Troubles

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
~ Romans 8:18

For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
~ 1 John 3:20-21

Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
~ Revelation 3:11

Letter of John Owen to Mrs Polhill 1.

Deare Madam,

The trouble expressed in yours is a great addition to mine; the sovereignty of divine wisdome and grace is that on many accounts I have this day to retreat unto; God direct you thereunto also, and you will find rest and peace. It adds to my trouble that I cannot possibly come downe to you this week. Nothing but engaged duty could keep me from you one houre; yet I am conscious how little I can contribute to your guidance in this storme, or your satisfaction. Christ is your Pilott; and however the vessel is tossed whilst he seemes to sleepe, he will arise and rebuke these winds and waves in his owne time. I have done it, and shall farther wrestle with God for you according to the strength he is pleased to communicate. Little it is which at this distance I can mind you of; yet some few things are necessary. Sorrow not too much for the dead; she is entered into rest, and is taken away from the evill to come. 2 Take heed lest, by too much griefe, you too much grieve that Holy Spirit, who is infinitely more to us than all natural relations. I blame you not that you so farr attend to the call of God in this dispensation as to search your selfe, to judge your selfe and to condemne your selfe: grace can make it an evidence unto you that you shall not be judged nor condemned of the Lord. I dare not say that this chastisement was not needful. We are not in heaviness unless need bee; but if God be pleased to give you a discovery of the wisdome and care that is in it, and how needfull it was to awaken and restore your soule in any thing, perhaps in many things, in due time you will see grace and love in it also. I verily believe God expects, in this dealing with you, that you should judge your selfe, judge your sins, and judge your decays; but he would not have you misjudge your condition. But we are like froward children, who, when they are rebuked and corrected, neglect other things, and only cry that their parents reject them and hate them. You are apt to feare, to thinke, to say, that you are one whom God regards not, who are none of his; and that for sundry reasons which you suppose you can plead. But, saith God, this is not the business; this is a part of your frowardness. I call you to quicken your own grace, to amend your owne wayes; and you think you have nothing to doe but to question my love. Pray, Madam, my deare sister, child and care, between you lose not the advantage of this dispensation: you will do so, if you use it only to afflictive sorrows, or questioning of the love of God, or your interest in Christ. The time will be spent in these things which should be taken up in earnest endeavours after a compliance with God’s will, quickenings of grace, returns after backslidings, mortification of sin and love of the world, untill the sense of it do pass away. Labour vigorously to bring your soul to this twofold resolution: (1) That the will of God is the best rule for all things, and their circumstances; And (2) That you will bring your selfe into a fresh engagement to live more to him: and you will find the remainder of your work easy; for it is part of the yoke of Christ. I shall trouble you no farther, but only to give you the assurance that you are in my heart continually, which is nothing; but it helps to persuade me that you are in the heart of Christ, which is all.

— JOHN OWEN

1 ‘Owen MS. Letters’. Mrs Polhill was the wife of Edward Polhill who lived in Sussex and for whom see D.N.B. Owen wrote a preface for Edward Polhill’s book, The Divine Will Considered in its Eternal Decrees.

2 The person who had died was her sister, Loyd.

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