Oh that my grief were thoroughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together!
1. It is a duty to weigh the saddest estate and afflicted condition of our brethren thoroughly. But what is it to weigh them thoroughly? It is not only to weigh the matter of an affliction, to see what it is which a man suffers, but to weigh an affliction in every circumstance and aggravation of it; the circumstance of an affliction is often more considerable then the matter of the affliction. If a man would confess his sins, he is to confess not only the matter of them, as sins are the transgressions of the law, and errors against the rule, but he must eye the manner in which sin hath been committed, the circumstances with which it is clothed, these render his sin out of measure, and out of weight sinful. Likewise, would a man consider the mercies and favours received from God, would he know them thoroughly, and see how much they weigh, let him look, not only what, but how, and when, and where, and by whom he hath received them. There may be a great wickedness in a little evil committed, and a great mercy in a little good received. Secondly, He that would weigh an affliction thoroughly, must put himself in the case of the afflicted, and (as it were) make another's grief his own: he must act the passions of his brother, and a while personate the poor, the sick, the afflicted man: he must get a taste of the wormwood and of the gall upon which his brother feedeth: in a word, he must lay such a condition to heart. In these two points, this holy art of weighing grief, consists: consideration of circumstances, and sympathy of the smart. Mere speculation moves little. We have no feeling of another's suffering, till we have a fellow feeling. The bare theory of affliction affects no more than the bare theory of fire heats.
2. It is an addition to a man's affliction, when others are not sensible of his affliction. Our high priest is none of your senseless priests, who care not what the people endure, so they be warm and at ease.
3. We can never rightly judge till we thoroughly weigh the condition of an afflicted brother. For Job conceived that Eliphaz proceeded to judgment before he had been in consideration.
4. A man who hath not been, or is not afflicted himself, can hardly apprehend what another endures who is under affliction. If we had a Mediator in heaven that had not been tempted on earth, we might doubt whether He would be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, whether sinning infirmities or sorrowing infirmities.
Parallel VersesKJV: Oh that my grief were throughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together!