The Rev. Stephen Charnock (Works, Vol. 1, p. 34):
Adversity cannot be called absolutely an evil, as prosperity cannot be called absolutely a good. They are rather indifferent things, because they may be used either for the honour or dishonour of God. As they are used for his honour, they are good, and as used for his dishonour, they are evil. The only absolutely bad thing in the world is sin, which cannot be, in its own nature, but a dishonour to God. The only absolutely good thing in the world is holiness, and a likeness to God, which cannot be, in its own nature, but for his glory. As for all other things, I know no true satisfaction can be in them, but as they are subservient to God’s honour, and give us an advantage for imitating some one or other of his perfections. Crosses in the Scripture are not excluded from those things we have a right to by Christ, when they may conduce to our good. 1 Cor. 3.22, ‘ Life and death, things present, and things to come, are yours, and you are Christ’s.’ Since the revelation of the gospel, I do not remember that any such complaint against the providence of God fell from any holy man in the New Testament; for our Saviour had given them another prospect of those things. The holy men in the Old Testament comforted themselves against this objection by the end of the wicked which should happen, and the rod cease, Ps. 73. In the New Testament we are more comforted by the certain operation of crosses to our good and spiritual advantage, Rom. 8. Our Saviour did not promise wealth and honour to his followers, nor did he think it worth his pains of coming and dying, to bestow such gifts upon his children. He made heaven their happiness, and the earth their hell; the cross was their badge here, and the crown their reward hereafter; they seemed not to be a purchase congruous to so great a price of blood. Was God’s providence to Christ the more to be questioned because he was poor? Had he the less love to him becauso he was ‘ a man of sorrows,’ even while he was a God of glory? Such groundless conceits should never enter into Christians, who can never seriously take up Christ’s yoke without a proviso of afflictions, who can never be God’s sons without expecting his corrections.
Image: Theodor Axentowicz: “Under the burden of adversity”