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The previous post in this series may be found here.

But it shines with a most heavenly luster in that the preparation of heaven which is marvelously promoted in us by defamations on earth. The dirt of reproaches is as the martyr said of it (and there never was a martyr without a share of it!) only to scour you and make you bright, that a high shelf in heaven may be assigned to you. You must have a name reviled on earth; ’tis that so you may be the fitter to find a name written in heaven.  There will be a resurrection of names as well as bodies in the day when God shall raise the dead. All the Good that you have done; all your prayers, all your alms, and the steps of you watchful walk with God[1]; all the brave efforts of your self-denial; all the continual contrivances to serve Christ and his people, and your neighbors in which you have been swallowed up every day [not one Day without them!] for many, many years together; they being sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb shall be found in the Lord’s Book of Remembrance[2]: They shall be proclaimed in the golden streets of the City of God. That you may be prepar’d for what shall be done for the man whom the King of Heaven will honor[3] in the world to come, you must be abased in this world, be abased with quite another sort of things reported and believed of you and be patient under it. God will first have you lie in the dust, first thrown in the dungeon and willing that it should be so, before he sets upon with the princes of his people in the heavenly places.[4]

 

God knows what is done to their names; and will have them willing to go by other names; to be called by very mean and vile and ill names, before he takes them to shine among the stars. How sweet, how sweet will be your arrival among of the angles of God, going from a world which you found a place of dragons! A world where your complaint was, My soul is among lions and I lie among them that set on fire!

 

Yea, and who can tell, but you may yet shine more as lights in the world[5] for the snuffing which your defamations have bestow’d upon you? While the snuffing was a-doing, it threatened wholly to put out the lamp, or it was a lamped despised; presently it shines the more for it. How often have you seen it, that cruel defamations have been but forerunners of a greater and brighter serviceableness for God first chastens and instructs and humbles his dear servants. By and by, they see rest from the days of defamation; they prove more serviceable than ever they were in their lives before; and a pit is digged for the wicked[6], they are cut off in their own wickedness.[7]

 

A man is never fit for serviceableness until he be humbled and broken and grieved and made of nothing and willing to be so. Then, then he is fit for the Master’s use.[8] Defamations do contribute unto it admirably! A Joseph must be flouted as a dreamer[9]; the basest person in the world must go to fix a character of baseness upon him; and this only because Hell could not obtain its ends upon him. He outlives the rage of them that hated him and vexed him. He shone brighter, and he did more afterwards a thousand times than ever in his life before: The God of his Father helped him.

 

The intent of Satan and of your enemies, may be by defamations forever to spoil your serviceableness. God over-rules them; God disappoints them; your opportunities to be serviceable do not lie at their mercy. God is perhaps fitting you to some good, which at present you little think or know of. You know not now, but you shall know hereafter. In the meantime, Oh! Glorify the faithfulness of God.

 

[1] Acts 10:1–4 (AV)

1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. 3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. 4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

[2] Malachi 3:16 (AV)

16 Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.

[3] This is an allusion to the language, though not the circumstance of Esther 6:6 (AV)

6 So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself?

[4] This theme of reversal is common through-out the Scripture:

Mark 10:31 (AV)

31 But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.

Luke 1:51–53 (AV)

51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He hath put down the mighty from theirseats, and exalted them of low degree. 53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

[5] Philippians 2:15 (AV)

15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

[6] Psalm 94:12–13 (AV)

12 Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law; 13 That thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked.

[7] Psalm 94:22–23 (AV)

22 But the LORD is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge. 23 And he shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; yea, the LORD our God shall cut them off.

[8] 2 Timothy 2:21 (AV)

21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

[9] Genesis 37:18–20 (AV)

18 And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. 19 And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. 20 Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.