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The bruises of affliction's heavy hand;
They feel not joy, who have not sorrow felt;
THE assaults of affliction may be terrible, like Samson's lion, but they yield much sweetness to those that dare to encounter and overcome them; who know how to outlive the witherings of their gourds, without discontent or peevishness, while they may yet converse with God.
IT is evident to daily experience, that while afflictions are upon us, and while deliverances are fresh, they commonly have some good effect upon us: but as the iron is no sooner out of the fire,
but it quickly returns to its old coldness and hardness; so, when the affliction or deliverance is past, we usually forget them, count them common things, attribute them to means and second causes, and so the good that mankind should gather from them, vanish, and men grow quickly to be what they were before they came; their sick-bed promises are forgot when the sickness is over.
SIR MATTHEW HALE.
AFFLICTIONS and troubles do neither grow up by a certain regular and constant course of nature, as plants and vegetables do out of the ground, neither are they merely accidental and casual; but they are sent, disposed, directed, and managed by the conduct and guidance of the most wise providence of almighty God. And as in all things in nature the most wise God doth nothing at random, or at a venture, so in this part of his providential dispensation towards mankind, he doth exercise the same with excellent wisdom and for excellent ends; even for the very good and advantage of mankind in general, and particularly of those very persons that seem most to suffer and be afflicted by them: sometimes to punish, sometimes to correct, sometimes to prevent, sometimes to heal, sometimes to prepare, sometimes to humble, always to instruct, and teach, and better the children of men.
And, indeed, if there were no other end but these that follow, this seeming sharp providence
of almighty God would be highly justified; namely, first to keep men humble and disciplinable. Man is a proud vain creature; and were that humour constantly fed with prosperity and success, it would strangely puff up this vain humour: afflictions and troubles are the excellent and necessary correctives of it, and prick this swelling imposthumation of pride and haughtiness, which would otherwise render men intolerable in themselves and one to another. Secondly, to bring mankind to recognise almighty God, to. seek unto him, to depend upon him; this is the most natural and special effect of afflictions. Hosea v. 15, In their afflictions they will seek me early, Jonah i. The rough and stubborn ma-; riners, in a storm, will cry every one to his god. Thirdly, to tutor and discipline the children of men in this great lesson, that their happiness lies not in this world, but in a better; and by this means, even by the crosses, and vexations, and troubles of this world, and by these plain and sensible documents to carry mankind up to the end of their beings. God knows those few and little comforts of this life, notwithstanding all the troubles and crosses with which they are interlarded, are apt to keep the hearts, even of good men, in too great love of this world. What would become of us, our whole lives here should be altogether prosperous and contenting, without the intermixture of crosses and afflictions?
SIR MATTHEW HALE,
The doctrine of the gospel hath given us far more noble and effectual topics and arguments than any philosophy ever did or can: 1. By giving us a plain and clear estimate and valuation of this world and all that seems most valuable in it; but this is not all; but, 2. By shewing us plainly and clearly a more valuable, certain, and durable estate after death, and a way of attaining it with much more ease and contentation, than we can attain the most splendid temporals of this world. Certain it is, that the weight and stress of afflictions and crosses, lies not so much in the things them-selves, which we suffer in them or by them, as in that over-valuation that we put upon those conveniences which afflictions or crosses deprive us of. When news was brought to that noble Roman of the death of his son, it was a great pitch of patience that even the moral consideration wrought in him, Novi me genuisse mortalem ;* though perchance it was not without a mixture of stoical vain-glory. We set too great a value upon our health, our wealth, our reputation; and that makes us unable to bear with that evenness and contentedness of mind, the loss of them by sickness, poverty, reproach. We set too great a rate upon our temporal life here, because we set too great a rate upon this world, to the enjoyment whereof this life here is accommodated and proportioned, and that makes us fear death, not only as the ruin of nature, but as that which puts a period to all
I know that I am the father of a mortal.
our comforts: whereas, had we but faith enough to believe the evangelical truths touching our future happiness, it would make us not desire death, because we might in the time of this life secure unto ourselves that great and one thing necessary; and it would make us not to fear death, because we see a greater fruition to be enjoyed after it, than all the glory of this present world can yield.
SIR MATTHEW HALE.
IT was a noble pitch of a heathen's mind, namely, Epictetus, Enchirid. Cap. 78, "In quovis incepto hæc optanda sunt; duc me, ô Jupiter, "et tu fatum cô quô sum à vobis destinatus;
sequar enim alacriter; quod si noluero et im"probus ero et sequar nihilominus;" which may be thus better Englished, "In every enterprize "this ought to be our prayer, Guide me, O God, " and thou Divine Providence, according to thine
own appointment; I will with cheerfulness fol"low: which if I decline to do, I shall be an “undutiful man, and yet shall nevertheless follow "thy appointment whether I will or not." But Christians have learned a reason of a nobler descent, namely, that all things shall work together for good to those that love God, Rom. viii. 28, And certainly there can be no greater evidence of thy love to him, than to make the will of God the guide, rule, and measure of thine own.
SIR MATTHEW HALE