Excerpts taken, adapted and condensed from, “Mute Christian under the Smarting Rod” or, “The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes”
Written by, Thomas Brooks, 1659, London.
First, and that more generally, afflictions shall work for the good of the saint. ‘It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.’ –Lamentations 3: 27.
A gracious soul secretly concludes—as stars shine brightest in the night, so God will make my soul shine and glisten like gold, while I am in this furnace, and when I come out of the furnace of affliction—Job 23:10, ‘He knows the way that I take; and when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold!’ ‘It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.’ Psalm 119:71.
Surely, as the tasting of honey did open Jonathan’s eyes, so this cross, this affliction, shall open my eyes. By this stroke I shall come to have a clearer sight of my sins and of myself, and a fuller sight of my God, Job 33:27, 28; 40:4, 5; 13:1-7.
Surely, this affliction shall proceed in the purging away of my dross, Isaiah 1:25.
Surely, as ploughing of the ground kills the weeds, and harrowing breaks hard clods; so these afflictions shall kill my sins, and soften my heart, Hosea 5:15, 6:1-3.
Surely, as the plaster draws out the infectious core; so the afflictions which are upon me shall draw out the core of pride, the core of self-love, the core of envy, the core of earthliness, the core of formality, the core of hypocrisy, Psalm 119:67, 71.
Surely, by these afflictions, the Lord will crucify my heart more and more to the world, and the world to my heart, Galatians 6:14; Psalm 131:1-3.
Surely, by these afflictions, the Lord will keep pride from my soul, Job 33:14-21.
Surely, these afflictions are but the Lord’s pruning-knives, by which he will bleed my sins, and prune my heart, and make it more fertile and fruitful; they are but the Lord’s portion, by which he will clear me, and rid me of those spiritual diseases and maladies, which are most deadly and dangerous to my soul!
Surely, this affliction is such a potion, as will carry away all soul-diseases, better than all other remedies, Zechariah 13:8, 9.
Surely these afflictions shall increase my spiritual experiences, Romans 5:3, 4.
Surely by these I shall be made more partaker of God’s holiness, Hebrews 12:10. As black soap makes white clothes, so does sharp afflictions make holy hearts.
Surely by these God will communicate more of himself unto me, Hosea 2:14.
Surely by these afflictions, the Lord will draw out my heart more and more to seek him, Isaiah 36:16. Tatianus told the heathen Greeks, that when they were sick, then they would send for their gods to be with them, as Aganmemnon did at the siege of Troy, send for his ten counselors. Hosea 5:15, ‘In their afflictions they will seek me early,’ or as the Hebrew has it, ‘they will morning me;’ in times of affliction, Christians will industriously, speedily, early seek unto the Lord.
Surely by these trials and troubles, the Lord will fix my soul more than ever upon the great concernments of the eternal world, John 14:1-3; Romans 8:17, 18; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.
Surely by these afflictions the Lord will work in me more tenderness and compassion towards those who are afflicted, Hebrews 10:34, 13:3. The Romans punished one that was seen looking out at his window with a crown of roses on his head, in a time of public calamity.
Surely these afflictions are but God’s love-tokens. Revelation 3:19, ‘As many as I love—I rebuke and chasten.’ Seneca persuaded his friend Polybius to bear his affliction quietly, because he was the emperor’s favorite, telling him, that it was not lawful for him to complain while Caesar was his friend. So says the holy Christian—’O my soul! be quiet, be still; all is sent in love, all is a fruit of divine favor. I see honey upon the top of every twig, I see the rod is but a rosemary branch, I have sugar with my gall, and wine with my wormwood; therefore, be silent, O my soul!’ And this general conclusion, that all should be for good, had this blessed eject upon the church—Lamentations 3:28, ‘He sits alone, and keeps silence, because he has borne it upon him.’
Afflictions abase the carnal attractions of the world, which might entice us. Affliction abates the lustiness of the flesh within, which might else ensnare us! And it abates the spirit in its quarrel against the flesh and the world; by all which it proves a mighty advantage unto us.