by Thomas Watson
(1) They are but corrections—but those on the wicked are punishments. The one come from a father, the other from a judge.
(2) Afflictions on the godly are fruits of covenant-mercy. 2 Sam 7:17. Afflictions on the wicked are effects of God's wrath. "He has much wrath with his sickness." Eccl 5:17. Afflictions on the wicked are the pledge of hell; they are like the shackling of a malefactor, which presages his execution.
(3) Afflictions on the godly make them better—but afflictions on the wicked make them worse. The godly pray more; Psalm 130:1: The wicked blaspheme more. "Men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God." Rev 16:9. Afflictions on the wicked make them more impenitent; every plague upon Egypt increased the plague of hardness in Pharaoh's heart. To what a height of wickedness, do some people come, after great sickness. Affliction on the godly is like bruising spices—which makes them give off a most sweet and fragrant aroma. Affliction on the wicked is like pounding weeds with a pestle—which makes them give off a more foul stench.