From The Spiritual Chymist, William Spurstowe, 1666: Upon Mixtures, Meditation XLII
The wise God has so tempered the whole as state of man in this life, as that it consists altogether of mixtures. There is no sweet without sour, nurse our without sweetness. All simples [something simple is something without compound or mixture], in any kind, would prove dangerous and be as uncorrected drugs, which administered onto the patient would not recover him, but destroy him. Constant sorrow without any joy would swallow us up; and simple joy without any grief with puff us up: both extremes would agree alike in our ruin. He being in as dangerous a case who is swollen with pride as he was overwhelmed with sorrow.
This mixture then, though it seem penal and prejudicial to our comfort, is yet medicinal and is by God, as a wise physician, ordered as a diet most suitable to our condition. And if we did but look into the grounds of it, we shall find cause to acknowledge God’s Wise providence, and to frame our hearts to a submission of his will without murmuring at what he does.
For have we not two natures in us, the spirit and flesh, the old and new man? Have we not twins in our womb, our counter-lustings and our counter-willings? Are we not as plants that are seated between the two different soils of heaven and earth?
Is there not then a necessity of a mixed diet, that is made up of two contraries? The physician is not less loyal to his prince if he give to him an unpleasing vomit, and to a poor man a cheering cordial, because his applications are not according to the dignity of the person but to the quality of the disease: neither is God the less unkind when he puts into our hand the bitter cup of affliction to drink out of, then when he makes us to taste of the flagons of his sweetest wine.
Paul his thorn in the flesh, what ever the meaning of it be, was useful to keep down the tumor of pride which the abundance of revelations might have exposed him onto (2 Corinthians 12:7); and so join together they were like the rod and the honey which enlightened Jonathan’s eyes (1 Samuel 14:27): when he had tasted the sweetness of the one, God would have him feel the smart of the other. At the same time also when God bless Jacob, he crippled him (Genesis 32:32), that he might not think above what was meet of his own strengths, or ascribe his prevailing to the vehemency of his wrestlings, rather than to God’s gracious condensation.
Yea, who is it that has not experienced such mixtures to be the constant methods which he uses towards his dearest children? What are the lives of the best Christians but as a rainbow which consist half of them moistures of a cloud and half of the light in beams of the Sun?
Weeping, says David, me endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning (Psalm 30:5). And what other thing does the apostles speak of himself, when he gives the Corinthians and account of his condition? As dying, and behold we live: as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, and yet always rejoicing; as poore, yet making many rich; as having nothing, but yet possessing all things (2 Corinthians 6:10).
Blessed then is he who does without repining yield himself to the dispose of divine providence rather then accuse it, (who) looks not so much too what at present as grateful to the sense, as to what for the future will be profitable to the whole. For in these mixtures, Magna latent beneficial et si non fulgeant, Great advantages do lie hid, though not shine forth.
Hereby we are put upon the exercise of all those graces which are accommodated to our imperfect state here below, whose acts shall not be completed in heaven, but shall all cease, as being not capacitated for fruition: and yet are of great use while we are up on this side of heaven. How greatly does hope temper any presents sour by its expectation of some happy change that may end will follow, and so works joy in the midst of sadness? How even to wonder does faith manifest its power in all distresses, when it apprehends that there are no degrees of extremity unrelievable by the arm of God, or inconsistent with his compassions and friendship?
Again, such mixtures serve to work in us a greater hatred of sin and an earnest longings after glory; in which our life, light, joys are all pure and everlasting. Our life is without any seed of death, our light without any shadow of darkness, and our joys endless hallelujahs, without the interruption of one sigh.
We should the more groan to be clothed upon with our house which is from Heaven (2 Corinthians 5:2). Therefore yet have we the reminders of sin, by which we are unlike God; and the first-fruits only of the Spirit, by which we resemble him; that we might long and wait for the adoption and redemption, wherein whatever is blended and imperfect should be done away. When not to sin, which is here only our duty, shall be the top branch of our reward and blessedness.
Oh holy lord, I complained not of my present lot,
for though it be not free from mixture,
yet it is greatly differing from what others find and feel
whose lines are not falling in so fair a place:
But still I say,
when shall I dwell in that blessed country were sorrows die, and joys cannot?
Into which enemy never entered,
and from which a friend never parted?
When shall I possess that inheritance which is the kingdom for its greatness,
and the city for its beauty,
where there is society without envy,
and rich communications of good without the least diminution?