How excellent a change will death make upon the soul’s leaving the body, if it pass into a glorious paradise, and hear a voice from Him that sits upon the throne, “Enter into thy Master’s joy” (Matthew 25:21). Poor Lazarus was lately very miserable at the rich man’s door; now very happy in Abraham’s bosom. Lately covered with sores and ulcers; now clothed with glory. Lately pining with hunger; now all his wants are supplied. His extreme poverty made him the other day despised by the rich man; he could find no entrance at his gates, no admission, no relief. But now he is envied for his happiness. The difference which departed souls will feel of their happy state, from what they lately were, and the sense they have of the evils they are delivered from, will give an account of their happiness. The fresh remembrance of what they were in this world will help their joyful sense of the happy change. And to compare their own condition with that of lost, miserable souls; to think of the hell they deserved, and others suffer; and they themselves did sometimes fear; and compare it with the rest, and peace, and joy, and glory that they now partake of, will add to their felicity. And who can tell how great that is, even before the resurrection?
Heaven and Hell (London: J. Heptinstall, 1700), 10-11.
Do not measure God’s love and favour by your own feeling. As God loved you before, so He loves you as well and as dearly still; when He hides His face, as when He bestows His lovingkindness to shine most comfortably upon you. He loved Christ as dearly when He hanged on the tree, in torment of soul and body, as He did when He said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17); yea, and when He received Him up into glory.
The sun shines as clearly in the darkest day as it does in the brightest. The difference is not in the sun, but in some clouds which hinder the manifestation of the light thereof. So God loves us as well when He does not shine in the brightness of His countenance upon us as when He does. Job was as much beloved of God in the midst of his miseries as he was afterwards when he came to enjoy the abundance of his mercies (Job 42:7).
Adapted from The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, 2:320.
God hath a tender regard unto the souls of men, and is infinitely willing to promote their welfare.
He hath condescended to our weakness and declared with an oath, that he hath no pleasure in our destruction. There is no such thing as despite or envy lodged in the bosom of that ever blessed Being, whose name and nature is love. He created us at first in a happy condition; and now, when we are fallen from it, He hath laid help upon One that is mighty to save, hath committed the care of our souls to no lesser person than the eternal Son of his love. It is He that is the Captain of our salvation; and what enemies can be too strong for us, when we are fighting under His banners?
Did not the Son of God come down from the bosom of his Father and pitch His tabernacle amongst the sons of men, that He might recover and propagate the divine life, and restore the image of God in their souls? All the mighty works which He performed; all the sad afflictions which He sustained, had this for their scope and design; for this did He labour and toil; for this did He bleed and die.
The Works of the Rev. H. Scougal (London: Ogle, Duncan, and Co., 1822), 38–39.
God respects you as much in a low as in a high condition, and therefore it need not so much trouble you to be made low. Not only so but, to speak home, he manifests more of his love, grace, and tenderness in the time of affliction than prosperity. As God did not at first choose you because you were high, so he will not forsake you because you are low. Men may look shy upon you, and alter their respects as your condition is altered. When providence has blasted your estates, your summer friends may grow strange, as fearing you may be troublesome to them. But will God do so? No, no!
Adapted from The Whole Works of the Reverend John Flavel, 5:442.
The waters which broke down every thing else bore up the ark. That which to unbelievers is a savour of death unto death is to the faithful a savour of life unto life. The more the waters increased the higher the ark was lifted up towards heaven. Thus sanctified afflictions are spiritual promotions; and as troubles abound consolations much more abound.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, 26.