The Great Duty of Resignation to the Divine Will in Affliction (eBook)

by William Bates

in ePub, .mobi & .pdf formats

THE first man by rebellion against his Maker, lost his innocence and felicity, and conveyed a sad inheritance of sin and misery to his universal progeny: ever since it has been esteemed a principal part of wisdom to prepare the minds of men to encounter with innumerable evils that surround them, and to preserve a well-ordered contented state of soul, when actually under the greatest afflictions. All the famous sophists of the world, the most celebrated professors of patience, could not attain to this skill. Their consolatary discourses composed with, wit and eloquence, are like artificial fruits of wax, that seem to surpass the productions of nature, but can only please the sight, and afford no real refreshment to the taste. Or, like rings of steel that are joined by the attractive virtue of the loadstone, that make a chain fair to the eye, but of no, strength and use. It was inexcusable ignorance, their not resolving temporal evils to their proper original, the righteous providence of God. They erected a blind and foolish power under the title of fortune, to preside in this sphere of mutability: they always boast of their playing a prize with fortune, and triumph over a phantom, of their own fiction.* This conceit was both impious and uncomfortable; impious, to take the sceptre of government from God's hand, and attribute the foolish pleasure of fortune, what is ordered by his providence: and uncomfortable, for they fancied their deity to be blind, without discerning between the worthy and unworthy, and inexorable to the complaints of the injured, and the prayers of the miserable. The common topics from whence they hardened themselves are, that none are exempted in this open state, from afflicting accidents, the common tribute of mankind: that it is in vain to struggle with what is irresistible: that death is the balm and close of all evils. And the best, of their moral arguments for patience under sufferings, such as the dignity of the reasonable soul; and that nothing inferior to it should have power, or is worthy to put it into confusion; that virtue is the noblest perfection, and is increased by the most difficult exercise; that it is best to yield up ourselves to the divine disposal. These arguments are with infinite more advantage propounded in the sacred scriptures: and for christians to attend to the instructions of natural reason, and neglect the divine revelations of the gospel, is a folly like that of the silly Indians of Mexico, who having plenty of wax, the natural work of the bees, yet made use of firebrands to light them in the night, that afforded a little light mixed with a great deal of smoke. Briefly, they had but wavering conjectures of the future state, and the recompences thereof; from whence are derived the most powerful motives of active and passive obedience to the commanding and disposing will of God: but in the scripture are laid down in the clearest manner, and with infallible assurance, such principles as are effectual to compose the mind to patient suffering, and to meet with valiant resolution all the terrible contrarieties in the way to heaven. It declares, that sin opened an entrance unto all the current adversities in the world, which are the evident signs of God's displeasure against it. In anguish we are apt to dispute with providence, and an imagination of innocence kindles discontent: of this impatience, some even of the best moral heathens were guilty; Titus and Germanicus charged the gods with their untimely, and, in their apprehension, undeserved deaths; but the due sense of sin will humble and quiet the mind under sufferings; it directs us to consecrate our sorrows, to turn the flowing stream into the channel of repentance. And thus the passion of grief, which, if terminated on external troubles, is barren and unprofitable, it can neither retrieve our lost comforts, nor remove any oppressing evil; if it be employed for our offences, prepares us for divine mercy, and is infinitely beneficial to us. And thus by curing the cause of afflictions, our guilt that deserves them, we take away the malignity and poison of them. The word of God assures us, that all the perturbations and discords in the passages of our lives are ordered by his wisdom and will, so that without extinguishing the two eyes of reason and faith, we must acknowledge his providence, and observe his design in all, which is either to excite us when guilty of a careless neglect; or remiss performance of our duty; or to reclaim us from our excursions and deviations from the narrow way that leads to life. Indeed there is nothing more common nor more fatal, than for afflicted persons to seek by carnal diversions and contemptible comforts, to overcome their melancholy, and the sense of divine judgments; and hereby they add new guilt, and provoke new displeasures. This presages and accelerates final ruin; for such whom afflictions do not reform, are left as incorrigible. 

But above all encouragements, the gospel sets before us the sufferings of our Redeemer, and directs all his disciples in sincerity to accustom themselves to the contemplation and expectation of troubles on earth: it tells them it is a branch of their religion, to suffer with him that they may reign with him. And what is more reasonable, than if our Saviour endured superlative sufferings to purchase eternal glory for us, that we should with the same mind bear lighter afflictions to prepare us for it? If this principle be alive and active in our breasts, that our present afflictions shall determine in our future happiness, when time hall cease and eternity succeed; this will encourage us to serve God with our best affections when our days are overcast with sorrow, as in a bright prosperity: this will secure our passage through a stormy tempestuous world, as if it were a truly pacific sea, knowing that divine providence always guides us to the port of eternal tranquillity. This is the substance of what is amplified in the following treatise. And whilst there are miseries in the world, no discourses are more seasonable and useful than those that lighten our oppressing sorrows, and that enable us with uniformity and constancy in all the changes of this mortal life, to pursue our eminent end. The Holy Spirit, the great comforter, apply these truths to the hearts of the afflicted.




The Preface 

Explanation of the Duty 

ARGUMENTS to convince us of this duty of resignation 

1. God's supreme right over us 

2. His righteousness in all his ways 

3. His uncontroulable power 

4. His paternal love in sending afflictions 

5. His infinite wisdom orders all things for the best 

MOTIVES to persuade us to this duty of resignation 

1. The example of Christ in his sufferings 

2. The examples of the suffering saints in all ages 

3. All creatures obey the will of their Creator 

4. It is our most glorious perfection, to have our wills united to the divine will 

5. It is our felicity quietly to resign our wills to the will of God 

DIRECTIONS how to perform this duty of resignation 

The properties of acceptable prayer 

By Topic


By Scripture

Old Testament









1 Samuel

2 Samuel

1 Kings

2 Kings

1 Chronicles

2 Chronicles








Song of Solomon


















New Testament







1 Corinthians

2 Corinthians





1 Thessalonians

2 Thessalonians

1 Timothy

2 Timothy





1 Peter

2 Peter

1 John

2 John

3 John



By Author

Latest Links