(The previous post in this series on Edward Polhill’s A Preparation for Suffering in an Evil Day may be found here )
Polhill next explains that obedience to God’s will before we suffer, will prepare us to persevere through suffering when it comes. We are fitted to God’s determination for our life through obedience, that obedience then becomes the basis for submitting to God’s will in suffering.
He proves this point with six consideration:
First, obedience is the work of the Holy Spirit in one’s life: this supernatural work of the Spirit in obedience leads to the same supernatural work of the Spirit to go through suffering:
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; 1 Peter 4:14).
Second, we must believe, because God has commanded: that it is enough. Having been fitted to obey, we are fit to suffer at God’s determination.)
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. (Luke 8:20-21)….St. Paul bore about in his body the dying of the Lord Jesus, (2 Cor. 4:10); and the allies of Christ must be ready, at God’s call, to suffer with him.
Fourth, suffering well will take strength; we can only increase in such strength through obedience:
True obedience produces an increase of grace and spiritual strength. Obedience is a christian’s daily walk; the more he exercises himself to godliness, the more grace he hath in his soul. …Such an obedience as this admirably disposes a man for suffering. The greater his stock of grace is, the better will he hold out in the straits of the world. The more strength he hath in the inner man, the more able he will be to bear the burden of the cross:
Fifth, “True obedience obtains the gracious presence of God to help and comfort good men in the doing his will.”
Sixth, if we are in the way of obedience, we are on the way to God, and thus will endure suffering on that way:
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…..When Basil the great was threatened with banishment, and death, he was not at all moved at it: banishment is nothing to him that hath heaven for his country; neither is death any thing to one to whom it is the way to life: He that is in the way to heaven hath great reason to break through all difficulties to get thither.
Edward Polhill, The Works of Edward Polhill (London: Thomas Ward and Co., 1844), 352–354.
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