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vealed in the Holy Scriptures, is God saw that they were not in a taught to mankind. We learn that state which superseded the necesall things are directed by God; that sity of this domestic discipline. men are his children ; and that he Whom the Lord loveth he chastenguides all events with a paternal eth, and scourgeth every son whom hand. Thus the aspect of things is he receiveth. quite changed to them that obey the Let none, when under affliction, Gospel. That one feature in the think that they are under God's case, that trials and afflictions are anger, so as to have lost his favour, chastisements, that they spring not and forfeited the complacency of from the dust, that they rise not their heavenly Father. We should from chance, nor from the passions indeed examine ourselves, to see if of men, nor from creatures, except there be any reason for particular as instruments ; but that they are all calamities, from our peculiar delinpreviously ordered, inflicted with quencies in duty, or from corrupdesign, measured by wisdom, con- tions which we have indulged; and trolled by power, made subservient thus we should turn unto him that to holiness,—this one feature alters smiteth us. But we should consider the whole case-all wears now a new our trials as springing from love, as and different aspect.
having their origin in our imperfect Those who are conscious of being state of character, as made necessary the children of God, enter upon af- by our sins. We should consider fictions in a very different spirit, that they are sent to subdue in us and endure them in a very different the inclinations of the old man, and manner from those who are left to to form in us Jesus Christ in all his the dim conjectures of nature. The features of righteousness and true Christian knows that all afflictions holiness. Thus the Christian regards are correctives, chastisements, part afflictions no longer with that terror of the paternal discipline which God which they impress on a person exercises in his family, and distinct not in a state of reconciliation with from those acts of justice by which God, and who derives his view of he appears as the governor of the events only from a general notion world, and the avenger of his ene- of the providence of God. To such mies. They are not servile punish- persons they appear the beginning ments inflicted for the pleasure of a of evils, and they lead them to conmaster, and avenging an injury done template God more with terror and to his authority, or merely to deter dismay than with confidence and others from like offences; but acts delight. But the Christian under of chastisement, for the express be- affliction considers that he is indeed nefit of those who receive them, acts under the rebuke of a heavenly of domestic justice, that of a Father Father; but that it is with a view towards his children.
to his benefit. He considers that The Israelites suffered great and God dealeth with him as with a son. various afflictions; they had pro- He considers that he is indeed under voked the anger of God; and at the correcting hand of God; but that Taberah and at Massah the wrath God is his parent, that he measures of the Almighty broke out against every stroke, that he sits by the furthem. And yet these afflictions are nace and assuages the flame, or incalled chastisements; they were de- creases his strength to endure it; signed to remedy moral evils in that he superintends the whole prothe people; they were correctives. cess; and that, if patience have its Thou shalt consider in thine heart, perfect work, he will come out of it says Moses, that as a father chas- benefited, and, as it were, purified teneth his son, so the Lord thy God from dross by the furnace. Those chasteneth thee.
who live in prosperity and wealth Even the best and holiest servants and success, and who are strangers of God have been thus chastened to trials, may boast of their plea
sures and joys. But all this is a understand the motives of his con-
some persons who vidence and Holy Spirit. A person, would explain away all this doctrine however benevolent, extends not his of resignation to God under his paternal care to strangers and fo- chastisements. I once heard a serreigners; but he is most peculiarly mon, which went to prove that there attentive to his children ; he takes never was such a grace as patience pains with them ; he will not let in our sense of the word, but merely them contract evil habits, or follow in the sense of bearing, from dire their corruptions, though in correct- necessity, what God inflicts. But ing them he do it at the expense of voluntary submission of heart to their present comfort. For all in God is surely a duty, and not only the nature of discipline crosses our a duty, but a leading duty of a natural inclinations and wishes, and Christian. It bears the same prois attended with uneasiness and an- portion to the whole Christian chanoyance. Toendure these afflictions racter, as afflictions bear to all the and crosses in some way or other, is other events of life. All must suffer ; an effect of necessity ; but to endure there are valleys of humiliation as them as a Christian, is an act of well as summits of joy; shady paths grace. The Christian, convinced of and gloomy paths, as well as sunny the design of God in affliction, yields and bright ones. To be without himself into his hands. He says in patience is to be without a material humble prayer, “ Correct me, but part of our defensive armour. The with judgment; not in thine anger, Apostle John, when he describes a lest thou bring me to nothing.” He scene of trials about to come upon recognizes the hand of God as afflict- the church, calls on Christians to ing; he looks beyond the instruments, prepare for it in these striking words, the injustice or unkindness of men, “ Here is the patience of the saints." the impression of the wickedness of This grace enters into the very nathe worst of mankind. He sees the ture of Christianity, which is dewicked as God's instruments. scribed as the kingdom and patience
To have higher thoughts of God of Jesus Christ. And our Lord says, under his rebukes, to cherish an un- defining his doctrines, Keep the diminished love of his character, to word of my patience.” We are turn with penitence and resignation called, not only to follow the steps to the hand of him that smiteth; of a conquering Saviour, but to fol. not to be like Israel, of whom the low the steps also of one who died prophet says, “ The people turneth for our sins, of one who fought and not unto him that smiteth them, nei. wrestled with our enemies ; we are ther do they seek the Lord of Hosts,” called to follow a Saviour who went is the genuine mark of filial grace. through the deepest gloom of darkThe child, when chastened by a ness, who descended to the lowest parent, especially a maternal parent, parts of the earth, who endured the clings only the closer to that parent. contradiction of sinners against him; Thus the Christian cleaves and clings we are called to follow One who encloser, as it were, to his Heavenly dured the cross, despising the shame, Parent under chastisement. He does before he sat down on the right hand not run away to the paths of dis- of the Majesty on high. Patience obedience, and flee to a distance off therefore is the very badge of our from God; but he approaches nearer
Christian vocation. to him, and inquires the more ear- But let us consider, nestly how to please him. This is II. The great argument by which to endure chastisement like a child, this proper endurance of afflictions is to vindicate the character of God, to enforced, from the relation in which we stand to God, as the Father of our who are destined for eternity : we spirits.
whose inferiority to our Father can This argument is drawn from the never be lessened; we between analogy of human affairs, from the whom and our heavenly Father the course of nature. “We have had distance is permanent, inconceivable, fathers of our flesh, that corrected us, essential ? And if we consider the and wegave them reverence; shall we glory with which this eternity is not much rather be in subjection to connected, and for which our heathe Father of spirits and live ? ” This venly Father is training us, how instructs us in the necessity of chas- great, how pure, how infinite, surely tisement as Christians, who are we must allow that discipline must children of a heavenly Father. In be necessary, surely we cannot exnatural things, no parent ever had pect to arrive at such felicity, except a child so happily moulded, as to by long and severe preparatory resupercede the necessity of restraint straint
and chastisements. and discipline. Some persons may The argument here divides itself doubt whether corporeal punishments into two parts: be expedient, though God has cer- 1. The superior relation in which we tainly sanctioned the use of them in stand to God aboveour earthly parent; such a manner as to leave no doubt 2. The infinite superiority of the generally that they are preferable to character of God as the Father of modern refined ideas of punishment, spirits. -but none
can question whether 1. The superior relation is, that restraint, coercion, chastisement in the one is the father of our flesh, some way or other, be necessary to the other the Father of spirits. Our qualify their children for the func- parents were the instruments, under tions of future life. In the minds of God, of our earthly existence, but the young there is a waywardness, a this only so far as our flesh is conperverseness, a self-will, which can cerned, only as we are corporeal be worked out of them only by dis- creatures ; but as to our spirits, God cipline. Now we are, as Christians, is the Father of them. the spiritual offspring of God. We have, besides our bodies, an inward, may be sure, therefore, if God is a immaterial, thinking, immortal, Father, we need a correspondent kind never-dying substance. We have of discipline, free only from imper- a part of our nature which bears fections, and enlarged into all the a peculiar relation to God, which designs which his character would is in close affinity with Him, which lead us to expect.
contemplates truth, rejoices in goodThe appeal in the passage from ness, looks back on the past, looks which the text is selected, is to the forward to the future; which penecommon sense of mankind. “What trates by sagacity or experience the son is he whom the Father chasten- depths and mysteries of things eth not;” unless he mean to ensure around us, which derives its purest his ruin, unless he would leave him pleasures and deepest pains, more to profligacy and vice? If we have from the expectation of what. we had fathers of our flesh who have shall be, or the remembrance of what thus chastened us, we have admired we have been, than from the present and loved, on reflection and when enjoyments or sufferings before us. we were capable of judging aright. While the inferior creatures derive their motives and conduct: how all their happiness, so far as we can much more then should we be in judge, from the immediate pleasures subjection to the Father of spirits, of time present, we live on the future and live? If they did this, it was only and the past, we expatiate over a for a few days; how shall we not boundless scene, we stretch into then much more submit to the chas- eternity. tisement of our heavenly Father, we God is the father of such a spirit
as this; he breathed into us this looks chiefly to the interests of the breath of life. It is a part, as it body, except as Christian piety elewere, of the Divine nature. And vates and purifies his views; he looks though it be not a portion of the to the temporal state of his children; Divinity, as the Pagan philosophers he regards their flesh, their earthly taught, yet it places us, as spiritual prosperity, their health, their fame, beings, in a more intimate relation their carriage among men : God with the Father of spirits, than with looks to the soul, to their spiritual our earthly parents who are the interests, to their salvation. The fathers of our flesh. We are related design of chastisements is to estabby a part of our nature, by what is lish these spiritual interests; to respiritual, to the Father of the uni- move those diseases which would verse; we are connected with Deity; destroy the soul; to extinguish those we have hold on immortality. God desires, and lusts, which, if they is the Father of the spirits of all should prevail, would ruin us for flesh, says
Moses. The wise man, eternity; to take away sin, which is dividing the two parts of human an evil that would lead to everlasting nature, and apportioning each to its death. destined place, says,
“ The dust re- When God, then, is carrying turns to the dust as it was, and the on these his designs for purifying spirit returns to God that gave it.” the spirit, shall we not kiss the rod ? The earthly tabernacle falls into dust Shall we not rejoice that he thinks and mingles with the elements of us worthy of such care ? Shall we kindred clay ; but God gave the not enter into his noble design of spirit: he is the pattern, model, bringing our spirits into conformity cause of all spirits; and to Him the to his own? spirits of the departed return as to What a glorious process is going the source from whence they sprang. on in all our chastisements, if we • The relation to the parents of our are Christians, when the Father of flesh is trivial compared with that spirits himself thus deigns to pay to God. The superiority of mind attention to such inferior spirits as over body, the eternal duration of we are, and so to modify and order the one and the mouldering frail these chastisements as to make them tenure of the other, leave no com- the occasion of our rejoicing at last parison for a moment between them. for evermore. The trial of our faith God's right to us is greater, his con- is indeed much more precious than cern more deep: he has an interest in of gold that perisheth, though it be us of a far higher nature than our tried with fire. earthly parent. We are also his off- Then consider, secondly, the sespring, says the Apostle, quoting the cond part of this division of the argupagan sage. It would be beneath ment, The superiority of the characthe majesty of God to bend to man, ter of that God who is thus, as we if he did not see in him a capacity for have seen, the Father of spirits. intellectual and moral happiness, a The fathers of our flesh are imrational and spiritual nature, in com- perfect in wisdom, in goodness, in parison with which all the material power. They are imperfect in their world is nothing. All nature is chastisements as to time, measure, made subservient to immortal, ac- manner. They cannot ascertain countable beings. We are the end with any certainty the effects which and purpose for which the universe will be produced. Thus their chaswas created, because we are spirits. tisements are often misapplied, often We have thus two parents, a na
excessive, often lost. None can untural and a spiritual; our natural dertake to say that teaching shall parent is the father of our flesh, our teach. None but the Father of spiritual is the Father of our spirits. spirits can ensure the effect of dis
Our earthly parent commonly cipline.
The Christian is to remember then, vents his displeasure upon another. in order to learn patience, that when Parents among the heathen were he is in the hands of the Father of proverbially cruel to their infant spirits, that Father cannot err in his offspring. Infanticide prevailed chastisements either in time, measure, among all the heathen nations, even or manner. He knows the disease, he the most refined, the Greeks and Roknows the fittest manner to apply mans. This proves that you cannot the chastisement. We shall see here. safely put any creature, even a child, after that no portion could have been under the absolute disposal of human altered for the better or dispensed power. with. If Infinite Wisdom and Infi- But God hates nothing that he nite Power are active in the chas- has made. He delights in the works tisements inflicted on us, what of his own hands; and those minds can we require ?
which are subdued with the graces Indulgent earthly parents are of his own Spirit, and bear his image, often capricious; and therefore the enjoy his peculiar favour. “The Apostle had occasion to warn fathers Father himself loveth you,” said our not to provoke their children to Lord,“ because ye have loved me, and wrath. They sometimes chasten have believed that I came forth from their children, says the Apostle in God." They share the complacency the text, for their own pleasure. But with which Christ is regarded: “Thou not so the Father of spirits. He is hast loved them,” adds our Lord, tempted by no passion, he is per- addressing still his heavenly Father, turbed by no emotion, so as to lose “as thou hast loved me.” And the sight of what is best for us. He end of our spiritual Father in all his never corrects willingly, nor grieves chastisements is to make us partakthe children of men, but most re- ers of his holiness. Who that knows luctantly. Like as a father pitieth what it is to be holy, but will rehis children, so the Lord pitieth joice in this end of the Divine disthem that fear him; and the parent cipline. To be made like to God, is, we know, most compassionate to be beautified with the graces
of then when his discipline appears his own image, what a high and to the child most severe. The af- exalted design is this ! flictions of our heavenly Father may And such is the effect of his chassometimes seem severe; but he sees tisements. They wean the Christian that no others would do. Who knows from the world, they turn his mind what is good for vain man, all the back to Him that made it, they take days that he liveth upon the earth? him off from self-will, they break the God alone knows what is good for perverseness which clings to the him, what is most conducive to his fallen heart. “My soul,” saith the real interests, and what will accom- Psalmist, “is even as a weaned child,” plish his object. His ways are a humble within me, no longer meddeep, and his paths are past finding dling with things too high for me ; out.
quieted, calmed, composed; saying The Apostle contrasts more par with the prophet, What I know ticularly the end and purpose of the not, teach thou me:” “If I have earthly and heavenly Parent. They done iniquity, I will do so no more.” chastened us for their own pleasure, Chastisement also quickens the but He for our profit, that we might spirit of prayer. The spirit of be partakers of his holiness.
prayer is a spirit that cleaves to God The earthly parent has no other under affliction. Our Lord, when view sometimes in chastening, than he was in an agony, prayed more to gratify the irritable temper which earnestly. If any are afflicted, the mingles often with his real love to direction is, “let him pray.” “Out his children. He is sometimes of the depths,” says the afflicted displeased with one party, and Psalmist, “ have I cried unto thee, O