Spiritual Medicine & Preventative Prescriptions

I Peter 1:6

Now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.

JOHN CHRYSOSTOM (347-407): God measures out affliction to our need.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): If need be”―if such proves needful—if God, in looking upon us as our Father, sees that this is just what we need at that moment.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): For it is not always needful. If God sees it to be the best means for your spiritual profit.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: So we start with this great principle, that God sees and knows what is best for us and what is needful. We do not see, but God always does, and, as our Heavenly Father, He sees the need and He prescribes the appropriate trial which is destined for our good.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Sometimes there is a kind of necessity that the followers of God should be afflicted; when they have no trials they are apt to get careless, and when they have secular prosperity they are likely to become worldly-minded. “God,” said a good man, “can neither trust me with health nor money; therefore I am both poor and afflicted.”

JOHN WESLEY: Generally prosperity is a sweet poison, and affliction a healing, though bitter medicine.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Afflictions are useful, and in a degree necessary, to keep alive in us a conviction of the vanity and unsatisfying nature of the present world, and all its enjoyments; to remind us that this is not our rest, and to call our thoughts upward, where our true treasure is, and where our conversation ought to be. When things go on much to our wish, our hearts are too prone to say, “It is good be here.”  It is probable, that had Moses, when he came to invite Israel to Canaan, found them in prosperity, as in the days of Joseph, they would have been very unwilling to remove; but the afflictions they were brought into made his message welcome. Thus the Lord, by pain, sickness, and disappointments, by breaking our cisterns and withering our gourds, weakens our attachment to this world, and makes the thought of quitting it more familiar and more desirable.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Afflictive dispensations, in whatsoever form, are necessary―on account of Christ the head, to whom there must be a conformity of His members; and likewise on their own account; for the humbling of their souls; for the weaning of them from the things of this world; for the restraining, subduing, and keeping under the corruptions of their nature; and for the trial of grace: and it is only “if,” and when there is a necessity for them, that they are in heaviness by them; otherwise God does not delight to afflict and grieve the children of men, and much less His own.

JOHN NEWTON: The Lord loves His children, and is very indulgent to them so far as they can safely bear it, but He will not spoil them. Their sin-sickness requires medicines, some of which are very unpalatable; but when the case calls for such, no short-sighted entreaties of ours can excuse us from taking what He prepares for our good. But every dose is prepared by His own hand, and not one is administered in vain, nor is it repeated any oftener than is needful to answer the purposed end. Till then, no other hand can remove what He lays upon us; but when His merciful design is answered, He will relieve us Himself; and in the mean time He will so moderate the operation, or increase our ability to bear, that we shall not be overpowered.  It is true, without a single exception, that all His paths are mercy and truth to them that fear Him…The Lord afflicts us at times; but it is always a thousand times less than we deserve.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): His conduct is very gentle; as Jacob drove on as the little ones were able to bear, Genesis 33; so God doth with great deal of moderation measure out our sufferings in a due proportion, not to our offences only, but to our strength; as a father in correcting his children, regards their weakness as well as their wantonness, laying less upon the more infirm, though alike faulty.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): In chastising the faithful, God does not consider what they deserve, but what will be useful to them in future; and He fulfills the office of a physician rather than of a judge. Therefore, the absolution which He imparts to His children is complete and not by halves. That He nevertheless punishes those who are received into favour is to be regarded as a kind of chastisement which serves as medicine for future time, but ought not properly to be regarded as the vindictive punishment of sin committed.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Many-sided is the character of our heavenly Father, for, having forgiven as a judge, He then cures as a physician.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): As a physician, “He knoweth my frame,” Psalm 103:14—what is, what is not, expedient for me. “As a Father, He pitieth,” my weakness, Psalm 103:13. As a God, He fully supplies my real need, Philippians 4:19.

JOHN NEWTON: Trials are medicines which our gracious and wise physician prescribes, because we need them; and He proportions the frequency and weight of them to what the case requires.

C. H. SPURGEON: Jesus is a physician who knows every case; nothing is new to Him.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The physician’s care is to cure the patient’s disease, not to please his palate…He will deal out afflictions to them as the wise physician prescribes medicines to his patients.

JOHN LELAND (1754-1841): Afflictions are not always sent as a scourge for crimes committed, but sometimes as preventatives from crimes.  Paul’s thorn prevented his pride.

C. H. SPURGEON: The good Physician understands the symptoms of our disease and sees the hidden evil which they reveal, hence our case is safe in His hands…The medicine cup is not for rebels, but for those whom Jehovah Rophi loves.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): God had a hand in the mingling of thy cup; who, being a wise and gracious physician and father, would be sure not to overdo; for “He knoweth our frame, He remembereth that we are dust.”—Set down proud flesh when it bustles and bristles under God’s fatherly chastisements, and say soberly to yourselves, “Shall I not drink of the cup that my Father, who is also my physician, hath put into mine hands?”

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Afflictions are called chastenings and rebukes, which he is neither to despise nor faint under. They have been the experience of all God’s children from age to age. They are not wantonly inflicted; but there is a needs-be for them, of which their heavenly Father is the unerring Judge.

JOHN GILL: The will of God has appointed them—and therefore, [they] must be, and ought to be, quietly submitted to, and patiently borne, on that consideration.


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