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balone, as they controm God more for houlder that I
jealous of my Father's affection, I could not be so dubious of his provision for me. Ah! I should rather wonder that I have so much, than repine that I have no more. I should rather have been troubled that I have done no more for God, than that I have received no more from God. I have not proclaimed it to the world by my conversation, that I have found a sufficiency in him alone, as the saints have done, Hab. iii. 17, 18. How have I debaled the faithfulness and all-sufficiency of God, and magnified thele earthly trifles, by niy anxiety about them? Had I had more faith, a light purse would not have made such an heavy heart. Lord, how often haft thou convinced me of this folly, and put me to the blush, when thou hast confuted my unbelief! fo that I have resolved never to distrust thee more, and yet new exigencies renew this corruption. How contradictory also hath my heart and my prayers been ? I pray for them conditionally, and with submission to thy will; I dare not say to thee, I must have them; yet this hath been the language of my heart and life. O convince me of this folly !
Out of the sea, and to our tables brought;
I get being exhaled by the sun, and condensed into clouds, they fall down into pleasant showers; or if drained through the earth, their property is thereby altered, and that which was so salt in the fea, becomes exceeding sweet and pleasant in the springs. This we find by constant experience, the sweetest crystal spring came from the sea, Ecclef. i. 7.
APPLICATION. Amictions in themselves are evil, Amos ii, 6. very bitter and unpleasant. See Heb. xii. 11. Yet not morally and intrinsically evil, as fin is; for if fo, the holy God would never own it for his own act as he doth, Mic. iii. 2. but always disclaimeth fin, Jam. i. 3. Bem fides, if it were so evil, it could, in no case or respect, be the object of our election and desire, as in some cases it ought to be, Heb. xi. 25. but it is evil, as it is the fruit of fin, and grievous unto sense, Heb. xii. Il.' But though it be thus brackish and unpleasant in itfelf, yet, passing through Christ and the covenant, it loses that ungrateful property, and becomes pleasant in the fruits and effects thereof unto believers.
Yea, such are the blessed fruits thereof, that they are to account it all joy when they fall into divers afflictions, Jam. i. 2. David could bless God that he was afflicted, and many a faint hath done the like. A good woman once compared her amictions to her children: • For, • (faith she) they put me in pain in bearing them ; yet as I know not ' which child, fo neither which affliction I could be without.' · Sometimes the Lord sanctifies afflictions to discover the corruption that is in the heart, Deut. viii. 2. it is a furnace to shew the dross. Ah! when a sharp affliction comes, then the pride, impatience, and unbelief of the heart appear : Matura vexatio prodit feipfam. When the water is stirred, then the mud and filthy sediment that lay at the bottom rife. Little, faith the afflicted foul, did I think there had been in me that pride, felf-love, distrust of God, carnal fear, and unbelief, as I now find. O where is my patience, my faith, my glory in tribulation? I could not have imagined the fight of death would have to appalled me, the loss of outward things have to pierced me. Now what a blessed thing is this to have the heart thus discovered.
Again, fanctified afflictions discover the emptiness and vanity of the creature. Now, the Lord hath stained its pride, and veiled its tempting fplendor, by this or that affliction; and the foul lees what an empty, shallow, deceitful thing it is. The world (as one bath Vol. V.
before reason whying hand histles, "wem
truly observed) is then only great in our eyes, when we are full of fenfe and self: but now affliction makes us more spiritual, and then it is nothing. It drives theni nearer to God, makes them see the necessity of the life of faith, with multitudes of other benefits.
But yet thete sweet fruits of ami&tions do not naturally, and of their own accord, spring from it; no, we may as well look for grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles, as for fuch fruits from affliction, till Christ's fanctifying hand and art have passed upon them.
The reason why they become thus sweet and pleasant (as I noted before) is, because they run now in another channel ; Jesus Chrift hath removed them from mount Ebal to Gerizim ; they are no more the effects of vindictive wrath, but paternal chastisement. And, as * Mr Case well notes, “a teaching affliction is to the saints, the re<sult of all the offices of Jesus Christ. As a king, he chastens; as bra prophet, he teacheth, viz. by chastening; and, as a priest, he
hath purchased this grace of the Father, that the dry rod might i blossom, and bear fruit. Behold, then, a fanctified affliction is a cup, whereinto Jesus hath wrung and presied the juice and virtue of all his mediatorial offices. Surely, that must be a cup of generous, royal wine, like that in the fupper, a cup of blessing to the people of God.
REFLECTION. Hence may the unsanctified foul draw matter of fear and trouble, even from its unsanctified troubles. And thus it may reflect upon itself: O my foul ! what good hast thou gotten by all, or any of thy afflictions? God's rod hath been dumb to thee, or thou deaf to it. I have not learned one holy instruction from it ; my troubles have left me the same, or worse than they found me ; my heart was proud, earthly, and vain before, and so it remains still; they bave not purged out, but only given vent to the pride, murmur, and atheism of my heart. I have been in my afflictions, as that wicked Ahaz was in his, 2 Chron. xxviii. 22. who, “in the midst of his distress, " yet trespassed more and more against the Lord.” When I have been in storms at sea, or troubles at home, my soul within me hath been as a raging fea, casting up mire and dirt. Surely this rod is not the rod of God's children; I have proved but drofs in the furnace, and I fear the Lord will put me away as dross, as he threatens to do to the wicked, Psal. cxix. 119.
Hence also should gracious souls draw much encouragement and comfort amidst all their troubles. O these are the fruits of God's fatherly love to me! why should I fear in the day of evil! or tremble any more at affliction ? Though they seem as a serpent at a distance, yet are they a rod in the hand. O blessed be that ikilful and gracious hand, that makes the rod, the dry rod to blossom, and bear such precious fruit.
Correction, Instruction, p. 82.
Lord, what a mystery of love lies in this dispensation ! that fin, which first brought afflictions into the world, is now itself carried out of the world by affliction, Rom. v. 12. Ifa. vii. 9. ( what can frustrate my salvation, when those very things that seem most to oppose it, are made subfervient to it, and, contrary to their own nature, do promote and further it?
Upon the same affliction; some do call
OBSERVATION.. TT is a wonderful work of God to limit and bound such a vast and 1 furious creature as the sea, which, according to the judgment of many learned men, is higher than the earth ; and that it hath a propension to overflow it, is evident both from its nature and motion : were it not that the great God had laid his law upon it. · And this is a work wherein the Lord glories, and will be admired. Pfal. civ. 9. « Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over, that " they turn not again to cover the earth.” Which it is clear they would do, were they not thus limited. So Job xxxviij. 8, 10, 11.
ein the Lord but they may the most is clear they
« Who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth as if it had « ifsued out of the womb? I brake up for it my decreed place, and « set bars and doors, and said, Hitherto fhalt thou come, but no “ further; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.”
APPLICATION. . And no less is the glorious power and mercy of God discovered in bridling the rage and fury of Satan and his instruments, that they break riot in upon the inheritance of the Lord, and destroy it. « Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee, and the remainder of of wrath thou shalt restrain,” Psal. lxxvi. 10. By which it is more than hinted, that there is a world of rage and malice in the hearts of wicked men, which fain would, but cannot vent itself, because the Lord restrains, or, as in the Hebrew, girds it up. Satan is the envious one, and his rage is great against the people of God, Rev. xii. 12. But God holds him, and all his instruments in a chain of providence; and it is well for God's people that it is so.
They are limited as the sea, and so the Lord in a providential way speaks to them, “ Hitherto shall ye come, and no further.” Sometimes he ties them up so short, that they cannot touch his people, though they have the greatest opportunities and advantages. Plal. cv. 12, 13, 14, 15. " When they were but a few men in number; « yea, very few, and strangers in it; when they went from one na« tion to another, from one kingdom to another people, he suffered « no man to do them wrong; yea, he reproved kings for their « fakes, saying, touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no « harm." And sometimes he permits them to touch and trouble his people, but then sets bounds and limits to them, beyond which they must not pass. That is a pregnant text to this purpose, Rev. ii. 10. “ Behold the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be “ tried, and ye shall have tribulation ten days.”
Here are four remarkable limitations upon Satan and his agents in reference to the people of God: a limitation as to the perfons, not all, but some; a limitation of the punishment, a prison, not a grave, not hell; a limitation upon them as to the end, for trial, not ruin; and lastly, as to the duration, not as long as they please, but ten days.
REFLECTION. O my soul! what marrow and fatness, comfort and confolation mayest thou suck from the breast of this truth in the darkest day of trouble? Thou feeft how the flowing feas drives to overwhelm the earth. Who has arrested it in its course, and stopt its violence ? who has confined it to its place ? Certainly none other but the Lord. When I see it threaten the shore with its proud, furious, and insulting waves, I wonder it doth not swallow up all : but I see it no fooner touch the fands, which God hath made its bounds, but it retires, and, as it were, with a kind of subuniffion, refpects those limits wbich God hath set it.