Robert Traill (Stedfast Adherence to the Profession of our Faith), Works 3:19-20:
It is greatly for the honour of Jesus Christ, that men should knit themselves visibly under his standard and banner. Our Lord Jesus Christ is no such master, that people should be ashamed to wear his livery, and give themselves to him. Again, it is greatly for the advantage of people too. You know there are two great plagues the church of Christ has been distressed by, and it will never be quite free from them; a multitude of hypocrites in a fair day, and a multitude of apostates in a foul day. When summer-weather is, hypocrites increase to a multitude; when a storm comes, they are blown away as chaff by the wind. What is likely to be the only way that can prevent the abounding of these dreadful scandals? If there were strictness in calling for the truth of people’s faith, for the making of them give a true profession of it, if they had it, truly they would be found to adhere to the Lord far more closely in a day of trial.
Robert Traill (Stedfast Adherence to the Profession of our Faith), Works 3:54-55:
God reveals himself sometimes to us as a threatening God. Threatenings and promises seem to be very cross to one another. It is the promising God that does threaten, and the Lord knows very well how to make his promises and his threatenings agree together, if we were wise to make them agree together in our faith. If his children forsake my law, etc., I will visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquities with stripes. Nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, etc., Ps. 89:30-34. It were well for us, if we were as able to believe the standing of promises, and the love in his heart, notwithstanding the threatenings and the strokes of his hand.
The consolations of an afflicted state are very needful, and grace only can furnish us with them. Be ye assured of it, that never did a Christian bear up patiently under God’s heavy hand, but by the strong secret working of some consolation. It is true, we value and seek most that consolation that comes in as a great flood of sense, and that doth swallow up the bitterness of affliction. This the Lord can, and sometimes doth give to his people. But there is a secret, silent spring of consolation, that is as profitable, and more common in the Lord’s way with his children. Of this the apostle speaks in 2 Cor. 1:3-5. Everlasting consolation, and good hope through grace, are his blessings, 2 Thess. 2:16, 17.
Theodoret’s History of the Monks of Syria, On Divine Love:
He who arranged the marriage and presented the bride—I mean the inspired Paul—was also enamored of this beauty, and uttered this expression of desire: ‘Who will separate us from the love of God? Tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or hunger, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For your sake we are being put to death all the day long; we have been reckoned as sheep for slaughter.’ He then indicates the cause of endurance: ‘in all these things,’ he says, ‘we more than conquer, through God who has loved us’. Let us examine who we are and what benefits we have enjoyed, and that it was not we who loved first, but being loved we gave love in return; while hating we were loved, and ‘while enemies we were reconciled.’ We did not ourselves beg to obtain reconciliation, but received the Only-begotten as intercessor; those who had wronged were consoled by him they had wronged. In addition to this, let us reflect upon him who was crucified for us, the saving passion, the repose of death, the hope of resurrection that has been given to us.
When we examine these and the like, we overcome the melancholy things that fall to our lot; and by applying the memory of benefits to the temporary hardships of the body we gladly bear the attack of things distressing. When we weigh up against longing for the Master all the sorrows of life, we find them light indeed. Even if we assemble together all that is pleasurable and seems delightful, divine yearning, when put in the balance, shows them to be more feeble than a shadow and more perishable than spring blossoms.
Afflictions are of many sorts and kinds. I am apt to believe, that though there be some likeness in the afflictions of many, yet every afflicted man hath a particular affliction of his own. As it is with people’s faces, so it is with their crosses. For as many thousand faces as are amongst mankind, though all are somewhat like, yet every one hath some distinction. The world is full of crosses; yet every afflicted person hath his own cross. Our Lord hints at it, Matt. 16:24, Let a man take up his cross. The Lord appoints a proper cross for every one: though people are ready to think and say, that their cross is unfit for them, and that they would bear another cross better. In crosses we must neither choose nor refuse. David’s case was singular, 2 Sam. 24. The Lord chooseth for us, and we must not, cannot refuse: Job 34:33, Should it be according to thy mind? he will recompense it, whether thou refuse, or whether thou choose, and not I: therefore speak what thou knowest.