Adapted from, “Correction, Instruction of The Rod and the Word: A Treatise on Afflictions”
Written by, Thomas Case.
“You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart…” –Deut. 8:2
…that is, to make thee know what was in thy heart.
What pride, what impatience, what unbelief, what idolatry, what distrust of God, what murmuring, what unthankfulness was in, my heart; and I never noticed it.
Sin lies very close and deep, and is not easily discerned, till the fire of affliction comes, and makes a separation of the precious from the vile. What shall I do (saith God) for the daughter of my people? They are exceeding bad, and they know it not: what shall I do with them? I will melt them and try them: into the furnace, they shall go, and there” I will shew them what is in their hearts. In the furnace we see more corruption, and more of corruption, than ever appeared before, or was even suspected. Oh, saith the poor soul, whom God has taught in the school of affliction, I never thought my heart so bad as now I see it is: ‘I could not have believed the world had had so much interest in my heart, and Christ so little; I did not think my faith had been so weak and my fears so strong; I find that faith weak in danger, which thought had been strong out of danger; little did I think the sight of death would have been so terrible, parting with nearest friends and dearest relations so piercing; Oh how unskillful and unwise am I to manage a suffering condition, to discern God’s ends, -to find out what God would have me to do, to moderate the violence of mine own passions, to apply the counsels and comforts of the word for their proper ends and uses! Oh where is my patience, my love, my zeal, my rejoicing in tribulation? Ah, did I ever think to find my heart so discomposed, my affections so out of command, my graces so to seek when I should fall into different temptations? What a deal of self-love, pride, distrust in God, creature confidence, discontent, murmuring, rising of heart against the holy and righteous dispensations of God; is there boiling and fretting within me? Woe is me, what a heart have I!
And besides all this, in the hour of temptation, God brings old sins to remembrance.
“We are verily guilty concerning our brother,” could Joseph’s brethren say twenty years after they had sold him for a slave, when they were in danger to be questioned for their lives, as they supposed; and thus when the Israelites cry to God, in their sore distress, for rescue and deliverance, God puts them in mind of their old apostasies: Ye have forsaken me,, and served other gods—Go and cry to the gods whom ye have chosen.
Suffering times are times of bringing to mind sin: If they bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives: (Heb.) If they bring back to heart: captivity is a time of turning in. upon ourselves, and bringing back to heart our doings, which have not been good in God’s sight: thus David under the rod could call himself to account; I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.