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The Mute Christian under the Smarting Rod Paperback – January 10, 2011
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The Mute Christian under the Smarting Rod Thomas Brooks first published this work in 1659 as the expression of his own experience under trials and afflictions and as an encouragement and an admonition to others. Here afflictions, trials, temptations, and human weakness are set in the balance against Scriptural knowledge in an exhortation to faith and the humble acceptance and profiting of the children of God under the disciplining hand of a God who would be known as our Father: âFurthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.â Hebrews 12:9-11 And as recorded in the Psalms, âMy mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.â Psalms 89:28-34
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Brooks begins his treatise by proposing a Doctrine--"That it is the great duty and concernment of gracious souls to be mute and silent under the greatest afflictions, the saddest providences, and sharpest trials that they meet with in this world." A Selected quote adds to our understanding of his proposed Doctrine--"If God's hand be not seen in the affliction, the heart will do nothing but fret and rage under affliction." Brooks also enumerates and responds to ten different Objections to this Doctrine and follows with "helps and directions that may contribute to the silencing and stilling of your souls under the greatest afflictions, the sharpest trials, and the saddest providences that you meet with in this world."
me in knowing how to react biblically to Gods loving providences.
(Heb 12:11) Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Thomas Brooks deals with suffering in a way that modern Christian writers rarely do. He writes from the perspective of God's sovereignty, and writes as a man that was living at the time when life was hard and short for most of the population. Death of children before adulthood was common. Plagues were a fact of life. Even so, the Puritan divines lived in the sure belief in the holiness and goodness of God. Suffering was understood as the discipline of a loving God dealing with his children, shaping them into the image of Christ. That being so, Brooks writes a short and direct treatise. The points he outlines are supported with rich amounts of scriptural reference and life examples.
Reading the Puritans is not light work. The language of the age can make it slow. But that is all the better for chewing on the thoughts. The patient reader can glean a wealth of wisdom. For the Christian who is suffering, this book addresses the real issue. Not why he is suffering, or how might he find an end to the trial, but how should he respond to suffering. Yes, there is a sinful response to suffering, and there is a righteous response. Brooks helps the sufferer identify sinful responses and seek holy ones.