Thomas Boston on Believers Having Tribulation in the World

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C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Graduate

These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.—John 16:33​

This is a dark and gloomy day, in which there seems to be a black cloud of wrath hanging over our heads; which if mercy prevent not, is like to fall heavy upon us; yet the storm never blows so hard, but the children of God may have peace; being, though upon a sea, yet in a ship that cannot sink. Our text is the conclusion of our Lord’s farewell sermon to his disciples, in which we have the use and end of the whole, namely, that they might have peace. While he discoursed to them, he had in view their peace; that is inward peace and prosperity, contentment and quietness of mind in the midst of trouble. All this they might have in him; being united to him by faith, they might have peace in him, as Noah had in the ark, while the deluge was on the earth. His own word was the mean by which they were thus to obtain peace in him. This word leads the soul to Christ, where it may get peace, and teaches how to employ Christ for peace. “Unless thy law,” says David, “had been my delight, I should then have perished in mine affliction.”

We have next the necessity of speaking these things to them for that end. “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” In this world they must lay their account to meet with tribulation. In heaven there is no trouble, in earth no rest. They shall have trouble in and from the world, as they have peace in and from Christ. Observe the certainty of all this; it is not, you may have, but, “you shall have tribulation.” They have no reason to be surprised with trouble. He warns them of it. It is the common way to heaven, not going there otherwise.

We have also the duty of the Lord’s people in tribulation, or under the fears of it, “Be of good cheer.” (Greek), Be confident, over the belly of all you may meet with in the world. Keep up your hearts, faint not. The comfort is, Christ has overcome the world, and therefore though it may wound you, it shall not destroy you; and as surely as Christ himself has overcome, so surely shall ye overcome.

—Thomas Boston, Believers Having Tribulation in the World in The Complete Works of the Late Rev. Thomas Boston, Ettrick, ed. Samuel McMillan (12 vols, London, 1853), IV, pp. 323-324.
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