By Lewis Bayly
If in thy sickness by extremity of pain thou be driven to impatience, meditate-
1. That thy sins have deserved the pains of hell; therefore thou mayest with greater patience endure these fatherly corrections.
2. That these are the scourges of thy heavenly Father, and the rod is in his hand. If thou didst suffer with reverence, being a child, the corrections of thy earthly parents, how much rather shouldst thou now subject thyself, being the child of God, to the chastisement of thy heavenly Father, seeing it is for thy eternal good?
3. That Christ suffered in his soul and body far more grievous pains for thee, therefore thou must more willingly suffer his blessed pleasure for thy own good (Isa. liii. 3.) Therefore, saith Peter, "Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that ye should follow his steps" (1 Pet. ii. 21.) And "Let us," saith St. Paul, "run with joy the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross," &c. (Heb. xii. 1, 2.)
4. That these afflictions which now you suffer are none other but such as "are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world," as witnesseth Peter (1 Peter v. 9;) yea, Job's afflictions were far more grievous. There is not one of the saints which now are at rest in heavenly joys, but endured as much as you do before they went thither; yea, many of them willingly suffered all the torments that tyrants could inflict upon them, that they might come unto those heavenly joys to which you are now called. And you have a promise, that "the God of all grace, after that you have suffered a while, will make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, and settle you" (1 Pet. v. 10.) And that "God of his fidelity will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Cor. x. 13.)
5. That God hath determined the time when thy affliction shall end, as well as the time when it began. Thirty-eight years were appointed the sick man at the pool of Bethesda (John v. 5.) Twelve years to the woman with the bloody issue (Matt. ix. 20.) Three months to Moses (Exod. ii. 2.) Ten days' tribulation to the angel of the Church at Smyrna (Rev. ii. 10.) Three days plague to David (2 Sam. xxiv. 13.) Yea, the number of the godly man's tears are registered in God's book, and the quantity kept in his bottle (Psal. lvi. 8.)
The time of our trouble, saith Christ, is but a modicum (John xvi. 16.) God's anger lasts but a moment, saith David (Psal. xxx.) A little season, saith the Lord (Rev. vi. 11;) and therefore calls all the time of our pain but the hour of sorrow (John xvi. 21.) David, for the swiftness of it, compares our present trouble to a brook (Psal. cx. 7), and Athanasius to a shower. Compare the longest misery that man endures in this life to the eternity of heavenly joys, and they will appear to be nothing. And as the sight of a son safely born makes the mother forget all her former deadly pain (John xvi. 21), so the sight of Christ in heaven, who was born for thee, will make all these pangs of death to be quite forgotten, as if they had never been. Like Stephen, who, as soon as he saw Christ, forgat his own wounds, with the horror of the grave, and terror of the stones, and sweetly yielded his soul into the hands of his Saviour (Acts vii.) Forget thy own pain, think of Christ's wounds. Be faithful unto the death, and he will give thee the crown of eternal life (Rev. ii. 10.)
6. That you are now called to repetitions in Christ's school, to see how much faith, patience, and godliness, you have learned all this while; and whether you can, like Job, receive at the hand of God some evil, as well as you have hitherto received a great deal of good (Job ii. 10.) As therefore you have always prayed, "Thy will be done," so be not now offended at this which is done by his holy will.
7. That "all things shall work together for the best to them that love God;" insomuch that "neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, &c., shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. viii. 28, 38, 39.) Assure yourself that every pang is a prevention of the pains of hell, every respite an earnest of heaven's rest; and how many stripes do you esteem heaven worth? As your life hath been a comfort to others, so give your friends a Christian example to die, and deceive the devil as Job did. It is but the cross of Christ sent before to crucify the love of the world in thee, that thou mayest go eternally to live with Christ who was crucified for thee. As thou art therefore a true Christian, take up, like Simeon of Cyrene, with both thy arms, his holy cross, carry it after him unto him; thy pains will shortly pass, thy joys shall never pass away.