When God sent him to school to the swine-trough!
(Thomas Case, "The Rod and the Word, A Treatise on Afflictions" 1653)
"When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land He has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe His commands, His laws and His decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied—then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery." Deuteronomy 8:10-14
In the school of affliction, God teaches us how to prize our outward mercies and comforts more—and yet to dote upon them less. We are taught to be more thankful for them—and yet less ensnared by them.
Naturally we are very prone either to slight or to surfeit God's blessings. And yet (sad to consider) we can often do both at once! We can undervalue our mercies—even while we glut ourselves with them! We can despise them—even when we are surfeiting upon them.
Behold while men fill themselves with the mercies of God—they can neglect the God of their mercies! When God is most liberal in remembering us—then we are most ungrateful to forget Him. Therefore that we may know how to put a due estimate upon mercies—God may cut them off, that we may learn to prize by the lack of mercies, that which our foolish unthankful hearts slighted in the enjoyment of them.
Now this ungrateful distemper, God many times cures by the sharp corrosive of affliction!
Thus the prodigal, who while yet at home could despise the rich and well furnished table of his father; when God sent him to school to the swine-trough—would have gladly filled his belly with the pods which he was feeding to the swine!
When months and years of God's mercies and blessings are passed through—we scarcely take one grateful view of them; we seldom send up one thankful prayer to God for them. We pass by our mercies as common things, scarcely worth the owning. Whereas in times of famine—the lees and dregs of those mercies will be precious, which while the vessel ran full and fresh, we could hardly relish. In famine the very gleanings of our comforts are better than the whole vintage in the years of plenty!
In the withdrawing of common mercies—God will teach us their inestimable worth.