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The previous post in this series may be found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/edward-polhill-humility-prepares-one-for-suffering/

Polhill next explains that obedience to God in the present prepares for suffering in the future. To draw the connection between the two, Polhill first explains that obedience is an act of submitting our will to our Creator’s will. Thus, it prepares us for submitting to God’s will when suffering comes. He demonstrates the connection between obedience & suffering in six parts.

First, any true obedience is a supernatural act: “Obedience being a mere supernatural act, comes from the Holy Spirit, as the prime cause thereof; a general concourse suffices not; there must be a peculiar motion and impulsion of the Spirit in it” (Edward Polhill, The Works of Edward Polhill (London: Thomas Ward and Co., 1844), 352). This is important to note, because we can easily fall into the false understanding that obedience is merely some outward conformity of the hands.  However, obedience is a willing work of the heart.

Again, the Holy Spirit, which makes good men do God’s will, will enable them to suffer it too. St. Paul took pleasure in persecutions, because, when he was weak, then he was strong, (2 Cor. 12:10); that is, the Holy Spirit did strengthen his inward man to bear the cross. The Holy Spirit in the saints is a well of water, springing up to everlasting life, (John 4:14). The persecuting world would fain stop and dam it up; but in the midst of all oppositions it springs, and never leaves springing till the saints be in heaven; and before they come thither, it is, as St. Peter speaks,” A spirit of glory resting upon them,” (1 Pet. 4:14); it brings down some glimpses of heaven into their hearts, whilst they are suffering for religion.

Edward Polhill, The Works of Edward Polhill (London: Thomas Ward and Co., 1844), 352–353. 

Second, true obedience seeks the glory of God; as it will when suffering comes. Obedience seeks to esteem God, because God is God:

True obedience hath a pure respect to God’s will and glory; it hath a pure respect to God’s will; … As in matters of faith he believes, because God hath said it; so in matters of practice he obeys, because God hath commanded it. Also it hath a pure respect to God’s glory; …an obedient person will not be a centre to himself, nor make God, the most excellent being, a medium to any other thing: his great design is, that God in all things may be glorified: his holiness is but to shine as a beam from the Holy One; his mercy is but as a little drop flowing from the divine ocean; his obedience is to tell the world that God is supreme; like his Saviour Christ, he seeks not his own glory, but his Father’s.

Edward Polhill, The Works of Edward Polhill (London: Thomas Ward and Co., 1844), 353.

Third, obedience brings us to Christ. The greater our obedience, the more we come to know and relate to our Savior (this of course removes all grounds for “legalism”; we are not obedient to gain a relationship but because we are in relation):

True obedience makes us to grow up into Christ the head, and to be of near alliance to him. It makes us to grow up into Christ the head, (Eph. 4:15). Obedience, being the exercise of all graces, brings us into a near union with Christ, and makes us more and more like to him: the more we act our love, meekness, mercy, goodness, or any grace, the more we are united to him and incorporated with him; nay, true obedience makes us to be of near alliance to him.

Edward Polhill, The Works of Edward Polhill (London: Thomas Ward and Co., 1844), 353.

Fourth, obedience is an exercise, and like all exercise it produces strength. Obedience fits us spiritually to bear suffering.

Fifth obedience is to commune with God; it puts us into active relationship with him. Thus, the one confronted with suffering will be in a state to receive the grace of God to bear up under the suffering:

Cicely Ormes [a martyr] was filled with such joy and comfort, that at the kindling of the fire, she said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my Spirit doth rejoice in God my Saviour.” O let us firmly conclude this with ourselves, that God will not leave or forsake his people, no, not at other times, much less will he do it in the time of fiery trials. Then they shall have strength and comfort in a more than ordinary way, enough to make them to triumph over their sufferings, or at leastwise to bear them with patience.

Edward Polhill, The Works of Edward Polhill (London: Thomas Ward and Co., 1844), 354.

Finally, obedience puts us in the way to see the Lord:

True obedience is the way to heaven: those blessed ones, that do the commands of God, “have right to the tree of life, and enter in through the gates into the city,” (Rev. 22:14). The more obedient a man is to the divine will, the richer entrance he hath into the blessed kingdom. After sowing to the Spirit comes the crop of eternal glory; after walking in holy obedience, comes the blessed end of life and immortality. In this respect, obedience fits us for sufferings: a man that is in the way to hell, is not capable of suffering; it is not imaginable that a man should bear reproach for Christ, who hath no hope of glory; or that he should part with his treasure here, who hath none in heaven; or that he should lay down his life temporal, who hath no right to an eternal one; or that he should let go his portion of good in this world, who hath none in another.

Edward Polhill, The Works of Edward Polhill (London: Thomas Ward and Co., 1844), 354.

Thus, obedience is a supernatural act which puts us into relationship with God so as to receive his grace and strength; it sets us on the way to our see the Lord. And thus, suffering cannot distract us from that end.