The Practice of Piety—a Puritan devotional manual, directing a Christian how to live, that he may please God

by Lewis Bayly (1611)

Consolations against impatience in sickness

If in your sickness by extremity of pain you be driven to impatience, meditate—

1. That your sins have deserved the pains of hell; therefore you may with greater patience endure these fatherly corrections.

2. That these are the scourges of your heavenly Father, and the rod is in his hand. If you did suffer with reverence, being a child, the corrections of your earthly parents, how much rather should you now subject yourself, being the child of God, to the chastisement of your heavenly Father, seeing it is for your eternal good?

3. That Christ suffered in his soul and body far more grievous pains for you, therefore you must more willingly suffer his blessed pleasure for your own good (Isa 53:3.) Therefore, says Peter, "Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow his steps" (1 Pet 2:21.) And "Let us," says Paul, "run with joy the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross," etc. (Heb 12:1-2.)

4. That these afflictions which now you suffer are none other but such as "are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world," as witnesses Peter (1 Pet 5:9;) yes, Job's afflictions were far more grievous. There is not one of the saints which now are at rest in heavenly joys, but endured as much as you do before they went there; yes, many of them willingly suffered all the torments that tyrants could inflict upon them, that they might come unto those heavenly joys to which you are now called. And you have a promise, that "the God of all grace, after you have suffered a while, will make you perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you" (1 Pet 5:10.)

5. That God has determined the time when your affliction shall end, as well as the time when it began. Thirty-eight years were appointed the sick man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:5.) Twelve years to the woman who was suffering from bleeding (Matt 9:20.) Three months to Moses (Exod 2:2.) Ten days' tribulation to the angel of the Church at Smyrna (Rev 2:10.) Three days plague to David (2 Sam 24:13.) Yes, the number of the godly man's tears are registered in God's book--and the quantity kept in his bottle (Psalm 56:8.)

The time of our trouble, says Christ, is but a little while (John 16:16.) God's anger lasts but a moment, says David (Psalm 30.) A little season, says the Lord (Rev 6:11;) and therefore calls all the time of our pain but the hour of sorrow (John 16:21.) David, for the swiftness of it, compares our present trouble to a brook (Psalm 110:7), and Athanasius to a shower. Compare the longest misery that man endures in this life--to the eternity of heavenly joys; and they will appear to be nothing! "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us." (Romans 8:18) And as the sight of a son safely born, makes the mother forget all her former deadly pain (John 16:21), so the sight of Christ in heaven, who was born for you, will make all these pangs of death to be quite forgotten, as if they had never been. Like Stephen, who, as soon as he saw Christ, forgot his own wounds, with the horror of the grave, and terror of the stones, and sweetly yielded his soul into the hands of his Savior (Acts 7.) Forget your own pain, think of Christ's wounds. Be faithful unto the death, and he will give you the crown of eternal life (Rev 2:10.)

6. That you are now called to repetitions in Christ's school of affliction, to see how much faith, patience, and godliness, you have learned all this while; and whether you can, like Job, receive at the hand of God some evil, as well as you have hitherto received a great deal of good (Job 2:10.) As therefore you have always prayed, "Your will be done," so be not now offended at this which is done by his holy will.

7. That "all things shall work together for the best, to those who love God;" insomuch that "neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, etc., shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom 8:28,38-39.) Assure yourself that every pang is a prevention of the pains of hell, every respite a pledge of heaven's rest; and how many stripes do you esteem heaven worth? As your life has been a comfort to others, so give your friends a Christian example to die. Death is but the cross of Christ sent before to crucify the love of the world in you, that you may go eternally to live with Christ who was crucified for you. As you are therefore a true Christian, take up, like Simeon of Cyrene, with both your arms, his holy cross, carry it after him unto him. Your pains will shortly pass, your joys shall never pass away.