Wednesday March 2, 2016

Cheerful Piety – Letter IV

John Berridge

A Consolatory Letter to a Christian Friend under sore trouble

Dear Madam,

I have been lately much hurried, or, according to your desire, I should have written before; agreeable, however, to my promise, I have endeavoured to send you a few lines, which I shall be thankful and rejoice, if they are blessed of God to your support and comfort, under your present troubles.

I desire to be sensible of my own unworthiness and unfitness for anything of myself, that is spiritually good; much more for so hard and difficult a task as the administering effectual consolation to a soul who groans under outward afflictions and outward troubles; that is, tossed upon the waves of Satan’s temptations and worldly disappointments. Indeed this is the work of none other than the Divine Spirit: it is He alone who can command a calm into a tempestuous soul, and speak peace, rest, and satisfaction in the greatest multitude of perplexities.

However, I desire most tenderly to sympathize with you, remembering that I also am in the body, subject to the same adversities and trials, and would help you, all I can, to bear your burden with faith, patience, and resignation.

I grant, then, that your circumstances are very intricate and exercising, but let me beg of you not to construe your affections as a token of God’s displeasure, or a sign of your not belonging to him. This is an old temptation of Satan’s, with which he often assaults the afflicted Christian; but take the shield of faith, that you may quench the fiery darts of Satan. Alas! crosses and afflictions are the common lot of the people of God in this world. Our Lord has told us we shall meet with tribulation. Every saint has his own particular difficulty, temptation and conflict to grapple with. We have need to be emptied from vessel to vessel.

We are too apt to settle on our lees, too apt to be taken with the vanities of this passing world. “If we are without afflictions, whereof all are partakers, then are we bastards and not sons.”

How many have questioned the truth of their state and relation to God, for want of these exercises and trials! Where are the cause and matter of your fears and despondency? Go, search the records of sacred scripture, and see how it fared with saints in all ages; what Job, David, and Paul, yea, our blessed Lord himself, endured and passed through in this world. Should that be an argument against your interest in God, which is the common portion of all believers here? We are now chastened, that hereafter we may not be condemned.

Ah! happy afflictions, that wean us from this wretched, dying world; are a means to mortify our corruptions; teach us to live more constantly by faith on Jesus Christ; and to fix all our hopes and expectations on another and better world! And for that end you should be earnest in your wrestling with God in prayer, that your trials may be sanctified unto you; that, however, at present, they are not joyous but grievous, yet hereafter they may yield you the peaceable fruits of righteousness, according to God’s gracious promise. Heb. 12:11.

Sanctified afflictions are a thousand times rather to be chosen than unsanctified prosperity; these may consist with, yea are often the effects of God’s especial love. Rev. 3:19; Heb. 12:6,7,8. He sees we want them, and he knows they will work for our good. Do then, Lord, what thou pleasest with me, so I may but die to this world, overcome my corruptions, live more upon Christ, bring more glory to his name, and have more comfortable tastes and pledges of his love, and be often saying, “The will of the Lord be done!”

He is infinitely wise, and knows what is best for me; he is infinitely gracious, and will be tender of the weakest of his children; he is infinitely sovereign, and may do what he pleases with his own. The heaviest afflictions on this side hell are less, far less, than mine iniquities have deserved.

Oh, boundless grace! the chastening rod of a reconciled Father might have been the flaming sword of an avenging Judge. I might now have been weeping and wailing with devils and damned spirits in hell. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him. It is of his mercy alone that I am not consumed; and, oh, my soul, it is but a little while and there will be an eternal end of all thy sorrows, fears, trials and disappointments: “Yet a little while, and he that shall come, will come, and will not tarry.” That heavenly Bridegroom, who has, by the Spirit, betrothed thee to himself, will, ere long, invite thee into his eternal kingdom, where thou wilt forget the storms and tempests, clouds and darkness in thy passage through this wilderness world; and all shall be joy and peace, love and praise.

No doubts and fears shall ever assault thee in that happy state; but thou shalt dwell eternally under the immediate shinings of divine love, and shall sing with the strongest believers, yea the highest and most glorious archangel in heaven, the wondrous mystery of redeeming grace; and the comforts and blessedness of that state of rest will be more brightened, illustrated and endeared by all thy tears and sighings here below. The remembrance of the gall and wormwood of afflictions will tend to sweeten the taste of heavenly enjoyments.

I pray that God may be with you, support and comfort you with the divine consolations of his Holy Spirit, and establish you in his own due time. He is a faithful God, Deut. 7:9; a God keeping covenant, and therefore will not lay upon you more than he will enable you to bear. 1 Cor. 10:13. If you have less of this world, may you have more of his comfortable presence! Oh, blessed exchange! And if he seems to be hiding his reconciled countenance, and suffering Satan to buffet you, may you be supported with his everlasting arms, and have him to sustain and uphold you in every time of need!

Should you want his comfortable presence, if it be ever thus with you, remember it was so with your once dying but now exalted Redeemer. Mark 15:34. And is the servant greater than his Lord? Shall we not joyfully tread in his steps, that we may at last be where he is? Heb. 10:34. Can, or ought we to repine, if God deals with us as he did with his own well-beloved Son? The Lord help thee willingly to submit to him; and doubt not but that at the appointed time, when he sees it will be for your good and his own glory, your heavenly Father will find you out a way to escape. He is never at a loss to bring about his gracious designs, when once his set time is come: and you should rejoice to think that he is carrying on the great work of your eternal salvation, amidst all your troubles and disappointments, and under all your outward and difficult pressures.

Oh, say then, with Job: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him!” Job 13:15; though I am weak in grace, yet will I adore him for the smallest hope; though I am surrounded with terrors, I will bless him that I am out of hell: he who has begun a good work in my soul will see it perfected.

Lord, I desire to submit unto thy will; do what thou wilt with me, so that I may but bring honour to thy name, and promote my own everlasting welfare.

May you find more of this faith and patience, hope and resignation, growing and increasing in you every day; and when once you are brought to this humble submission and resigned temper, to this hoping, believing, waiting and contented frame, you may be assured deliverance is at hand, even at the very door. Luke 14:11.

And now, oh that you may be embraced in the arms of everlasting love, and enjoy the comforts of your pardoned state! The Lord increase your faith, Luke 17:5; take from your burdens, or add to your strength; and let me beg of you, once more, dear sister, not to suffer the disappointments and crosses of this world, however sore and trying in themselves, to drive from your mind the frequent and joyful forethought of what free, rich, and distinguishing grace has designed for you in a bright and better world, and is fitting and preparing you for, every day you live.

Let not the hardships of your journey make you forget, but rather long for your home.

Oh, think on that heaven which neither sin, nor death, nor hell shall ever be able to deprive you of; in which you and I, through sovereign grace, I trust, shall spend the endless ages of a blessed eternity.

I remain, dear madam,


John Berridge.

Wednesday June 22, 2016

The Happy Man

By Lachlan Macenzie

Monday May 2, 2016

Be Still My Soul

By Katharina von Schlegel, b. 1697

Saturday March 12, 2016

What the Reformation Really Means


Wednesday March 2, 2016

Cheerful Piety – Memoir

By John Berridge

Wednesday March 2, 2016

Cheerful Piety – Letter I

By John Berridge

Wednesday March 2, 2016

Cheerful Piety – Letter II

By John Berridge

Wednesday March 2, 2016

Cheerful Piety – Letter III

By John Berridge

Wednesday March 2, 2016

Cheerful Piety – Letter IV

By John Berridge