induce us to their obedience. Satan's are all for the present; present gain and present pleasure, if we consent to his solicitations: but God's promises and threatenings are chiefly for the future. Indeed, we shall here enjoy so much peace of conscience, such a sweet calm and tranquillity of mind, such inward satisfaction in our self-reflections, that, were there nothing else propounded to us, yet even this alone were enough with rational and considerate men to out-bid all that Satan can offer: but yet God chiefly insists upon the consideration of those things, which shall be accomplished hereafter; and represents unto us eternal rewards and eternal punishments, the one to allure us to duty, the other to deter us from sin; and both to deliver us from the snai-e of the Devil, and that ruin into which we should else precipitate ourselves.