Within Trials

Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end;
~ Deuteronomy 8:16

Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good. For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.
~ Jeremiah 24:5-7

For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
~ 2 Corinthians 4:15-17

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
Jude 1:24-25

Letter of John Owen to Lady Elizabeth Hartopp 1

Deare Madam,

Every worke of God is good; the Holy One in the middest of us will do no iniquity. And all things shall work together for good unto them that love him, even those things which at present are not joyous, but grievous. Only his time is to be waited for, and his way submitted unto, that we seem not to be disappointed in our hearts that he is Lord over us. Your dear infante is in the eternal enjoyment of the fruits of all our prayers 2; for the covenant of God is ordered in all things, and sure. We shall goe to her; she shall not returne to us. Happy she was in this above us, that she had so speedy as issue of sin and misery, being born only to exercise your faith and patience, and to glorify God’s grace in her eternal blessedness. My trouble would be great on the account of my absence at this time from you both, but that this also is the Lords doing; and I know my own uselessness wherever I am. But I will beg of God for you both, that you may not faint in this day of trial; that you may have a cleare view of those spirituall and temporall mercyes wherewith you are yet intrusted all undeserved, that sorrow of the world may not so overtake your hearts as to disenable to any duties, to grieve the Spirit, to prejudice your lives; for it tends to death. God in Christ will be better to you than ten children, and will so preserve your remnant, and so adde to them as shall be for his glory and your comfort. Only consider that sorrow in this case is no duty; it is an effect of sin, whose cure by grace we should endeavour. Shall I say, Be cheerfull? I know I may. God help you to honour grace and mercy in a compliance therewith. My heart is with you; my prayers shall be for you; and I would have seene you this day could I have borrowed a coach.

Deare Madam,

Your most affectionate and unworthy pastor, JOHN OWEN

(May 1674?)

1 This and letters 84–87 are from the ‘Owen MS. Letters’ in New College, London. Elizabeth was the wife of Sir John Hartopp and the daughter of Charles Fleetwood. Sir John’s mother, who was widowed in 1658, married Charles Fleetwood in 1664 and both families lived in the village of Stoke Newington, near London. Cf. A. J. Shirren, The Chronicles of the Fleetwood House, 1951.

2 This child was probably Anne who died in May 1674.