Puritan Board Graduate
Of consolation to the righteous who are under dejection of spirit. God esteems them more excellent than others. It is comfort:
1. When they are humbled by sin. They have mean thoughts of themselves, and see so much corruption that they think they have no grace. Aye, but here is comfort; God sees an excellency in them though they can see none in themselves. He can distinguish between the grace in them and the infirmity; and He judges them not by their worst part but by their best. God prizes His people, notwithstanding their failings. A man values his corn though it is mingled with chaff.
2. When the righteous are humbled by affliction. "He hath covered me with ashes," Lamentations 3:16. My outward comforts are, as it were, in the grave and have ashes thrown upon them. The godly are apt to mistake and think God does not care for them be-cause He afflicts them. "If the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us?" Judges 6:13.
But let not the righteous be troubled or cast away their anchor Still God makes great account of them and, though they are more afflicted than others, yet they are more excellent. God esteemed highly of Hezekiah on his sickbed. He heard his prayer and bottled his tears, Isaiah 38:5. Job, when full of biles and sores, was dear to God. Job on the dunghill was more excellent than Pharaoh on the throne. God boasted of Job to Satan, "There is none like him in the earth," Job 2:3. A goldsmith esteems his gold though it is in the furnace. God sees an excellence in the saints when they are bleeding under their sufferings. A piece of porcelain is of great value though it is battered. Grapes are precious though they are in the winepress. Jesus Christ was on the cross, yet He had been proclaimed to be God's beloved Son by a voice from heaven, Matthew 3:1".
3. It is comfort when the righteous are humbled by desertion. "The arrows of the Almighty are within me," Job 6:4. The Hebrew word for arrow comes from a root that signifies "to cut", to show that the poisoned arrow of desertion cuts to the heart The Psalmist cries out, "Thy wrath lieth hard upon me," Psalm 88:7; which is to say, "Like a mountain of lead, it even sinks my spirits." In this forlorn state, the saints think God esteems them vile and has cast them off. "Lord, why castest Thou off my soul?" Psalm 88:14. God holds His deserted ones, as it were, over the fire of hell, and they think they are ready to drop in. But, Christian, you may be sorely deserted, yet God may judge you excellent! Zion thought she was quite forsaken. Zion said, "The Lord bath forsaken me," Isaiah 49:14. But, at that time, God had a dear respect for her. "I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands," Isaiah 49:16. God may have the face of an enemy yet the heart of a father. The Lord deserts His people for their profit, Hebrews 12:10. While He is humbling them, He is healing them. He seems to put them away from Him, but it is to draw them nearer to Him. He would exercise their faith and prayers the more. God is all this while preparing the saints for the sweet embraces of His love. Desertion is like a purging medicine. The Lord will purge out some ill humour of sin and, after-wards, will manifest His love to His children. The cordial is kept till the working of the medicine is over.
CONCLUSION. Thus, good reader, I have, with all convenient brevity, endeavored to vindicate the true saint and take him out of the fog. I have set be-fore your eyes a child of light. "Mark the perfect man," Psalm 37:37, and imitate him. If, notwithstanding all this surpassing excellency of the righteous, any shall be so wicked as to persist in unrighteousness, they love death. If they shall glory in their unrighteousness, it is as if beggars should boast of their sores; if they shall disparage holiness, it is like a blind man reproaching the sun. Let the righteous bind reproaches as a crown about their head and be no more troubled than they would be to have mad men laugh at them. "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him," Psalm 37:7. The time is shortly coming when God will clear the innocence of His servants after He has wiped away all tears from their eyes. He will wipe off reproach from their name and, then, this text shall he universally subscribed to, "The righteous is more excellent than his neighbors"
From: A Plea for the Godly