Page images
PDF
EPUB

nour, because men break God's command. ments. Trouble of heart, except for sin, is sinful trouble. Where sin lies heavy, affliction lies light.

Isa. xxxiii. 24. " They shall not say, I am sick; for their iniquities shall be forgiven them." Sense of pardon to those souls that have felt the burden of sin, njuch alleviates and lightens the burden of affliction. Strike, Lord, said Luther) now I am absolved from my sin.

We are always too prone to fall into extremes, to sin either in excess or in defect; too much, or too little; we are faulty both ways. As for sin, which is the worst of evils, we are apt to be troubled too little. How few fail here in the excess, though it is possible so to do; and some have, that refuse to be comforted by all the sweet promises of Christ in the gospel ; but there are but few of those ; most of us fail in the defect. We are not troubled for sin so much as we should; cur sins do not lie so hard and heavy upon us as they should ; our hearts do seldom feel the weight of sin pressing us down; many sins lie light on us : our vain thoughts, our omissions, careless performance of holy duties, misspending precious time, idle talk, &c. and such like evils, which should trouble us most, they trouble us least.

But our afflictions, which, comparatively, are but light, lie too heavy upon us, and press us down even to the dust. So, in respect of afflictions themselves, we are apt to run into extremes, against which the Holy Ghost gives caution as to both extremes. Prov. iii. 11., . 12, “ My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his chastisements; the apostle explains it; neither faint when thou art corrected of him," Heb. xii. 5, 6. Adding a most powerful argument against those extremes; ver. 6.“ For whom the Lord loveth, he correcteth, even as a father the son in whom he delighteth;" and therefore despise not his chastisements and fatherly corrections, slight them not, for they come from a loving father, a wise father, and should not be despised by his children, they are the fruits of his love. Also, you must not be weary of them, nor faint under them, for the same reason, viz. because they shall not hurt you, they flow from your father's love, from a father they come, who delighteth in you, and therefore yeought not to faint under them. or, as it is in the text, whatever affliction be. fals you, let not your heart be troubled.

It is heart-trouble you see that is here for- . bidden; not a filial sense of God's hand, nor a child-like acknowledgment of God's rod; God's rod hath a voice, and its voice must be heard. When his hand is. lifted up to strike, to lay on any blows on us, or on any of our relations, or earthly comforts, we must observe it, and him, and acknowledge the same: but, not to acknowledge, and observe the hand of God; not to consider in the day of adversity, not to humble ourselves under his mighty

hand, not to stoop and yield to God, but to think or say, of our affliction, that it cannot be helped, there is no remedy, it is common and ordinary, and the like; this is to despise the chastening of the Lord, take heed of this. But yet, we must take heed too, that under the pretence of being sensible of the hand of God, and of his strokes upon us, that we do not fall into the other extreme, of being weary of his chastisements, and of despondency, and fainting under his corrections, we must be careful that we do not let our hearts be troubled.

Quest. But is it possible that we should be afflicted, deprived of liberty, of estate, of loving relations, of the desire of our eyes, and of the delight of our hearts, (for such in a most eminent manner was Jesus Christ to his disciples, he was the desire of all nations) and not be troubled at our very hearts? Can we behold our Benjamin's, our Sarah's our Rebe. kah's, our Joseph's, &c. taken away, our dear husbands, our loving, faithful, tender wives snatched away from us with a stroke, with a sudden stroke, to be in a moment deprived of such comforts, and in such a time too, in an evil time, in a sad and suffering time, when such helpers would sweeten our sufferings, and help bear our burdens, would give us sweet counsel, and uphold us in the way of God? What, is it possible such knots should be uutied, and so suddenly, such flowers cropt off, cut down; such sweet friends renoveri from us, as lay once in our bosoms, and sent to the chambers of darkness, sealed up in the dust, made silent in the grave, to see their sweet faces no more, till the heavens be no more? Is it possible I say, in such cases, not to be troubled? or if it be possible, is it necessary, or is it attainable ? May we arrive to such a temper, may we get such a calm, quiet, tranquil, and submissive frame of spirit? It is admirable, but is it attainable.

I answer, we must not despise the chastenings of the Lord, as was noted before, we must not be as stocks or stones, altogether insensible of the hand of God upon us; no, we must be sensible, we must lay those things to our hearts, and consider the work of God. Such Josses, and of such, are to be lamented, they will be found wanting, their relations will find them wanting, their families will find them wanting, the poor will find them wanting, and the church also. David lamented the loss of Jonathan ; and the disciples the loss of Lazarus. Lawful it is then, to be affected with the deaths and departures of our dear relations and friends, and moderately to mourn for them; but our care must be, that we suffer not nature to work alone without grace, for then it will soon go beyond its bounds; nature must be restrained and bounded. It is moderate mourning that is lawful. Mourn we may, “but not as those that have no hope,” i Thess. iv. 13, 14. For, those that sleep in Jesus, they being safe and happy; for, “ if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again; even so they that sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him.” Troubled we cannot chuse but be in such cases, and under such strokes, but we must not let our hearts be troubled, saith our Lord. And what this imports, you shall see by and by. It is trouble of heart, that is here forbidden; but, what is it, that will prevent or cure this heart trouble? Our Saviour answers in the next words; “ Ye believe in God, believe also in me: in my father's house are many mansions, &c." In which, we may observe these parts, viz.

1. An evil disease, or spiritual distemper: intimated and prohibited, to which the disciples of Christ are incident and prone in time of affliction; and that is trouble of heart : this may seize you, but take heed of it, labour a

As if the Lord had said, I know it will be a cutting, a killing thing to you to part with me, your dear and loving lord and master; but part with me you must, and take heed of this indecent distemper of heart trouble: let not your hearts be troubled, saith our Lord Jesus.

2. The best preventive of, or remedy for this spiritual distemper proposed and enjoined; ye believe in God, believe also in me. As if our Lord had said, surely you believe in God, why then are your hearts troubled? Cannot your faith in God support you, if you act it upon him? But if that cannot, then act your faith also on me; believe also in me. faith on work on me. Believe, that I love you,

gainst it.

Set your

« PreviousContinue »