Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Samuel Clifford's directions to Those who have suffered from Depression in the Past - part 3

from To the Reader, by Samuel Clifford

"...[Baxter] having no where in his works, (as I have observed) given any directions to those who were once oppressed with Melancholy, but are delivered from it, I shall take the liberty to subjoin a few things by way of advice to such...

IV. Magnify the mercy of God toward you, in bringing you out of your sad, dark, and disconsolate condition. ... What a condition were you in, when through the prevalency of your distemper, and the devils temptations, you made an absolute surrender of your selves to the Devil, and seemed satisfied in what you had done? You wished your selves in Hell, that you might know the worst of your condition? But a merciful God had more compassion on you, than to say it should be unto you according to your distempered desires. What a case were you in, when to think of the mercy of God, the merits of Christ, or the Happiness of heaven, did strike you like so many daggers to the heart, because you thought you had no part in either of these? But when you reflected upon the wrath of God incensed by sin, and the miseries of hell, which the Devil did frequently set before you; the renewed thoughts of this, caused your hearts as it were to die within you, and the more because you were to suffer in the one, and lie under the dreadful effects of the other, to all eternity. Can you think upon these things, and not magnify the mercy of God towards you?

Time was, (may you say) when I thought no person in the world was ever in the like deplorable case with myself, and that it would never be otherwise with me. I looked upon my self, as a cast away, as a vessel of wrath, fitted for destruction. I looked upon my self, as an heir of hell, and felt an hell of horror in my conscience, and apprehended it to be some drops of that wrath, which was to be forever pouring down upon me. But God was merciful to me not only beyond my deserts, but altogether beyond my expectation too. When it was midnight with my soul and I verily thought that Blackness of Darkness was reserved for me: when I walked in darkness and saw no light, then did God shine into my soul. By reading such a passage of Scripture, and other books which God directed me to, by hearing such expressions in publick from ministers, or in private from friends; it pleased God at first to let some light into my dark soul, and to increase it more and more, till I who walked in darkness and saw no light, have now hopes to be one among the member of those, who shall dwell in the regions of glorious light, even in the presence of God, where there is fullness of Joy and Pleasure forevermore. Let the present age, and generations to come, magnify the mercy of God. Bless the Lord O my Soul and all within me, magnify His Holy name. Come you who have been in the like circumstances with me, let us speak of the great and wonderful things which God hath done for us, and excite one another with thankful hearts to exalt his name together. We who have tasted that the Lord is gracious in such a signal manner, must be some of the most ungrateful wretches in the world, to forget what God hath done for us, and to deny him his due Praises.”

(From The Signs and Causes of Melancholy, with directions suited to the case of those who are afflicted with it. Collected out of the works of Mr. Richard Baxter, for the sake of those, who are wounded in Spirit. By Samuel Clifford, minister of the Gospel London, Bible and Three Crowns, 1716. Extracted from somewhere between pages xi-xlvi.)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Preparing Our Hearts - a life-encompassing task

I ask your pardon for breaking away from my practice and purpose hitherto of only posting unreprinted works, but as I was reading this today I felt a strong urge to post it despite the fact that I’m reading the (modern) Soli Deo Gloria edition, thus implying that it's been reprinted. I highly recommend this sermon.

[Jeremiah Burroughs, Gospel Worship. First published 1648, published by Soli Deo Gloria in 1990. pages 80-81, 86-87]

Gospel Worship
The Right Manner of Sanctifying the Name of God in General
And Particularly in these 3 Great Ordinances
1. Hearing the Word
2. Receiving the Lord’s Supper
3. Prayer

These portions are taken from Sermon III, on Leviticus 10:3, “I will be sanctified in them that come nigh Me.”

The fourth thing for preparation is to watch and to pray.

We should watch over our hearts lest they be made unfit for duties. So we should prepare for prayer all day long in this sense. That is, we should watch over our hearts that they are not let out so far as will hinder us in prayer when we come to do it. I remember Tertullian said that the Christians supped as if they were about to pray. So when you are with company, you should watch unto prayer. Oh, that you did so. You cannot but be conscious of the fact that oftentimes when you have been with company your hearts have been out of tune and frame, that you have been in no way fit for prayer. When you come home, your house and family finds it so. You that take such delight in company and sitting up late, I appeal to your consciences whether you can come home and find yourselves fit either in your family or closet to go and open your hearts to God.

This is one note, by the way, whereby you may come to know whether you have been immoderate in company at any time. God does not give men liberty to be busy in any outward occasions in the world so as to make them unfit for His service. Preparation consists in that, in watching over your hearts that you may not be unfitted for any holy duty when God calls you to it, but that you may be ready even to every good work.


...We should always be prepared either for prayer, hearing the Word, or receiving the Sacraments. Now because Sacraments are so rare [at the time in England, Burroughs likely would have held communion at most twice a year – SML], those that have any enlightened consciences think that they dare not but prepare for Sacraments, but you should always be in preparation for the receiving of the Sacraments as the primitive Christians were. And those that have been acquainted with this point of preparing for duties have come to such a frame of spirit that there is not as much time required of them as others, for they are in a constant fitness so that there is not an instant of time in the whole day but, if God calls them to prayer, they could immediately fall down upon their knees and pray so as to sanctify God’s name in prayer.

That would be an excellent temper, indeed, if you could find it so that you walk so spiritually and holily before God that there could never be a quarter of an hour from morning to night, nor from the beginning of the week to the end, but if you were called to pray, or to receive the Sacrament, you had your heart fitted so that you could come into God’s presence with a prepared heart and would be able to sanctify God’s name in that duty. Acquaint yourselves with this work of preparation, and so you may have hearts fitted to come into God’s presence at any time.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

An old dog CAN learn new tricks

Presbyterian Magazine
April, 1858.
edited by Rev. C. Van Rensselaer, D.D.
Published in Philadelphia by Joseph M. Wilson.

From Household Thoughts: “A Woman’s Growth in Beauty,”

If women could only believe it, there is a wonderful beauty even in growing old. The charm of expression arising from softened temper or ripened intellect, often amply atones for the loss of form and colouring; and, consequently, to those who never could boast of either of these latter, years give much more than they take away. A sensitive person often requires half a lifetime to get thoroughly used to this corporeal machine, to attain a wholesome indifference, both to its defects and perfections, and to learn, at last, what nobody would acquire from any teacher but experience, that it is the mind alone which is of any consequence; that with a good temper, sincerity, and a moderate stock of brains—or even the two former only—any sort of body can, in time, be made useful, respectable, and agreeable, as a traveling-dress for the soul. Many a one who was absolutely plain in youth, thus grows pleasant and well-looking in declining years. You will hardly ever find anybody, not ugly in mind, who is repulsively ugly in person after middle life.
So with the character. If a woman is ever to be wise or sensible, the chances are that she will have become so somewhere between thirty and forty. Her natural good qualities will have developed; her evil ones have been either partly subdued, or have outgrown her, like rampant weeds; for however we may talk about people being “not a whit altered –just the same as ever”—not one of us is, or can be, for long together, exactly the same; no more than the body we carry with us is the identical body we were born with, or the one we supposed ours seven years ago. Therein, as in our spiritual self which inhabits it, goes on a perpetual change and renewal; if this ceased, the result would be, not permanence, but corruption. In moral and mental, as well as physical growth, it is impossible to remain stationary; if we do not advance, we retrograde. Talk of “too late to improve”—“too late to learn,” &c. Idle words! A human being should be improving with every day of a lifetime; and will probably have to go on learning through all the ages of immortality.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Little Children

Presbyterian Magazine
February, 1858.
edited by Rev. C. Van Rensselaer, D.D.
Published in Philadelphia by Joseph M. Wilson, p87.

From Household Thoughts: “Little Children A Great Help”

I am fond of little children. I think them the poetry of the world; the fresh flowers of our hearths and homes – little conjurors, with their “natural magic,” evoking by their spells what delights and enriches all ranks, and equalizes the different classes of society. Often as they bring with them anxieties and cares, and live to occasion sorrow and grief, we should get on very badly without them. Only think, if there was never anything anywhere to be seen but great grown-up men and women! Every infant comes into the world like a delegated prophet, the harbinger and herald of good tidings, whose office it is “to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,” and to draw “the disobedient to the wisdom of the just.” A child softens and purifies the heart, warming and melting it by its gentle presence; it enriches the soul by new feelings and awakens within it what is favorable to virtue. It is a beam of light, a fountain of love, a teacher whose lessons few can resist. Infants recall us from much that engenders and encourages selfishness, that freezes the affections, roughens the manners, indurates the heart; they brighten the home, deepen love, invigorate exertion, infuse courage, and vivify and sustain the charities of life. It would be a terrible world, I do think, if it was not embellished by little children.—Binney.