Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Baxter's Directions to the Depressed: Cast your cares on God (part 4) --- Assurance and Adoption

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. pp51-66. [Edited and abridged by SML.]

Click here for an introduction to Baxter on Melancholy

Chapter 4: Directions to the Melancholy.

Direction 1: Take notice of worldly sorrows and discontents: do not put so much value in earthly things to that they can disquiet you: but learn to cast your cares upon God.

[This objection is in light of being directed as Children of God to fully trust God, yet fearing that we do not have the necessary heart-attitude to be called His children.]

Objection: BUT how can I be a Child of God, and not have the Spirit of Adoption.

Answer: The spirit of adoption means:

1. That spirit, or those qualifications and workings in their souls, which by the Gospel God gives only to his children.

2. And which raise in us some such child-like affections to God, inclining us in all our wants to run to him in prayer as to a father, and to make our moan to him and open our griefs and cry for redress and look to him and depend on him as a child on the father.

This spirit of adoption you may have and yet not be certain of God’s special love to you. The knowledge only of his general goodness and mercy may be a means to raise in you true child-like affections. You may know God to have fatherly inclinations to you, and yet doubt whether he will use you as a child, for want of assurance of your own sincerity. And you may hope God is your father, when yet you may apprehend him to be a displeased angry father, and so he may be more you terror than your comfort. Are you not ready in most of your fears and doubts and troubles to go to God before all other for relief? And does not your heart sigh and groan to him when you can scarcely speak? Does not your troubled Spirit there find its first vent!

And say Lord kill me not: forsake me not: my life is in your hands: O soften this hard heart and make this carnal mind more spiritual! O be not such a stranger to my soul. Woe to me that I am so ignorant of you! So disaffected to you! So backward and disinclined to Holy Communion with you! Woe to me that I can take no more pleasure in you, and am so mindless and disregardful of you! O that you would stir up in me more lively desires and workings of my soul toward you! And suffer me not to be at such a distance from you. Are not such as these the breathings of the Spirit! Why these are child-like breathings after God: this is crying Abba, Father. This is the work of the Spirit of Adoption, even when you fear that God will cast you off.