My summary adaptation of Thomas Brooks treatise continues:
DEVICE 9: By presenting to the soul the crosses, losses, reproaches, sorrows, and sufferings, which daily attend those who walk in the ways of holiness. Therefore, says Satan, you were better to walk in ways that are less
troublesome, and less afflicted, though they be more sinful; for who but a madman would spend his days in sorrow, vexation, and affliction, when it may be prevented by walking in the ways that I set before him?
Remedy (1). The first remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider, That all the afflictions that attend the people of God, are such as shall turn to their profit and glorious advantage. Afflictions are a crystal glass, wherein the soul has the clearest sight of the ugly face of sin. The afflictions shall contribute to the mortifying and purging away of their sins (Isa. 1:15, and 27:8, 9). Afflictions are God’s furnace, by which he cleanses his people from their dross. Afflictions work the saints to be more fruitful in holiness (Heb. 12:10, 11): ‘But he afflicts us for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.’ Vines bear the better fruit, after pruning; Manasseh’s chain was more profitable to him than his crown. God’s house of correction is his school of instruction. All the stones that came about Stephen’s ears did but knock him closer to Christ, the corner-stone. Afflictions lift up the soul to more rich, clear, and full enjoyments of God (Hosea 2:14): When was it that Stephen saw the heavens open, and Christ standing at the right hand of God—but when the stones were about his ears, and there was but a short step between him and eternity? Afflictions serve to keep the hearts of the saints humble and tender (Lam. 3:19,20). ‘It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.’ Afflictions are God’s furnace, by which he cleanses his people from their dross. Affliction is a fire to purge out our dross, and to make virtue shine. Afflictions are medicines which heal soul diseases, better than all the remedies of physicians. Aloes kill worms; colds and frosts do destroy vermin; so do afflictions the corruptions that are in our hearts. The Jews, under all the prophet’s thunderings, retained their idols; but after their Babylonish captivity, it is observed, there have been no idols found among them. Again, Afflictions are sweet preservatives to keep the saints from sin, which is a greater evil than hell itself. The plant grows with cutting; being cut, it flourishes; it contends with the axe, it lives by dying, and by cutting it grows. So do saints by their afflictions which befall them; they gain more experience of the power of God supporting them, of the wisdom of God directing them, of the grace of God refreshing and cheering them, and of the goodness of God quieting and quickening of them, to a greater love to holiness, and to a greater delight in holiness, and to a more vehement pursuing after holiness
Remedy (2). The second remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider, that all the afflictions which befall the saints, only affect their sinfulness, not their noble soul. ‘And who shall harm you, if you be followers of that which is good,’ says the apostle (1 Peter 3:13). They shall never harm you. The Christian soldier shall ever be master of the day. He may suffer death—but never conquest. Do not fear those who kill the body (but not the soul), they cannot take away my God, my Christ, my crown.
Remedy (3). The third remedy is that the afflictions which attend the saints in the ways of holiness, are but short and momentary. ‘Sorrow may abide for a night—but joy comes in the morning’ (Psalm 30:5). For you have need of patience, that after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise.’ ‘For yet a little while, he who shall come will come, and will
not tarry’ (Heb. 10:36, 37).
Remedy (4). The fourth remedy is that the afflictions which befall the saints are such as proceed from God’s dearest love. ‘As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten’ (Rev. 3:19). Saints, says God, think not that I hate you, because I thus chide you. God had one Son without corruption—but no son without correction. A
gracious soul may look through the darkest cloud, and see God smiling on him.
Remedy (5) Consider, it is our duty and glory not to measure afflictions by the smart—but by the end. When Israel was dismissed out of Egypt, it was with gold and ear-rings (Exod. 11:3); so the Jews were dismissed out of Babylon with gifts, jewels, and all necessary utensils (Ezra 1:7-11). Look not upon
Lazarus lying at Dives’s door—but lying in Abraham’s bosom. Look not to the beginning of Joseph, who was so far from his dream that the sun and moon should reverence him,that for two years he was cast where he could see neither sun, moon, nor stars; but behold him at last made ruler over Egypt.
Remedy (6) The design of God in all the afflictions which befall them, is only to try them; ‘He knows the way that I take: and when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold,’ says patient Job,33:10. So in Deut. 8:2, ‘And you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, and to prove you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.’ Afflictions try what sap we have, what grace we have. Rotten leaves fall off in rough weather.
Remedy (7). The afflictions, wrath, and misery which attend the ways of wickedness, are far greater and heavier than those which attend the ways of holiness. ‘The wicked,’ says Isaiah, ‘are like the troubled sea, which cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.’ ‘There is no peace to the wicked, says my God.’ The curse of God, the wrath of God, the hatred of God, and the fierce indignation of God—always attend sinners walking in a way of wickedness. Deuteronomy 28:15 to the end of the chapter; No solid joy, nor lasting peace, nor pure comfort, attends sinners in their sinful ways. Sin brings in sorrow and sickness.