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A Meditation Upon Mixtures,

by William Spurstowe (1666)


The wise God has so tempered the whole estate of Man in this life, as that it consists altogether of mixtures.  There is no sweet without sour, nor sour without sweetness. All simples, in any kind, would prove dangerous, and be as uncorrected drugs, which administered unto the patient would not cure him, but destroy him.  Constant sorrow without any joy would swallow him up; and simple joy without any grief would puff us up.  Both extremes would agree alike in our ruin:  he being in as dangerous a case who is swollen in pride, as he who is overwhelmed with sorrow.  This mixture then, though it seem penal and prejudicial to our comfort, is yet medicinal, and is by God, as a wise physician, ordered as a diet most suitable to our condition; and if we did but look into the grounds of it, we shall find cause to acknowledge God’s wise providence, and to frame our hearts to a submission of his will, without murmuring at what he does. 

For have we not two natures in us:  the spirit and the flesh; the new and the old man?  Have we not twins in our womb, our counter-lustings, and our counter-willings?  Are we not as plants that are seated between the two different soils of Earth and Heaven?  Is there not then a necessity of a mixed diet, that is made up of two contraries?  The physician is not less loyal to his prince if he give to him an unpleasing vomit, and to a poor man a cheering cordial, because his applications are not according to the dignity of the person, but to the quality of the disease:  neither is God the less kind when he puts into our hand the bitter cup of affliction to drink of, than when he makes us to taste of the flagons of his sweetest wine.

Paul, his thorn in the flesh, whatever the meaning of it be, was useful to keep down that tumor of pride, which the abundance of revelations might have exposed him to; and so joined together they were like the rod and the honey which enlightened Jonathan’s eyes:  when he had tasted the sweetness of the one, God would have him feel the smart of the other.  Likewise, at the same time also when God blessed Jacob, he crippled him, that he might not think above what was meet of his own strength, or ascribe his prevailing to the vehemency of his wrestling, rather than to God’s gracious condescension. 

Yea, who is it that has not experienced such mixtures to be the constant methods which he uses towards his dearest children?  What are the lives of the best Christians but as a rainbow, which consists half of the moisture of a cloud, and half of the light and beams of the sun?  “Weeping” (says David), “may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Ps. 30:5).  And what other thing does the Apostle speak of himself, when he gives the Corinthians an account of his condition?  “As dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, and yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, but yet possessing all things” (II Cor. 6:9-10). 

Blessed then is he who does without repining yield himself to the dispose of divine providence, rather than accuse it, and looks not so much to what at present is grateful to the sense, as to what for the future will be profitable to the whole.  For in these mixtures, great advantages do lie hid, though not shine forth.  Hereby, we are put upon the exercise of all those graces which are accommodated to our imperfect state here below, whose acts shall not be completed in Heaven, but shall all cease, as being not capacitated for a fruition:  and yet are of great use while we are on this side of Heaven. 

How necessary is patience to bear up the soul under trials, that it fret not against God who inflicts them?  How greatly does hope temper any present sour by its expectation of some happy change that may and will follow, and so works joy in the midst of sadness?  How even to wonder does faith manifest its power in all distresses, when it apprehends that there are no degrees of extremity unrelieveable by the arm of God, or inconsistent with his compassions and friendship?  Again, such mixtures serve to work in us a greater hatred of sin, and an earnest longing after glory; in which, our life, light, joys, are all pure, and everlasting; in which our life will be without any seed of death, our light without any shadow of darkness, and our joys endless Hallelujahs, without the interruption of one sigh. 

Therefore, are we burdened in our earthly tabernacle, that we should the more groan to be clothed upon with our house which is from Heaven.  Therefore yet have we the remainders of sin, by which we are unlike God; and the first-fruits only of the spirit, by which we resemble him; that we might long and wait for the adoption and redemption, wherein whatever is blended and imperfect shall be done away; when not to sin, which is here only our duty, shall be the top branch of our reward and blessedness.

O holy Lord, I complain not of my present lot, for though it be not free from mixture, yet it is greatly differing from what others find and feel, whose lines are not fallen in so fair a place:  But still I say, when shall I dwell in that blessed country where sorrows die, and joys cannot?  Into which enemy never entered, and from which a friend never parted?  When shall I possess that inheritance which is a kingdom for its greatness, and a city for its beauty, where there is society without envy, and rich communications of good without the least diminution.






This article is taken from:  Spurstowe, William.  The Spiritual Chymist: or, Six Decads of Divine Meditations on Several Subjects. London: Philip Chetwind, 1666.  A PDF file of this book can be downloaded, free of charge, at http://www.ClassicChristianLibrary.com