The Soldiers of The King In Complete Armour: With Questions and Answers of the Christian Armour Against Satan’s Assaults.
Q. What comfortable meditations and directions can you bring forth for a Christian wife, that had lost a good and a godly husband?
A. First, she is wedded to Christ, and therefore she is no widow, nor can want any necessary help and protection. Rev. 12:1, Rev. 19:7.
Secondly, death had not parted husband and wife for ever, but for a time; for they shall one day (if they both feared God) see and know one the other, (albeit all respects of marriage shall then wholly cease.)
Thirdly, God had a special care of widows, (as may appear by miracles done in their behalf, and for their relief, in the old and new Testament) and he lay a strait charge upon Magistrates, Rulers, and Judges, to see them righted and provided for.
Fourthly, if she truly fears God, and intend a second marriage, he that provided her a good husband before, can provide her a second as good: as he provided fair, virtuous, and wise Abigail for David.
Lastly, it may be either she did not respect him (according to his worth) and therefore God had justly corrected her unthankfulness, or else, she too much doted upon him, and was too fond of him, and therefore God by his death, will heal this sin in her, and cause her to depend upon him only, when the staff of her outward state is taken away.
Q. For What end and purposes does God oftentimes so trouble and afflict the minds and consciences of his children?
A. For various ends: First, that they would find (to their grief) how odious sin is in God’s sight, may be the more stricken down, yea and confounded in themselves, and so be the more mightily stirred up to godly sorrow.
Secondly, God will hereby check & correct spiritual pride in them, by reason of illumination, revelation, graces, acts done, &c. Hereupon Paul said of himself, that lest he should be exalted out of measure by spiritual revelations, God sent the messenger of Satan to buffet him, and the prick in the flesh to humble and build him. God hereby like a good Physician let their blood, and ease them of all ill humors of pride, worldliness, looseness of life, security, &c. and estranged them from the friendship, and familiarity of wicked men.
Thirdly, God will hereby test and prove, that is, make known to themselves and others, their faith, and a train of most excellent virtues that follow and attend upon it.
Fourthly, they hereby, when they are once delivered, shall be more compassionate to their brethren in the like extremity. For as one piece of iron cannot be smoldered and fastened to another unless both pieces be made red hot, and beaten together: so one Christian member cannot be soundly affected to another, unless both have had experience of the same, or the like misery.
Q. What if temptations and afflictions be, that is, of long endurance, how then shall a Christian man hold out, and lose no ground?
A First, by considering that (besides the long afflictions of Job, David, Hanna, a daughter of Abraham, that was bowed by Satan 18 years, and the distresses of particular persons in all ages) the children of Israel were long in captivity in Egypt, in Chaldea, in Babylon: the ten general persecutions were of long continuance, but the end and issue of all, were happy and blessed.
Secondly, God by the long continuance hereof, did cure many desperate sins in them, and prevent many evils, into which otherwise they would cast themselves headlong; these long continuing plasters will fall off as soon as the wounds are cured.
Thirdly, the longer that the deliverance is deferred, the more comfortable will it be when it come.
Lastly, if process of time rid them not away, yet death will end them.
Use and Application.
Wherefore let us humble ourselves under God’s mighty hands; let us seek His face, and desire His mercy, which being obtained, let us sin no more lest a worse thing befall us, let us then beware an after-clap.
Q. From What special causes do distress and anguish of mind arise?
A. From two, the one inward & original, namely, a deep apprehension, or rather, an overrating of sin committed: and the other outward, and occasional, namely, cross, calamities dangers, distress, persecutions, and troubles.
Q. What meditations are good for our restitution, and for the regaining of God’s favour once felt and enjoy?
A. We must remember and weigh various ways. First, that in these desertions, the Saints of God in all ages, share and are co-partners with us.
Secondly, that they are finite, momentary, and sufferable.
Thirdly, that if they be weighed in a balance either with the horrors and torments of the damned, from which Christ had delivered us, or with the glorious joy of heaven wherein our Lord had slated us, they are as nothing, and therefore we are more patiently, and joyfully to undergo them, 2. Cor. 4:17. Heb. 10:37
Fourthly, if these temptations, be great & grievous, then they (like strong purgation) will work our greatest peace at length.
Fifthly, we must note, that the way to heaven is not strawed with flowers, and roses, but set with thorns, and therefore we ought to be well shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace, Eph. 6.
Sixthly, God will not leave us comfortless for long, but as the temptation abounded, so shall consolation abound much more, and the event shall be always good.
Seventhly, God does sometimes forsake us, so that we sin greatly, and sometimes that we are hopeless in our troubles, that God’s favour recovered, should be more esteemed by us. For as the morning light is more comfortable after the darkness of the night, as walking after sleep, health after sickness, the calm after a storm, and peace after war so is God’s love more appreciated and admired after, and his favour more desirable & acceptable, when sundry temptations and desertions have gone before.
Lastly, God in due season will bring these doleful desertions to an excellent issue, and to a blessed conclusion.
Question. What is persecution?
A. It is the state and condition, either of the Church in general, or of any member, in particular, whereby the one, or the other, in God’s everlasting counsel and decree, are appointed and marked unto diverse dangers & troubles for the name of Christ, and for righteousness sake.
Q. For What ends does God suffer his children to be persecuted?
A. First, that holy and pure doctrine might be maintained: otherwise, all would in persecution disclaim, and forsake it.
Secondly, that the graces of his children should be increased and exercised, and that they, like spices pounded in a mortar, and like sweet wood burnt in the fire, should yield a more sweet swell.
Thirdly, that they by their constancy in the profession and defense of the truth, might be distinguished from hypocrites, who like Sodom apples, if a man crushes them, fall into chafe; and like unto sponges wet in the water, which if a man press them, let out all the liquor contained in them.
Fourthly, God will have his children to deny themselves, and their own abilities, and to depend wholly upon his power and promises for their strengthening or deliverance.
Fifthly, he will hereby make them so many lights and guides to direct the blind world in the roadway to Heaven. Lastly, GOD will hereby increase their reward and glory in heaven.
Question. How are good women to comfort themselves when they are matched with evil husbands?
A. First, they are not alone. For Abigail was crossed by Nabal her husband; and many innocent wives in Moses time, by reason of the cruelty and unreasonableness of their husbands, were divorced from them.
Secondly, if their husbands in the flesh be evil and shrewd, yet Christ their spiritual husband will always entreat them kindly, and lovingly visit them by his spirit, if so be that they fear him and believe in him.
Thirdly, they must be of pure conversation and reverence their husbands, the hidden man of the heart must be uncorrupted with a meek and quiet spirit, and subject themselves unto their husbands, and then they shall either win them, or (at least) leave them without just defense of themselves, or excuse.
Q. How shall good husbands comfort themselves, when they are married to evil and unquiet wives?
A. First, (it may be) they were rash in their choice, and did not consult with God by prayer, and with good men by conference about it.
Secondly, David, Job, Moses, &c. were this way somewhat crossed; and this is almost a common evil, and therefore the more patiently to be undergone: and if we cannot so well practice patience, we must (during the tempest of chiding) absent ourselves and retire ourselves into some private place.
Thirdly, they must acknowledge that they are thus crossed for their sins, and therefore they must the more willingly bear the burden of their offenses.
Fourthly, if they can endure rain and smoke in their houses, why not then their wives?
Fifthly, they must either by gentleness, good persuasions and admonitions reform their wives; for then they make them better; or else they must bear with their infirmities, and so they make themselves better.
Sixthly, let their own consciences bear them witness, that they fail in no duty of godliness and love towards them: & then let them commit the matter to God; and What know they whether (at length) they shall convert them or not?
Q. How shall good parents comfort themselves that are troubled and crossed with evil and disobedient children?
A. First, goodness and virtue in children is not natural, but from above, & come not from their first birth, but from their second: for that which is borne of the flesh is flesh, & that which is borne of the spirit, is spirit; and hereupon many good men have had evil children, as Abraham had his Ismael, Isaac had his Esau, David his Absalom, and Amnon, & Hezekiah his Manasseh.
Secondly, sometimes Parents are punished in their children, partly, because they have been disobedient to superiors, and to their own parents, and partly, because they have been negligent in teaching, correcting, and bringing them up.
Thirdly, all children are not predestine to salvation, (as we have Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phineas for examples) and therefore we must not look to have all good and holy: for justification and sanctification followed only election and is not common to all.
Fourthly, parents must give their children holy example, and when they are young bend and bow them, & bring them up in the nurture and information of the Lord, and then if they prove not good, their ungodliness shall never be imputed to the innocent parents.
Lastly, though for the present they be evil and desperate, yet hope well of them, and pray for them, and use all mean constantly for their amendment, & then leave the success to God the changer of the hearts.