Today's Puritan Audio Devotional--
by J. A. James (Very comforting!)
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The prosperity of the wicked
(William Secker, "The Consistent Christian" 1660)
"For I envied the arrogant--when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." Psalm 73:3
We should never judge the inward conditions of men--by the outward dispensations of God. The greatness of our estates--is no argument of the goodness of our hearts. To prize ourselves by what we have--and not by what we are; is to estimate the value of the jewel--by the box which contains it. Grace and gold can live together; but the smallest degree of grace in the heart--is preferable to a thick chain of gold around the neck.
Lest riches should be accounted evil in themselves--God sometimes gives them to the righteous; and lest they should be considered as the chief good--He frequently bestows them on the wicked. But they are more generally the portion of God's enemies--than His friends.
Here on earth, it is sometimes evil with the righteous--and well with the wicked. Those who live most upon God, sometimes fare worst from the world. You cannot read the wrath of God--in the black lines of adversity; or the love of God--in the white lines of prosperity.
God often gives a full cup of temporal blessings to wicked men--though there are dregs at the bottom! They may be fruitful vines--and yet only laden with sour grapes. It is seldom that the sparkling diamond of a great estate--is set in the golden ring of a pious heart. Riches have made many good men--worse; but they never made any bad man--better.
Though a Christian is made happy in the world--yet he is not made happy by the world. There are many who are temporally happy, who will be eternally miserable; and many are now temporally miserable, who will be eternally happy.
"God causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good--and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Matthew 5:45. The sun of prosperity shines upon the dunghill--as well as upon beds of spices. The rain of adversity falls upon the fruitful garden--as well as the barren wilderness. The abundance of the infidel is a golden chain--to bind him to the earth; and the apparent miseries of the believer are as fiery chariots--to convey him to heaven!
If we look for a saint, he is not always to be found upon a bed of down--but sometimes he has been seen on a heap of dust. Poor Lazarus rises up to heaven--and rich Dives sinks down to hell. We must not infer the absence of God's affections--from the presence of numerous afflictions. A saint is glorious in his misery--but a sinner is miserable amidst all his glory.
"Judge nothing according to appearance--but judge righteous judgment." That apple which has the fairest skin--may have the rottenest core. The most choice pearls--are often enclosed in the most hideous shells.
"Deliver my soul from the wicked--who have their portion in this life." Psalm 17:14. The things of the world--are the only happiness of the men of the world. A man's estate in this world may be great--and yet his state for the eternal world may be fearful. God may say to him as to Pharaoh, "For this purpose have I raised you up--that I might show My power upon you." The same hand which now pours abundance on ungodly men like oil--will soon pour down wrath upon them like fire! Under all their wealth--their hearts are sinful; and after all the riches have fled--their situation will be doleful!