“Affliction can hurt a man only while he is living, but sin hurts him when he is dead.”
–Thomas Watson, The Lord’s Prayer (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1662/1999), 309.
“I may express all my complaints in one short sentence: I am a poor creature.
And all my hopes and comforts may be summed up as briefly by saying: I have a rich and gracious Saviour.
Full as I am in myself of inconsistencies and conflicts, I have in Him a measure of peace.
He found me in a waste howling wilderness. He redeemed me from the house of misery and bondage.
And though I have been ungrateful and perverse, He has not yet forsaken me. I trust He never will.
‘Unsustained by Thee I fall.’ But He is able to hold even me up: to pity, to support, and to supply me to the end of life.
How suitable a Saviour! He is made all things to those who have nothing, and He is engaged to help those who can do nothing.”
–John Newton, The Aged Pilgrim’s Thoughts Over Sin and the Grave, Illustrated in a Series of Letters to Walter Taylor, Never Before Published, by the Rev. John Newton (London: Baker and Fletcher, 2nd Ed., 1825), 6.
“This God, to whom there is none in heaven to be compared, nor any among the sons of the mighty to be likened– this God who is from everlasting to everlasting, an infinitely powerful, wise, holy, and lovely being, who is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, is your God.
He is reconciled to you and has become your friend. There is a friendship between you and the Almighty. You have become acquainted with Him, and He has made known Himself to you, and communicates Himself to you, converses with you as a friend, dwells with you, and in you, by His Holy Spirit.
Yea, He has taken you into a nearer relation to Him: He has become your Father, and owns you for His child, and doth by you, and will do by you, as a child.
He cares for you, and will see that you are provided for, and will see that you never shall want anything that will be useful to you. He has made you one of His heirs, and a co-heir with His Son, and will bestow an inheritance upon you, as it is bestowed upon a child of the King of Kings.
You are now in some measure sanctified, and have the image of God upon your souls, but hereafter, when God shall receive you, His dear child, into His arms, and shall admit you to the perfect enjoyment of Him as your portion, you will be entirely transformed into His likeness, for you shall see Him as He is.
The consideration of having such a glorious God for your God, your friend, your Father, and your portion, and that you shall eternally enjoy Him as such, is enough to make you despise all worldly afflictions and adversities, and even death itself, and to trample them under your feet.”
–Jonathan Edwards, “God’s Excellencies” in Sermons and Discourses, 1720-1723, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 10. Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (New Haven, NJ: Yale University Press, 1992), 435. You can read this sermon on Psalm 89:6 in its entirety here. Edwards was only nineteen years old when preached this sermon.
“Our longest sorrows have a close, and there is a bottom to the profoundest depths of our misery.
Our winters shall not frown forever; summer shall soon smile.
The tide shall not eternally ebb out; the floods retrace their march.
The night shall not hang its darkness for ever over our souls; the sun shall yet arise with healing beneath his wings.
‘The Lord turned again the captivity of Job.’ (Job 42:10) Our sorrows shall have an end when God has gotten His end in them.”
–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Intercessory Prayer,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 7 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1861), 7: 449.
“Now, Madam, let us consider what suitable provision God has made for our consolation under all our afflictions in giving us a Redeemer of such glory and such love, especially when it is considered what were the ends of that great manifestation of His beauty and love in His death.
He suffered that we might be delivered.
His soul was exceeding sorrowful even unto death, to take away the sting of sorrow and that we might have everlasting consolation.
He was oppressed and afflicted that we might be supported.
He was overwhelmed in the darkness of death and of Hell, that we might have the light of life.
He was cast into the furnace of God’s wrath, that we might swim in the rivers of pleasure.
His heart was overwhelmed in a flood of sorrow and anguish, that our hearts might be filled and overwhelmed with a flood of eternal joy.
And now let it be considered what circumstances our Redeemer now is in. He was dead but is alive, and He lives forevermore.
Death may deprive of dear friends, but it can’t deprive us of this, our best Friend.
And we have this Friend, this mighty Redeemer, to go to under all affliction, who is not one that can’t be touched with the feeling of our afflictions, He having suffered far greater sorrows than we ever have done.
And if we are vitally united to Him, the union can never be broken; it will remain when we die and when heaven and earth are dissolved.
Therefore, in this we may be confident, we need not fear though the earth be removed. In Him we may triumph with everlasting joy.
Even when storms and tempests arise we may have resort to Him who is an hiding place from the wind and a covert from the tempest.
When we are thirsty, we may come to Him who is as rivers of waters in a dry place. When we are weary, we may go to Him who is as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
Having found Him who is as the apple tree among the trees of the wood, we may sit under His shadow with great delight and His fruit may be sweet to our taste.
Christ told his disciples that in the world they should have trouble, but says He, ‘In Me ye shall have peace.’
If we are united to Him, our souls will be like a tree planted by a river that never dieth. He will be their light in darkness and their morning star that is a bright harbinger of day.
And in a little while, He will arise on our souls as the sun in full glory. And our sun shall no more go down, and there shall be no interposing cloud, no veil on His face or on our hearts, but the Lord shall be our everlasting light and our Redeemer, our glory.
That this glorious Redeemer would manifest His glory and love to you, and apply the little that has been said of these things to your consolation in all your affliction, and abundantly reward your generous favors, as when I was at Kittery, is the fervent prayer of, Madam,
Your Ladyship’s most obliged and affectionate friend,
And most humble servant,
–Jonathan Edwards, “136. To Lady Mary Pepperrell,” Letters and Personal Writings, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 16, Ed. George S. Claghorn (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 418-419. Edwards wrote this letter from Stockbridge, on November 28, 1751, to comfort a grieving mother on the loss of her son.
“When we want to be something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy. Those Divine demands which sound to our natural ears most like those of a despot and least like those of a lover, in fact marshal us where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted.”
–C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: HarperCollins, 1940/1996), 46.