(James Buchanan, “Improvement of Affliction” 1840)
“In the day of prosperity be happy–but in the day of adversity CONSIDER: God has made the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14
In the day of adversity, you should consider the causes and occasions of suffering in general–and especially, inquire into the causes and occasions of your own affliction at the present time.
As to the general cause of all suffering–it is sin, and nothing else than sin. But for this accursed thing, there would be . . .
no affliction in the world,
no painful disease,
no abject poverty,
no hostile violence,
no death, and
All suffering proceeds from one general cause–namely, our inherent and actual sinfulness in the sight of God!
Sin is the root of all bitterness–and it is no wonder that its fruits are bitter. Rest assured, that God has not allowed so much suffering to prevail in the world from mere indifference to its welfare, or from any disposition to cruelty. No! “God is love”–and your happiness is dearer to Him than any other object–His own glory excepted.
All suffering is designed to mark His holy displeasure against sin, and to vindicate the honor of that Law which God, as the righteous moral Governor of the world, has prescribed for the regulation of our hearts and lives.
When viewed in this light, the sufferings which prevail to such a melancholy extent in the world–are fitted to deepen our conviction of the odious nature of sin. For when we reflect, on the one hand, on the infinite love of God, and His delight in the happiness of His creatures; and consider, on the other hand, how that, notwithstanding this love–God has permitted, nay, appointed so many evils to befall us–Oh! are we not sensible that sin, which is the cause of all suffering, must be, in His estimation, a most offensive and loathsome thing!
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