Andrew Fuller Friday: On Suffering in Light of Eternity

Such is the magnitude of the glory to be revealed in us, that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with it. In speaking of these opposites, the apostle, as by a kind of spiritual arithmetic, seems to place them in opposite columns. The amount of the column of sufferings, if viewed by itself, would appear great. Much evil attends us, both as men and as good men. The misery of man is great upon him; and great are the afflictions which have been endured by the faithful for Christ’s sake. For his sake they have been “killed all the day long,” and “accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” He who entered on this reckoning could not have made light of the sufferings of this present time, for want of an experimental acquaintance with them. In answer to those who depreciated his ministry, he could say, “Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not?” Yet the same person assures us that he reckons the sufferings of this present time not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. They may be heavy and tedious, when viewed by themselves; but weighed against a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, they are light and momentary.

It is thus that, in the subject before us, he considers our sufferings as confined to “this present time.” The short duration of suffering ordinarily renders it tolerable, even though, for a time, it may be acute; and if succeeded by lasting enjoyment, we consider it unmanly to make much of it; and if it be in the service of a beloved sovereign, and in support of a cause of great importance, and which lies near the heart, it is usually treated as a matter of still less account. Thus it was that the apostle reckoned his sufferings not worthy to be compared with the glory to be revealed in us.

To say of two things that one of them is not to be compared with the other, is a strong mode of expression. It is in this way that the great God expresses his infinite superiority to the most exalted creatures: “Who in the heavens can be compared unto the Lord? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto Jehovah?” So, when two things of an opposite nature come in succession, and the latter so entirely prevails over the former as to obliterate it, or in a manner to efface the remembrance of it, it may be said of the one that it is not to be compared with the other. Thus the joy that followed the resurrection of Christ was to the sorrow that preceded it: “Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.” Such also will be the joy of the heavenly inheritance, that it will efface from our remembrance the few years of sorrow which have preceded it; so efface them, at least, that we shall never think of them with regret, but as a foil to heighten our bliss.

 Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc. (J. Belcher, Ed.; Vol. 1, pp. 334–335). Sprinkle Publications.

By |September 9th, 2022|Categories: Andrew Fuller Friday, Blog|

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