Although affliction comes not forth of the dust, neither does trouble spring out of the ground;…
Why is misery permitted to enter into the creation, to interrupt its harmony, to deface its beauty, and counteract the plan of the Creator? Some heathens have inferred that the world cannot be under the care and direction of an all-powerful Superintendent. Some philosophers say the souls of men had existed in a former state, and the evils and sufferings of this life were to be considered as inflictions for crimes committed in their state of pre-existence. Others framed the hypothesis of two supreme, co-eternal, and co-equal beings, acting in opposition to each other. The sacred writings give a different account of those evils that afflict mankind. It is in them taught that the degenerate state of our nature requires Such correction and discipline, such an intermixture of good and evil as we now observe and experience in the world. Our present state of being is a state of trial or school of virtue. Afflictions, far from being indications of God's neglecting and disregarding His creatures, are expressions of His paternal care and affection. The afflictions of heaven are never sent but with a merciful intention. Notice some moral and religious advantages that may result from afflictions.
1. Afflictions have a natural tendency to form us to virtue by disposing the mind to consideration. Sin cannot stand the test of consideration. Suffering has a natural tendency to reform the disobedient and inadvertent, to confirm and improve the virtues of the good, and to secure and advance the future happiness of both.
2. Sufferings remind us of God's providence and of our dependence. This they do by the conviction they bring that our strength is but weakness, and that we are subject to infirmities which we cannot remove, and to wants which we cannot supply.
3. Sufferings have a tendency to correct in us a too partial and confined attachment to the world. It is doubtless in the actual power of the Almighty to secure Us a smooth and easy passage through this vale of life, and guard us from all evil. But what His power might grant His wisdom sees fit to withhold. In our future state, when we take a retrospective view of our lives, they will appear in a light very different from that in which we see them at present. What we now consider as misfortunes and afflictions will appear to have been mercies and blessings. We shall see that the intentions of the Deity were benevolent when His inflictions seemed severe. Let us, then, meet every dispensation of Providence with the most submissive resignation to the will of that supremely gracious Sovereign of nature whose unerring wisdom can alone determine what is good or evil for us, and whose unbounded goodness will direct all things finally to the happiness of His creatures.
Parallel VersesKJV: Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground;