The school of affliction…

(Thomas Case, “The Rod and the Word, A Treatise on Afflictions” 1653)

In the school of affliction, God teaches how to estimate, or at least to make some remote and imperfect guess, at the sufferings of Jesus Christ. In times of prosperity we pass by the Cross carelessly–at the best we do but shake our heads a little. The reading of the story of Christ’s passion stirs us up some pity towards Him–but it is quickly gone; we forget as soon as we get into the world again.

But now . . .
let God pinch our flesh with some sore affliction;
let Him fill our bones with pain, and set us on fire with a burning fever;
let our feet be hurt in the stocks, and the irons enter into our souls;
let our souls be exceedingly filled with the scorning and contempt of the proud;
let us be destitute, afflicted, tormented, and so forth–
then we sit down and look upon Him whom we have pierced, and begin to say within ourselves:

Are the chips of the cross so heavy? What then was the cross itself, which my Redeemer bore?
Are a few bodily pains so bitter? What then were those agonies which the Lord of glory sustained in His soul?
Is the wrath of man so piercing? What then was the wrath of God, which scorched His righteous soul, and forced His very heart’s blood through His flesh on a cold winter’s night, so that His sweat was as great drops of blood falling down to the ground?
Are the buffetings of men so grievous? What then were the buffetings of Satan, which our Lord sustained, when all the brood of the serpent lay nibbling at His heels?
Is a burning fever so hot? How then did the flames of Hell itself scald my Savior’s soul?
Is a chain so heavy, a prison so loathsome, the sentence and execution of death so dreadful? O what then was it for Him who made Heaven and earth to be bound with chains, mocked, abused, spit upon, buffeted, reviled, cast into prison, arraigned, condemned, and executed in a most shameful and accursed manner?”

Blessed be God,
my prison is not the bottomless pit,
my burnings are not unquenchable flames,
my cup is not filled with divine wrath!
In a word, my sufferings are not Hell.
Blessed be God for Jesus Christ, by whom I am delivered from wrath to come!

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