Now learn to be courageous. Are afflictions upon thee? Be sensible of them, be humbled in them, but never shrink from thy hold of Christ or hope of mercy. Be of Paul’s resolution; ‘We are distressed,’ saith he, ‘but yet faint not.’ See God at thy right hand, as David did, and therefore be not moved. See what is gained by affliction, ‘the inward man grows.’ See what is laid up for these light and short afflictions, 2 Cor. 4:17, ‘even a far more excellent and eternal weight of glory.’ Art thou censured and scorned by men? Make use, of it, but not to discouragement.
Remember Christ was despised, counted a worm, judged wicked, and then say with the church, ‘Rejoice not against me, O my enemy, though I fall I shall rise again: When I am in darkness, the Lord he will be a light unto me,’ Micah 7:8. Art thou assaulted by Satan? Cry with Paul, and bemoan thyself; but know therewith that God’s ‘grace is, and shall be sufficient for thee,’ 2 Cor. 12:9; that he hath overcome, and therefore resolve, with Job, to receive from God what he will put upon thee, yea, to die at his feet, Job 13:15. Art thou led captive with thy corruptions? Mourn with Paul, but say withal, ‘It is not I, but sin in me; I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord,’ Romans 7:17, 25. It is a most worthy service to give Christ the glory of his riches in poverty, of his power in weakness, grace in sin, life in death. Then we live by faith, then we shew forth the strength of the Spirit.
To this purpose, first learn to know thyself, what thou art by nature, and all men else. The want of this knowledge breeds pride, discouragement, error in judgment, mistaking, misapplication of things. Secondly, know what Christ is, how lovely, how rich, how able, how true; how willing he is to help the distressed and miserable, never adding affliction unto affliction. Thirdly, see what he hath done for others, for thyself heretofore. Now lay graces by infirmities with the church here, and when the devil upbraids thee with thy maims, look on thy cures; when he sets before thee the tempestuous dark works of the first Adam, do thou oppose, and lay before thee the quiet fruit of righteousness and peace-making reconciliation and works of Christ, the second Adam, thy surety, who hath paid thy debts and satisfied divine justice to the full.
Richard Sibbes, The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 7 “The Church’s Blackness” (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson, 1864), 100.