The Lord's Prayer
By Thomas Watson
The Third Petition in the Lord's Prayer
"May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven." Matthew 6:10
This petition consists of two parts:
the matter—doing God's will;
the manner—as it is in heaven.
What is meant by the will of God? There is a twofold
(1) God's secret will, or "the will of his
decree". We pray not that God's secret will may be done by us. This secret
will cannot be known, it is locked up in God's own breast, and neither man
nor angel has a key to open it!
(2) God's revealed will. This will is written in
the book of Scripture, which is a declaration of God's will, and reveals
what he would have us do in order to our salvation.
What do we pray for in these words, "May your will be
We pray for two things:
1. For active obedience—that we may do God's will
actively in what he commands.
2. For passive obedience—that we may submit
to God's will patiently, in whatever he inflicts.
We pray that we may do God's will actively,
subscribe to all his commands, believe in Jesus, which is the cardinal
grace, and lead holy lives. This is the sum of all religion, the two tables
epitomized, the doing God's will. "May your will be done." We must know
his will before we can do it. Knowledge is the eye which must
direct the foot of obedience. At Athens there was an altar set up,
"To the unknown God." Acts 17:23. Knowledge is the pillar of fire to give
light to practice; but though knowledge is requisite—yet the knowledge of
God's will is not enough, without doing it. If one had a system of divinity
in his head; if he had "all knowledge," yet, if obedience were lacking, his
knowledge were lame, and would not carry him to heaven. 1 Cor 13:2. Knowing
God's will may make a man admired—but it is doing it, which makes him
blessed! Knowing God's will without doing it, will not crown us with
 The bare knowledge of God's will is inefficacious, it
does not better the heart. Knowledge alone is like a winter-sun, which has
no heat or influence; it does not warm the affections, or purify the
conscience. Judas was a great luminary, he knew God's will—but he was a
 Knowing without doing God's will, will make the case
worse. It will heat hell the hotter. "That servant who knows his master's
will and does not do what his master wants, will be beaten with many blows."
Luke 12:47. Many a man's knowledge is a torch to light him to hell. You who
have knowledge of God's will, but do not obey it—wherein do you excel the
devil, who transforms himself into an angel of light? It is improper to call
such Christians, who are knowers of God's will but not doers
of it. It is improper to call him a tradesman who never wrought in his
trade. Just so, to call him a Christian, who never wrought in the trade of
true religion. Let us not rest in knowing God's will. Let it not be said of
us, as Plutarch speaks of the Grecians, "They knew what was just—but did it
not." Let us set upon the doing God's will. "May your will be done."
WHY is the doing God's will necessary?
(1) Out of equity. God may justly claim a
right to our obedience. He is our Creator, and we have our being from
him; and it is but just that we should do his will—at whose word we were
created. God is our Benefactor. It is but just that, if he gives us
our allowance, we should give him our allegiance.
(2) The great design of God in the Word is to make us
doers of his will.
 All God's royal edicts and precepts are to bring us
to be doers of his will. Why did take the effort to give us the
copy of his law, and write it out with his own finger—but for this end? The
Word of God is not only a rule of what we are to believe—but what we
are to practice. "This day the Lord your God has commanded you to
do these statutes; you shall therefore keep and do them." Deut 26:16. If
you tell your children what is your mind, it is not only that they may know
your will—but do it. God gives us his Word, as a master gives his scholar a
copy, to write after it; he gives it as his will and testament, that we
should be the executors to see it performed.
 The end of all God's promises is to draw us to do his
will. The promises are loadstones to obedience. "A blessing if
you obey;" as a father gives his son money to bribe him to obedience. Deut
11:27. "If you shall hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God, to do all
his commandments, the Lord your God will set you on high above all the
nations of the earth; blessed shall you be in the city and in the field."
Deut 28:1, 3. The promises are a royal charter settled upon
 The threatenings of God, stand as the angel with a
flaming sword to deter us from sin, and make us doers of his will.
"A curse if you will not obey." Deut 11:28. "God shall wound the hairy scalp
of such an one as goes on still in his trespasses." Psalm 68:21. These
threatenings often take hold of men in this life; they are made examples,
and hung up in chains to scare others from disobedience.
 All God's providence are to make us doers of his
will. As he makes use of all the seasons of the year for
harvest—so all his various providence are to bring on the harvest of
 Afflictions are said to be sent us to make us do
God's will. "When Manasseh was in affliction, he besought the
Lord, and humbled himself greatly." 2 Chron 33:12. The rod has this voice,
"Be doers of God's will." Affliction is called a furnace. The furnace melts
the metal, and then it is cast into a new mold. God's furnace is to
melt us and mold us into obedience.
 God's mercies are to make us do his will.
"I beseech you by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living
sacrifice." Romans 12:1. Body is by synecdoche put for the whole man; if the
soul should not be presented to God as well as the body, it could not be a
reasonable service; therefore the apostle says, "I beseech you by the
mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice." Mercies
are the strongest obligations to duty. "I drew them with cords of a man;"
that is, with golden cords of my mercy. Hos 11:4. In a word, all that is
written in the law or gospel tends to this, that we should be doers of God's
will. "May your will be done."
(3) By doing the will of God, we evidence SINCERITY.
As Christ said in another sense, "The works that I do, bear witness of me."
John 10:25. It is not all our golden words--but our works--our doing
of God's will--which bears witness of our sincerity. We
judge not the health of a man's body by his high color—but by the pulse of
the arm, where the blood chiefly stirs. Just so, a Christian's soundness is
not to be judged by his profession; but the estimate of a Christian is to be
taken by his obediential acting, his doing the will of God. This is the best
certificate and testimonial to show for heaven.
(4) Doing God's will propagates the GOSPEL. It
is the diamond which sparkles in religion. Others cannot see that faith
which is in the heart—but when they see we do God's will on earth, it makes
them have a venerable opinion of the Christian religion, and become
proselytes to it. Julian, in one of his epistles, writing to Arsatius, says,
"that the Christian religion did much flourish, by the sanctity and
obedience of those who professed it."
(5) By doing God's will, we show our love to Christ.
"He who has my commandments, and keeps them—he it is that loves me."
John 14:21. What greater love to Christ than to do his will, though it
crosses our own? Everyone would be thought to love Christ; but, how shall it
be known but by this? Do you do his will on earth? It is a vain thing for a
man to say he loves Christ—when he slights his commands.
Not to do God's will on earth is a great evil.
Not to do God's will is SINFUL. We go against our
prayers; we pray, "May your will be done," and yet we do not obey his will;
we confute our own prayer! We go against our vow in baptism; we have vowed
to fight under the Lord's banner, to obey his scepter, and this vow we have
often renewed in the Lord's supper; if we do not God's will on earth, we
break our vows, and God will indict us for perjury.
Not to do God's will is FOOLISH; because there is
overcoming God. If we do not obey him, we cannot resist him.
"Are we stronger than he?" 1 Cor 10:22. "Have you an arm like God?" Job
40:9. Can you measure arms with him? To oppose God, is as if a child should
fight with an archangel! To oppose God, is as if a heap of briers should put
themselves into a battalion against the blazing fire.
Not to do God's will is foolish; because, if we do it
not, we do the devil's will. Is it not folly to gratify an enemy—to do his
will, who seeks our ruin? But are any so wicked as to do the devil's will?
Yes! "You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you
will do." John 8:44. When a man tells a lie, does he not do the devil's
will? "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?"
Not to do God's will is DANGEROUS. It brings a spiritual
suicide. If God's will is not done by us—he will have his will
upon us! If we obey not his will in commanding, we shall obey it
in perishing. "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed with his mighty
angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on those who obey not the gospel."
2 Thess 1:7, 8. Either we must do his will, or suffer it!
(6) To do God's will is for OUR BENEFIT. It
promotes our own self-interest. As if a king commands a subject to dig in a
mine of gold, and gives him all the gold he had dug. God bids us do his
will—for our own good. "And now, Israeli what does the Lord your God require
of you—but to fear the Lord your God, to keep the commandments of the Lord,
which I command you this day, for your good" Deut 10:13. It is God's
will that we should repent, and this is for our good; for repentance
ushers in remission of all our sins! "Repent, that your sins may be blotted
out." Acts 3:19. It is God's will that we should believe; and why is
it—but that we should be crowned with salvation! "He who believes, shall be
saved." Mark 16:16. What God wills, is not so much our duty, as our
privilege; he bids us obey his voice, and it is greatly for our good. "Obey
my voice, and I will be your God." Jer 7:23. I will not only give you my
angels to be your guard—but myself to be your portion; my spirit shall be
yours to sanctify you; my love shall be yours to comfort you; my mercy shall
be yours to save you; "I will be your God."
(7) To do God's will is our HONOR. A person
thinks it an honor to have a king speak to him to do a thing. The angels
count it their highest honor in heaven to do God's will. [They do not burden
us but adorn us.] Salvian. To be employed in doing God's will is the highest
honor that a mortal creature is capable of! Christ's precepts do not burden
us—but adorn us!
(8) To do God's will on earth makes us LIKE CHRIST, and
akin to him. It makes us like Christ. Is it not our prayer that
we may be like Christ Jesus Christ did his Father's will. "I came down from
heaven, not to do my own will—but the will of him who sent me." John 6:38.
As God the Father and Christ have but one essence—so but one will. Christ's
will was melted into his Father's. "My food is to do the will of him who
sent me." John 4:34. By doing God's will on earth, we resemble Christ, nay,
we are akin to him and are of the blood royal of heaven! Alexander called
himself cousin to the gods; but what honor is it to be akin to Christ!
"Whoever shall do the will of my Father who is in heaven—the same is my
brother, and sister, and mother." Matthew 12:50. Did king Solomon rise off
his throne to meet his mother and set her on a throne by him? 1 Kings 2:19.
Such honor will Christ bestow on such as are doers of God's will; he will
salute them as his kindred, and set them on a glorious throne in the
amphitheater of heaven.
(9) Doing God's will on earth brings PEACE in life and
 Doing God's will brings peace in life. "In
keeping your precepts, there is great reward," not only after
keeping them—but in keeping them. Psalm 19:11. When we walk closely
with God in obedience, there is a secret joy let into the soul—and how
swiftly and cheerfully do the wheels of the soul move when they are oiled
with the oil of gladness!
 Doing God's will brings peace in death. When
Hezekiah thought he was about to die, what gave him comfort? That he had
done the will of God. "Remember O Lord, I beseech you, how I have walked
before you in truth, and have done that which is good in your sight." Isaiah
38:3. If anything make our pillow easy at death, it will be that we have
endeavored to do God's will on earth. Did you ever hear any cry out on their
death-bed, that they have done God's will too much? No! Has it not been,
that they have done his will no more, that they came so short in their
obedience? Doing God's will, will be both your comfort and your
(10) If we are not doers of God's will, we shall be
looked upon as despisers of his will. Let God say what he
will—yet men will go on in sin, which is to condemn God. "Why does the
wicked despise God?" Psalm 10:13. To despise God is worse than to rebel. The
tribes of Israel rebelled against Rehoboam, because he made their yoke
heavier. 1 Kings 12:16. But to despise God is worse: it is to slight him; it
is to put a scorn upon him, and affront him to his face! Such an affront
will make him draw his sword in vengeance!
In what MANNER are we to do God 's will, that we may find
The manner of doing God's will is the chief thing.
The schoolmen say well, "the manner of a thing, is as well required
as the thing itself." If a man builds a house, and the owner does not like
it—if it is not according to his mind—all his expenses are lost. Just so, if
we do not God's will in the right manner, it is not accepted. We must not
only do what he appoints—but as he appoints. Here lies the very
life-blood of saving religion. It is a great question, therefore, "In what
manner are we to do God's will that we may find acceptance?"
(1) We do God's will acceptably—when we do duties
SPIRITUALLY. "We worship God in the spirit." Phil 3:3. To serve
God spiritually, is to do duties from an inward principle. The Pharisees
were very exact about the external part of God's worship. How zealous were
they in the outward observation of the Sabbath, even charging Christ with
the breach of it! But all this was external obedience only: there was
nothing of spirituality in it. We do God's will acceptably when we serve him
from a renewed principle of grace. A crab tree may bear fruit, as well as a
good apple tree—but it is not so good fruit as the other, because it does
not come from so sweet a root. Just so, an unregenerate person may do as
much external obedience as a child of God—he may pray as much, hear as
much—but his obedience is harsh and sour, because it does not come from the
sweet and pleasant root of grace!
The inward principle of obedience is faith; therefore it
is called "the obedience of faith." Romans 16:26. But why must this
silver thread of faith run through the whole work of obedience? Because
faith looks at Christ in every duty—it touches the hem of his
garment; and through Christ, both the person and the offering are accepted.
(2) We do God's will acceptably—when we PREFER his will
before all others. If God wills one thing, and man wills the
contrary, we are not to obey man's will—but God's. "Whether it be right to
hearken unto you more than unto God—you judge." Acts 4:19. God says, "You
shall not make a graven image." King Nebuchadnezzar set up a golden image to
be worshiped; but the three Hebrew children, or rather champions,
resolved God's will should prevail, and they would obey him, though with the
loss of their lives! "Be it known unto you, O king, that we will not
serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up." Dan
(3) We do God's will acceptably—when we do it as it is
done in heaven, that is, as the ANGELS do it. To do God's will as
the angels "marks our likeness to them, not our equality with
them," Brugensis. It denotes this much, that we are to resemble them, and
make them our pattern. Though we cannot equal the angels in doing
God's will—yet we must imitate them; a child cannot write as well as
the original—yet he copies and imitates it.
 We do God's will as the angels in heaven, when we do
it REGULARLY, without wavering; when we go according to the
divine institutions, not decrees of councils, or traditions of men. Angels
do nothing but what is commanded; they are not for mere formal ceremonies.
As there are statute laws in the land which bind—so the Scripture is God's
statute law, which we must exactly observe. As the watch is set by the
sundial—so our obedience is right when it goes by the sundial of
the Word. If obedience has not the Word for its rule, it is not doing God's
will—but our own; it is will-worship.
The Lord would have Moses make the tabernacle
according to the pattern. Exodus 25:40. If Moses had left out anything
or added anything to it, it would have been very provoking to God. To mix
anything of our own devising in God's worship, is to go outside, yes,
contrary to the pattern. His worship is the apple of his eye, that
which he is the most tender of; and there is nothing he has more showed his
displeasure against than corrupting his worship. How severely did he
punish Nadab and Abihu for offering up strange fire, that is, such fire as
God has not sanctioned! Lev 10:2. Whatever is not divinely appointed, is
offering up strange fire. There is in many, a strange itch after
superstition. They love a gaudy religion, and are more for the pomp
of worship than the purity of worship; which cannot be pleasing to
God. As if God were not wise enough to appoint the manner how he will be
served, man will be so bold as to prescribe for him. To thrust human
inventions into sacred things, is doing our will, not God's; and he will
say, "Who has required this at your hand!" Isaiah 1:12. We do God's
will as it is done in heaven when we do it regularly, when we reverence his
institutions, and the mode of worship—which have the stamp of divine
authority upon them.
 We do God's will as it is done by the angels in
heaven, when we do it ENTIRELY, with nothing cut away—when we do
all God's will. The angels in heaven do all that God commands; they
leave nothing of his will undone. "You his angels, that do his
commandments." Psalm 103:20. If God sends an angel to the virgin Mary—he
goes on God's errand; if he gives his angels a charge to minister for the
saints—they obey. Heb 1:14. It cannot stand with angelic obedience, to leave
the least iota of God's will unfulfilled. It is to do God's will as the
angels when we do all his will. This was God's charge to Israel. "Remember
and do all my commandments." Numb 15:40, It is said of David, "I have
found David, a man after my own heart, who shall fulfill all my will." (Gr.
all my wills.) Acts 13:22. Every command has the same authority; and if we
do God's will uprightly, we do it uniformly; we obey every part and
branch of his will; we join first and second table. Surely we owe to God our
Father, what the Papists say they owe to their false church, unlimited
obedience. We must incline to every command, as the needle moves which ever
way which the loadstone draws it.
Many do God's will by halves, they pick and choose in
religion: in some tings they comply with God's will—but not in others. They
are like a lame horse, which sets some of its feet on the ground—but favors
one. He who is to play upon a lute, must strike upon every string, or he
spoils all the music. God's commandments may be compared to a ten-stringed
lute; we must obey his will in every command, strike upon every string, or
we can make no good melody in piety. The badger has one foot shorter than
the other—so hypocrites are shorter in some duties than others. Some will
pray—but not give alms. Some hear the word—but not forgive their enemies.
Others receive the sacrament—but not make restitution. How can they be
holy—who are not just? Hypocrites profess fair—but when it comes to
sacrificing the Isaac, crucifying the beloved sin, or parting with
some of their estate for Christ, they pause and say, as Naaman, "In this
thing—may the Lord pardon your servant." 2 Kings 5:18. This is far from
doing God's will as the angels do. God does not accept, such as do his will
by halves. If your servant should do some of your work which you command
him—but not all—how would you like it?
But who is able to do all God's will?
Though we cannot obey all God's will legally, we
may evangelically; which is:
(1) When we mourn that we can do God's will no better;
when we fail we weep. Romans 7:24.
(2) When it is the desire of our soul to do God's whole
will, "O that my ways were directed to keep your precepts." Psalm 119:5.
What a child of God lacks in strength, he makes up in desire, [in great
matters it is enough to have had the will.]
(3) When we endeavor as far as we are able, to do the
whole will of God. When a father bids his child lift a heavy object—and the
child is not able—but tries, and does his best, the father accepts it as if
he had done it. Just so, to endeavor to do our best, is to do God's will
evangelically. Though it be not to our satisfaction, it is to God's
 We do God's will as it is done in heaven by the
angels, when we do it SINCERELY and without pretense. To do God's
will sincerely lies in two things, first, to do God's will out of a pure
respect to his command. Abraham's sacrificing Isaac was contrary to flesh
and blood. To sacrifice the son of his love, the son of the promise, and by
no other hand but the father's own, was hard service; but, because God
commanded it, and out of pure respect to the command, Abraham obeyed. This
is to do God's will aright, when though we feel no present joy or comfort in
duty—yet, because God commands we obey. Not comfort—but the command is the
ground of duty. Thus the angels do God's will in heaven. His command is the
weight that sets the wheels of their obedience going. Secondly, to do God's
will sincerely, is to do it with a pure eye to his glory. The Pharisees did
the will of God giving alms; but that which was a dead fly in the ointment,
was that they did not aim at his glory—but vain glory; they blew a trumpet.
Jehu did the will of God in destroying the Baal-worshipers, and God
commended him for it; but because he aimed more at setting himself in the
kingdom, than at the glory of God, God looked upon it as no better than
murder, and said he would avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of
Jehu. Hos 1:4. Let us look to our ends in obedience; though we shoot short,
let us take a right aim. We may do God's will, and yet not with a perfect
heart. "Amaziah did that which was right in the sight of the Lord—but not
with a perfect heart." 2 Chron 25:2. The action was right for the matter—but
his aim was not right; and the action which lacks good aim, lacks a good
issue. He does God's will rightly that does it uprightly, whose end is to
honor God and lift up his name in the world. A gracious soul makes God his
center. As Joab, when he had taken Rabbah, sent for King David, that he
might have the glory of the victory—so when a gracious soul has done any
duty, it desires that the glory of all may be given to God. 2 Sam 12:27, 28.
"That God in all things may be glorified." 1 Peter 4:11. It is to do God's
will as the angels, when we not only advance his glory—but design his glory.
The angels are said to cast their crowns before the throne. Rev 4:10. Crowns
are signs of the greatest honor—but these the angels lay at the Lord's feet,
to show they ascribe the glory of all they do to him.
 We do God's will as it is done in heaven by the
angels when we do it WILLINGLY, and without complaint. The angels
love to be employed in God's service. It is their heaven to serve God. They
willingly descend from heaven to earth, when they bring messages from God,
and glad tidings to the church. Heaven being a place of much joy, the angels
would not leave it a minute were it not that they take such infinite delight
in doing God's will. We resemble the angels when we do God's will willingly.
"And you Solomon, my son, serve the Lord with a willing mind." 1 Chron 28:9.
God's people are called a willing people; they give God a freewill offering;
though they cannot serve him perfectly, they serve him willingly. Psalm
A hypocrite may be able to do some right things—yet he
has no delight in duty; he does it rather out of fear of hell than love to
God. When he does God's will it is against his own will. Cain brought his
sacrifice—but grudgingly; his worship was rather a task than an
offering, rather penance than a sacrifice; he did God's will—but
against his own will. We must be carried upon the wings of delight in every
duty. Israel were to blow the trumpets when they offered burnt offerings.
Num 10:10. This was to show their joy and cheerfulness in serving God. We
must read and hear the Word with delight. "Your Words were found, and I ate
them, and your Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart." Jer
15:16. A pious soul goes to the Word as to a feast, or as one would go with
delight to hear music.
Sleidan reports that the Protestants of France had a
church which they called paradise, because, when they were in the house of
God, they thought themselves in paradise. The saints flock as doves to the
windows of God's house. "Who are these that fly as the doves to their
windows?" Isaiah 60:8. Not that a truly regenerate person is always in the
same cheerful temper of obedience; he may sometimes find an indisposition
and weariness of soul—but his weariness is his burden; he is weary of his
weariness; he prays, weeps, uses all means to regain the alacrity and
freedom in God's service that he was accustomed to have. To do God's will
acceptably is to do it willingly. Delight in duty is better than duty
itself. The musician is not commended for playing long—but well; it is not
how much we do—but how much we love. "O, how love I your law!" Psalm 119:97.
Love is as musk among linen, which perfumes it; it perfumes obedience, and
makes it go up to heaven as a sweet incense. It is doing God's will as the
angels in heaven do. They are ravished with delight while praising God; they
are said to have harps in their hands, to signify their cheerfulness in
God's service. Rev 15:2.
 We do God's will as the angels in heaven when we do
it FERVENTLY, and without slackness. "Fervent in spirit, serving
the Lord;" a metaphor taken from water when it seethes and boils over. Just
so, our affections should boil over in zeal and fervor. Romans 12:11. The
angels serve God with such fervor and intenseness that they are called
seraphim, from a Hebrew word which signifies to burn, to show
they are all on fire; they burn in love and zeal in doing God's will. Psalm
104:4. Grace turns a saint into a seraphim. Aaron must put burning coals to
the incense. Lev 16:12. Incense was a type of prayer, burning coals of zeal,
to show that the fire of zeal must be put to the incense of prayer.
Formality starves duty. Is it like the angels—to serve God dully and coldly?
Duty without fervor is as a sacrifice without fire. We should ascend to
heaven in a fiery chariot of devotion.
 We do God's will as the angels in heaven when we give
him the BEST in every service. "Out of all your gifts, you shall
offer all the best thereof." Numb 18:29. "In the holy place shall you cause
the strong wine to be poured unto the Lord for a drink offering." Numb 28:7.
The Jews might not offer to the Lord, wine which was weak or mixed—but the
strong wine, to imply that we must offer to God the best, the strongest of
our affections. If the spouse had a cup more juicy and spiced, Christ should
drink of that. "I would cause you to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my
pomegranate." Canticles 8:2. Thus the angels in heaven do God's will; they
serve him in the best manner; they give him their seraphic high stringed
praises. Just so, he who loves God, gives him the cream of his obedience.
God demanded the fat of all the sacrifice as his due. Lev 3:16. Hypocrites
care not what services they bring to God; they think to put him off with
anything; they put no cost in their duties. "Cain brought of the fruit of
the ground." Gen 4:3. The Holy Spirit took notice of Abel's offering that it
was costly. He "brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the
fat thereof." Gen 4:4. When he speaks of Cain's offering, he says only, "He
brought of the fruit of the ground." We do God's will aright when we offer
fat things, dedicate to him the best. Domitian would not have his image
carved in wood or iron—but in gold. God will have the best we have—golden
 We do God's will as the angels in heaven when we do
it READILY and swiftly. The angels do not dispute or reason the
case—but soon as they have their charge and commission from God, they
immediately obey. To show how ready they are to execute God's will, the
cherubim, representing angels, are described with wings. Thus should we do
God's will as the angels. As soon as ever God speaks the Word—we should be
ambitious to obey. Alas! how long is it sometimes before we can get
permission from our hearts to go to a duty! Christ went more readily to the
cross—than we to the throne of grace! How many disputes and excuses have we!
Is this to do God's will as the angels in heaven do it? O let us shake off
this backwardness to duty, as Paul shook off the viper.
"Behold two women, and the wind was in their wings." Zech
5:9. Wings are swift—but wind in the wings is great swiftness; such
readiness should be in our obedience. As soon as Christ commanded Peter to
let down his net, he let it down, and you know what success he had. Luke
5:4. It was prophesied of such as were brought home to Christ, "As soon as
they hear from me, they shall obey me." Psalm 18:44.
 We do God's will as the angels in heaven when we do
it CONSTANTLY. The angels are never weary of doing God's will;
they serve him day and night. Rev 7:15. Thus we should imitate them.
"Blessed is he who does righteousness at all times." Psalm 106:3. Constancy
crowns obedience. [The righteousness consists not in beginning but in
completing the work.] Cyprian. Our obedience must be like the fire of the
altar, which was continually kept burning. Lev 6:13. Hypocrites soon
give over doing God's will. They are like chrysolite, which is of a golden
color in the morning, very bright to look upon—but towards evening grows
dull and loses its splendor. We should continue doing God's will, because of
the great loss which will befall us if we do it not. There will be a loss of
honor. "That no man take your crown;" implying, if the church of
Philadelphia left off her obedience, she would lose her crown that is, her
honor and reputation. Rev 3:2: Apostasy creates infamy. Judas came from an
apostle to be a traitor, which was a dishonor. If we give over our
obedience, it is a loss of all that has been already done; as if one should
work in silver, and then pick out all the stitches. All a man's prayers are
lost, all the Sabbaths he has kept are lost; he unravels all his good works.
"All his righteousness that he has done shall not be mentioned." Ezek 18:24.
He undoes all he has done; as if one drew a beautiful picture with the
pencil, and then came with his sponge and wiped it out again. A loss of the
soul and happiness. "We were in a fair way for heaven—but left off doing
God's will, missed the excellent glory, and are plunged deeper in
damnation." "It had been better not to have known the way of righteousness
than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment." 2 Peter
2:21. Therefore let us continue in doing God's will. Constancy sets the
crown upon the head of obedience.
Use 1. For instruction.
(1) See hence our impotence. We have no innate power to
do God's will. What need to pray, "May your will be done," if we have power
of ourselves to do it? I wonder that free-willers pray this petition.
(2) If we are to do God's will on earth as it is done by
the angels in heaven, see the folly of those who go by a wrong pattern. They
do as most of their neighbors do: if they talk vain on the Sabbath, if now
and then they swear an oath, it is the custom of their neighbors to do so;
but we are to do God's will, as the angels in heaven. We must make the
angels our patterns, and not our neighbors. If our neighbors do the devil's
will—shall we do so too? If our neighbors go to hell—shall we go there too
(3) See here that which may make us long to be in heaven,
where we shall do God's will perfectly, as the angels do. Alas! how
defective are we in our obedience here! How far we fall short! We cannot
write a line of holiness without blotting. Our holy things are blemished
like the moon, which, when it shines brightest, has a dark spot in it; but
in heaven we shall do God's will perfectly, as the angels in glory.
Use 2. For reproof.
(1) It reproves such as do not God's will. They have a
knowledge of God's will—but though they know it, they do it not. They know
what God would have them avoid. They know they should not swear. "Swear not
at all." Matthew 5:34. "Because of swearing the land mourns." Jer 23:10.
Yet, though they pray "hallowed be your name," they profane it by shooting
oaths, like bullets against heaven. They know they should abstain from
fornication and uncleanness—yet they cannot but bite at the devil's hook—if
he baits it with flesh. Jude 7.
They know what God would have them practice—but they
"Leave undone those things which they ought to have done." They know it is
the will of God they should be true in their promises, just in their
dealings, good in their relations; but they do it not. They know they should
read the Scriptures, consult with God's oracles—but the Bible, like rusty
armor, is hung up, and seldom used; they look softener upon a pack of
cards—than upon a Bible. They know their houses should be nurseries of
piety—yet they have no piety in them; they do not perfume their houses with
prayer. What hypocrites are those who kneel down in the church, and lift up
their eyes to heaven and say, "May your will be done," and yet have no care
at all to do God's will! What is this, but to hang out a flag of defiance
against heaven! Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.
(2) It reproves those who do not God's will in a right
acceptable manner. They do not God's will entirely. They will obey him in
some things—but not in others; as if a servant should do some of your work
you command him—but not all. Jehu destroyed the idolatry of Baal—but let the
golden calves of Jeroboam stand. 2 Kings 10:28, 29. Some will observe the
duties of the second table—but not the first. Others make a high profession,
as if their tongues had been touched with a coal from God's altar—but live
idly; of whom the apostle thus complains: "We hear there are some which walk
among you disorderly, working not at all." 2 Thess 3:11. Living by faith,
and living in a vocation, must go together. It is an evil thing not to do
all God's will.
They do not God's will ardently, nor cheerfully. They do
not put hot coals to the incense; they bring their sacrifice—but not their
heart. This is far from doing God's will as the angels. How can God like
heartless service? How can he mind our duties, when we ourselves do not mind
Use 3. For examination.
Let us examine all our actions, whether they are
according to God's will. The will of God is the rule and standard: it is the
sun-dial by which we must regulate all our actions. He is no good workman
who does not work by rule. Just so, he can be no Christian who goes not
according to the rule of God's will. Let us examine our actions whether they
square with, and agree to the will of God. Are our speeches according to his
will? Are our words savory, being seasoned with grace? Is our apparel
according to God's will? "In like manner I want women to adorn themselves in
modest apparel," not wanton and garish. 1 Tim 2:9. Is our diet according to
God's will? Do we hold the golden bridle of temperance, and only take so
much as may rather satisfy nature than surfeit it? Too much oil chokes the
lamp. Is our whole behavior according to God's will? Are we patterns of
prudence and piety? Do we shine as bright lights in the dark world? We pray,
"May your will be done as it is in heaven." Are we like our pattern? Would
the angels do this if they were on earth? Would Jesus Christ do this? It is
to be like Christ—when we live our prayer, and our actions are the
counterpart of God's will.
Use 4. For exhortation.
Let us be doers of the will of God, "May your will be
done." It is our wisdom to do God's will. "Keep and do these
statutes, for this is your wisdom." Deut 4:6. Further, it is our safety.
Has not misery always attended the doing our own will, and happiness the
doing of God's will?
(1) Misery has always attended the doing our own will.
Our first parents left God's will to fulfill their own, in eating the
forbidden fruit; and what came of it? The apple had a bitter core in it!
They purchased a curse for themselves, and all their posterity. King Saul
left God's will to do his own; he spared Agog and the best of the sheep, and
what was the outcome—but the loss of his kingdom?
(2) Happiness has always attended the doing God's will.
Joseph obeyed God's will, in refusing the embrace of his mistress; and was
not this his preferment? God raised him to be the second man in the kingdom.
Daniel did God's will contrary to the king's decree; he bowed his knee in
prayer to God, and did not God make all Persia bow their knees to Daniel?
(3) The way to have our will—is to do God's will.
Would we have a blessing in our estate? Let us do God's will. "You will
experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God: You will be
blessed in your towns and in the country. You will be blessed with many
children and productive fields. You will be blessed with fertile herds and
flocks. You will be blessed with baskets overflowing with fruit, and with
kneading bowls filled with bread. You will be blessed wherever you go, both
in coming and in going. The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack
you. The Lord will bless everything you do and will fill your storehouses
with grain. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.
If you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways, the Lord
will establish you as his holy people as he solemnly promised to do."
Deuteronomy 28:2-9. This is the way to have a good harvest. Would we have a
blessing in our souls? Let us do God's will. "Obey my voice, and I will be
your God." Jer 7:23. "I will bestow myself upon you, as an everlasting
portion; my grace shall be yours to sanctify you, my mercy
shall be yours to save you!" You see you lose nothing by doing God's will;
it is the way to have your own will. Let God have his will in being obeyed,
and you shall have your will in being saved.
How shall we do God's will aright?
(1) Get sound knowledge. We must know
his will before we can do it; knowledge is the eye to direct the foot
of obedience. The Papists make ignorance the mother of devotion; but
Christ makes ignorance the mother of error. "You are in error, not
knowing the Scriptures." Matthew 22:29. We must know God's will before we
can do it aright. Affection without knowledge, is like a horse full of
heart—but his eyes are put out.
(2) If we would do God's will aright, let us labor for
self-denial. Unless we deny our own will, we shall never do God's
will. His will and ours are like the wind and tide when they are contrary.
He wills one thing, we will another; he calls us to be crucified to the
world, by nature we love the world; he calls us to forgive our enemies, by
nature we bear malice in our hearts. His will and ours are contrary, and
until we can cross our own will, we shall never fulfill his will.
(3) Let us get humble hearts. Pride is the
spring of disobedience. "Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?"
Exod 5:2. A proud man thinks it below him, to stoop to God's will. Be
humble. The humble Christian says, "Lord what will you have me to do?" He
puts, as it were, a blank paper into God hand; and bids him write what he
will, and he will subscribe to it.
(4) Beg grace and strength of God to do his will.
"Teach me to do your will;" as if David had said, Lord, I need
not be taught to do my own will, I can do it fast enough—but teach me
to do your will. Psalm 143:10. And that which may add wings to
prayer, is God's gracious promise, "I will put my Spirit within you, and
cause you to walk in my statutes." Ezek 36:27. If the loadstone draws
the iron, it is not hard for the iron to move. Just so, if God's Spirit
enables, it will not be hard—but rather delightful to do God's will.
II. We pray that we may have grace to submit to God's
will patiently, in whatever he inflicts. The text is to be
understood as well of suffering God's will, as of doing it.
Just so, the most judicious interpreters understand the text. A Christian,
when under any disastrous providence, should lie quietly at God's feet, and
say, "May your will be done."
What this patient submission to God's will is not?
There is something that looks like patience which is not:
as when a man bears a thing because he cannot help it; he takes affliction
as his fate and destiny, therefore he endures quietly what he
cannot avoid—this is necessity rather than patience.
What accompanies patient submissions to God's will?
(1) A Christian may be deeply sensible of affliction, and
yet patiently submit to God's will. We ought not to be Stoics, insensible
and unconcerned with God's dealings; like the sons of Deucalion, who, as the
poets say, were begotten of a stone. Christ was sensible when he sweat great
drops of blood—but there was submission to God's will. "Nevertheless, not as
I will—but as you will." Matthew 26:39. We are bid to humble ourselves under
God's hand, which we cannot do unless we are sensible of it. 1 Peter 5:6.
(2) A Christian may weep under an affliction, and yet
patiently submit to God's will. God allows tears. It is a sin to be "without
natural affection." Romans 1:31. Grace makes the heart tender; [grief which
is held in, chokes the heart]; weeping gives vent to sorrow; [grief is
poured out in tears.] Joseph wept over his dead father; Job, when he had
much ill news brought him at once, tore his mantle, as an expression of
grief—but did not tear his hair in anger. Worldly grief, however, must not
be immoderate; a vein may bleed too much; the water rises too high when it
overflows the banks.
(3) A Christian may complain in his affliction, and yet
be submissive to God's will. "I cry out to the Lord; I plead for the Lord's
mercy. I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles."
Psalm 142:1, 2. We may, when under oppression, tell God how it is with us,
and desire him to write down our injuries. Shall not the child complain to
his father when he is wronged? Holy complaint may agree with patient
submission to God's will; but though we may complain to God, we must not
complain of God.
What is inconsistent with patient submission to God's
(1) DISCONTENT with God's dealings in providence.
Discontent has a mixture of grief and anger in it—and both
these must needs raise a storm of passion in the soul. When God has touched
the apple of our eye, and smitten us in that we loved—we are huffy and
sullen, and he has not a good look from us. We are like a petulant bird
which is angry, and beats herself against the cage. Gen 4:6.
(2) MURMURING is not consistent with submission to God's
will. Murmuring is the height of impatience, it is a kind of
mutiny in the soul against God. "The people began to murmur against God."
Numb 21:5. When a cloud of sorrow is gathered in the soul, and it not only
drops in tears—but out of it come hailstones, murmuring words against God,
this is far from patient submission to his will. When water is hot the scum
boils up; when the heart is heated with anger against God, then murmuring
 Murmuring springs from pride. Men think they
have deserved better at God's hand; and, when they begin to swell, they spit
 Murmuring springs from distrust. Men do not
believe that God can make a cordial out of poison—that he cannot bring good
out of all their troubles, therefore they murmur. "They believed not his
word—but murmured." Psalm 106:24, 25. Men murmur at God's providence
because they distrust his promises. God has much ado to bear this
sin. Numb 14:27. It is far from submission to God's will.
(3) DISQUIETNESS cannot agree with quiet submission to
God's will. As when a man says, I am so encompassed with trouble
that I know not how to get out; head and heart are so taken up, that I am
not fit to pray. When the strings of a lute are snarled, the lute can make
no good music. Just so, when a Christian's spirits are perplexed and
disturbed, he cannot make melody in his heart to the Lord. To be under
discomposure of mind, is as when an army is routed, one runs this way and
another that way—and all is in disorder. Just so, when a Christian is in a
hurry of mind, his thoughts run up and down distracted, as if he were
undone, which cannot consist with patient submission to God's will.
(4) SELF-JUSTIFICATION cannot agree with submission to
God's will; when, instead of being humbled under God's hand, a person
justifies himself. A proud sinner stands upon his own defense,
and is ready to accuse God of unrighteousness, which is, as if we should
charge the sun with darkness. This is far from submission to God's will. God
smote Jonah's gourd, and he stood upon his own vindication. "I do well to be
angry, even unto death!" Jonah 4:9. What! to be angry with God—and to
justify this! "I do well to be angry!" This was strange to come from a
prophet, and was far from the prayer Christ taught us, "May your will be
What is patient submission to God's will?
It is a gracious frame of soul, whereby a Christian is
content to be at God's disposal, and acquiesces in his wisdom. "It is the
Lord's will—let him do what he thinks best." 1 Sam 3:18. "The will of the
Lord be done." Acts 21:14. That I may further illustrate this, I shall show
you wherein this submission to the will of God lies. It lies chiefly in
(1) Patient submission to God's will, lies in
acknowledging God's hand; seeing God in the affliction.
"Affliction does not spring from the soil, and trouble does not sprout from
the earth." Job 5:6. Affliction does not come by chance. Job eyed God in all
that befell him. "The Lord gave me everything I had, and the Lord has
taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!" Job 1:21. He complains not
of the Chaldeans, or the influence of the planets. Job looks beyond second
causes, he sees God in the affliction. "The Lord has taken it away." There
can be no submission to God's will—until there is an acknowledging of God's
hand in the affliction.
(2) Patient submission to God's will, lies in justifying
God. "O my God, I cry but you hear not," you turn a deaf ear to
me in my affliction. Psalm 22:2. "But you are holy;" ver 3. God is holy and
just, not only when he punishes the wicked—but when he afflicts the
righteous. Though he puts wormwood in our cup—yet we vindicate him, and
proclaim his righteousness. When Mauricius, the emperor, saw his son slain
before his eyes, he exclaimed, "Righteous are you, O Lord, in all your
ways." We justify God, and confess he punishes us less than we deserve. "Now
we are being punished because of our wickedness and our great guilt. But we
have actually been punished far less than we deserve." Ezra 9:13.
(3) Patient submission to God's will, lies in accepting
the punishment. "And they then accept of the punishment of their
iniquity." Lev 26:41. Accepting the punishment, is receiving all that God
does in good part. He who accepts of the punishment says, "Good is the rod
of the Lord;" he kisses the rod, yes, blesses God that he would use such a
merciful severity, and rather afflict him than lose him.
Patient submission to God's will in affliction shows a
great deal of wisdom and piety. The skill of a pilot is most discerned in a
storm—so a Christian's grace in the storm of affliction. Submission to God's
will is most requisite for us while we live in this world. In heaven there
will be no more need of patience, than there is need of the starlight when
the sun shines. In heaven there will be all joy, and what need of patience
then? It requires no patience to wear a crown of gold; but while we live
here in a valley of tears, patient submission to God's will is much needed.
"You have need of patience." Heb 10:36.
The Lord sometimes lays heavy afflictions upon us.
"Your arrows have struck deep, and your blows are crushing me." Psalm
38:2. God sometimes melts his people in a furnace. He sometimes lays many
afflictions upon us. "He multiplies my wounds." Job 9:17. God shoots
many kinds of arrows.
(1) Sometimes God afflicts with POVERTY. The
widow had nothing left—but a pot of oil. 2 Kings 4:2. Poverty is a great
affliction. To have an estate reduced almost to nothing, is hard to flesh
and blood. "The Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full,
but the Lord has brought me home empty." Ruth 1:20, 21.
This exposes to contempt. When the prodigal was poor, his
brother was ashamed to own him. "This your son;" he said not, this my
brother—but this your son; he scorned to call him brother. Luke 15:30. When
the deer is shot and bleeds, the rest of the herd push it away—so when God
shoots the arrow of poverty at one, others are ready to push him away. When
Terence was grown poor, his friend Scipio cast him off. The poets write that
Jupiter's daughters had no suitors, because they lacked a dowry.
(2) God sometimes afflicts with REPROACH. Such
as have the light of grace shining in them may be eclipsed in their name.
The primitive Christians were reproached, as if they were guilty of incest.
Luther was called a trumpeter of rebellion. David calls reproach
heart-breaking. Psalm 69:20. God often lets his dear saints be exercised
with this. Dirt may be cast upon a pearl, and those names may be blotted
which are written in the book of life. Piety shields from hell—but not from
(3) God sometimes afflicts with the DEATH of loved ones.
"Son of man, I am going to take away your dearest treasure.
Suddenly she will die." Ezek 24:16. This is like pulling away a limb from
the body. He takes away a holy child: Jacob's life was bound up in Benjamin.
Gen 44:30. That which is worse than the loss of children is, when they are
continued as living crosses; where the parents expected honey, there to have
wormwood. What greater trial to a godly parent, than a child who disclaims
his father's God? A corrosive applied to the body may do well—but a bad
child is a corrosive to the heart. Such an foul son had David, who conspired
treason, and would not only have taken away his father's crown—but his life.
(4) God sometimes afflicts with INFIRMITY of body.
Sickness takes away the comfort of life. Sometimes God lets the infirmity
continue long. Some diseases are chronic, which linger and hang about the
body for many years. The Lord is pleased to exercise many of His precious
ones with chronic affliction.
God tries His people with various afflictions--so that
they have need of patient submission to His will. He who has many bullets
shot at him, needs armor. Just so, when divers afflictions assault, we need
patience as proof armor.
Use 1. For reproof. It reproves such as have
not yet learned this part of the Lord's prayer: "May your will be done;"
they have only said it—but not learned it. If things are not
according to their mind, if the wind of Providence crosses the tide
of their will, they are discontented and grumbling. Where is now submission
of will to God? To be displeased with God if things do not please us, is
this to lie at God's feet, and acquiesce in his will? It is a very bad
temper of spirit, and God may justly punish us by letting us have our will.
Rachel cried, "Give me children, or else I die." Gen 30:1. God let her have
a child—but it cost her her life. Gen 35:18. Israel was not content with
manna—but they must have quail, and God punished them by letting them have
their will. "There went forth a wind from the Lord and brought quails; and
while the flesh was yet between their teeth, the wrath of the Lord was
kindled against them, and the Lord smote the people with a very great
plague." Numb 11:31, 33. They had better been without their quails than had
such sour sauce with them. Many have importunately desired the life of a
child, and could not bring their will to God's to be content to part with
it; and the Lord has punished them by letting them have their will; for the
child has lived and been a burden to them. Seeing their wills crossed God,
their child shall cross them.
Use 2. For exhortation. Let us be exhorted,
whatever troubles God exercises us with—to resign up our wills to him, and
say, "May your will be done." Which is fittest—that God should bring his
will to ours, or we bring our wills to his? Say as Eli, "It is the Lord's
will--let Him do what He thinks best," and as David,
"Behold, here am I; let him do to me as seems good unto him." 1 Sam 3:18. 2
Samuel 15:26. It was the saying of Harpulas, "That pleases me—which pleases
the king;" so should we say, "that which pleases—God pleases us." "May your
will be done." Some have not yet learned this art of submission to God; and
truly he who lacks patience in affliction is like a soldier in battle who
When do we not submit to God 's will in affliction as we
(1) When we have hard thoughts of him, and our hearts
begin to swell against him.
(2) When we are so troubled at our present affliction
that we are unfit for duty. We can mourn as doves—but not pray or praise
God. We are so discomposed that we are not fit to hearken to any good
counsel. "They hearkened not unto Moses, for anguish of spirit." Exod 6:9.
Israel was so full of grief under their burdens, that they minded not what
Moses said, though he came with a message from God to them; "They hearkened
not unto Moses, for anguish of spirit."
(3) We do not submit as we ought to God's will when we
labor to break loose from affliction by indirect means. Many, to rid
themselves out of trouble, run themselves into sin. When God has bound
them with the cords of affliction—they go to the devil to loosen their
bands! Better it is to stay in affliction, than to sin ourselves out of
it. O let us learn to stoop to God's will in all afflictive providence.
But how shall we bring ourselves, in all occurrences of
providence, patiently to acquiesce in God's will, and say, "May your will be
The MEANS for a quiet resignation to God's will in
 Judicious consideration. "In the day of
adversity consider." Eccl 7:14. When anything burdens us, or runs
cross to our desires, did we but sit down and consider, and weigh things in
the balance of judgment, it would much quiet our minds, and subject our
wills to God. Consideration would be as David's harp, to charm down the evil
spirit of frowardness and discontent.
But what should we consider?
That which should make us submit to God in affliction,
and say, "May your will be done," is:
(1) Consider that the present state of life is subject to
afflictions, as a seaman's life is subject to storms. [No one
escapes bearing the lot which all suffer.] "Man is born to trouble as surely
as sparks fly upward;" he is heir apparent to it. Man comes into the world
with a cry—and goes out with a groan! Job 5:7. The world is a place where
much wormwood grows. "He has filled me with bitterness (Heb with
bitternesses); he has made me drunken with wormwood." Lam 3:15. Troubles
arise like sparks out of a furnace. Afflictions are some of the thorns which
the earth after the curse brings forth. We may as well think to stop the
chariot of the sun when it is in its swift motion, as put a stop to trouble.
The consideration of a life exposed to troubles and sufferings, should make
us say with patience, "May your will be done." Shall a mariner be angry that
he meets with a storm at sea?
(2) Consider that God has a special hand in the disposal
of all occurrences. Job eyed God in his affliction. "The Lord has
taken away;" chap 1:21. He did not complain of the Sabeans, or the
influences of the planets; he looked beyond all second causes; he saw God in
the affliction, and that made him cheerfully submit; he said, "Blessed be
the name of the Lord." Christ looked beyond Judas and Pilate to God's
determinate counsel in delivering him up to be crucified, which made him
say, "Father, not as I will—but as you will." Acts 4:27, 28,
Matthew 26:39. It is vain to quarrel with instruments. Wicked men are but
a rod in God's hand! "O Assyria, the rod of my anger." Isaiah 10:5.
Whoever brings an affliction—God sends it! The consideration of
this should make us say, "May your will be done;" for what God does he sees
a reason for. We read of a wheel within a wheel. Ezek 1:16. The outward
wheel, which turns all, is providence; the wheel within this wheel is God's
decree; this believed, would rock the heart quiet. Shall we mutiny at that
which God does? We may as well quarrel with the works of creation as with
the works of providence.
(3) Consider that there is a NECESSITY for affliction.
"If need be, you are in heaviness." 1 Peter 1:6. It is needful that
some things are kept in brine. Afflictions are needful upon several
 To keep us humble. Often there is no other way to
have the heart low—but by being brought low. When Manasseh "was in
affliction, he humbled himself greatly." 2 Chron 33:12. Corrections are
corrosives to eat out the proud flesh. "Remembering my misery, the wormwood
and the gall, my soul is humbled in me." Lam 3:19, 20.
 It is necessary that there should be affliction; for
if God did not sometimes bring us into affliction, how could his power be
seen in bringing us out? Had not Israel been in the Egyptian furnace,
God had lost his glory in their deliverance.
 If there were no affliction, then many parts of
Scripture could not be fulfilled. God has promised to help us to
bear affliction. Psalm 37:24, 39. How could we experience his supporting us
in trouble—if we did not sometimes meet with it? God has promised to give us
joy in affliction. John 16:20. How could we taste this honey of joy—if we
were not sometimes in affliction? Again, he has promised to wipe away tears
from our eyes. Isaiah 25:8. How could he wipe away our tears in heaven—if we
never shed any? So that, in several respects, there is an absolute necessity
that we should meet with affliction; and shall not we quietly submit, and
say, "Lord, I see there is a necessity for it?" "May your will be done!"
(4) Consider that we have brought our troubles upon
ourselves; we have put a rod into God's hand to chastise us.
Christian, God lays your afflictive cross on you—but it is of your own
making. If a man's field is full of tares, it is what he has sown in it. If
you reap a bitter crop of affliction, it is what you yourself have sown. The
cords which pinch you are of your own twisting. If children will eat green
fruit—they may blame themselves if they are sick; and if we eat the
forbidden fruit, no wonder that we feel it gripe. Sin is the Trojan horse
which lands a multitude of afflictions upon us. "Your own conduct and
actions have brought this upon you. This is your punishment. How bitter it
is! How it pierces to the heart!" Jeremiah 4:18. If we by sin run ourselves
into arrears with God, no wonder if he sets affliction as a sergeant on our
back, to arrest us. This should make us patiently submit to God in
affliction, and say, "May your will be done." We have no cause to complain
of God; it is nothing but what our sins have merited. "Have not you procured
this unto yourself?" Jer 2:17. The afflictive cross, though it be of God's
laying, is of our making. Say, then, as Micah (chap 7:9), "I will bear the
indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him." "Whatever a man
sows he will also reap." Galatians 6:7.
(5) Consider that God is about to prove and TEST us.
"For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought
us into prison and laid burdens on our backs." Psalm 66:10, 11. If there
were no affliction, how could God have an opportunity to try men? Hypocrites
can serve in a pleasure boat: they can serve God in prosperity; but
when we can keep close to him in times of danger, when we can trust him in
darkness, and love him when we have no smile, and say, "May your will be
done," that is the trial of sincerity! God is only trying us; and what hurt
is there in that? What is gold the worse for being tried?
(6) Consider that in all our afflictions, God has
kindness for us. As there was no night so dark, but Israel had a
pillar of fire to give light—so there is no condition so cloudy, but we may
see that which gives light of comfort. David could sing of mercy and
judgment. Psalm 101:1. It should make us cheerfully submit to God's
will, to consider that in every afflictive path of providence, we may see
his footstep of kindness.
There is kindness in affliction, when God seems most
 There is kindness in affliction—in that there is love
in it. God's rod and his love may stand together. "Whom the Lord
loves, he chastens." Heb 12:6. As when Abraham lifted up his hand to
sacrifice, Isaac loved him. Just so, when God afflicts his people, and seems
to sacrifice their outward comforts, he loves them. The farmer loves his
vine when he cuts it and makes it bleed; and shall not we submit to God?
Shall we quarrel with that which has kindness in it, which comes in love?
The surgeon binds the patient, and lances him—but no wise man will quarrel
with him, because it is in order to a cure.
 There is kindness in affliction—in that God deals
with us as his children. "If you endure chastening, God deals
with you as with sons." Heb 12:7. God has one Son without sin—but no son
without stripes! Affliction is a badge of adoption. Says Tertullian,
"Affliction is God's seal by which he marks us for his own." When Munster,
that holy man, lay sick, his friends asked him how he did? He pointed to his
sores, saying, "these are the jewels with which God decks his children!"
Shall not we then say, "Lord, there is kindness in the cross, you treat us
as your children. The rod of discipline is to fit us for the inheritance.
May your will be done."
 In kindness God in all our afflictions, has left us a
promise. So that in the most cloudy providence, the promise
appears as the rainbow in the cloud. Then we have God's promise to be with
us. "I will be with him in trouble." Psalm 91:15. It cannot be ill with that
man with whom God is; I will be with him, to support, sanctify,
and sweeten every affliction. I had rather be in prison and have
God's presence, than be in a palace without it.
We have the promise that he will not lay more upon us
than he will enable us to bear. 1 Cor 10:13. He will not try us beyond our
strength; either he will make the yoke lighter—or our faith stronger. Should
not this make us submit our wills to his, when afflictions have so much
kindness in them? In all our trials he has left us promises, which are like
manna in the wilderness.
 It is great kindness that all troubles that befall us
shall be for our profit. "God disciplines us for our profit." Heb
What profit is in affliction?
Afflictions are disciplinary, they teach us. They are
the school of the cross. Many psalms have the inscription, Maschil, a
psalm giving instruction. Just so, affliction has the inscription Maschil
upon it, an affliction giving instruction. "Pay attention to the rod
and the One who ordained it." Micah 6:9. Luther says he could never rightly
understand some of the psalms until he was in affliction. Gideon "took
thorns from the wilderness, and briers, and with them he taught the men of
Succoth." Judges 8:16. God by the thorns and briers of affliction teaches
1. Affliction shows us more of our own hearts. Water
in a glass looks clear; but set it on the fire, and the scum boils up. Just
so, when God sets us upon the fire, corruption boils up which we did not
discern before. Sharp afflictions are to the soul as a soaking rain to the
houses; we do not know that there are holes in the roof until the shower
comes—but then we see it drop down here and there. Just so, we do not know
what unmortified lusts are in the soul, until the storm of affliction comes;
then we find unbelief, impatience, carnal fear, dropping down in many
places. Affliction is a sacred eye-salve, it clears our eye-sight. The rod
Affliction brings those sins to remembrance which we had
buried in the grave of forgetfulness. Joseph's brethren, for twenty years,
were not at all troubled for their sin in selling their brother; but when
they came into Egypt, and began to be in straits, their sin came to their
remembrance, and their hearts smote them. "They said one to another, we are
truly guilty concerning our brother!" Gen 42:21. When a man is in distress,
his sin comes fresh into his mind; conscience makes a rehearsal-sermon of
all the evils which have passed in his life; his waste of precious time, his
slighting of the Word, come to remembrance, and he goes out with Peter and
weeps bitterly. Thus the rod gives wisdom, shows the hidden evil of the
heart, and brings former sins to remembrance.
2. Affliction quickens the spirit of prayer. [the
righteous are afflicted that in their affliction they may pray.] Jonah was
asleep in the ship—but at prayer in the whale's belly. Perhaps in a time of
health and prosperity we prayed in a cold and formal manner, we put no coals
to the incense; we scarcely minded our own prayers, and how should God mind
them? God sends some affliction or other to stir us up to take hold of him.
When Jacob was in fear of his life by his brother, he wrestled with God, and
wept in prayer, and would not leave him until he blessed him. Hos 12:4. It
is with many of God's children as with those who formerly had the sweating
sickness in this land, it was a sleepy disease, if they slept they died;
therefore, to keep them waking, they were smitten with rosemary branches.
Just so, the Lord uses affliction as a rosemary branch to keep us from
sleeping, and to awaken a spirit of prayer. "They poured out a prayer, when
your chastening was upon them;" now their prayer pierced the heavens. p
26:16. In times of trouble we pray feelingly, and we never pray so fervently
as when we pray feelingly; and is not this for our profit?
3. Affliction is a means to purge out our sins. "By
this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged." Isaiah 27:9.
Affliction is God's purgative to expel the noxious humor, it cures the
pestilence of pride, the fever of lust; and is not this for our profit?
Affliction is God's file—to scrub off our rust. Affliction is God's flail—to
thresh off our husks. The water of affliction is not to drown us—but to wash
off our spots.
4. To be under the black rod is profitable, in that
hereby we grow more serious, and are more careful to clear our evidences
for heaven. In times of prosperity, when the rock poured out rivers of oil,
we were careless in getting, at least clearing, our title to glory. Job
29:6. But when an hour of trouble comes, we begin to look after our
spiritual evidences, and see how things stand between God and our souls; and
is it not for our profit to see our interest in Christ more clear than ever?
5. Affliction is a means to wean us the world. The
world often proves not only a spider's web—but a cockatrice egg. Corrupting
worldly things, are great enchantments. They hinder us in our passage to
heaven. If a clock be overwound, it stands still; so, when the heart is
wound up too much to the world, it stands still to heavenly things.
Affliction sounds a retreat to call us off the immoderate pursuit of earthly
things. When two things are frozen together, the only way to separate them
is by fire; so, when the heart and the world are frozen together, God has no
better way to separate them than by the fire of affliction.
6. Affliction is a means to purify us. It works us up
to further degrees of sanctity. "God disciplines us for our good—that we may
share in his holiness." Heb 12:10. The vessels of mercy are the brighter for
scouring. As you pour water on your linen when you would whiten it—so God
pours the waters of affliction upon us to whiten our souls. Afflictions are
in themselves bitter—but they bring forth the sweet fruits of righteousness.
Heb 12:11. This should make us submit to God and say, "May your will be
 There is kindness in affliction, in that there is no
condition so bad but it might be worse. When it is dusk, it might
be darker. God does not make our cross so heavy as he might—he does not stir
up all his anger. Psalm 78:38. He does not put so many nails in our
yoke—so much wormwood in our cup—as he might. Does God chastise your
body? He might torture your conscience. Does he cut you short? He might cut
you off. The Lord might make our chains heavier. Is it a burning fever? It
might have been the burning lake! Does God use the pruning knife to
lop you? He might bring his axe to hew you down! "The waters were up
to the ankles." Do the waters of affliction come up to the ankles? God might
make them rise higher; nay, he might drown you in the waters! God uses the
rod when he might use the scorpion!
 There is kindness in affliction, in that your case is
not so bad as others, who are always upon the rack, and spend their years
with sighing. Psalm 31:10. Have you a gentle illness? Others cry
out of the severe pain of cancer. Do you bear the wrath of men? Others bear
the wrath of God. You have but a single trial; others have several of them
mingled together. God shoots but one arrow at you, he shoots a shower of
arrows at others. Is there not kindness in all this? We are apt to say,
"never any suffered like we do!" Was it not worse with Lazarus, who was so
full of sores that the dogs took pity on him—and licked his sores! Nay, was
it not worse with Christ, who lived poor—and died cursed! May not this cause
us to say, "May your will be done"? It is in kindness that God deals not so
severely with us as with others.
 There is kindness in affliction, in that, if we
belong to God, it is all the hell we shall have. Some have two
hells. They suffer now in their body and conscience, which is one hell; and
they will suffer eternally in another hell to come, in unquenchable fire!
Judas had two hells—but a child of God has but one. Lazarus had all his hell
here on earth; he was full of sores—but had a convoy of angels to carry him
to heaven when he died. Say, then, "Lo! if this be the worst I shall have,
if this be all my hell, I will patiently acquiesce. May your will be done."
 There is kindness in that God gives gracious supports
in affliction. If he strikes with one hand, he supports with the
other. "Underneath are the everlasting arms." Deut 33:27. There is not the
least trial—but if God would desert us, and not assist us with his grace—we
would sink under it. Peter was frighted at the voice of a maid. Matthew
26:69. Oh, therefore, what mercy is it to have Christ strengthen us, and as
it were, bear the heaviest part of the cross with us! One said, "I have no
ravishing joys in my sickness—but I bless God I have sweet supports." Should
not this cause submission to God's will, and make us say, "Lo! if you are so
kind as to bear us up in affliction, that we do not faint. Put us into
whatever wine press you please. May your will be done"?
 There is kindness in affliction in that it is
preventive. God, by His afflictive stroke--would prevent some
sin. Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was to prevent his being lifted up in
pride. 2 Cor 12:7. Affliction is sometimes sent for the punishing of
sin, at other times for the prevention of sin. Prosperity exposes to
much evil. It is hard to carry a full cup without spilling—and a full estate
without sinning. God's people know not how much they are indebted to their
afflictions. They might have fallen into some scandalous sin—had not God set
a hedge of thorns in their way to stop them. What kindness is this!
God lets us fall into sufferings--to prevent falling into sinful snares! Say
then, "Lord, do as it seems good in your sight, may Your will be done."
God by affliction, would prevent damnation. We are
corrected in the world, "that we should not be condemned with the
world." 1 Cor 11:32. A man, by falling into briers, is saved from falling
into the river. Just so, God lets us fall into the briers of affliction,
that we may not be drowned in perdition! It is a great favor when a
less punishment is inflicted—to prevent a greater punishment. Is it not
mercy in the judge, when he lays some light penalty on the prisoner, and
saves his life? So it is, when God lays upon us light affliction, and saves
us from wrath to come. As Pilate said, "I will punish him—and let him go."
Just so, God punishes his children and lets them go, frees them from eternal
torment. What is the drop of sorrow which the godly taste, compared to that
sea of wrath the wicked shall be drinking to all eternity? Oh! what kindness
is here! Should it not make us say, "May your will be done"?
 There is kindness, in that God mixes his
providence. In anger he remembers mercy. Hab 3:2. Not all pure
gall—but some honey mixed with it. Asher's shoes were iron and brass—but his
foot was dipped in oil. Deut 33:24, 25. Affliction is the shoe of brass—but
God causes the foot to be dipped in oil. As the painter mixes with his dark
shadows, bright colors—so the wise God mingles the dark and bright colors,
crosses and blessings. The body is afflicted—but within is peace of
conscience. Joseph was sold into Egypt, and put into prison; there was the
dark side of the cloud. Job lost all that ever he had, his skin was clothed
with boils and ulcers; here was a sad providence. But God gave a testimony
from heaven of Job's integrity, and afterwards doubled his estate. "The Lord
gave Job twice as much;" here was the goodness of God towards Job. Job
42:10. God chequers his works of providence, and shall not we submit
and say, "Lord, if you are so kind, mixing so many bright colors with
my dark condition—may Your will be done."
 There is kindness in affliction in that God
moderates his stroke. "I will correct you in measure." Jer 30:11.
God will stay his rough wind. Isaiah 27:8. The physician who
understands the crisis and temper of the patient, will not give too strong
medicine for the body. Just so, God knows our frame, he will not
over-afflict; he will not stretch the strings of the violin too hard, lest
they break. And, is there no kindness in all this? Should not this work our
hearts to submission? "Lord, if you uses so much gentleness, and correct in
measure—may Your will be done."
 There is kindness in affliction in that God often
sweetens it with divine consolation. "He comforts us in all our
troubles." 2 Cor 1:4. After a bitter potion—he gives a lump of sugar.
(1) God comforts in affliction, partly by his Word.
"This is my comfort in my affliction, for your Word has quickened me." Psalm
119:50. The promises of the Word are a shop of cordials.
(2) God comforts in affliction, by his Spirit.
David had his pilgrimage-songs, and Paul his prison-songs. Psalm 119:54;
Acts 16:25. Thus God candies our wormwood with sugar, and makes us
gather grapes off thorns. Some of the saints have such ravishing joys in
affliction, that they had rather endure their sufferings—than lack their
comforts. Oh, how much kindness there is in the cross! In the belly of this
lion, is a honeycomb. Should it not make us cheerfully submit to God's will,
when he lines the yoke with comfort, and gives us honey at the end of the
 There is kindness in affliction in that God curtails
and shortens it; he will not let it lie on too long. "I will not
contend forever, nor will I always be angry, for then the spirit of man
would grow faint before me." Isaiah 57:16. God will give his people a writ
of ease and proclaim a year of jubilee; the wicked may plough upon the backs
of the saints—but God will cut them free from the cords of the wicked. Psalm
129:3, 4. The goldsmith will not let his gold lie any longer in the furnace
than until it be purified. The wicked must drink a sea of wrath—but the
godly have only a cup of affliction, and God will say, "Let this cup
pass away." Isaiah 51:17. Affliction may be compared to frost, which will
break, and spring-flowers will come on. "Sorrow and sighing shall flee
away." Isaiah 35:10. Affliction has a sting—but with it, a
wing: sorrow shall fly away. This land-flood shall be dried up. If there
is so much kindness in the cross, and God will cause a cessation of trouble,
say then, "May your will be done."
 There is kindness in affliction—in that it is a
means to make us happy. "Happy is the man whom God
corrects." Job 5:17. It seems strange to flesh and blood that affliction
should make us happy. When Moses saw the bush burning and not consumed, he
said "I will turn aside and see this strange sight." Exod 3:3. So here is a
strange sight—a man afflicted, and yet happy. The world counts them happy
who can escape affliction—but happy is the man whom God corrects.
How do afflictions contribute to our happiness?
Afflictions make us happy—as they are a means of bringing
us nearer to God. The loadstone of prosperity does not draw us so
near to God—as the cords of affliction. When the prodigal was pinched
with need, he said, "I will arise—and go to my father!" Luke 15:18. As the
deluge brought the dove to the ark—the floods of sorrow make us
hasten to Christ, our ark.
Afflictions make us happy—as they are safe guides to
glory. The storm drives the ship into the harbor. Blessed storm—which
drives the soul into the heavenly harbor! Is it not better to go through
momentary affliction to eternal glory, than through momentary pleasure to
eternal misery? Not that afflictions merit glory—but they prepare us for it.
No cross ever merited—but that which Christ endured. Think, O Christian,
what affliction leads to! it leads to paradise, where are rivers of pleasure
always running. Should not this make us cheerfully submit to God's will, and
say, "Lord, if there is so much kindness in affliction, if all you does is
to make us happy, may Your will be done." "Therefore we do not lose heart.
Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day
by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal
glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is
eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
(7) Consider that it is God's ordinary course to keep his
people to a bitter drink, and exercise them with great trials.
Affliction is the beaten road in which all the saints have gone. The living
stones in the spiritual building have been all hewn and polished. Christ's
lily has grown among the thorns. "All who will live godly in Christ Jesus,
shall suffer persecution." 2 Tim 3:12. It is too much for a Christian to
have two heavens: it is more than Christ had. It has been ever the
lot of saints to encounter sore trials. It was of the prophets,
"Take, my brethren, the prophets for an example of suffering affliction."
James 5:10. It was of the apostles—for Peter was crucified with his
head downwards, James was beheaded by Herod, John was banished into the isle
of Patmos, the apostle Thomas was thrust through with a spear, Matthias (who
was chosen apostle in Judas's room) was stoned to death, and Luke, the
evangelist, was hanged on an olive-tree. Those saints, of whom the world was
not worthy, passed under the rod. Heb 11:38. Christ's kingdom is the
kingdom of the cross. Those whom God intends to save from
hell—he does not save from the cross. The consideration of this should
quiet our minds in affliction, and make us say, "May your will be done." Do
we think God will alter his course of providence for us? Why should we look
for exemption from trouble, more than others? Why should we think to tread
only upon roses and violets—when prophets and apostles have marched through
briars to heaven?
(8) Consider that what God has already done for you,
Christian, should make you content to suffer anything at his hand, and say,
"May your will be done."
 He has adopted you for his child. David
thought it no small honor to be the king's son-in-law. 1 Sam 18:18. What an
honor is it to derive your pedigree from heaven—to be born of God! Why then
are you troubled, and murmur at every slight cross? As Jonadab said to Amnon,
"Why are you, the king’s son, so miserable every morning?" 2 Samuel 13:4.
Why are you, who are son or daughter to the king of heaven, troubled at
these petty things? What! the king's son, and miserable! Let it quiet your
spirit and bring your will to God's, that he has dignified you with honor,
he has made you his son and heir, and will entail a kingdom on you!
 God has given you Christ. Christ is a
storehouse of all heavenly treasure! He is the pearl of great price to
enrich you! He is a tree of life to quicken you! He is the quintessence of
all blessings. Why then are you discontented at your worldly crosses? They
cannot be so bitter—as Christ is sweet. Is not Christ your friend? He can
never be poor—who has a mine of gold; nor he be poor—who has the
unsearchable riches of Christ. Say then, "Lord, may Your will be done;
though I have my cross—yet I have Christ with it. The cross may make me
weep—but Christ wipes off all tears!" Rev 7:17.
 God has given you grace. Grace is the rich
embroidery and workmanship of the Holy Spirit; it is the sacred unction. 1
John 2:27. The graces are a chain of pearl to adorn, and beds of spices
which make a sweet fragrance to God. Grace is a distinguishing blessing;
Christ gave Judas his purse—but not his Spirit. May not this quiet the heart
in affliction, and make it say, "May your will be done! Lord, you have given
me that jewel which you bestow only on the elect; grace is the seal of your
love, it is both food and cordial, it is a pledge of glory."
(9) Consider that when God intends the greatest mercy to
any of his people, he brings them low in affliction. He seems to
go quite contrary to sense and reason, for when he intends to raise us
highest, he brings us lowest. As Moses' hand, before it wrought miracles,
was leprous; and Sarah's womb, before it brought forth the son of promise,
was barren. God brings us low before he raises us, as water is at the lowest
ebb before there is a spring-tide.
This is true in a temporal sense. When God would
bring Israel to Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey, he first led
them through a sea, and a wilderness. When he intended to
advance Joseph to be the second man in the kingdom, he cast him first into
prison, and the iron entered into his soul. Psalm 105:18. He usually lets it
be darkest, before the morning-star of deliverance appears.
It is true in a spiritual sense. When God intends
to raise a soul to spiritual comfort, he first lays it low in desertion.
Isaiah 12:1. As the painter lays his dark color first, and then lays his
gold color on it—so God first lays the soul in the dark of desertion, and
afterwards his golden color of joy and consolation. Should not this make us
cheerfully submit, and say, "May your will be done"? Perhaps now God
afflicts me, he is about to raise me, he intends a greater mercy for me,
than I am aware of.
(10) Consider the excellency of this frame of soul—to lie
at God's feet and say, "May your will be done."
A soul that is melted into God's will, shows variety of
grace. As the holy ointment was made up of several aromatic spices, myrrh,
cinnamon, and cassia—so this sweet temper of soul, submission to God's
will in affliction, has in it a mixture of several graces. Exod 30:23.
In particular, it is compounded of three graces, faith, love, humility.
 Faith. Faith believes God does all in
mercy—that affliction is to mortify some sin, or exercise some grace. Faith
believes that God corrects in love and faithfulness. Psalm 119:75. The
belief of this, causes submission of will to God.
 Love. Love thinks no evil. 1 Cor 13:5. It
takes all that God does, in the best sense; it has good thoughts of
God—which causes submission. "Let the righteous God smite me," says love,
"it shall be a kindness; yes, it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not
break my head!"
 Humility. The humble soul looks on its
sins, and how much he has provoked God. He does not say that his
afflictions are great—but his sins are great. He lies low at
God's feet and says, "I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I
have sinned against him." Micah 7:9.
Thus a submissive frame of heart is full of grace; it is
compounded of several graces. God is pleased to see so many graces at once
sweetly exercised; he says of such a Christian, as David of Goliath's sword,
"There’s none like it! Give it to me." 1 Sam 21:9.
He who submits to God's will, and says, "May your will be
done," shows not only variety of grace—but strength of grace.
It argues much strength in the body, to be able to endure hard weather—yet
not to be altered by it. Just so, to endure hard trials—yet not faint or
fret, shows more than ordinary strength of grace. You who can say that you
have brought your wills into subjection to God's will—that God's will and
yours agree, as the copy and the original—let me assure you, you have
outstripped many Christians who perhaps shine in a higher sphere of
knowledge than you. To be content to be at God's disposal, to be anything
that God will have us, shows a noble, heroic soul.
It is reported of the eagle that it is not like other
birds, which, when they are hungry, cry for food—but it is never heard to
make a noise, though it lacks food, because of the nobleness and greatness
of its spirit; it is above other birds, and has a spirit suitable to its
nature. Just so, it is a proof of great magnitude of spirit, that whatever
cross providence befall a Christian, he does not cry and whine as others—but
is silent, and lies quietly at God's feet. There is much strength of
grace in such a soul, nay—the height of grace! When grace is
crowning, it is not so much to say, "Lord, your will be done;" but when
grace is conflicting, and meets with crosses and trials, then to say,
"May your will be done," is a glorious thing indeed, and prepares for the
garland of honor.
(11) Consider that people are usually better in adversity
than prosperity; therefore stoop to God's will. A prosperous
condition is not always so safe. True it is more pleasing to the flesh—but
it is not always best. In a prosperous state there is more burden. Many look
at the shining and glittering of prosperity—but not at the
burdens of prosperity.
 There is the burden of CARE. Therefore God
calls riches "cares." Luke 8:14. A rose has its prickles—so have riches. We
think them happy, who flourish in their silks and gold—but we do not see the
troubles and cares which attend them. A shoe may have silver lace on it—yet
pinch the foot. Many a man who goes to his day-labor, lives a more contented
life than he who has millions. Disquieting care is the evil spirit which
haunts the rich man. When his chests are full of gold, his heart is full of
care how to increase them, or how to secure what he has
gotten. He is sometimes full of care, as to whom he shall leave it. A large
estate, like a long, trailing garment—is often more troublesome than useful.
 In a prosperous estate there is the burden of
ACCOUNT. Such as are in high places, have a far greater account
to give to God than others. "Unto whom much is given—of him shall be much
required." Luke 12:48. The more golden talents any are entrusted with—the
more they have to answer for. The more their revenues—the more their
reckonings. God will say, "I gave you a great estate, what have you done
with it? How have you employed it for my glory?" I have read of Philip, king
of Spain, that when he was about to die, said, "O that I had never been a
king! O that I had lived a private, solitary life! Here is all the fruit of
my kingdom, it has made my accounts heavier!" So, then, may not this quiet
our hearts in a low, adverse condition, and make us say, "Lord, may your
will be done! As you have given me a less portion of worldly things—so I
have a less burden of care, and a less burden of account."
 A prosperous condition has more DANGER in it.
Such as are on the top of the pinnacle of honor, are in more danger
of falling. They are subject to many temptations. Their table is often a
snare. Millions are drowned in the sweet waters of pleasure. A large sail
overturns the vessel: how many, by having too large sails of prosperity,
have had their souls overturned! It must be a strong head, which can bear
heady wine. Likewise, he has need have much wisdom and grace, who knows how
to wisely bear a high condition. It is hard to carry a full cup without
spilling—and a full estate without sinning!
Augur feared if he were full, he would deny God, "Give me
neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if
I grow rich, I may deny you and say—Who is the Lord?" Proverbs 30:9.
Prosperity breeds pride. The children of Korah were in a higher estate
than the rest of the Levites: they were employed in the tabernacle about the
most holy things of all. They had the first lot; but as they were lifted up
above others of the Levites in honor—so in pride. Numb 4:4; Josh 21:10; Numb
16:3. When the tide rises higher in the river, the boat rises higher; so,
when the tide of an estate rises higher, many men's hearts rise higher in
pride. Prosperity breeds carnal security. Samson fell asleep in Delilah's
lap—so do men in the lap of ease and plenty. The world's golden sands, are
quicksands. "How hard it is for rich people to get into the Kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich
person to enter the Kingdom of God!" Luke 18:24-25. The consideration of
this should make us submit to God in adversity, and say, "May your will be
done." God sees what is best for us. If we have less estate, we are in less
danger; if we lack the honors of others—so we lack their temptations.
(12) Consider that, having our wills melted into God's is
a good sign that the present affliction is sanctified. Affliction
is sanctified when it attains the end for which it was sent. The end why God
sends affliction, is to calm the spirit, to subdue the will, and bring it
into subjection to God's will. When this is done, affliction has attained
the end for which it came; it is sanctified, and it will not be long before
it be removed. When the sore is healed, the smarting plaster is taken off.
(13) Consider how UNWORTHY it is of a Christian—to be
froward and unsubmissive, and not bring his will into subjection to God's
 To be of a froward unsubmissive spirit, which cannot
surrender its will unto God—is below the SPIRIT of a Christian.
The spirit of a Christian is dovelike, meek, and sedate, willing to be at
God's disposal. "Not my will—but may yours be done." Luke 22:42. A Christian
spirit is not fretful—but humble; not craving—but contented. See the picture
of a Christian spirit in Paul. "I know how to be abased, and how to abound."
Phil 4:12. He could be either higher or lower—as God saw good; he
could sail with any wind of providence, either a prosperous or boisterous
gale; his will was melted into God's will. To be of a froward unsubmissive
frame—is like the bird that, because it is pent up and cannot fly in the
open air—beats itself against the cage.
 A froward unsubmissive frame, which cannot submit to
God's will—is unworthy of a Christian's PROFESSION. He professes
to live by faith—yet repines at his condition. Faith lives not by bread
alone; it feeds on promises, it makes future glory present; it sees all in
God. When the fig-tree does not blossom, faith can rejoice in the God of its
salvation. Hab 3:17, 18. To be troubled at our present estate, because low
and poor, shows weak faith. Surely that is a weak faith, or no faith—which
must have crutches to support it. Oh, be ashamed to call yourself
believer—if you cannot trust God, and acquiesce in his will, in the
deficiency of outward comforts.
 To be of a froward unsubmissive spirit, which cannot
surrender its will unto God—is unworthy of the high DIGNITIES which God has
put upon a Christian. He is a rich heir; he is exalted above all
creatures that God ever made, except the angels; yes, in some sense, as his
nature is joined in union to the divine nature, he is above the angels. Oh!
then, how is he below his dignity—for lack of a few earthly comforts—to be
froward, and ready to quarrel with the Deity! Is it not unworthy of a king's
son, because he may not pluck such a flower—to be discontented and
rebel against his royal father? A Christian is espoused to Jesus Christ.
What! to be married to Christ—yet froward and unsubmissive! Have not you
enough in him? as Elkanah said to Hannah, "Am not I better than ten sons?" 1
Sam 1:8. Is not Christ better than a thousand worldly comforts? It is a
disparagement to Christ, that his spouse should be froward, when she is
matched to the crown of heaven!
 To be of a froward unsubmissive spirit—is unsuitable
to the PRAYERS of a Christian. He prays, "May your will be done."
It is the will of God—that should he meet with such troubles, whether
sickness, loss of estate, crosses in children—that God has decreed and
ordered it; why then is there not submission? Why are we discontented at
that for which we pray? We often forget our prayers, nay, contradict them,
when we pray "May your will be done." Now, if unsubmissiveness to God is so
unworthy of a Christian, should we not labor to bring our wills to God's,
and say, "Lord, let me not disparage religion, let me do nothing unworthy of
(14) Consider that frowardness or unsubmissiveness to
God—is very SINFUL.
 Quarrelsomeness or unsubmissiveness to God's will—is
sinful in its NATURE. To murmur when God crosses our will, shows
much ungodliness. The apostle Jude speaks of ungodly ones; and that we may
better know who these are, he sets a mark upon them: "These are murmurers;"
ver 15, 16. Some think they are not so ungodly as others, because they do
not swear, nor get drunk—but they may be ungodly in murmuring. There are not
only ungodly drunkards—but ungodly murmurers. Nay, this is the
height of ungodliness, it is rebellion. To be a murmurer, and a rebel, is,
in God's account, all one. "This is the water of Meribah, because the
children of Israel strove with the Lord." Num 20:13. How did they strive
with God? They murmured at his providence; ver 3. What! will you be a rebel
against God? It is a shame for a servant to strive with his master—but
what is it for a creature to strive with its Maker.
 To quarrel with God's providence, and be unsubmissive
to his will—is sinful in the spring and CAUSE; it arises from pride.
It was Satan's temptation, "you shall be as gods." Gen 3:5. A proud
person makes a god of himself, he disdains to have his will crossed; he
thinks himself better than others, therefore he finds fault with God's
wisdom, that he is not above others.
 Quarrelsomeness or unsubmissiveness to God's will—is
sinful in the ATTENDANTS of it. It is joined with sinful risings
of the heart. Evil thoughts arise. We think hard thoughts of God, as if he
had done us wrong, or, as if we had deserved better at his hands. Passions
begin to rise; the heart secretly frets against God. Jonah was crossed in
his will, and passion began to boil in him. "He was very angry." Jonah 4:1.
Jonah's spirit, as well as the sea, was tempestuous. Unsubmissiveness of
will, is joined with unthankfulness. Because in some one thing we are
afflicted—we forget all the mercies we have. We deal with God just as the
widow of Sarepta did with the prophet; the prophet Elijah had been a means
to keep her alive in the famine—but as soon as her child died, she quarreled
with the prophet, "O you man of God, have you come to kill my son?" 1 Kings
17:18. So, we can be content to receive blessings at the hand of God;
but as soon as in the least thing he crosses us in our will, we grow touchy,
and are ready in a passion to fly out against him.
 Frowardness and unsubmissiveness to God's will—is
evil in the EFFECTS. It unfits for duty. It is bad sailing
in a storm, and it is bad praying when the heart is stormy and
unquiet; it is well if such prayers do not suffer shipwreck.
Unsubmissiveness of spirit, sometimes unfits for the use of reason.
Jonah was discontented because he had not his will; God withered the gourd,
and his heart fretted against him; and in the midst of his passion, he spoke
no better than nonsense and blasphemy. "I do well to be angry, even unto
death!" Jonah 4:9. Surely he did not know well what he said! What! to be
angry with God—and die for anger! He speaks as if he had lost the use of his
reason! Thus unsubmissiveness of will is sinful in its nature, causes,
attendants, and effects. Should not this martyr our wills, and bring them to
God in everything, making us say, "May your will be done!"
(15) Consider that unsubmissiveness to God's will, is
very IMPRUDENT. We get nothing by it, it does not ease us of our
burden—but rather makes it heavier. The more the child struggles with the
parent—the more it is beaten; so, when we struggle with God, and will not
submit to his will—we get nothing but more blows. Instead of having the
cords of affliction loosened, we make God tie them tighter. Let us then
submit, and say, "Lord, may your will be done." Why should I lengthen out my
own trouble by impatience, and make my cross heavier? What did Israel get by
their frowardness? They were within eleven days' journey of Canaan, and fell
into murmuring, and God led them a march of forty years longer in the
(16) Consider that being unsubmissive to God's will in
affliction, lays a man open to many TEMPTATIONS. Where the heart
frets against God by discontent—there is good fishing for Satan in those
troubled waters. He usually puts discontented people upon indirect means.
Job's wife fretted (so far was she from holy submission) and she tempted her
husband to curse God. "Curse God, and die." Job 2:9. What is the reason why
some have given themselves to the devil—but out of envy and discontent,
because they have not had their will! Others being under a temptation of
poverty, and not having their wills in living at such a high rate as others,
have laid violent hands upon themselves. Oh, the temptations that men of
discontented spirits are exposed to! "Here," says Satan, "is good fishing
(17) Consider how far unsubmissiveness of spirit is, from
that temper of soul which God requires in affliction! He would
have us in patience possess our souls. Luke 21:19, The Greek word for
patience signifies to bear up under a burden without fainting or
fretting. But is frowardness in affliction, and quarreling with God's will,
Christian patience? God would have us rejoice in affliction. "Consider it
pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds;" that is,
count it joy, be as birds that sing in winter. James 1:2. "Having received
the Word in much affliction, with joy." 1 Thess 1:6. Paul could leap in his
fetters, and sing in the stocks. Acts 16:25. How far is a discontented soul
from this frame! He is far from rejoicing in affliction—who has not learned
to submit to God in affliction.
(18) Consider what it is, which makes the difference
between a godly man and an ungodly man in affliction. The godly man submits
to God's will, the ungodly man will not submit. A wicked man
frets and fumes, and is like a wild bull in a net. In affliction he
blasphemes God. "Men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name
of God." Rev 16:9. Put a stone in the fire, and it flies in your face. Just
so, stony hearts fly in God's face. The more a rotten substance is rubbed,
the more it frets and tears. When God afflicts the sinner, he tears himself
in anger. But a godly man is sweetly submissive to his will. His language
is, "Shall not I drink the cup which my Father has given me?" Spices
when bruised, send out a sweet fragrant smell; so, when God bruises his
saints, they send out the sweet perfume of patience. Servulus, a holy man,
was long afflicted with the palsy—yet his ordinary speech was "let God be
praised!" Oh, let us say, "May your will be done;" let us bear that
patiently, which God inflicts justly—or how do we show our grace? What
difference is there between us and the wicked in affliction?
(19) Consider that not to submit to God's providential
will—is highly PROVOKING to him. Can we anger God more—than by
quarreling with him? Kings dislike to have their wills opposed, though they
may be unjust. How ill does God take it, when we will be disputing against
his righteous will? It is a sin which he cannot bear! "How long must I
endure this evil community that keeps complaining about Me?" Numb 14:27. May
not God justly say, "How long shall I bear with this wicked person, who,
when anything falls out cross, murmurs against me?" "As surely as I live,
you will all die here in this wilderness! Because you complained against
me!" ver 28-29. You see how provoking a discontented quarrelsome spirit is
to God; it may cost men their lives, nay, their souls. God sent fiery
serpents among the people for their murmuring. 1 Cor 10:10. He may send
worse than fiery serpents, he may send hell fire!
(20) Consider how much God bears at our hand—and shall
not we be content to bear something at his hand? It would tire
the patience of angels—to bear with us for one day! "The Lord is patient
with you." 2 Peter 3:9. How often we offend in our eye by envious
impure glances, and in our tongues by rash censuring—but God passes
by many injuries, and bears with us! Should the Lord punish us every time we
offend, he would draw his sword every day. Shall he bear so much at our
hands—and can we bear with nothing at his hand? Shall he be patient with
us—and we impatient with him? Shall he be meek—and we murmur? Shall he
endure our sins—and shall not we endure his strokes? Oh, let
us say, "May your will be done. Lord, you have been the greatest
sufferer—you have borne more from me, than I have from you."
(21) Consider that submitting our wills to God in
affliction disappoints Satan of his hope, and quite spoils his design.
The devil's end in all our afflictions—is to make us sin. The reason
why Satan smote Job in his body and estate—was to perplex his mind, and put
him into a passion; he hoped that Job would have been discontented, and in a
fit of anger, not only have cursed his birthday—but cursed his God. But Job,
lying at God's feet, and blessing him in affliction, disappointed Satan of
his hope, and quite spoiled his plot. Had Job murmured, he had pleased
Satan; had he fallen into a heat, and sparks of his anger had flown
about—the devil would have warmed himself at the fire of Job's passion; but
Job quietly submitted, and blessed God. Thus Satan's design was frustrated,
and he missed his design. The devil has often deceived us; the best way to
deceive him is by quiet submission to God in all things, saying, "May your
will be done."
(22) Consider that to the godly, the nature of affliction
is quite changed. To a wicked man, affliction is a curse, the rod
is turned into a serpent; affliction to him is but a sign of God's
displeasure, the beginning of sorrow. But the nature of affliction is quite
changed to a believer; it is by divine chemistry turned into a blessing! It
is like poison corrected, which becomes a medicine; it is a love token, a
badge of adoption, a preparation for glory. Should not this make us say,
"May your will be done"? The poison of the affliction is gone; it is not
hurtful—but healing. This has made the saints not only patient in
affliction—but send forth thankfulness. When bells have been cast
into the fire, they afterwards make a sweeter sound. Just so, the godly,
after they have been cast into the fire of affliction, sound forth God's
praise. "It is good for me that I have been afflicted." Psalm 119:71.
"Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21.
(23) Consider how many good things we receive from God,
and shall we not be content to receive some bad things? "Shall we
receive good at the hand of God—and shall we not receive evil?" Job 2:10.
This may make us say, "May your will be done." How many blessings have we
received at the hand of God's bounty? We have been bemiracled with mercy.
What sparing, preventing, delivering mercies have we had! The honeycomb of
mercy has continually dropped upon us. His mercies "are new every morning."
Lam 3:23. Mercy comes in as constantly as the tide; nay, how many tides
of mercies do we see in one day. We never feed—but mercy carves
every bite to us! We never drink—but in the golden cup of mercy! We
never go abroad—but mercy sets a guard of angels about us! We never lie down
in bed—but mercy draws the curtains of protection close around us! Shall we
receive so many good things at the hand of God—and shall we not receive
evil? Our mercies far outweigh our afflictions—for one affliction we have a
thousand mercies. O then, let us submit to God, and say, "May your will be
done." The sea of God's mercy, should swallow up a few drops
(24) Consider that the conformity of our wills to God in
affliction, brings much honor to the gospel. An unsubmissive
professor reproaches religion, as if it were not able to subdue an unruly
spirit. It is weak medicine, which cannot purge out ill humours; and surely
it is a weak gospel, if it cannot master our discontent, and martyr our
wills. Unsubmissiveness is a reproach to the gospel—but a cheerful
resignation of our will to God, sets a crown of honor upon the head of
religion; it shows the power of the gospel—which can charm down the
passions, and melt the will into God's will; therefore in Scripture,
submissive patience is brought in as an adorning grace. "Here is the
patience of the saints." Rev 14:12.
(25) Consider the example of our Lord Jesus—how
submissive and acquiescent was he to his Father! He who taught us
this prayer, "May your will be done," had learned it himself. Christ's will
was perfectly tuned to his Father's will; it was the will of his Father that
he should die for our sins, and he "endured the cross." Heb 12:2. It was a
painful, shameful, cursed death; he suffered the very pains of hell
equivalently—yet he willingly submitted. "He opened not his mouth;" he
opened his side when the blood ran out—but he opened not his mouth
in repining; his will was resolved into the will of his Father. Isaiah
53:7. "The cup which my Father has given me—shall I not drink it?" John
18:11. Now, the more our wills are subject to God's will in affliction—the
nearer we come to Christ our pattern. Is it not our prayer that we may be
like Christ? By holy submission we imitate him; his will was melted into his
(26) Consider that to submit our wills to God—is the way
to have our own will. Everyone would be glad to have his will.
The way to have our will—is to resign it to God. God deals with us as we do
with froward children, while we fret and quarrel, he will give us nothing.
But when we are submissive, and say, "May your will be done," he carves out
mercy to us. The way to have our will is to submit to his. David brought his
will to God's. "Here am I—let him do to me as seems good unto him." 2 Samuel
15:26. After he resigned his will, he had his will. God brought him back to
the ark and settled him again on his throne. 2 Samuel 19. Many a parent who
has had a dear child sick—when he could bring his will to part with it, has
had his child restored. Nothing is lost by referring our will to God; the
Lord takes it kindly from us, and it is the only way to have our will.
(27) Consider that we may the more cheerfully surrender
our souls to God when we die—when we have surrendered our will to God while
we live. Our blessed Savior had all along submitted his will to
God. There was but one will between God the Father and Christ. Christ in his
lifetime having given up his will to his Father, at death cheerfully gave up
his soul to him. "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." Luke 23:46.
You who resign up your wills to God—may at the hour of death
comfortably bequeath your souls to him.
 The second means to bring our will to God in
affliction—is to study his WILL.
(1) God's will is SOVEREIGN. He has a supreme
right and dominion over his creatures—to dispose of them as he pleases. A
man may do with his own as he desires. "Is it not lawful for me to do what I
will with my own?" Matthew 20:15. A man may cut his own timber as he will.
God's sovereignty may cause submission; he may do with us as he sees good.
He is not accountable to any creature for what he does. "He gives not
account of any of his matters." Job 33:13. Who shall call God to account?
Who is higher than the highest? Eccl 5:8. What man or angel dare summon God
to his bar? "He gives no account of any of his matters." God will take an
account of our conduct towards him—but he will give no account of his
conduct towards us. He has an absolute jurisdiction over us, as a
sovereign—to do with us whatever he pleases. This may silence all
discontents, and charm down all unruly passions. We are not to dispute
with God—but to submit to God.
(2) God's will is WISE. He knows what is
conducive to the good of his people, therefore submit. "The Lord is a God of
judgment," that is, he is able to judge what is best for us; therefore rest
in his wisdom and acquiesce in his will. Isaiah 30:18. We rest in the wisdom
of a physician; we are content to follow his counsel, because he knows what
is most conducive to our health. If the pilot is skillful, the passenger
says, "Let him alone; he knows best how to steer the ship." Shall we not
rest in God's wisdom? Did we but study how wisely he steers all occurrences,
and how he often brings us to heaven by a cross wind, it would much quiet
our spirits, and make us say, "May your will be done." God's will is guided
by wisdom. Should he sometimes let us have our will—we would undo ourselves!
Did he let us carve for ourselves—we would choose the worst piece. Lot chose
Sodom because it was well watered—but God rained fire upon it. Gen 13:10;
(3) God's will is JUST. "Shall not the judge
of all the earth do right?" Gen 18:25. God's will is the rule and measure of
justice. The wills of men are corrupt, therefore unfit to give law; but
God's will is a holy and unerring will, which may cause submission. Psalm
97:2. God may cross us—but he cannot wrong us. He may bbe severe with us—but
never unjust. Therefore we must strike sail, and say, "May your will be
(4) God's will is GOOD and GRACIOUS. It
promotes our interest: if it is his will to afflict us, he shall make us say
at last, "it was good for us, that we were afflicted." His flail shall only
thresh off our husks. That which is against our will, shall not be against
our profit. Let us study what a good will God's is, and we shall say, "May
your will be done."
(5) God's will is IRRESISTIBLE. We may oppose
it—but we cannot hinder it. The rising up of our will against God—cannot
stop the execution of his will. "Who has resisted his will?" Romans 9:19.
Who can stop the sun in its movements? Who can hinder the progress of God's
will? Therefore it is in vain to contest with God. His will shall take
place! There is no way to overcome him, but by lying at his feet.
 Another means to submission to God in affliction—is
to get a gracious heart. All the rules and helps in the world
will do but little good—until grace is infused. Until God puts a new bias of
grace into the soul, which inclines the will—it never submits to him. Grace
renews the will, and it must be renewed before it be subdued.
Grace teaches self-denial, and we can never submit our will until we deny
 A fourth means to submission to God in affliction—is
to labor to have our covenant interest cleared—to know that God is our God.
"This God is our God." Psalm 48:14. He whose faith flourishes in
assurance, who can say that God is his, will say, "May your will be done." A
wicked man may say, "God has laid this affliction upon me—and I cannot help
it!" But a believer says, "My God has done it—and I will submit!" He who can
call God his, knows God loves him as he loves Christ, and designs his
salvation; therefore he will, with Paul, take pleasure in reproaches. 2 Cor
12:10. In every adverse providence, yield to God, as the wax to the
impression of the seal.
 Another means to submission to God in affliction—is
to get a humble spirit. A proud man will never stoop to God; he
will rather break than bend; but when the heart is humble, the will is
pliable. What a vast difference was there between Pharaoh and Eli! Pharaoh
cried out, "Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice?" Exod 5:2. But Eli
said, "It is the Lord, let him do what seems him good to him." 1 Sam 3:18.
See the difference between a heart that is swelled with pride—and that which
is ballasted with humility! Pharaoh said, "Who is the Lord?" Eli, "It is the
Lord." A humble soul has a deep sense of sin, he sees how he has provoked
God, he wonders that he is not in hell; therefore, whatever God inflicts—he
knows it is less than his iniquities deserve, which makes him say, "Lord,
may your will be done." O, get into a humble posture. The will is
never flexible—until the heart is humble.
 Another means to submission to God in affliction—is
to get your hearts loosened from things below. Be crucified to
the world. Children are very froward—when you take away their playthings.
When we love the things of the world, and God takes them away from us, we
grow froward and unsubmissive to his will. Jonah was exceedingly glad for
the gourd; but when God smote it, he grew froward, and because God had
killed his gourd. He said, "Kill me too!" Jonah 4:8. He who is a lover of
the world, can never pray this prayer heartily: "May your will be done;" his
heart boils with anger against God; and when the world is gone, his patience
is gone too. Get mortified affections to these sublunary things.
 Another means to submission to God in affliction—is
to get some good persuasion that your sin is pardoned. "Lord,
smite where you will," said Luther, "because my sins are pardoned."
Pardon of sin is a crowning blessing. Has God forgiven my sin? Then I
will bear anything! I will not murmur but admire! I will not complain of the
burden of affliction—but bless God for removing the burden of sin. The
pardoned soul says this prayer heartily, "May your will be done." Lord, use
your pruning-knife—so long as you do not come with your bloody axe to hew me
down to hell!
 Another means to submission to God in affliction—is
to look more on the light side of the cloud. That is, let us not
look so much on the smart of affliction—as the good of
affliction. It is bad to pore all on the smart, as it is bad for sore eyes
to look too much on the fire; but we should look on the good of
affliction. Samson not only looked on the lion's carcass—but on the
honeycomb within it. "He turned aside to see the carcass of the lion,
and behold, there was honey in the carcass!" Judges 14:8. Affliction is the
frightful lion—but see what honey there is in it! It humbles, purifies,
fills us with the consolations of God—there is honey in the belly of the
lion! Could we but look upon the benefit of affliction, stubbornness would
be turned into submissiveness, and we would say, "May your will be done."
 Another means to submission to God in affliction—is
to pray to God that he would calm our spirits and conquer our wills.
It is no easy thing to submit to God in affliction. There will be risings of
the heart; therefore let us pray that what God inflicts righteously, we may
bear patiently. Prayer is the best charm against impatience. It does
to the heart what Christ did to the sea when it was tempestuous; he rebuked
the wind, and there was a great calm. So, when passions are up, and the will
is apt to mutiny against God, prayer makes a gracious calm in the soul.
Prayer cools the soul—when it is hot in passion.
 Another means to submission to God in affliction—is
to put a good interpretation upon God's dealings, and take all he does in
the best sense. We are apt to misconstrue God's dealings, and put
a bad interpretation upon them, as Israel did. "Why have you brought the
Lord's assembly into this wilderness for us and our livestock to die here?"
Numb 20:4. When God has brought affliction upon us, we say, "It is because
he hates us, and intends to destroy us!" And such hard thoughts of God cause
sullenness and stubbornness. Oh, let us make a fair and honest
interpretation of providence. Does God afflict us? Say, "Perhaps it is
because he intends us mercy in this. Perhaps it is because he will try us
whether we will love him in afflictions. Perhaps it is because he is about
to mortify some sin, or exercise some grace. Perhaps he smites the body,
that he may save the soul." Could we put such a good meaning upon God's
dealings, we would say, "May your will be done."
 The last means, if you would submit to God in
affliction—is to believe that the present condition is best for you.
We are not competent judges. We imagine that it is best to have ease
and plenty, and have the rock pour out rivers of oil; but God sees
affliction to be best. He sees our souls thrive best upon the scanty fare.
The fall of the leaf, is the spring of our grace. Could we believe that
condition to be best which God carves out to us—the quarrel would soon be at
an end—and we would sit down satisfied with what he does, and say, "May your
will be done!"