A beautiful face—under a black mask!

(William Secker, "The Consistent Christian" 1660)

"What! Shall we receive good at the hand of God—and shall we not receive evil?" Job 2:10

The consistent Christian speak well of God—whatever evil he receives from God. To bless God for mercies—is the way to increase them; to bless God for miseries—is the way to remove them.

Did not the possession of riches sometimes draw away our hearts—then the loss of them would not break our hearts!

"The Lord gives—and the Lord takes away; blessed be the Name of the Lord." Job 1:21. God gives before He takes—and He takes only what He gives!

The hour-glass of outward happiness soon runs out! Today Job is the richest man in all the east; tomorrow Job is the poorest man in all the world. Yet his heart was like a fruitful paradise—when his estate was like a barren wilderness! Though God burnt up his houses—yet his palace (his heart) was left standing.

Outward mercies are like the tide—which ebbs as well as flows. They are like the sky—which sometimes is clear, and at another time clouded. They are like a budding flowerwhich opens on a warm day, and shuts on a cold day. If God bless us in taking—as well as in giving; let us bless Him for taking—as well as for giving.

That is a choice artist—who can play well upon a broken instrument. To be impatient with our affliction—and patient with our corruption; is to be angry with the medicine which heals us—and in love with the poison which kills us! Beloved, it is sometimes a mercy to us—that God removes outward mercies from us! He never wounds a saint to kill him—but to heal him! God does but take that out of your hands—which would thrust Him out of your heart!

Too many think that God is cutting down the whole tree—when He is but lopping off its wasteful branches. They imagine that He is demolishing the superstructure, when He is only laying a right foundation. Poor souls, He is not nipping the flowers—but plucking up the weeds! He is not laying your land fallow—but ploughing the field!

God's Providence
has a beautiful face—under a black mask! God has the fairest ends—in the foulest ways! The sheep may be dipped in water to wash it—when there is no design in the Good Shepherd to drown it!

Christian reader, you may read the marks of a kind Father—in the severe stripes of His children. Every twig of His black rod of affliction—is but to draw His lovely image upon you!