Monday, September 7, 2009

From Prison to Palace

When brought very low by this world's trials and tribulations, what a comfort it is to consider Joseph, who was brought from the lowest prison to the greatest palace in the land. So shall it be with you, poor afflicted Christian, by the grace of Joseph's God. Consider these words from some of the most eloquent and spiritually gifted writers who charted the pilgrim's progress from prison to palace.

John Bunyan, apart from being the famous author of The Pilgrim's Progress, wrote this sweet meditation ("A Few Sighs From Hell," in The Works of John Bunyan, Vol. 3, p. 707):

Let dissolution come when it will, it can do thee [Christian] no harm, for it will be but only a passage out of a prison into a palace; out of a sea of troubles into a haven of rest; out of a crowd of enemies to an innumerable company of true, loving, and faithful friends; out of shame, reproach, and contempt, into exceeding great and eternal glory. For death shall not hurt thee with his sting, nor bite thee with his soul-murdering teeth; but shall be a welcome guest to thee, even to thy soul, in that it is sent to free thee from thy troubles which thou art in whilst here in this world dwelling in the tabernacle of clay.

George Whitefield wrote to a correspondent (John Gillies, Memoirs of the Rev. George Whitefield, p. 80):

Suffer we must. Ere long perhaps we may sing in prison, and have our feet in stocks. But faith in Jesus turns a prison into a palace, and makes a bed of flames become a bed of down.

The last letter written by Puritan Christopher Love from the Tower of London to his beloved wife contained these words (Don Kistler, A Spectacle Unto God: The Life and Death of Christopher Love, pp. 100-101):

From the Tower of London
August 22, 1651
The Day of My Glorification

My most gracious beloved,

I am now going from a prison to a palace. I have finished my work, I am now to receive my wages. I am now going to heaven where are two of my children, and leaving thee on the earth where are three of my babes. Those two above need not my care, but the three below need thine. It comforts me to think two of my children are in the bosom of Abraham and three of them will be in the arms and care of so tender a godly mother.

I know thou art a woman of a sorrowful spirit, yet be comforted; though thy sorrow be great for thy husband's going out of the world, yet thy pains shall be the less in bringing thy child into the world. Thou shalt be a joyful mother, though thou beest a sad widow. God hath many mercies in store for thee; the prayers of a dying husband for thee will not be lost. To my shame I speak it: I never prayed so much for thee at liberty as I have done in prison.

John Cragge wrote in A Cabinet of Spiritual Jewels (1657):

This then may serve for a ground of comfort to every soul distressed with the tedious bitterness of this life; for short sorrow here, we shall have eternal joy; for a little hunger, an eternal banquet; for light sickness and affliction, everlasting health and salvation; for a little imprisonment, endless liberty; for disgrace, glory. Instead of the wicked who oppress and afflict them, they shall have the angels and saints to comfort and solace them, instead of Satan to torment and tempt them, they shall have Jesus to ravish and affect them. Jospeh's prison shall be turned into a palace; Daniel's lions' den into the presence of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah; the three children's hot fiery furnace, into the new Jerusalem of pure gold; David's Gath, into the tabernacle of the living God.

Jeremy Taylor wrote so eloquently in a sermon ("The Faith and Patience of the Saints; or, The Righteous Cause Oppressed," in The Whole Works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor, Vol. 4, p. 469):

So much, as moments are exceeded by eternity, and the sighing of a man by the joy of an angel, and a salutary frown by the light of God's countenance, a few groans by the infinite and eternal hallelujahs; so much are the sorrows of the godly to be undervalued, in respect of what is deposited for them in the treasures of eternity. Their sorrows can die; but so cannot their joys. And, if the blessed martyrs and confessors were asked, concerning their past sufferings, and their present rests, and the joys of their certain expectation, you should hear them glory in nothing, but in the mercies of God, and in 'the cross of the Lord Jesus.' Every chain is a ray of light, and every prison is a palace, and every loss is the purchase of a kingdom, and every affront in the cause of God is an eternal honour, and every day of sorrow is a thousand years of comfort, multiplied with a never ceasing numeration; days without night, joys without sorrow, sanctity without sin, charity without stain, possession without fear, society without envy, communication of joys without lessening; and they shall dwell in a blessed country, where an enemy never entered, and from whence a friend never went away.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely wonderful read Andrew, so comforting and assuring.