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The Benefits of Affliction

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  • Thomas Britton
    My dear Madam, ... The advantages of afflictions, when the Lord is pleased to employ them for the good of his people, are many and great. Permit me to mention
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 8, 2003
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      My dear Madam,

      ... The advantages of afflictions, when the Lord is
      pleased to employ them for the good of his people, are
      many and great. Permit me to mention a few of them;
      and the Lord grant that we may all find those blessed
      ends answered to ourselves, by the trials he is
      pleased to appoint us.

      Afflictions quicken us to prayer. It is a pity it
      should be so; experience testifies that a long course
      of ease and prosperity, without painful changes, has
      an unhappy tendency to make us cold and formal in our
      secret worship; but troubles rouse our spirits, and
      constrain us to call upon the Lord in good earnest,
      when we feel a need of that help which we only can
      have from him.

      They are useful, and in a degree necessary, to keep
      alive in us a conviction of the vanity and
      unsatisfying nature of the present world, and all its
      enjoyments; to remind us that this is not our rest,
      and to call our thoughts upwards, where our true
      treasure is, and where our conversation ought to be.
      When things go on much to our wish, our hearts are too
      prone to say, It is good to be here. It is probable,
      that had Moses, when he came to invite Israel to
      Canaan, found them in prosperity, as in the days of
      Joseph, they would have been very unwilling to remove;
      but the afflictions they were previously brought into
      made his message welcome. Thus the Lord, by pain,
      sickness, and disappointments, by breaking our
      cisterns and withering our gourds, weakens our
      attachment to this world, and makes the thought of
      quitting it more familiar and more desirable.

      A child of God cannot but greatly desire a more
      enlarged and experimental acquaintance with his holy
      word; and this attainment is greatly promoted by our
      trials. The far greater part of the promises in
      Scripture are made and suited to a state of
      affliction; and, though we may believe they are true,
      we cannot so well know their sweetness, power, and
      suitableness, unless we ourselves are in a state to
      which they refer. The Lord says, " Call upon me in the
      day of trouble, and I will deliver."- Now till the day
      of trouble comes, such a promise is like a city of
      refuge to an Israelite, who not having slain a man,
      was in no danger of the avenger of blood. He had a
      privilege near him, of which he knew not the use and
      value, because he was not in the case for which it was
      provided. But some can say, " I not only believe this
      promise upon the authority of the speaker, but I can
      set my seal to it: I have been in trouble; I took this
      course for relief, and I was not disappointed. The
      Lord verily heard and delivered me." Thus afflictions
      likewise give occasion of our knowing and noticing
      more of the Lord's wisdom, power, and goodness, in
      supporting and relieving, than we should otherwise
      have known.

      I have not time to take another sheet, and must
      therefore contract my homily. Afflictions evidence to
      ourselves, and manifest to others, the reality of
      grace. And when we suffer as Christians, exercise some
      measure of that patience and submission and receive
      some measure of these supports and supplies, which the
      Gospel requires and promises to believers, we are more
      confirmed that we have not taken up with mere notions;
      and others may be convinced that we do not follow
      cunningly devised fables. They likewise strengthen by
      exercise our graces: as our limbs and natural powers
      would be feeble if not called to daily exertion; so
      the graces of the Spirit would languish, without
      something provided to draw them out to use! And, to
      say no more, they are honourable, as they advance our
      conformity to Jesus our Lord, who was a man of sorrows
      for our sake. Methinks, if we might go to heaven
      without suffering, we should be unwilling to desire
      it. Why should we ever wish to go by any other path
      than that which he has consecrated and endeared by his
      own example? especially as his people's sufferings are
      not penal; there is no wrath in them; the cup he puts
      in their hands is very different from that which he
      drank for their sakes, and is only medicinal to
      promote their chief good. Here I must stop; but the
      subject is fruitful, and might be pursued through a
      quire of paper.

      I am, &c.

      John Newton

      Index of the letters of John Newton:

      http://www.puritansermons.com/newton/newt_b.htm

      [Beware, there is a lot more at Fire&Ice than the
      front page will let on. I just found out that they've
      posted the whole of Durham's Commentary of Song of
      Solomon!]


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