"By representing to the soul the outward mercies that vain men enjoy, and the outward miseries that they are freed from, whilst they have walked in the ways of sin."
In a perfect world bad things would happen to bad people and good things would happen to people that aren't quite so bad. Or at least that is the way we envision it should be. A common device that Satan uses is to point out the seemingly joyous exuberance of a man in a hellish condition whereas he makes our own personal discontentedness stick out like a sore thumb. In other words Satan confuses us into thinking that "following Christ simply doesn't work, look at the happiness of that man that does not follow Christ, what say you?" For remedies consider that:
- No man knows how the heart of God stands by his hand.
- There is nothing in the world that doth so provoke God to be wroth and angry, as men's taking encouragement from God's goodness and mercy to do wickedly.
- There is no greater misery in this life, than not to be in misery; no greater affliction, than not to be afflicted.
- That the wants of wicked men, under all their outward mercy and freedom from adversity, is far greater than all their outward enjoyments. [In other words they are never satisfied]
- That outward things are not as they seem and are esteemed.
- The end and the design of God in heaping up mercy upon the heads of the wicked, and in giving them...rest and quiet from those sorrows and suffering that others sigh under.
- That God doth often most plague and punish those whom others think he doth most spare and love.
- To dwell more upon that strict account that vain men must make for all that good that they do enjoy.
Brooks' point is really rather simple: Things are not as they seem. To look at the happiness of a man without Christ is to look at a mirage. Even if the Lord has given him this mercy it will soon fade. Often the happiness that is outward is only a mask for the deep pain that is inward. The man apart from Christ is never satisfied, and though he have all of this outward mercy he is still not fulfilled. Rather than focusing on the mirage of the lost man I would have rather Brooks' compared the glories of this world to the glory of heaven. Nevertheless, his points are effective.
"No man knoweth either love or hatred by outward mercy or misery; for all things come alike to all, to the righteous and the unrighteous, to the good and the bad, to the clean and the unclean." (72)
"To render good for evil is divine, to render good for good is human, to render evil for evil is brutish; but to render evil for good is devilish; and from this evil deliver my soul, O God." (73)
"What is honor, and riches, and the favor of creatures, so long as I [lack] the favor of God, the pardon of my sins, an interest in Christ, and the hopes of glory! O Lord, give me these, or I die; give me these, or else I shall eternally die." (75)