Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects: therefore despise not you the chastening of the Almighty:…
1. That afflictions to the children of God at sorest are but corrections. Blessed is the man whom God corrects. You will say, But what is a correction? And how differenced from judgments and punishments, and wherein do they agree? They agree, first, in the efficient cause. God lays His hand on man in both. Secondly, they agree in the matter; the same evil, the same trouble to one man is a correction, to another a judgment. Thirdly, they may agree also in the degree; a trouble or an affliction may fall and lie as heavy, and be as painful to sense upon a child of God, as upon the vilest wretch in the world; he may be as poor, as friendless, as sick as any wicked man. What, then, is this correction? And where will the correction and the judgment part? I conceive that the infirmities of the saints, and the Sins of the wicked differ, as judgments and corrections differ. Then, where do they part? Surely, where corrections and judgments part. Especially in two things.
(1) In the manner how;
(2) In the end why they are inflicted. First, the Lord never corrects His children with such a heart as He carries in laying trouble upon wicked men. The heart of God is turned toward His children when He corrects them; but His heart is turned from a wicked man when He punishes him. Secondly, the difference is as broad about the end. When God lays the rod of correction upon His child, He aims at the purging out of his sin, at the preventing of his sin, at the revealing of a fatherly displeasure against him for his sin. The Lord would only have him take notice that He doth not approve of him in such courses. When these ends are proposed, every affliction is a correction. But the afflictions of the ungodly are sent for other ends. First, to take vengeance on them. Secondly, to satisfy offended justice.
2. A child of God is in a happy condition under all corrections. Corrections are not sent to take away his comforts, but to take away his corruptions. Again, corrections are not manifestations of wrath, but an evidence of His love (Revelation 3:21). And if any doubt, can a man be happy when his outward comfort is gone? Doubtless he may: for a man is never unhappy, but when he hath lost that wherein happiness doth consist. The happiness of a godly man doth not consist in his outward comforts, in riches, in health, in honour, in civil liberty, or human relations; therefore in the loss of these he cannot be unhappy. His happiness consists in his relation to and acceptance with God, in his title to and union with Jesus Christ. He hath not lost anything discernible out of his estate. Suppose a man were worth a million of money, and he should lose a penny, would you think this man an undone man No: his estate feels not this loss, and therefore he hath not lost his estate.
3. A godly man cannot be unhappy while he enjoys God. And he usually enjoys God most, when he is most afflicted.
Parallel VersesKJV: Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: