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.)