The Fountain of Life
The Fountain of Life opened up: or, a display
of Christ in his essential and mediatorial glory
by John Flavel
The manner of Christ's Death, in
respect of the Patience thereof
"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened
not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep
before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth." Isaiah 53:7
How our Lord Jesus Christ carried on the work of our
redemption in his humble state, both in his incarnation, life, and death,
has in part been discovered in the former sermons. I have showed you the
kind or nature of that death he died; and am now engaged, by the method
proposed, to open the manner of his death. The solitariness or loneliness of
Christ in his sufferings, was the subject of the last sermon. The patience
and meekness of Christ in his sufferings, come in order, to be opened in
This chapter treats wholly of the sufferings of Christ,
and the blessed fruits thereof. Hornbeck tells us of a learned Jew, "that
ingenuously confessed this very chapter converted him to the Christian
faith. And such delight he had in it, that he read it more than a thousand
times over." Such is the clearness of this prophecy, that he who penned it,
is deservedly stiled the evangelical prophet. I cannot allow time to
annualise the chapter; but my work lying in the seventh verse, I shall speak
to these two branches or parts of it, namely, The grievous sufferings of
Christ, and the glorious ornament he put upon them.
First, Christ's grievous sufferings; "he was afflicted,
and he was oppressed, brought to the slaughter, and shorn as a sheep," that
is he lost both fleece and blood, life, and comforts of life. "He was
oppressed;" the word signifies both "to answer and oppress, humble or
depress." The other word, rendered afflicted, signifies "to exact and
afflict," and so implies Christ to stand before God, as a surety before the
creditor; who exacts the utmost satisfaction from him, by causing him to
suffer according to the utmost rigor and severity of the law. It did not
suffice that he was shorn as a sheep, that is that he was stripped and
deprived of his riches, ornaments and comforts; but his blood and life must
go for it also. He is brought to the slaughter. These were his grievous
Secondly, Here is the glorious ornament he put upon those
grievous sufferings, even the ornament of a meek and patient spirit. He
opened not his mouth: but went as a sheep to be shorn, or a lamb to the
slaughter. The lamb goes as quiet to the slaughter-house, as to the fold. By
this lively and lovely similitude, the patience of Christ is here expressed
to us. Yet Christ's dumbness and silence is not to be understood simply, but
universally; as though he spoke nothing at all when he suffered; for he
uttered many excellent and weighty words upon the cross, as you shall hear
in the following discourses; but it must be understood respectively, that is
he never opened his mouth repiningly, passionately, or revengefully, under
his greatest tortures and highest provocations. Whence the note is,
DOCTRINE. That Jesus Christ
supported the burden of his sufferings, with admirable patience and meekness
It is a true observation, that meekness inviteth injury,
but always to its own cost. And it was evidently verified in the sufferings
of Christ. Christ's meekness triumphed over the affronts and injuries of his
enemies, much more than they triumphed over him. Patience never had a more
glorious triumph, than it had upon the cross.
The meekness and patience of his spirit, amidst injuries
and provocations, is excellently set forth in 1 Pet. 2:22, "Who did no sin,
neither was guile found in his mouth: who when he was reviled, reviled not
again; when he suffered he threatened not, but committed himself to him that
In this point we have these three things to open
1. The burden of sufferings, and provocations that Jesus
Christ was oppressed with.
2. The meekness and admirable patience with which he
supported that burden.
3. The causes and grounds of that perfect patience which
he then exercised.
First, The burden of sufferings and provocations which
Christ supported, was very great; for on him met all sorts and kinds of
trouble at once, and those in their highest degrees and fullest strength.
Troubles in his soul, and these were the soul of his troubles. His soul was
laden with spiritual horrors and troubles, as deep as it could swim, Mark
14:33. "He began to be sore amazed and very heavy." The wrath of an infinite
dreadful God beat him down to the dust. His body full of pain and exquisite
tortures in every part. Not a member or sense but was the seat and subject
His name and honor suffered the vilest indignities,
blasphemies, and horrid reproaches that the malignity of Satan and wicked
men could belch out against it. He was called a blasphemer, seditious, one
that had a devil, a glutton, a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and
harlots, the carpenter's son, this fellow. He that was God's fellow, as you
heard lately, now this fellow. Contempt was poured upon all his offices.
Upon his kingly office, when they crowned him with thorns, arrayed him with
purple, bowed the knee in mockery to him and cried, "Hail king of the Jews."
His Prophetic, office, when they blinded him, and then bid him "prophesy who
smote him." His priestly office, when they reviled him on the cross, saying,
"He saved others, himself he cannot save." They scourged him, spit in his
face; and smote him on the head and face. Besides, the very kind of death
they put him to, was reproachful and ignominious; as you heard before.
Now all this, and much more than this, meeting at once
upon an innocent and dignified person; one that was greater than all; that
lay in the bosom of God; and from eternity had his smiles and honors; upon
one that could have crushed all his enemies as a moth; I say, for him to
bear all this, without the least discomposure of spirit, or breach of
patience, is the highest triumph of patience that ever was in the world. It
was one of the greatest wonders of that wonderful day:
Secondly, And that is the next thing we have to consider,
even this almighty patience and unpatterned meekness of Christ, supporting
such a burden with such evenness and steadiness of spirit. Christian
patience, or the grace of patience, is an ability or power to suffer hard
and heavy things, according to the will of God.
It is a power, and a glorious power, that strengthens the
suffering soul to bear. It is our passive fortitude, Col. 1:11.
"Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all
patience, and long suffering, with joyfulness;" that is strengthened with
the might or power of God himself: Or such as might appear to be the proper
impress and image of that divine power, who is both its principle and
pattern. For the patience which God exercises towards sinners, that daily
wrong and load him, is called power, and great power, Numb. 14:17. "Let the
power of my Lord be great, as you have spoken, saying, The Lord is
longsuffering, forgiving," etc. Hence it is observed, Prov. 24:10. That the
loss or breaking of our patience under adversity, argues a decay of strength
in the soul. "If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small."
It is a power or ability in the soul, to bear hard,
heavy, and difficult things. Such only are the objects of patience. God has
several sorts of burdens to impose upon his people. Some heavier, others
lighter; some to be carried but a few hours, others many days; others all
our days: some more spiritual, bearing upon the soul, some more external,
touching or punishing the flesh immediately; and the spirit by way of
sympathy: and sometimes both sorts are laid on together. So they were at
this time on Christ. His soul burdened as deep as it could swim; full of the
sense, the bitter sense and apprehension of the wrath of God: his body
filled with tortures: in every member and sense grief took up its lodging.
Here was the highest exercise of patience.
It is a power to bear hard and heavy things, according to
the will of God. Considering it in that respect, patience, the Christian
grace, differs from patience the moral virtue. So the apostle describes it,
1 Pet. 4:19. "Let them that suffer according to the will of God," etc. that
is who exercise patience graciously, as God would have them.
And then our patience is, as Christ's most exactly was,
according to the will of God; when it is as extensive, as intensive, and as
protensive as God requires it to be.
First, When it is as extensive, as God would have it. So
was Christ's patience. It was a patience that stretched and extended itself
to all, and every trouble and affliction, that came upon him. Troubles came
upon him in troops, in multitudes. It is said, Psalm. 40:12. "Innumerable
evils have compassed me about." Yet he found patience enough to receive them
all. It is not with us. Our patience is often worn out. And like sick
people, we fancy, if we were in another chamber, or bed, it would be better.
If it were any other trouble than this, we could bear it. Christ had no
exceptions at any burden his Father would lay on. His patience was as large
as his trouble, and that was large indeed.
Secondly, It is then according to the will of God, when
it is as intensive as God requires it to be, that is in the apostle's
phrase, Jam. 1:4. When it has its perfect work, or exercise; when it is not
only extended to all kinds of troubles; but when it works in the highest and
most perfect degree. And then may patience be said to be perfect (as it was
in Christ) when it is plenum sui, et prohibens alieni, full of itself, and
exclusive of its opposite. Christ's patience was full of itself, (that is)
it included all that belonged to it. It was full of submission, peace, and
serenity; full of obedience and delight in his Father's will. He was in a
perfect calm. As a lamb or sheep, (says the text) that howls not, opposes
not, but is dumb and quiet. And as his external behavior, so his internal
frame and temper of soul was most serene and calm. Not one repining thought
against God. Not one revengeful thought against man once ruffled his spirit,
"Father forgive them, for they know not what they do," was all the hurt he
wished his worst enemies. And as it included all that belonged to it, so his
perfect patience excluded all its opposites. No discontents, murmurings,
despondencies had place in his heart. So that his patience was a most
intensive, perfect patience. And as it was as extensive, and as intensive,
so it was,
Thirdly, As protensive as God required it to be, (that
is) it held out to the end of his trial. He did not faint at last. His
troubles did not out-live his patience. He indeed was strengthened with all
might unto all patience, and long suffering. This was the patience of Christ
our perfect pattern. He had not only patience but longanimity.
Thirdly, In the last place, let us inquire into the
grounds and reasons of this his most perfect patience. And if you do so, you
shall find perfect holiness, wisdom, fore knowledge, faith, heavenly
mindedness, and obedience, at the root of this perfect patience.
First, This admirable patience and meekness of Christ,
was the fruit and offspring of his perfect holiness. His nature was free
from those corruptions, that ours groan and labor under; otherwise he could
never have carried it at this rate. Take the meek Moses who excelled all
others in that grace, and let him be tried in that very grace, wherein he
excels, and see how "unadvisedly he may speak with his lips," Psalm. 106:33.
Take a Job, whose famous patience is trumpeted and resounded over all the
world; you have heard of the patience of Job; and let him be tried by
outward and inward troubles, meeting upon him in one day; and even a Job may
curse the day wherein he was born. Envy, revenge, discontent, despondencies,
are weeds naturally springing up in the corrupt soil of our sinful natures,
"I saw a little child grow pale with envy," said Austin. And the spirit that
is in us, lusts unto envy, (says the apostle) Jam. 4:5. The principles of
all these evils being in our natures, they will show themselves in time of
trial. The old man is fretful and passionate. But it was otherwise with
Christ. His nature was like a pure crystal glass, full of pure fountain
water, which though shaken and agitated never so much, cannot show, because
it has no dregs. "The prince of this world comes, and has nothing in me,"
John 14:30. No principle of corruption, for a handle to temptation. Our
high-priest was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, Heb. 7:26.
Secondly, The meekness and patience of Christ proceeded
from the infinite wisdom with which he was filled. The wiser any man is, the
more patient he is. Hence meekness, the fruit, is denominated from patience,
the root that bears it, Jam. 3:13. "The meekness of wisdom." And anger is
lodged in folly, its proper cause, Eccl. 7:9. "Anger rests in the bosom of
fools." Seneca would allow no place for passion in a wise man's bosom. Wise
men use to ponder, consider, and weigh things deliberately in their
judgements, before they suffer their affections and passions to be stirred
and enraged. Hence come the constancy and serenity of their spirits. As wise
Solomon has observed, Prov. 17:27. "A man of understanding is of an
excellent (or as the Hebrew is) a cool, spirit."
Now wisdom filled the soul of Christ. He is wisdom in the
abstract, Prov. 8. In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom, Col. 2:3.
Hence it was that he was no otherwise moved with the revilings and abuses of
his enemies, than a wise physician is with the impertinencies of his
distempered, and crazy patient.
Thirdly, And as his patience flowed from his perfect
wisdom and knowledge, so also from his foreknowledge. He had a perfect
prospect of all those things from eternity, which befell him afterwards.
They came not upon him by way of surprisal. And therefore he wondered not at
them when they came, as if some strange thing had happened. He foresaw all
these things long before, Mark 8:31. "And he began to teach them, that the
Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and chief
priests, and scribes, and be killed." Yes, he had compacted and agreed with
his Father to endure all this for our sakes, before he assumed our flesh.
Hence, Isa. 1. 6. "I gave my back to the smilers, and my cheeks to them that
plucked off the hair. I hid not my face from shame and spitting."
Now look as Christ in John 16:4. obviates all future
offences his disciples might take at suffering for his sake, by telling them
beforehand what they must expect. "These things (says he) I told you, that
when the time shall come, you may remember that I told you of them:" So he,
foreknowing what himself must suffer, and having agreed so to do, bare those
sufferings with singular patience. "Jesus therefore knowing all things that
should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, whom seek you?" John
Fourthly, As his patience sprang from his fore-knowledge
of his sufferings; so from his faith which he exercised under all that he
suffered in this world. His faith looked through all those black and dismal
clouds, to the joy proposed, Heb. 12:2. He knew that though Pilate
condemned, God would justify him, Isa. 50:4, 5, 6, 7, 8. And he set one
over-against the other: he balanced the glory, into which he was to enter,
with the sufferings, through which he was to enter into it. He acted faith
upon God for divine support and assistance under suffering, as well as for
glory, the fruit and reward of them, Psalm. 16:7, 8, 9, 10, 11. I have set
(or as the apostle varies it) "I foresaw the Lord always before me; because
he is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and
my glory rejoices." There is faith acted by Christ, for strength to carry
him through. And then it follows, "My flesh also shall rest in hope; for you
will not leave my soul in hell, neither will you suffer your holy one to see
corruption. You will show me the path of life. In your presence is fullness
of joy; at your right-hand there are pleasures for evermore." There is his
faith acting spoil the glory into which he was to enter, after he had
suffered these things: this filled him with peace.
Fifthly, As his faith, eyeing the glory into which he was
passing, made him endure all things; so the heavenliness of his Spirit also
filled him with a heavenly tranquility and calmness of spirit under all his
abuses and injuries. It is a certain truth, that the more heavenly any man's
spirit is, the more sedate, composed and peaceful. "As the higher heavens
(says Seneca) are more ordinate and tranquil; there are neither clouds nor
winds, storms nor tempests; they are the inferior heavens that lighten and
thunder: the nearer the earth the more tempestuous and unquiet: even so the
sublime and heavenly mind is placed in a calm and quiet station."
Certainly that heart which is sweetened frequently with
heavenly, delightful communion with God, is not very apt to be embittered
with wrath, or soured with revenge against men. The peace of God does "brabeuein",
appease and end all strifes and differences, as an umpire: so much that
word, Col. 3:15. imports. The heavenly Spirit marvelously affects a sedate
and quiet bosom.
Now, never was there such a heavenly soul on earth, since
man inhabited it, as Christ was: he had most sweet and wonderful communion
with God: he had meat to eat, which others, yes, and those his greatest
intimates, knew not of. The Son of man was in heaven upon earth, John 3:13.
Even in respect of that blessed heavenly communion he had with God, as well
as in respect of his immense Deity: and that his heart was in heaven when he
so patiently endured and digested the pain and shame of the cross is evident
from Heb. 12:2. "For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, despising
the shame." See where his eye and heart were, when he went as a lamb to the
Sixthly, And lastly, As his meekness and patience sprang
from the heavenliness and sublimity of his spirit; so likewise, from the
complete and absolute obedience of it to his Father's will and pleasure: he
could most quietly submit to all the will of God, and never regret at any
part at the work assigned him by his Father. For you must know, that
Christ's death in him was an act of obedience; he all along eyeing his
Father's command and counsel in what he suffered, Phil. 2:7, 8. John 18:11.
Ps. 40:6, 7, 8. Now look, as the eyeing and considering the hand of God in
an affliction, presently becalms and quiets a gracious soul; as you see in
David, 2 Sam. 16:11. "Let him alone, it may be God that has bid him curse
David;" So much more it quieted Jesus Christ, who was privy to the design
and end of his Father, with whose will he all along complied; looking on
Jews and Gentiles but as the instruments ignorantly fulfilling God's
pleasure, and serving that great design of his Father; this was big
patience, and these the grounds of it.
Use 1. I might variously improve this point; but the
direct and main use of it is, to press us to a Christ-like patience in all
our sufferings and troubles. And seeing in nothing we are more generally
defective, and that defects of Christians herein, are so prejudicial to
religion, and uncomfortable to themselves; I resolve to wave all other uses,
and spend the remaining time wholly upon this branch; even a persuasive to
Christians unto all patience, in tribulations; to imitate their lamb-like
Savior. Unto this (Christians) you are expressly called, 1 Pet. 2:21, 22.
"Because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should
follow his steps. Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; who
when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not;
but committed himself to him that judges righteously." Here is your pattern;
a perfect pattern! a lovely and excellent pattern! Will you be persuaded to
the imputation of Christ herein? Methinks I should persuade you to it: yes,
everything about you persuades to patience in your sufferings, as well as I:
look which way you will, upward or downward, inward or outward, backward or
forward, to the right-hand, or to the left, you shall find all things
persuading and urging the doctrine of patience upon you.
First, Look upwards, when tribulations come upon you:
look to that sovereign Lord, that commissionates and sends them upon you.
You know troubles do not rise out of the dust, nor spring out of the ground,
but are framed in heaven, Jer. 18:11. "Behold I frame evil, and devise a
device against you." Troubles and afflictions are of the Lord's framing and
devising, to reduce his wandering people to himself: much like that device
of Absalom, in setting Joab's field of corn on fire, to bring Joab to him, 2
Sam. 14:30. In the frame of your afflictions, you may observe much of divine
wisdom in the choice, measure, and season of your troubles: sovereignty, in
electing the instruments of your affliction; in making them as afflictive as
he pleases; and in making them obedient both to his call, in coming and
going, when he pleases. Now, could you in times of trouble look up to this
sovereign hand, in which your souls, bodies, and all their comforts and
mercies are; how quiet would your hearts be! Psalm. 39:9. "I was dumb, and
opened not my mouth, because it is your doing." 1 Sam. 3:18. "It is the
Lord, let him do what seems him good." Oh, when we have to do with men, and
look no higher, how do our spirits swell and rise with revenge and
impatience! But if you once come to see, that man as a rod in your Father's
hand, you will be quiet; Psalm. 46:10. "Be still, and know that I am God;"
q.d. consider with whom you have to do; not with your fellow, but with your
God, who can puff you to destruction with one blast of his mouth; in whose
hand you are, as the clay in the potter's hand. It is for want of looking up
to God in our troubles, that we fret, murmur, and despond at the rate we do.
Secondly, Look downward, and see what is below you, as
well as up to that which is above you. You are afflicted, and you cannot
bear it. Oh! no trouble like your trouble! never man in such a case as you
are! Well, well, cast the eye of your mind downward, and see those who lie
much lower than you. Can you see none on earth in a more miserable state
than yourselves? Are you at the very bottom, and not a man below you? sure
there are thousands in a sadder case than you on earth. What is your
affliction? Have you lost a relation? others have lost all. Have you lost an
estate, and are become poor? Well, but there are some you read of, Job 30:4,
5, 6, 7. "Who cut up mallows by the bushes, and juniper-roots for their
meat. They are driven forth from among men, they cried after them as after a
thief. They dwell in the cliffs of the valleys, in caves of the earth, and
in the rocks. Among the bushes they braved, under the nettles they were
gathered together." What difference, as to manner of life, do you find
between the persons here described, and the wild beasts, that herd together
in a desolate p]ace? Are you persecuted and afflicted for Christ's sake?
What think you of their sufferings, Heb. 11:36, 37. "Who had trial of cruel
dockings; yes, moreover of bands and imprisonments: they were stoned, they
were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword, they wandered
about in sheep skins and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented."
And are you better than they? I know not what you are; but I am sure, these
were such "of whom the world was not worthy," ver. 38.
Or are your afflictions more spiritual and inward? Say
not the Lord never dealt more bitterly with the soul of any, than he has
with yours. What think you of the case of David, Heman, Job, Asaph, whose
doleful cries, by reason of the terrors of the Almighty, are able to melt
the stoniest heart that reads their stories? the Almighty was a terror to
them: the arrows at God were within them; they roared by reason of the
disquietness of their hearts.
Or are your afflictions outward and inward together; an
afflicted soul in an afflicted body? Are you fallen, like the ship in which
Paul sailed, into a place where two seas meet! Well, so it was with Paul,
Job, and many other of those worthies gone before you. Sure you may see many
on earth who have been, and are in far lower and sadder states than
Or if not on earth, doubtless, you will yield there are
many in hell, who would be glad to change conditions with you, as bad as you
think yours to be. And were not all these mounded out of the same lump with
you? Surely, if you can see any creature below you, especially any
reasonable being, you have no reason to return so ungratefully upon your
God, and accuse your Maker of severity; or charge God foolishly. Look down,
and you shall see grounds enough to be quiet.
Thirdly, Look inward, you discontented spirits, and see
if you can find nothing there to quiet you. Cast year eye into your own
hearts; consider either the corruptions or the graces that are there. Cannot
you find weeds enough there, that need such winter breather as this to rot
them? Has not that proud heart need enough of all this to humble it? That
carnal heart need of such things as these to mortify it? That backsliding,
wandering heart need of all this to reduce and recover it to its God? "If
need be, you are in heaviness," 1 Pet. 1:6. O Christian! Did you not see
need of this before you came into trouble? Or has not God shown you the need
of it since you were under the rod? It is much you should not see it; but be
assured, if you do not, your God does: he knows you would be ruined forever,
if he should not take this course with you.
Your corruptions require all this to kill them. Your
lusts will take all this, it may be more than this, and all little enough.
And as your corruptions call for it, so do year graces too. Therefore think
you the Lord planted the principles of faith, humility, patience, etc. in
your souls? What, were they put there for nothing? Did the Lord intend they
should lie sleeping in their drowsy habits? Or were they not planted there
in order to exercise? And how shall they be exercised without tribulations?
Can you tell? Does not "tribulation work patience, and patience experience,
and experience hope?" Rom. 5:3, 4. Is not "the trial of your faith much more
precious, than of gold which perishes," 1 Pet. 1:7. O look inward, and you
will be quiet.
Fourthly, Look outward, and see who stands by and
observes your carriage under trouble. Are there not many eyes upon you: yes,
many envious observers round about you. It was David's request, Psalm. 5:8.
"Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness, because of mine enemies;" or, as
the Hebrew word there might be rendered, because of mine observers or
watchers. There is many an envious eye upon you. To the wicked there can
scarcely be an higher gratification and pleasure, than to see your carriage
under trouble so like their own; for thereby they are confirmed in their
prejudices against religion, and in their good opinion of themselves. These
may talk and profess more than we; but when they are tried, and put to it,
it appears plainly enough, their religion enables them to do no more than we
do; they talk of heaven's glory, and their future expectancies; but it is
but talk, for it is apparent enough their hopes cannot balance a small
afflictions with all the happiness they talk of. Oh, how do you dishonor
Christ before his enemies, when you make them think all your religion lies
in talking of it! Consider who looks on.
Fifthly, Look backward, and see if there be nothing
behind you that may hush and quiet your impatient spirits; consult the
multitude of experiences past and gone; both your own and others. Is this
the first strait that ever you were in? If so, you have reason to be quiet,
yet to bless God that has spared you so long, when others have had their
days filled up with sorrow. But if you have been in troubles formerly, and
the Lord has helped you; if you have past through the fire, and not been
burnt; through the waters, and not drowned; if God has stood by you, and
hitherto helped you. O what cause have you to be quiet now, and patiently
wait for the salvation of God! Did he help you then, and cannot he do so
now? Did he give waters, and cannot he give bread also? Is he the God of the
hills only, and not the God of the valleys also? O call to mind the days of
old, the years of the right hand of the Most High. "These things I call to
mind, therefore I have hope," Lam. 3:21. Have you kept no records of past
experiences? How ungrateful then have you been to your God, and how
injurious to yourselves, if you have not read them over in such a day as
this? for to that end were they given you.
O when you shall consider what a God he has been to you,
at a pinch; how faithfully Jehovah-jireh has stood by you; that this is not
the first time your hearts and hopes have been low; as well as your
condition, and yet God has raised you again; surely you will find your
present troubles made light, by a glance back upon your past experiences.
Sixthly, Look forward, to the end of your troubles; yes,
look to a double end of them, the end of their duration, and the end of
their operation. Look you to the end of their duration, and that is just by
you: they shall not be everlasting troubles, if you be such as fear the
Lord. "The God of all grace, who has called us unto his eternal glory by
Jesus Christ, after that you have [suffered a while] make you perfect," 1
Pet. 5:10. "These light afflictions are but for a moment," 2 Cor. 4:18. They
are no more comparatively, with that vast eternity that is before you. Alas!
what are a few days and nights of sorrows, when they are past? Are they not
swallowed up as a spoonful of water in the vast ocean? But more especially
look to the end of their operation. What do all these afflictions tend to
and effect? Do they not work out an exceeding weight of glory? Are you not
by them made partakers of his holiness?" Heb. 12: Is not this all the fruit
to take away your sins? What, and be impatient at this; fret and repine,
because God is, this way, perfecting your happiness? O ungrateful soul! Is
this a due requital of that love that disdains not to stoop to so low an
employment, as to scour and cleanse your souls, that they might be shining
vessels of honor to all eternity?
O look forward to the end of your troubles: the end of
their duration and operation.
Seventhly, Look to the right-hand, and see how you are
shamed, convinced and silenced by other Christians; and it may be such too,
as never made that profession you have done; and yet can not only patiently
bear the afflicting hand of God, but are blessing, praising, and admiring
God under their troubles; while you are sinning against, and dishonoring him
under smaller ones. It may be you will find some poor Christians that know
not where to have their next bread, and yet are speaking of the bounty of
their God; while you are repining in the midst of plenty. Ah! if there be
any ingenuity in you, let this shame you. If this will not, then,
Eighthly, Look to your left-hand, and there you will see
a sad sight, and what one would think should quiet you. There you may see a
company of wicked, graceless wretches, carrying themselves under their
troubles, but too much like yourselves. What do they more, than fret and
murmur, despond and sink, mix sin with their afflictions, when the rod of
God is upon them?
It is time for you to leave off, when you sees how near
you are come to them, whom you hope you shall never be ranked and numbered
with. Reader, such considerations as these, I am persuaded, would be of
singular use to your soul at such a time, but above all, your eyeing the
great pattern of patience, Jesus Christ; whose Lamb- like damage, under a
trial, with which your is not to be named the same day, is here recommended
to you. O how should this transform you into a lamb, for meekness also!