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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

God’s Dealings with His Servants

By Thomas Hooker (1586–1647)

[The Activity of Faith, or Abraham’s Imitators. 1651.]

MY brethren, let me say so to you: You will find trouble and inconveniences, and hard measure at the hands of the wicked in this world, many Nabals and Cains will set themselves against you; but go on, and bear it patiently. Know it is a troublesome way, but a true way, it is grievous but yet good, and the end will be happy; it will never repent you, when the Lord hath performed all the good that he hath spoken concerning you.

Oh! to see a man drawing his breath low and short, after he hath spent many hours and days in prayer to the Lord, grappling with his corruptions, and striving to pull down his base lusts, after he hath waited upon the Lord in a constant course of obedience; take but such a man, and ask him, now his conscience is opened, whether the ways of holiness and sincerity be not irksome to him, whether he be not grieved with himself for undergoing so much needless trouble (as the world thinks it) and his soul will then clear this matter. It is true, he hath had a tedious course of it, but now his death will be blessed; he hath striven for a Crown, and now behold a Crown! Now he is beyond the waves; all the contempts and imprisonments and outrages of wicked men, are now too short to reach him; he is so far from repenting, that he rejoiceth and triumpheth in reflecting back upon all the pains and care and labor of love whereby he hath loved the Lord Jesus, in submitting his heart unto him.

Take me another man, that hath lived here in pomp and jollity, hath had many livings, great preferments, much honor, abundance of pleasure, yet hath been ever careless of God and of his Word, profane in his course, loose in his conversation, and ask him upon his death-bed, how it standeth with him; Oh! woe the time, that ever he spent it as he hath done! Now the soul begins to hate the man, and the very sight of him that hath been the instrument with it in the committing of sin; now nothing but gall and wormwood remaineth; now the sweetness of the adulterer’s lust is gone, and nothing but the sting of conscience remaineth; now the covetous man must part with his goods, and the gall of Asps must stick behind; now the soul sinks within, and the heart is overwhelmed with sorrow! Take but these two men, I say, and judge by their ends, whether ever it will repent you that you have done well, that you have walked in the steps of the faith of Abraham. My brethren, howsoever you have had many miseries, yet the Lord hath many mercies for you. God dealeth with his servants, as a father doth with his son, after he hath sent him on a great journey to do some business, and the weather falleth foul, and the way proveth dangerous, and many a storm, and great difficulties are to be gone through. Oh! how the heart of that father pitieth his son! How doth he resolve to requite him, if he ever live to come home again; what preparation doth he make to entertain and welcome him; and how doth he study to do good unto him! My brethren, so it is here; I beseech you, think of it, you that are the Saints and people of God! You must find in your way many troubles and griefs, (and we ought to find them,) but be not discouraged; the more misery, the greater mercy. God the Father seeth his servants, and if they suffer and endure for a good conscience, as his eye seeth them, so his soul pitieth them, his heart bleeds within him for them. That is, he hath a tender compassion of them, and he saith within himself, “Well, I will requite them if ever they come into my kingdom; all their patience, and care, and conscience in walking in my ways, I will requite, and they shall receive a double reward from me, even a Crown of eternal glory.” Think of those things that are not seen; they are eternal: the things that are seen are temporal, and they will deceive us; let our hearts be carried after the other, and rest in them forever.