|Sermon 160 on Psalm 119
by Thomas Manton
Trouble and anguish have taken hold of me, yet thy commandments are my
IN the words we have
1. David's temptation, trouble and anguish have taken hold of me.
2. David's exercise under that temptation, thy commandments are my delight.
3. The benefit of that exercise, notwithstanding the greatness of the
temptation, yet. It is propounded with a non obstante.
First, The temptation was very great, for he speaketh of trouble and anguish.
The joining of synonymous words, or words of a like import and signification,
increaseth the sense; and so it showeth his affection was not ordinary; yea,
both these words have their particular use and emphasis. Trouble may imply the
outward trial, and the difficulties and straits he was in; anguish, inward
afflictions: the one, the matter of the trial, and the other the sense of it.
The other expression also is to be observed, 'Have taken hold of me; 'in the
Hebrew, 'have found me;' so the Septuagint renders it, JliyeiV kai anagkai
eursan me; and the vulgar Latin out of them, tribulatio et angustiae invenerunt
me, 'have found me,' that is, 'come upon me,' as the expression intimateth.
Troubles are said to find us, because they are sent to seek us out, and in time
will light upon us. We should not run into them, but if they find us in our
duty, we should not be troubled at them. Sometimes in scripture we are said to
find trouble, and sometimes trouble to find us. We are said to find trouble.
David said, Ps. 116:3, 'I found trouble.' And so now here in the text, trouble
and anguish found him. There is no difference, or if any, the one noteth a
surprise. Trouble findeth us when it cometh unlooked for; our finding it noteth
our willingness to undergo it, when the will of God is so, especially for
Secondly, David's exercise under this great temptation, 'Thy commandments are my
delights.' Where we have
1. The object, 'thy commandments.' The commandment is put for the word in
general, which includeth promises as well as precepts, the whole doctrine of
life and salvation. However, the property of the form is not altogether to be
overlooked; even in the commandments or the conscience of his duty, he took a
great deal of comfort.
2. The affection, 'delight' He had said before that he did not forget God's
statutes when he was small and despised, ver. 141; now he delighted in them.
This was his great love to the word, that he could find sweetness in it when it
brought him trouble, such sweetness as did allay all his sorrows, and overcome
the bitterness of them.
3. The degree, 'delights,' in the plural number; he did greatly delight in it.
Omnis oblectatio mea, saith Juniusthy commandments to me are instead of all
manner of delights and pleasure in the world.
Thirdly, The next is the opposition of this exercise to that temptation, 'yet.'
It is not in the original, but necessarily implied, and therefore well inserted
by our translators, to show that the greatness of his straits and troubles did
not diminish his comfort, but increase it rather. The points are these:
1. God seeth it necessary sometimes to exercise his people with a great deal of
2. This trouble may breed great vexation and anguish of spirit, even in a
3. Notwithstanding this trouble and anguish, gracious hearts will manifest their
graciousness by delighting in the word.
4. They that delight in the word will find more comfort in their afflictions
than troubles can take from them, or such sweetness as will overcome the sense
of all their sorrows. This was always David's help to delight in the word, and
this brought him comfort though in deep troubles.
For the first point, that God seeth it necessary sometimes to exercise his
people with a great deal of trouble. Though they are highly in favour with God,
yet they have their share of troubles as well as others. This is true if you
1. Consider the people of God in their collective body and community, which is
called the church. It is the church's name: Isa. 54:11,12, 'Oh thou afflicted,
and tossed with tempest!' Names are taken a notionibus; things are known and
distinguished by their name; it is one of the way-marks to heaven: Acts 14:22,
'Through many tribulations enter into the kingdom of God;' as the way to Canaan
lay through a howling wilderness. If we were told before that we should meet
with such and such marks in our journey to such a place, if we found them not,
we should have cause to suspect we were out of our way. From the beginning of
the world, the church hath always been bred up under troubles, and inured to the
discipline of the cross: Ps. 129:1, 'Many a time have they afflicted me from my
youth, may Israel now say.' The spirit of enmity wrought betimes. The first
family that ever was in the world yielded Abel the proto-martyr, and Cain the
patriarch of unbelievers. While the church kept in families, the outward estate
of God's people was worse than their neighbours. Abraham was a sojourner, though
owned and blessed by God, when the Canaanites were possessors, and dwelt in
walled towns. Jacob's family grew up by degrees into a nation, but Esau's
presently multiplied into many dukes and princes. And as they grew up, they grew
up in affliction. Egypt was a place of retreat for them for a while, but before
they got out of it, it proved a house of bondage. Their deliverance brought them
into a wilderness, where want made them murmur, but oftener wantonness. But then
God sent fiery serpents, and broke them, and afflicted them with other
judgments. After forty years' wandering in the wilderness, they are brought into
Canaan, a land of rest; but it afforded them little rest, for they forfeited it
almost as soon as they conquered it; it flowed with milk and honey, but mixed
with gall and wormwood. Their story, as it is delivered in the book of God,
acquaints you with several varieties and intermixtures of providence, till wrath
came upon them to the utmost, till God saw fit to enlarge the pale and lines of
communication by treating with other nations. Now, if the Old Testament church
were thus afflicted, much more the New. God discovered his approbation and
improbation then more by temporal mercies and temporal judgments. The promises
run to us in another strain; and since life and immortality were brought to
light in the gospel, we must not expect to be so delicately brought up as never
to see an evil day. He hath told us, 2 Tim. 3:12, 'We must be conformed to our
head,' Rom. 8:29; and expect to pledge Christ in his bitter cup, and our
condition must inform us that our hopes were not in this world, 1 Cor. 15:19. In
the gospel dispensation God would deal forth temporal blessings more sparingly,
and spiritual with a fuller hand; the experience of all ages verifieth this.
When religion began first to fly abroad into all lands, the pagans first
persecuted it, and then the pseudo-Christians; the holiest and best people were
maligned, and bound, and butchered, and racked, and stoned, but still they
multiplied. It were easy to tire you with various instances in every age. Those
that went home to God were those that came out of tribulations, and had washed
their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, Rev. vii. 14. There
is always something set afoot to try God's servants, and in the latter times the
roaring lion is not grown more gentle and tame, rather more fierce and severe:
Rev. 12:12, 'For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he
knoweth that he hath but a short time.' Dying beasts struggle most. As his
kingdom beginneth to shake, so he will be most fierce and cruel for the
supporting of it.
2. As to particular persons: 'The whole creation groaneth,' Rom. 8:22; and God's
children bear a part in the concert; they have their share in the world's
miseries, and domestical crosses are common to them with other men in the world;
yea, their condition is worse than others: chaff and corn are threshed in the
same floor, but the corn is grinded in the mill and baked in the oven. Jeremiah
was in the dungeon when the city was besieged. The world hateth them more than
others, and God loveth them more than others. The world hateth them because they
are so good, and God correcteth them because they are no better. There is more
care exercised about a vine than a bramble. God will not let them perish with
the world. Great receipts call for great expenses first or last. God seeth it
fitting, sometimes at first setting forth, as the old Germans were wont to dip
their children in the Rhine to harden them, so to season them for their whole
course; they must bear the yoke from their youth or first acquaintance with God,
Heb. 10:32. Sometimes God lets them alone while they are young and raw, and of
little experience, as we are tender of trees newly planted, as Jacob drove as
the little ones were able to bear: 1 Cor. 10:13, 'He will not suffer you to be
tempted .above what you are able.' They are let alone till middle age, till they
are of some standing in religion: Heb. 11:24, 'Moses when he was come to years,'
megaV genomenoV. Sometimes let alone till their latter time, and their season of
fighting cometh not till they are ready to go out of the world, that they may
die fighting, and be crowned in the field. But first or last, the cross cometh,
and there is a time to exercise our faith and patience before we inherit the
promises. I will not enlarge in the common-place of afflictions, and tell you
how necessary the cross is to subdue sin, which God will do in an accommodate
way to weaken pride, to reclaim us from our wanderings, to increase grace, to
make us mindful of heavenly things; these are discussed in other verses: to make
us retreat to our great privileges, to stir us up to prayer, &c. Tribulatio tam
nobis necessaria, quam ipsa vita, immo magis necessaria, multoque utilior quam
totius mundi opes, et dignitates, saith Lutherwe think wealth is necessary for
us, dignity and esteem is necessary for us; no, affliction is necessary for us:
1 Peter 1:6, 'If need be, you are in heaviness,' &c.
Use 1. Let us look for troubles and provide for them. We shall not always have a
life of ease and peace; the times will not always be friendly to religion: 'Then
had the churches rest,' Acts 9:31; halcyon days. The enmity of wicked men will
not always lie asleep; we would gather rust and grow dead, therefore look for
them. If because you are Christians you promise yourselves a long lease of
temporal happiness, free from troubles and afflictions, it is as if a soldier
going to the wars should promise himself peace and continual truce with the
enemy; or as if a mariner committing himself to the sea for a long voyage,
should promise himself nothing but fair and calm weather, without waves and
storms; so irrational it is for a Christian to promise himself rest here upon
earth. Well, then, let us learn beforehand how to be abased and how to abound,
Phil. 4:12. He that is in a journey to heaven must be provided for all weathers;
though it be sunshine when he first sets forth, a storm will overtake him before
he cometh to his journey's end. It is good to be fore-armed; afflictions will
come, and we should prepare accordingly. We enter upon the profession of
godliness upon these terms, to be willing to suffer afflictions if the Lord see
fit; and therefore we should arm ourselves with a mind to endure them, whether
they come or no. God never intended that Isaac should be sacrificed, yet he will
have Abraham lay the knife to his throat. Sorrows foreseen leave not so sad an
impression upon the spirit. Tela promissa minus feriunt. The evil is more
familiarised before it come: Job 3:25, 'The evil that I feared is come upon me.'
When our fears prophesy, we smart less; it allayeth the offence; we meet with
nothing but what we thought of before: John 16:1, 'These things have I spoken
unto you, that you should not be offended.'
Use 2. If you are under afflictions, mh xenizesJe, 1 Peter 4:12, do not strange
at it, more than at night and day, showers and sunshine; as these things fall
out in the course of nature, so do troubles and afflictions in the course of
God's providence; it were a wonder if otherwise. We do not wonder to see a
shower of rain fall, or a cloudy day succeed a fair: 1 Peter 5:9, 'All these
things are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.' All the rest of
God's people are fellow-soldiers in this conflict.
Use 3. When we are out of affliction, let us bless God that we are out of the
affliction. The greatness of the trouble, danger, misery, straits whereinto God
doth cast his own doth lay a greater obligation of thankfulness upon those that
are free from those evils. If thou beest not thankful for thy health, go to the
lazarhouses, look upon the afflicted state of God's people, and that may quicken
you to thankfulness for being freed from them.
Use 4. Advice; do not draw sufferings upon yourselves by your own rashness and
folly: James 1:2, 'Count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations.' We
must not seek or desire trouble, but bear it when God layeth it on us. Christ
hath taught us to pray, 'Lead us not into temptation.' It is a folly for us to
cast ourselves upon it; if we draw hatred upon ourselves, and run headlong into
dangers without necessity, we must make ourselves amends by repentance,
otherwise God will not. If a man set his house on fire, he is liable to the law;
if it be fired by others, or by an ill accident, he is pitied and relieved. We
are to take our own cross when made to our hands by God's providence, not make
it for ourselves; not to fill our own cup, but drink it off if God put it into
our hands. We must come honestly by our crosses as well as by our comforts, and
must have a call for what we suffer as well as for what we do, if we would have
comfort in our sufferings.
Doct. This trouble may breed much vexation and anguish of spirit even in a
gracious soul. David speaketh of anguish as well as trouble.
1. Partly from nature. God's children have the feelings of nature as well as
others. Christ Jesus, to show the truth of our nature, would express our
affections; he had his fears and tears, Heb. 5:7, and so hath legitimated our
fears and sorrows. It is an innocent affection to have a dislike of what is
contrary to us, to our natural interest; to be without natural affection is
among the vices. And
2. Partly from grace. The children of God are more sensible than others, because
they have a reverence for every providence, and look upon it as a good piece of
religious manners to observe when God striketh, and to be humble when God is
angry, Jer. 5:3; slight spirits are not so much affected. Ordinarily they see
not God, nor own God in every stroke; but when the windows of heaven are opened,
and the mouth of the great deep below, there must needs be a great sense.
3. Yet there is in it weakness and a mixture of corruption, which may come from
an impatiency of the flesh, which would fain be at ease: Gen. 49:15, 'Rest is
good.' Therefore we are filled with anguish when troubled, either from distrust,
or at least from inattentiveness to the promises. As there is a negative faith
in the wicked, not contradicting the truth of the word, so a negative distrust
in the godly, not regarding, not minding the promise, or not regarding the
grounds of comfort which it offereth to us; as Hagar saw not the well that was
nigh her till God opened her eyes, Gen. 21:19; so Mark 6:52, 'They considered
not the miracle of the loaves;' therefore are amazed in themselves beyond
measure. 'Have ye forgotten the five loaves and two fishes?' Heb. 12:5, 'And ye
have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh to you as unto children.' Yea,
sometimes there may be positive distrust, or actual refusing comfort: Ps. 77:2,
'My soul refused to be comforted.' As they may not mind comfort, so in great
troubles refuse comfort in greater distempers.
4. Sorrow and trouble may revive inward trouble. Affliction in itself is a part
of the law's curse, and may revive something of bondage in the hearts of God's
children, which is good and useful so far as it quickeneth us to renew our
reconciliation with God. Spirits entendered by religion are more apprehensive of
God's displeasure under afflictions: Num. 12:14, 'If her father had spit in her
face, should she not be ashamed?' If it humble under the mighty hand of God, it
is well; but when it filleth us with perplexities and amazement, like wild bulls
in a net, or produceth uncomely sorrow, roaring like bears, or mourning as men
without hope, it is naught.
Use. Let us take notice how affliction worketh. There is a double extreme,
slighting the hand of God, or fainting under it, Heb. 12:5; we must beware of
both. There must be a sense, but it must be kept within bounds; without a sense
there can be no improvement; to despise them is to think them fortuitous. They
come from God; their end is repentance, their cause is sin. Two things men
cannot endure to have despised, their love and their anger. When David's love
was alighted, he vowed to cut off all that pertained to Nabal; and
Nebuchadnezzar, when his anger was despised, commanded the furnace to be heated
seven times hotter. Nor fainting, for that excludeth God's comforts. God hath
the whole guiding and ordering the affliction, and while the rod is in his hand
there is no danger. He is a wise God, and cannot be overseen; a God of judgment,
by whom all things are weighed, 1 Sam. 2:3; every drachm and scruple of the
cross; a just God, and will punish no more than is deserved: Job 34:23, 'He will
not lay upon man more than is right.' As well no more than is meet, as no more
than is right. He is a good God, does only what our need and profit requireth:
'For he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men,' Lam. 3:33.
Doct. That it is the property of a gracious soul to delight in God's
It was David's practice, and it is the mark of a blessed man: Pa. 1:2, 'But his
delight is in the law of the Lord;' and Rom. 7:22, 'I delight in the law after
the inward man;' and Ps. 112:1, 'Blessed is the man that delighteth greatly in
his commandments.' Delight in moral things, saith Aquinas, is the rule by which
we may judge of men's goodness or badnessDelectatio est quies voluntatis in
bono; men are good and bad as the objects of their delight are; they are good
who delight in good things, and they evil who delight in evil things.
We shall consider the nature of delight
1. In the causes.
2. In the effects of it.
First, The causes are
1. Proportion and suitableness. Sensitive creatures delight much in such food as
is agreeable to their nature. Now the commandments are suitable to the renewed
heart: 'The law is in their heart,' Ps. 40:8; and Ps. 37:31, 'The law of his God
is in his heart.' Divine qualities are planted there, which suit with the rule
of holiness and righteousness, Eph. 4:24. And this is the sum of the law or
commandments of God.
2. A second cause is possession of it and communion with it. lOritur, saith
Aquinas, ex praesentia connaturalis boni. Now one may be said to possess the law
or enjoy the law in regard of the knowledge of it or obedience to it: John
14:21, 'He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth
me.' The knowledge of the law., so it be not superficial and fleshly, but full
and thorough and savoury, is very comfortable, and goeth toward a good note; but
obedience to the law is the cause of delight therein. God's servants rejoice
when they can bring on their hearts with any life and power in the way of God's
testimonies: Ps. 119:14, 'I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies more
than in all riches.' Thence cometh their comfort and obedience.
3. A third cause of delight is a precedent love of the object. Love is a
complacency in and propension towards that which is good, absolutely considered
both in the presence and absence of it. Desire noteth the absence of a good,
delight the presence and fruition of it. Therefore a love of the object
delighted in is essentially presupposed to delight. So that it is impossible for
anything to be delighted in but it is first loved. We have experience that many
things are delightful in themselves, and known to be such, which yet do not
actually delight if they be hated. A man may taste of the sweetness of honey,
yet if he hath an antipathy against it he may loathe it. David in this psalm
presupposeth love as antecedent to delight: Ps. 119:47, 'I will delight myself
in thy commandments, which I have loved.' Carnal men cannot say so; 'For every
one that doeth evil hateth the light,' John 3:20. The renewed only love the
commandments. Yea, it doth not only presuppose a love of simple complacency, but
also a love of desire; for all things are first desired before delighted in.
None can truly delight in obedience but such as desire it. Such as can say with
David, ver. 40, 'Behold, I have longed after thy precepts;' and ver. 131, 'I
opened my mouth and panted, for I longed after thy commandments.' Now all such
are blessed, Mat. 5:5.
Secondly, Let us consider the effects.
1. The first is dilatatio cordis, the enlarging of the heart; it openeth and
wideneth the heart towards the reception of the law, and maketh it more
capacious and comprehensive thereof than otherwise it would be: Ps. 119:32, 'I
will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt have enlarged my heart.'
The heart is at ease and in a commodious condition, as a body that is in a large
and fit place, where it is not straitened; and this is as oil to the wheels.
2. Delectatio causat sui sitim et desiderium. Delight in an object causeth a
thirst of itself, and more of itself. Even the angels and blessed spirits feel
this effect of delight, that it never cloyeth, but they desire more of their own
happiness. Much more doth it work so in us, who are in such an imperfect state
of enjoyment, upon a twofold account:
[1.] The objects of spiritual delight are perfect, but the acts whereby we enjoy
and possess those objects are imperfect. God is an infinite and all-satisfying
good, but the acts whereby we enjoy him here in this life, whereby we have union
and communion with him, are imperfect. We know, believe, love, hope but in part,
1 Cor. 13:9. Hereupon that delight which ariseth from the imperfect fruition of
God here in this life stirreth up to an eager desire after fuller fruition, and
unto a further enlargement and intension of those acts whereby such fruition is
attained, or wherein it consisteth; still thirsting after more when tasted, 1
[2.] Spiritual delights may be said to create a desire, as desire importeth a
denial or exclusion of loathing;; for the objects of spiritual delight and the
acts whereby they are enjoyed can never exceed the degree and measure required
in them, unless by accident, by reason of some bodily act concurrent therewith,
and subservient unto the spiritual operation. The desire can never be too great;
the expression of it may be burdensome. We may easily exceed the bounds of
moderation in carnal things, but not in spiritual; they can never be too high
and intense. Therefore fresh desires and earnest longings are still kindled and
quickened in us; it never dulls the appetite, but draweth out the soul further
and further, and cannot be too eager and zealous after holiness.
3. Another effect of delight is perficit operationem, it makes the operation to
its object more perfect than otherwise it would be. As a motive or means, it
exciteth to a greater care and diligence in promoting the end which we pursue.
The delight in the law helpeth to perfect our meditation therein and observation
thereof; by its sweetness it quickeneth, provoketh, and allureth to a greater
zeal in both. Delight maketh all things easy: 1 John 5:3, 'All her ways are ways
of pleasantness,' Prov. 3:17; 'The Sabbath is a delight,' Isa. 58:13. It
facilitates duties, and removes difficulties in working.
Now this delight must be sincere, otherwise they are but like the carnal Jews
who did delight to know his ways, Isa. 58:2. It must not be on foreign reasons.
And then it must be universal, otherwise it is but like Herod, who 'heard John
gladly, and did many things,' &c., Mark 6:20. It must be deeply rooted,
otherwise it is but like the seed which fell on the stony ground, 'which
received the word with joy, but dureth but for a while,' Mat. 13:20.
Use 1. To show how far they are from the temper of God's children whose delight
is in sin or the pleasures of the flesh. These have dreggy, muddy souls; their
hearts are on sports, plays, merry-meetings. These desires are soon cloyed,
leave a bitterness in the soul; till we contemn them, we are never fit for a
holy life. See Gregory de Valentia.
Use 2. Have we this delight? The sincerity may be discerned
1. By the extent. It is extended to all parts of the word, delight in the
promises and precepts. To be partial in the law, hypocrites can well allow, Mal,
2. It will be discerned by the effects of it. You will often consult with it:
Ps. 119:24, 'Thy testimonies are my delight and my counsellors.'
3. It will be a perpetual delight: Job 27:10, 'Will he delight himself in the
Almighty? will he always call upon God?' You will own it in affliction, as in
the text. Many will delight in God's word when prosperity accompanieth it, but
not in trouble and anguish. You will delight in obedience, and in the way of his
testimonies; not talk of it, but do it. The young man's delight in Dinah made
him circumcise himself, Gen. 34:19.
Lastly, compare it with your delight in things sensible, temporal, and
corporeal. If it be sincere and cordial, it will not only equal, but surmount
these: ver. 72, 'The law of thy mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and
silver;' and ver. 162, 'I rejoice in thy word as one that findeth great spoil.'
Spiritual good is greater than corporal, our conjunction with it is more
intimate, greater and firmer. The part gratified is more noble, the soul than
the body; it will make these die that the other may live.
Use 3. Let us be exhorted to do what we can for the begetting, increasing, and
cherishing this delight in our hearts. If you love God, you cannot but love his
word, which is so perfect a representation of him. If you love holiness, you
must needs delight in the word; this is the rule of it. If you love life and
happiness, you must needs delight in the word; this is the way that leadeth us
to so blessed and glorious an estate. If you love Christ, you will love the
word, which offereth him to you. If you love the new nature, you will delight in
the word, which is the seed of it. If you would speed in prayer: ver. 77, 'Let
thy tender mercies come unto me, for thy law is my delight.' If you would be
supported in affliction: ver. 92, 'Unless thy law had been my delight, I should
then have perished in mine affliction.'
Doct. In the days of our trouble and anguish God's word will be a great delight
and comfort to us.
Such a comfort as will overcome the bitterness of our affliction. So saith David
here. When all comforts have spent their virtue, then God's word will be a
comfort to us.
Here I shall show
1. What comfort the word holds out to us.
2. Why afflictions do not diminish it.
First, What comforts it holds forth.
1. The privileges of the afflicted: Rom. 5:1,2, 'We glory in tribulations,
knowing that tribulation worketh patience.' Such may rejoice in tribulations;
miseries are unstinged, his rods are not signs of his anger. They are in the
favour of God, and his heart is with them, however his hand be smart upon them.
The habitude and nature of afflictions is altered in themselves; they are the
punishments of sin, and so their natural tendency is to despair and bondage. God
seemeth to put the old covenant in suit against unbelieving sinners; but now
they are trials, preventions, medicines to believers, that proceed from love,
and are designed for their good.
2. The word holdeth forth the blessedness of another world: 2 Cor. 4:17,18, 'Our
light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding
and eternal weight of glory.' Hope is not affrighted by affliction, but worketh.
Before corn be ripened it needeth all kinds of weather. The husbandman is glad
of showers as well as sunshine; rainy weather is troublesome, but the season
3. It assureth us of what is acceptable to God: Micah 6:8, 'He hath showed thee,
O man, what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly
and love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?' So it yieldeth comfort through
the conscience of our duty, and cheerful reflections on afflicted innocency. Are
not these God's ways which we desire to walk in, and for which we are troubled?
4. The word hath notable precepts that ease the heart: Phil. 4:6, 'Be careful
for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,
let your requests be made known unto God: 1 Peter 5:7, 'Casting all your care
upon him, for he careth for you;' Prov. 16:3, 'Commit thy works unto the Lord,
and thy thoughts shall be established.' It biddeth us cast all our cares upon
God, and commit ourselves to the guidance of his providence.
5. It giveth us many promises of God's being with us, and strengthening and
delivering us, and giving us a gracious issue out of all our troubles: 1 Cor.
10:13, 'God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you
are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be
able to bear it.' Now it is a great ease to the soul to fly to these promises
which are made to his afflicted servants.
6. It breedeth faith, which fixeth the heart: Ps. 112:7, 'He shall not be afraid
of evil tidings, his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.' It breedeth
fortitude, or cleaving to God under the greatest trials, 2 Sam. 6:22; and Ps.
44:17, 18. Now this becometh a testimony and proof of our love to God, and so
bringeth comfort. It breedeth obedience, and the doing of good leaveth a
pleasure behind it. After sin a sting remaineth, Rom. 2:14,15. It breedeth
waiting and patience when all hope is cut off: Micah 7:7, 'Therefore I will look
unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation;' when such trouble is on
us as no end appeareth of it. Most men's comfort holdeth out but whilst there is
hope of turning the stream of things. They are not satisfied in their duty nor
comforted with promises, but borne up, with hopes of success.
Secondly, Why afflictions do rather increase than diminish this?
1. They drive us to these comforts. Man liveth by sense more than by faith when
he bath anything about him, but his sorrows drive him to God. Indeed, men that
wholly forget God in prosperity will not find his word a delight in adversity:
Ps. 30:6-8, In my prosperity I said I shall never be moved: Lord, by thy favour
thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was
troubled: I cried unto thee, O Lord,' &c.
2. They prepare us for them; the sweetness of the word is best perceived under
the bitterness of the cross. God and his word are never so sweet to the saints
as in adversity: Ps. 94:19, 'In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy
comforts delight my soul;' and 2 Cor. 1:5, 'As the sufferings of Christ abound
in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.'
Use. Let no calamity drive you from the commandments, for there you will find
more delight than trouble can take from you, 1 John 3:1,2. Shall the reproach of
men have more power to make us sad than the honour of being God's children hath
power to make us joyful? Let us be ashamed that we can delight no more: James
1:2, 'My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;' Mat.
5:12, 'Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven;' for
so persecuted they the prophets which were before you;' and 1 Thes. 1:6, 'Ye
became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much
affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost'