3. 'OH', SAYS ANOTHER, 'I FIND MY AFFLICTION IS SUCH THAT GOD WITHDRAWS HIMSELF FROM ME IN MY AFFLICTION.

That is what troubles me, and can anybody be quiet then, can anybody be satisfied with such a condition, when the Lord withdraws himself? However great my affliction were, yet if I found not God withdrawing himself from me, I hope I could be content with any affliction, but I cannot find the presence of God with me in this affliction, as at other times I have found, and that is what troubles me, and makes me in such a condition as I am.' Now to that I answer thus: 1. It is a very evil thing for men and women over every affliction to conclude that God is departed from them. It may be, when it comes to be examined, there is no other reason why you think that God is withdrawn and departed, but because he afflicts you. Now for you to make such a conclusion, that every time God lays an affliction upon you, he is departed, is a sinful disorder of your heart, and is very dishonorable to God, and grievous to his Spirit. In the
17th of Exodus, verse 7, you may see how God was displeased with such a disorder as this: 'And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us or not?' Mark, they murmured because they were brought into afflictions: but see what the text says, 'Therefore the place was called Massah and Meribah, because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us or not?' This was tempting God. Sometimes we are afraid God is departed from us, and it is merely because we are afflicted. I beseech you to observe this Scripture: God calls it a tempting of him, when he afflicts anyone, for them to conclude and say that God is departed from them. If a child should cry out and say that his father is turned to be an enemy to him, because he corrects him, this would be taken ill. I beseech you consider this one place- it may be of very great use to you-that you may not be ready to think that God is departed, because you are afflicted.

2. If God is departed, the greatest sign of God's departing is because you are so disturbed. You make your disquiet the fruit of God's departing from you. If you could only cure your disquiet, if you could but quiet your own hearts and get them into a better frame of contentedness under God's hand in affliction, then you would find God's presence with you. Will you be thus disquieted till God comes again to you? Your disquiet drives him from you, and you can never expect God's coming to manifest himself comfortably to your souls, till you have gotten your hearts quiet under your afflictions. Therefore you see here how you reason amiss: you reason, I am disquiet because God is gone, when the truth is, God is gone because you are disquiet. Reason the other way, Oh, my disquiet has driven God from me, and therefore ever I would have the presence of God to come again to me, let my heart be quiet under the hand of God.

3. Do you find God departing from you in your affliction? Will you therefore depart from God too? Is this your help? Can you help yourself that way? Because God is gone, will you go too? Do I, indeed, feel God departing from me? It may be so. It may be, God for your trial is departed a little from you. And is it so indeed? What an unwise course I take! I commit further sin and so I go further off from God; what a plight I am in! God goes from me, and I from God. If the child sees the mother going from it, it is not for the child to say, My mother is gone yonder and I will go the other way; no, but the child goes crying after the mother. So should the soul say, I see the Lord is withdrawing his presence from me, and now it is best for me to make after the Lord with all my might, and I am sure this murmuring humor is not a making after God, but by it I go further and further away from God, and what a distance there will be between God and me within a little while! These are some of the reasonings and pleas of a murmuring and discontented heart. There are many others that we shall meet with, and endeavor to speak to your hearts in them, that this touch humor of discontent may, as it were, be cut with the word and softened with the word, so that it may pass away. For that is the way of physicians, when they meet with a body which has any tough humor, then they give that which has a piercing quality; when there is a tough humor which stops the water, that it cannot pass, they give something with a piercing quality which may make a passage for it. So you have need of such things as are piercing, to make a way through this tough humor in the spirits of men and women, whereby they come to live very uncomfortably to themselves and others, and very dishonorably unto God.

Now many pleas and reasonings still remain, for there is a great deal of ado with a discontented, murmuring heart. And I remember, I find that the same Hebrew word which signifies to lodge, to abide, signifies to murmur. They use one word for both, for murmuring is a disorder that lodges in men; where it gets in once it lodges, abides and continues, and therefore, that we may dislodge it and get it out, we will labor to show what are the further reasonings of a discontented heart.