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as an beavy burthen they are too heavy for them. They are feeble and fore broken ; they roar by reason of the disquietness of their beart. Adopting with sad conviction this description of their own miseries, they presume not with David to subjoin ; In thee, O Lord, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord, my God. “Ours,” they exclaim, " are the “ threatenings of Scripture: its promises “ belong not to us."
I propose, in the first place, to describe the general circumstances attending religious despondence : fecondly, to point out the ground of cure: thirdly, to specify and examine the principal arguments which the dejected individual frequently alleges as proofs, that he is not warranted to apply to himself the promises of the Scriptures : and lastly to address some practical directions to persons who experience a proneness to religious despondence.
I. When religious despondence takes possession of the mind, a new and delusive medium interposes itself between the sufferer and all the objects which he contemplates. To his eyes every incident assumes an alarming character. In the common events of life he perceives the
hand of God stretched forth against him. The ordinary course of Providence is transformed into a succession of special judgements. “ All these things,” cries the terrified mourner, " are against me : mani“ festations of divine displeasure; inflic" tions of penal vengeance; warnings of “ irrevocable exclusion from God!" Past offences present themselves in the garb of singular enormity. And sometimes one of the least considerable deviations from duty, a deviation perhaps originating in error and inadvertence, presses forward on the imagination as one of the greatest of crimes; and forms the groundwork of diftorted reasonings, and of intolerable dread. The body participates with the mind. The restless sword wears away its scabbard. Nervous agitation undermines health. Health undermined aggravates nervous agitation. Exertion becomes feeble and reluctant; gradually intermits, progresfively declines. Relative, social, and domestic duties are neglected. Activity and
alacrity, sources heretofore of pleasure no ' less than instruments of usefulness, are ab
forbed in listless melancholy. Dissatisface tion speedily becomes visible in the countenances of the less religious members of the
family. From a clouded and unsocial home they fly in quest of cheerfulness abroad ; and day by day are strengthened in the persuasion that gloom is the inseparable concomitant of piety. The sufferer meanwhile is agitated by increasing anxiety and sorrow." I see the decay of affection in
those to whom I was most dear. I am “ a burthen to all ; an obstacle to religion ; “ forsaken of God; continually more and “ more odious in his fight. Well may I “ be troubled : well may I be bowed down “ greatly; well may I go mourning all the “ day long!” The load of affliction is not feldom aggravated by the ineasures which are adopted for the purpose of removing it. Unfeeling censurers conspire with injudicious friends. At one time dejection is encountered with harshness; at another with neglect; at another with peremptory opposition; at another with blind and debilitating tenderness. But the sovereign remedy prescribed by the worldly, minded is diffipation. The afflicted party is prohibited from meditating on the subject of religion ; an injun&tion alike absurd in itself and impossible to be obeyed : and is hurried from place to place, from company to company, from amusement to
amusement, that neither opportunity, nor leisure may be afforded for reflection. By this process the portion of mental anguish which may be attributed to bodily indisposicion is occasionally relieved. But, amid changing scenes and changing occupations, the root of the malady remains untouched in the heart. The soul'discerns the futility of the means employed for its comfort : and by the discovery is confirmed in its distress. If the tempest subsides, it is only to recur with augmented violence: or to settle into the fatal calm of self-righteousness and unconcern. Such is the nature, and such is the success, of the measures to which the relatives and connections of the sufferer commonly resort. The modes of relief pursued by the desponding party often prove equally inefficacious, or equally injurious. Attempts are made to quiet the conscience by voluntary austerities, by diversified experiments of mortification and penance. Or counsel is eagerly sought on every side from dogmatical and discordanc advisers. Or a multitude of religious books is indiscriminately accumulated and devoured : error, erudition, criticism, contro+ verly, unite in augmenting perplexity : and the mind wanders from volume to
volume, without guide or clue, bewildered, unsettled, confounded, and dismayed. Hence has followed delusion, hence enthusiasın; hence has melancholy been impelled to the confines of frenzy. The Scriptures themfelves, partially examined and applied, are heard to utter no voice but that of terror. The judgements in store for the impenitent form the theme of incessant meditation. When the eye casually meets a promise or an encouragement, it hurries away as from forbidden ground. Had Eve fled from the interdicted tree with the trembling perse: verance with which the victims of delpondence fly from the consolations of Holy Writ; neither her sorrows nor theirs, nor those of the human race, had been known.
II. What then, amid these jarring refources unavailingly employed for the attainment of relief, are the genuine grounds of cure?
By devout, comprehensive and impartial felf-examination let the sufferer labour to fatisfy himself, whether he feels a deep and abiding conviction of his guilt; and whether he cherishes a rooted and earnest defire to be delivered through the Lord Jesus Christ, not only from the punishment but