« PreviousContinue »
whild they were with you, will prove an excellent allay to your sorrows for them when they are no longer yours. It is pot so much the fiogle amiction, as the guilt charged upon us in times of affliction, that makes our load to heavy.
O what a terrible ļhing is it to look upon our dead friends, whild confcience is acculing and upbraiding us for our duties neglected, and such or fuch Gas committed ? O you little think how dreadful a spectacle this will make the dead body of thy friend to bee !
Confeience, if not goite ftupid or dead, will speak at fuch a time. Otherefore, as ever you would provide for a comforta able perting at death, of meet again at judgment; be exact, punctual, aod circumspect, in all your relative duties.
Rule 3. If you would not be overwhelmed by trouvle for the lots of dear relations, then turn to God under your traudte, and pour out your forfows, by prayer, inta his bosom.
This will ease aod allay your troubles. Blefied be God for the ordinance of prayer; how much are all the saints beholden to it, at all times, but especially in heart-Sinking and distressful times? It is some relief, when in difrels, we can pour out our trouble into the bosom of a wife, or faithful friend; how much more when we leave our complaioc before the gracious, wife, and faithful God? I told you before of that hoiy man, who haviog loft bis dear and only fou, got to bis closet, there poured out his soul freely to the Lord, and when he came dowa to bis friends, that were waiting below to comfort him, and fearing how he would bear that Itroke, he came from his duty with a chearful countenance, telling them he would be contenc to bury a fon, if it were poffible, every day, provided he might enjoy such comfort as his foul had found in that private hour.
Go thy way, Christian, to thy God, get thee to thy kneesia the cloudy and dark day; retire from all creatures, that thou mayelt have thy full liberty with thy God, and there pour out tby heart before him, in free, full, aad broken-hearted confeffions of bo : Judge thyself worthy of hell, as well as of this trouble; juftify. God in all his finarteft ftrokes ; beg him, in this diftrefs, to put under thee everlasting arms; intreat one smile, one gracious look, to enlighten thy darkness, and clear thy drooping spirit. Say, with the prophet, Jer. xvii. 17. “ Be thou not a terror to me; thou art my hope in the day of " evil.” And try what relief fuch a courle will afford thee. Surely, if thy heart be fiocere in this course, thou shalt be able to say with that holy man, Plaim xciv. 29. "In the multitude
“ of my thoughts which I had within me, thy comforts have " delighted my soul.”
Rule 4. If you would bear the loss of your dear relations with moderation, eye God in the whole process of the affli&tion more, and secondary causes and circumstances of the matter less
“ I was dumb, I opened noc my mouth, because thou didft “ it,” Pfal. xxxix. 9. Consider the hand of the Lord in the whole matter : And that,
First, As a fovereigo hand, which hath right to dispose of thee, and all thy comforts, without thy leave or consent, Job
Secondly, As a father's hand correcting thee in love and faithfulness. Prov. iii. 11. " Whom the Lord loveth he cor" recteth, as a father the son in whom he delighteth."
O if once you could but see affliction as a rod in a father's hand, proceeding from his love, and intended for your eternal good; how quiet would you then be ?
And surely if it draws your heart nearer to God, and mortifies it more to this vain world, it is a rod in the hand of special love : If it end in your love to God, doubt not but it comes from God's love to you.
Thirdly, As a just and righteous hand. Haft not thou procured this to thyself by thy own folly? Yea, the Lord is just in all that is come upon thee; whatever he hath done, yet he hath done thee no wrong.
Fourthly, Lastly, As a moderate and merciful hand that bath punished thee less than thine iniquities deserve: He that hath cast thee into affliction, might jułtly have cast thee into bell. It is of the Lord's mercy that thou art not consumed. Why doth the living man complaio ?
Rule 5. If you would bear your affliction with moderation, compare it with the afflictions of other men, and that will great. ly quiet your Spirits.
You have no cause to say God hath dealt bitterly with you, and that there is no forrow like your sorrow: Look round about you, and impartially consider the condition that others are in; and they nothing inferior to you in any respect. You had one dead child, Aaron had two at a stroke, Job all at one stroke; and both these by an immediate stroke from the hand of God. Some godly parents have lived to see their children die in their fio by the hand of justice; others have seen them live to the dishonour of God, and breaking of their own spirits, and would have esteemed it a mercy if they had died from the womb, and
given up the ghost when they came out of the belly, as Job speaks.
lo what misery have some parents seen their children die ! God holding them as so many terrible spectacles of misery before their eyes ; so that they have begged the Lord, with importunity, to let loose his hands, and cut them off ; death being, in their esteem, nothing to those continual agonies in which they have seen them lie weltering from day to day. O you little know what a bitter cup others have had given them to drink? Surely, if you compare, you must say, the Lord hath dealt gently and graciously with me.
Rule 6. Carefully foun, and avoid what foever may renew your forrow, or provoke you to impatience.
locreale not your forrow by the light of, or discourses about fad objects; and labour to avoid them, as occasions presented by the enemy of your souls, to draw forth the corruptions of
I told you before, why Jacob would not have the child of which Rachel died, called after the name his wife had given, Benoni, the son of my forrow ; left it should prove a daily occasion of renewing his trouble for the loss of his dear wife; but he called his Dame Benjamio.
Your impatience is like tinder, or gun powder, so long as you can prevent the sparks from falling on it, there is no great danger; but you that carry such dangerous prepared matter in your own hearts, cannot be too careful to prevent them. Do by murmuring, as you do by blasphemous thoughts ; think quite another way, and give no occalion.
Role 7. In the day of your mourning for the death of your friends, feriously consider your own death as approaching, and that you, and
friend are diftinguisbed by a small interval and point of time. 2 Sam. xi. 13. I shall go to him. Surely the thoughts of your own death, as approaching also, will greatly allay your forrows for the dead that are gone before you.
We are apt to fancy a long life in the world, and then the loss of those comforts which we promised ourselves so much of the sweetness and comforts of our lives from, seems an intolerable thing.
But would you realize your own deaths more, you would Dot be so deeply concerned for their deaths as you are. Could you but look into your own graves more seriously, you would be able to look into your friend's grave more composedly.
And thus I have finished what I designed from this fcripture. The Father of mercies, and God of all comforts, whose fole prerogative it is to comfort them that are cast down, write all his truths upon your hearts, that they may abide there, and reduce your disordered affections to that frame which belt faits the will of God, and the profeffion you make of fabjection and relignation thereunto.
P R E PARA TI ON S
S U F F E R I N G S:
The best WORK in the worst TIME s.
Wherein the Necessity, Excellency, and Means of our readi
Defs for Sufferings are evinced and prescribed ; our Call to Suffering cleared, and the great unreadiness of many Profel. fors bewailed.
The EPISTLE TO THE READER.
was not so old, by many years, as now it is) that mundus Jenefcens patitur phantahas : The aged world, like aged perfoas, dotes, and grows whimsical, in its old age; the truth of which observation is confirmed by no one thing more, than the fond and groundless dreams, and phantasms of tranquillity, and coatio uiog prosperity, wherewith the multitude please them. felves, even whilst the fins of the times are so great, and the figns of the times so fad and lowring as they are.
It is not the design of this Manual to fcare, and affright any man, with imaginary dangers, inuch less to low jealousies, and foment the discontents of the times; it being a jut matter of lamentation, that all the tokens of God's anger produce with many of us no better fruit but bold censures, and loud cla. mours, instead of humiliation for our owa fins, and due pre
paration to take up our own cross, and follow Christ in a fuf. feriog path, which is the only mark and aim of this tract.
We read the histories of the primitive sufferers, but not with a spirit prepared to follow them. Some cenfure them as too prodigal of their blood, and others commend their courage, and constancy; but where are they that fiocerely resolve, and prepare to be followers of them, who through faith and pa. tience inherit the promises ? Heb. vi. 12. or take them for an " example of suffering, affliction, aod of patience," Jam. v. 10.
It is as much our interest, as it is our duty, to be seasonably awakened out of our pleasant, but most pernicious drowziness. Troubles will be so much the more fioking, and intolerable, by how much they steal upon us by way of surprizal. For look, as expectation deflowers any temporal comfort, by sucking out much of the sweetoess thereof before-haod, and so we find the less in it when we come to the actual enjoyment: So the expectation of evils abates much of the dread and terror, by accustoming our thoughts before-hand to them, and making preparation for them: So that we find them not so grievous, 2mazing, and intolerable, when they are come indeed.
This was exemplified to us very lively by holy Mr. Bradford the martyr, when the keeper's wife came running into his chamber, fayiog, 0, Mr Bradford, I bring you heavy ridiogs, for to-morrow you must be burned, your chain is now buying,
and presently you mult go to Newgate.' He put off his hat, and lookiog up to heaven, faid, O Lord, I thank thee for it ; I have looked for this a long time : It comes not suddenly to ine, the Lord make me worthy of it. See in this example the line gular advantage of a prepared and ready foul.
Reader, The cup of sufferiogs is a very bitter cup, and it is but needful that we provide fomewhat to sweeted it, that we may be able to receive it with thanksgiving; and what those sweetening ingredients are, and how to prepare them, you will have some direction and help in the following discourse ; which bath once already beed presented to the public view; and that it may at this time allo (wherein pothing cao be more seasonable) become farther useful, and affiftiog, to the people of God in their present duties, is the hearty desire of
JOHN FLAYEL VOL. VII.