Joseph Thorburn on the difference between sanctified and unsanctified afflictions

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
... It is but too true, that many are chastened, or visited with affliction, who either do not know the source of it, or do not take heed whence it comes. They smart under their affliction, whether approaching them in the form of poverty reverses, or death; nay, some are much cast down by them; but they do not connect them with the Supreme Disposer of events. Mistake me not. I do not speak of avowed unbelievers — of such as, if questioned, would say, that they are persuaded that the Supreme Being takes no cognizance of the petty affairs of men. It is of those who would warmly and heartily repudiate such a statement as irrational, and opposed, not only to their judgments, but their feelings too. But those now adverted to are such as practically receive their trials, as indeed they do their comforts and mercies, without connecting them with God as the source.

Affliction does indeed produce an impression of a stronger kind upon them than prosperity. It stuns them, and we are willing to admit that, for the moment, there may be a reflection of something like a Divine cause being the author. But this reflection (reflection is too strong a term — it is a mere passing shadow of a thought) — this reflection goes off, and is succeeded by a sort of feeling of fatalism — a conclusion that it is our lot — we have suffered loss — we have been deprived of what we loved — we have been bereaved — and, under these circumstances, we must bear as men what we cannot help, and continue the labours of life, which have for a time been interrupted. The path of life is resumed. New occupations, new pleasures, new cares, come in, and the remembrance of the affliction is avoided is what tends to do nothing else than to introduce painful and gloomy ideas. It stands forth, in the record of memory, an event by itself, having no relation to any cause, and leaving no effect of a moral kind behind to prove that it has occurred. ...

For more, see Joseph Thorburn on the difference between sanctified and unsanctified afflictions.