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embrace their Sufferings , As Reliques consecrated by the touch of Christ.
They consider further, that it is never but for most Wise and Good ends that God who hateth nothing that he hath made, and that doth not willingly grieve the Children of Men, much less his Own Children, sends upon them any Scourge or Calamity.
And those Ends are many and various but all working for Good.
Sometimes for the Punishment, sometimes for the Prevention of Sin; For certainly there is not the best Man living, but upon a strict and impartial Search of himself may find Fuel for Affliction, Guilt enough to deserve it, somewhat amiss that requires Amendment, some Corruptions growing into Exorbitancy, some Errors that stand in need of Physick to cleanse them, some Disorders ready to break out that want a Medicine to prevent them.
This therefore being one chief Reason of God's Visitations, is not Affliction to good Men rather Beneficial than Hurtful? Can they refuse to take, not patiently only, but gladly and willingly, that Cup, which, tho’ bitter, yet is temper'd and prepar'd for 'em by so wise and so loving a Physician? Have they not Reason to be thankful, that God rather chooseth to afflict them than forsakę them? As long as God Almighty afflicts
them, them, 'tis plain they are under his Difcipline, his Care, and no Man's Condition can be desperate, so long as this Allwise Physician continues his Administration; and reaches Him forth this Medicine, that without his Own fault will most certainly cure and recover Him. Evils as they come not without Desert, for God is Just; so they pass not away without Profit, for God is Good.
Sometimes in particular they are sent to wean a Man from the Love of the World, and to carry up the Thoughts, and Hopes, and Desires to that better Country, whereunto We are appointed. If all things went always well, even with good Men in this Life, they would be building Tabernacles, and crying out, It is good for us to be here; and set up their Rest and Hopes on this Side Jordan, as the Reubenites did in the Country of Bashan, when they found it Rich and Fruitful. God Alınighty therefore in Mercy makes this World unpleasing to good Men by Afiction, that they may set the less Value upon it, and fix their Hopes and Desires and Endeavours where only true Joys are to be found, even that City which is above ; and learn to despise every thing that is lower than Heaven, and shorter than Eternity.
But lastly, Sometimes for the Tryal of his Saints God is pleas'd to Exercise them with Afflictions, that he may bring them to greater Glory, As Gold in the Furnace has be try'd them, says the Wise Man, and received them as a burnt offering, and in the time of their Vifitation they Jhall fbine, and run to and fro like sparks among the stubble, They shall Judge the Nations and have Dominion over the People, and their Lord fall Reign for Ever. Wisdom 3. 6. 7. It was the saying of a Wife Heathen that a Good Man bravely combating with, and getting the better of Amictions was, Dignum Deo Spectaculum, a Sight Worthy of God'; and there is fomewhat like this even in the Book of God himself, where he feems to be extreamly pleas'd with Fob's Integrity, and Glorys as it were in him, and points him out to Satan with Honour and Applause, even when he gave him up a second time to 'try all his Alfaults upon him: Hast thou confider'd my servant Fob, that there is none like him in the Earth ? a Perfeat and an Upright Man; and still he holdeth faft bis Integrity, altho” thou movedst me against him to destroy him without Caufe. Job 2. 3.
God, when he sees a strong Faith, and an Heroick Virtue is pleas’d to make it Exert and shew itself, to polish and make it shine by Exercise and 'Use, as he did in those moft Heroical Saints of Old, whom Aflictions have made Glorious. Glorious
indeed in the great Reward and more ex-
From all which we may perceive, that
· Blefling upon this bitter Cup, the Cup of Amiction.
To conclude therefore, fince Afflictions, One time or other, are likely to fall to the sha re of all Men living, since the best Men can't pretend to any Priviledge or Exemption from 'em ; Let us wisely provide against 'em, that if we are not deliver'd from 'em, yet whenever they come they may not have the power to hurt Us. This can no otherwise be done, than by taking up and conftantly adhering to Holy fob's Resolution, Chap. 27. V. 5, 6. 'Till I dye I will not remove my Integrity from me; my Righteousneß I hold fást, and will not let it goe; my Heart Iball not reproach me as long as I live. For, as David says, He that doth these things shall never fall, This will either secure us from Afflictions, or support us under them, will either carry us thro' this Vale of Misery free from the Calamitys incident to our Nature, or, the just Punishment of Sin; or else, if it shall please God for the Tryal of our Faith, or the Exercise of our Virtue, or the preventing of Sin, or the withdrawing of our Affečtions from the World, or the encrease of our Future Glory, or any other Wise and Just reason, to visit us with Afflictions, will teach us to make that Use and Advantage of them, that they prove no real Eyils