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far enough off from being mute and silent under the hand of God, who dares charge God himself for laying his hand upon him. But,
4. This truth looks sourly and sadly upon such as will not be silent nor satisfied under the afflicting hand of God, except the Lord will give them the particular reasons why he lays his hand upon them.. Good men sometimes dash their feet against this stumbling stone, Jer. xv. 18.
« Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable ? &c. Tho' God hath always reason for what he doth, yet he is not bound to shew us the reasons of his doings. Jeremiah's passion was up, his blood was hot, and now nothing will silence or satisfy him, but the reasons why his pain was perpetual, and his wound incurable. So Job, chap. vii. 20. “Why hast thou set me as a mark against thee, so that I am a burthen to myself?" It is an evil and a dangerous thing to cavat at, or to question his proceedings, Rom. ix. 20. Dan. iv. 34, 35. who is the chief Lord of all, and who may do with his own what he pleaseth. He is unaccountable, and uncontrollable; and therefore who shall say, What dost thou ? As no man may question his right to afflict him, nor his righteousness in afflicting of him; so no man may question the reasons why he afflicts him. As no man can compel him to give a reason of his doings, so no man may dare to ask him the particular reasons of his doings. Kings think themselves not bound to give their subjects a reason for their doings, Eccl. viii. 4. And shall we bind God to give us a reason of his doings, who is King of kings, and Lord of lords, and whose will is the true reason and only rule of justice? The general grounds and reasons that God hath laid down in his word, why he afflicts his people, as, viz. for their profit, Heb. xii. 10. for the purging away of their sins, Is. i. 25. for the reforming of their lives, Psal. cxix. 67, 71. and for the saving of their souls, 1 Cor. xi. 32. should work them to be silent, and satisfied under all their afflictions; though God should never satisfy their curiosity in giving them an account of some more hidden causes, which may lie se cret in the abyss of his eternal knowledge, and infallible will. Curiosity is the spiritual drunkenness of the soul; and look as the drunkard will never be satisfied, be the cup never so deep, unless he sees the bottom of it; so some curious Christians, whose souls are overspread with the leprosy of curiosity, will never be satisfied till they come to see the bottom, and the most secret reasons of all God's dealings towards them ; but they are fools in folio, who affect to know more than God would have them. Did not Adam's curiosity render him and his posterity fools in folio? and what pleasure can we take to see ourselves every day fools in print ? As a man by gazing and prying into the body of the sun, may grow dark and dim, and see less than otherwise he might; so many, by a cua rious prying into the secret reasons of God's dealings with them, come to grow so dark and dim, that they cannot see those plain reasons that God hath laid down in his word, why he afflicts and tries the children of men.
I have read of One Sir William Champney, (in the reign of king Henry III.) once living in Tower-street, London; who was the first man that ever built a turret on the top of his house, that he might the better overlook all his neighbours; but so it fell out, that not long after he was struck blind : so that he who could not be satisfied to see as others did see, but would needs see more than others, saw just nothing at all, thro' the just judgment of God upon him. And so it is a just and righteous thing with God to strike such with spiritual blindness, who will not be satisfied with seeing the reasons laid down, in the word, why he afflicts them, but they must be curiously prying and searching into the hidden and more secret reasons of his severity towards them. Ah! Christians, it is your wisdom and duty to sit silent and mute under the afflicting hand of God, upon the account of revealed reasons, without making any curious inquiry into those more secret reasons that are locked up in the golden cabinet of God's own breast, Deut. xxix. 29.
5. This truth looks sourly and sadly upon those, who, instead of being silent and mute under their afflictions, use all sinful shifts and ways to shift themselves out of their troublesi who care not though they break with God, and break with men, and break with their own
consciences, so they may but break off the chains that are upon them; who care not by what means the prison-door is opened, so they may but escape ; nor by what hands their bolts are knocked off, so they may be at liber?
Job xxxvi. 21. " Take heed, regard not iniquity: for this hast thou chosen rather than affliction.” He makes but an ill choice, who chuses sin rather than suffering; and yet such an ill choice good men have sometimes made when troubles have compassed them round about. Though no lion roars like that in a man's own bosom, conscience; yet some, to deliver themselves from troubles without, have set that lion a roaring within; some, to deliver themselves fromoutward tortures, have put themselves under inward torments. He purchases his freedom from affliction at too dear a rate, who buys it with the loss of a good name, or a good conscience.
Now, because there is even in good men sometimes too great an aptness and proneness to sin, and shift themselves out of afflictions, when they should rather be mute and silent under them; give me leave to lay down these six considerations to prevent it.
(1.) Consider, that there is infinitely more evil there is in the greatest miseries and afflictions that can possibly come upon you; yea, there is more evil in the least sin, than there is in all the troubles that ever came upon the world, Prov. viii. 36. 1 John iii. 4. chap.i. 7. Rev. xxi. 8. yea, than there is in all the miseries
and torments of hell. The least sin is an of fence to the great God, it is a wrong to the immortal soul*, it is a breach of a righteous law; it cannot be washed away, but by the blood of Jesús; it can shut the soul out of heaven, and shut the soul up a close prisoner in hell for ever and ever. The least sin is rather to be avoided and prevented, than the greatest sufferings, If this cockatrice be not crushed in the egg, it will soon become a serpent : the very thought of sin, if but thought on, will break forth into action, action into custom, custom into habit, and then both body and soul are lost irrecoverably, to all eternity. The least sin is very dangerous. Cæsar was stabbed with bodkins. Herod was eaten up of lice. Pope Adrian was chocked with a gnat. A mouse is but little, yet killeth an elephant, if he gets up into his trunk. A scorpion is little, yet is able to sting a lion to death, Though the leopard be great, yet he is poisoned with a head of garlick. The least spark may consume the greatest house; and the least leak sink the greatest ship. A whole army hath been imposthumated with the prick of a little finger. A little postern opened, may betray the greatest city. A dram of poison diffuseth itself to all parts, till it strangle the vital spirits, and turn out the soul from the body. If the serpent can but wriggle in his
If you consider sin strictly, there cannot be any little sin, no more than there can be a little God, a little hell, or a little damnation; yet, comparatively, some sins may be said to be little.