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dest of all, to see him fight against his pray
And yet this every Christian doth, who murmurs and mutters when the Rod of God is upon him. Some there be that pray against their prayers, as Augustine, who prayed for continency, with a proviso, Lord, give me continency, but not yet. And some there be who fight against their prayers, as those who pray that the will of God may be done; and yet when his will is done upon them, they are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, they are still fretting against the Lord. Ah Christians ! have you not sins to fight against, and temptations to fight against, and a devil to fight against; yea, a whole world to fight against ? why then should you be found fighting against your own prayers ? But,
7. Consider, A holy silence, under the heaviest burdens, the greatest afflictions, the saddest providences and changes, will make all tolerable and easy to a Christian. The silent soul can bear a burden without a burden. Those burdens and troubles that will break a froward man's back, will not so much as break a silent man's sleep; those afflictions that lie as heavy weights upon a murmurer, will lie as light as a feather upon a mute Christian; that bed of sorrow, which is as a bed of thorns to a fretful soul, will be as a bed of down to a silent soul. A holy silence unstings every affliction, it takes off the weight of every burden, it adds sweet to every bitter, it changes dark nights into sun-shiny days, and terrible storms into desirable calms. The smallest sufferings will easily vanquish an unquiet spirit; but a quiet spirit will as easily triumph over the greatest sufferings. As lit-tle mercies are great mercies ; so great sufferings are but little sufferings in the eye of a silent soul. The silent soul never complains that his affliction is too great, his burden too heavy; his cross too weighty, his sufferings too many; silence makes him victorious over all. And therefore, as even you would have heavy afflictions light, and be able to bear a burden without a burden, labour, as for life, after this holy silence. But,
8. Consider, that a holy silence under afflictions, will be your best armour of proof against those temptations that afflictions may expose you to. Times of afflictions often prove times of great temptation ; and therefore afflictions are called temptations, James i. 12. « Blessed is the man which endúreth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, &c." The Greek word is to be understood of temptations of probation, of afflicting temptations, and not of temptations of suggestion, of seduction; for they are not to be endured, but resisted and abhorred. Now, affliction is called temptation,
(1.) Because as temptation tries what metal a Christian is made of, só do afflictions.
(2.) Because as Satan usually hath a great hand in all the temptations that come upon us, so he hath a great hand in all the afflictions of Job.
that befal us; as you see in that great instance
(3.) Because as temptations drive to God, 2 Cor. xii. 7, 8. so do afflictions, Isa. xxvi. 16. Hos. v. ult. but mainly, because Satan chuses times of affliction as the fittest seasons for his temptations. When Job was sorely afflicted in his estate, children, wife, life, then Satan lets fly, and makes his fiercest as saults upon him. Now Satan tempts him to entertain hard thoughts of God, to distrust, to impatience, to murmuring and muttering*. Ąs when Israel was feeble, faint, and weary, Amalek assaulted them, and smote the hind most of them, Deut. xxv. 17, 18. so when Christians are most afflicted, then usually they are most tempted.
Luther found this by experience, when he said, I am without; set upon by all the world; and within, by the devil and all his angels. Satan is a coward, and loves to strike us, and trample upon us, when afflictions have cast us down. When besieged towns, cities, and castles are in greatest straits and troubles, the besiegers make their fiercest assaults: so when Christians are under the greatest straits and trials, then Satan assaults them most, like a roaring lion. Now, silence under a fictions, is the best antidote and preservative against all those temptations that afflictions lay us open to. Silence in afflictions is
Many saints have experienced this truth, when they have been upon their sick and dying beds,
a Christian's armour of proof; it is that shield, that no spear or dart of temptation can pierce. Whilst a Christian lies quiet under the rod, "he is safe. Satan may tempt him, but he will not conquer him; he may assault him, but he cannot vanquish him. Satan may entice him to use sinful shifts, to shift himself out of trouble; but he will chuse rather to lie, yea, die in trouble, than to get out upon Saw tan's terms. But,
9. Consider, that holy silence under afflictions and trials, will give a man a quiet and peaceablé possession of his own soul * ; In patience possess your souls; Luke xxi. 19. Now, next to the possession of God, the possession of a man's own soul is the
greatest mercy this world. A man may possess honours and riches, and dear relations, and the favour and assistance of friends under his trials; but he will never come to a possession of his own soul under his troubles, till he comes to be mute, and to lay his hand upon his mouth. Now, what are all earthly possessions to the possession of a man's own soul? He that possesses himself, possesses all; he that possesses not himself, possesses nothing at all; he possesses not the use, the sweet, the comfort, the good, the blessing, of any thing he enjoys, who enjoys not himself. That man that is not master of himself, he is master of nothing. Holy silence gives a man the greatest mastery over his own spirit; and mastery over a man's own spirit is the greatest mastery in the world, Prov. xvi. 32. The Egyptian goddess they paint upon a rock standing in the sea, where the waves come roaring and dashing upon her, with this motto, Storms shall not move me. A holy silence will give a man such a quiet possession of his own soul, that all the storms of afflictions shall not move him ; it will make him stand like a rock in the sea of troubles. Let a man but quietly possess himself, and troubles will never trouble him. But,
* Vide Greg. in Evang. hom. 35.
10. Consider the commands and injunctions that God in his word hath laid upon you to be silent, to be mute and quiet under all the troubles, trials, and changes, that have or may pass upon you *. Zech. ii. 13. “ Be silent, О all flesh, before the Lord : for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.” Is. xli. 1. « Keep silence before me, O islands.” Hab. ii. 20. “ The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” Amos v. 13. “Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time, for it is an evil time.” Ps. xlvi. 10. “Bestill, and know that I am God.” Psal. iv. 4. “Commune with your heart, and be still.” Exod. xiv. 13, “ Stand ye still, and see the salvation of God.” 2 Chron. xx. 17. “ Stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem." Job xxxvii. 14. “ Hearken unto this, O Job:
* God's commands are like those of the Medes, that cannot be changed.