My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations;…
The use and ordination of persecution to the people of God is trial. God maketh use of the worst instruments, as fine gold is cast into the fire, the most devouring element. Innocency is best tried by iniquity. But why doth God try us? Not for His own sake, for He is omniscient; but either —
1. For our sakes, that we may know ourselves. In trials we discern the sincerity of grace, and the weakness and liveliness of it; and so are less strangers to our own hearts. Sincerity is discovered. A gilded potsherd may shine till it cometh to scouring. In trying times God heateth the furnace so hot that dross is quite wasted; every interest is crossed, and then hirelings become changelings. Sometimes we discover our own weakness (Matthew 13.); we find that faith weak in danger which we thought to be strong out of danger. In pinching weather weak persons feels the aches and bruises of their joints. Sometimes we discern the liveliness of grace. Stars shine in the night that he hid in the day. Spices are most fragrant when burnt and bruised, so have saving graces their chiefest flagrancy in hard times.
2. Or for the world's sake. And so —
(1) For the present to convince them by our constancy, that they may be confirmed in the faith if weak, or converted if altogether un-called. It was a notable saying of Luther, The Church converted the whole world by blood and prayer. We are proved, and religion is proved, when we are called to sufferings. Paul's bonds made for the furtherance of the gospel (Philippians 1:12, 13). was converted by the constancy of the Christians. When he saw the Christians so willingly choose death, he reasoned thus within himself: Surely these men must be honest, and there is somewhat eminent in their principles. So I remember the author of the Council of Trent said concerning Anne de Burg, a senator of Paris, who was burnt for Protestantism, that the death and constancy of a man so conspicuous did make many curious to know what religion that was for which he bad courageously endured punishment, and so the number was much increased.
(2) We are tried with respect to the day of judgment (1 Peter 1:7). Use: It teaches us to bear afflictions with constancy and patience.
1. God's aim in your affliction is not destruction, but trial (Daniel 11:35).
2. The time of trial is appointed (Daniel 11:35).
3. God sits by the furnace looking after His metal (Malachi 3:3).
4. This trial is not only to approve, but to improve (1 Peter 1:7; Job 23:10).
Parallel VersesKJV: My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;