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seek God's Face. Call upon me (iaith God) in the Day of Trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me, Pfal. 1. 15.
Ah! but I cannot pray! I cannot perform any holy Duty; or fix to any one part of Religion. I no sooner retire into my Closet, or kneel down upon my knees, but a thousand Terrors infeit me, so that I think 'twere better to let Devotion alone, then to perform it no better. (Ah, Lord !) But let me ask thee, Dost thou do thy utmost ? Dost thou sincerely defire to do thy Duty, and to please God? and doft thou put a force upon thyself, fometimes to perform the Duty of Prayer, or any other holy Duty, tho it be with many Interruptions and Distractions? Continue to do fo; for by so doing thou wilt approve thyself unto God, who feeth thy Heart; and, in all probability, thy Fears and Térrors will by degrees vanith; these sad and dismal Thoughts will lefsen, and at length quite leave thee.
God is a God hearing Prayers. He will be sought to in our Distresses, and implored in our Affiliations. Say then (with the Pfalmist) Why art thou cast down, O my Soul? and why art thou fo disquieted within me? Hope thou in God, (pray to him) for I fall yet praise him, who is the
Help of my Countenance, and
God. Pfal. xlii. ult.
VII. Again: To prevent these fad, dejected, or despairing Thoughts we are speaking of, We must be careful that we do not love the World immoderately. For how remote soever Coretousness may seem from Despair, the former doth frequently conduce to the latter. He that lets too great a value upon the Things of this World, and a Temporal Prosperity, will not only be greatly hindred from doing his Spiritual Ďuty, but when it pleaseth God to deprive him of his Prosperity, he is
very apt to be extremely disquieted, and repining; and sometimes to look upon himself as utterly forsaken of God, because he is stripp'd of those outwardThings. He mistakenly looks upon Temporal good Things to be certain Marks of God's Favour: Whereas -in Truth they are, nor, but he sometimes deals them promiscuously, as the Rain descends both upon the Just and Unjust, Pfal. lxxiii.
And what is the likely Confequence of such an enormous Love of the World ? (if, I say, it should please God to bring such an one into Adverfity) but that he thould have dismal, and even despairing Thoughts of his own Condition. There have been frequent Examples of this Nature in the
World: And thus far have these Words of the Apostle been verify’d: Bırt they that will be rich, fall into temptation, and a snare, and into many foolish and burtful Lufts, which drown Men in perdition. For the love of Money is the root of all Evil; which while fome have coveted after, they have erred from the Faith, and pierced themselves through with many Sorrows. I Tim. vi.9, 10.
Let us not therefore set our Affections too much upon these fleeting, Things : Let us enjoy every good Thing with Submiflion to, and dependance upon, God's Providence. Let us beware that we do 1100 fix our Hearts on any thing here, below neither “Riches, Polesions, Friends, Chile dren, nor any of these sublunary Things. For so doing hath oftentimes proved very fatal to many; and at last hath thrown them into Melancholy; nay, even into Desperation.
VIII. The last Remedy againft black, dreadful, or despairing
Thoughts, is, Religious and Cheerfur Conversation. ''Tis not jolly, vain Company; that will be of no use, but hurt : but godly and cheerful Society will very much contribute to their Ćure. To be always poring, aggravates the Malady, and rivets the Ders pair, and fometimes proves fatal indeed : And therefore a little good Conversation
is very neceffary. Religious Discourses and Conferences will keep out worse Thoughts, and conduce very much to make us rejoice with them that do rejoicei There is a kind of Melody in them, which
(like that of David's Harp, when he play'd ". to Saul) will drive away the evil Spirit,
Sam. xvi. 23. 'Tis a common thing for fuch Perions as are troubled with this kind of Thoughts, to affect Solitude, and desire to be always alone, and immur'd in their own fad Contemplations. But notwithstanding the ftrongeit Aver
fion to Company which they may hayo, f 'cis advisable that against their Inclina
tions, they be brought into good and cheerful Converfation, and that not once, or twice, but with Continuance. And this is a proper way (in time) to be rid of such, evil Thoughts. For the Devil's Temptations and Injections, cspecially of this kind, are usually more prevalent, and come with greater Force, when People are alone, than when they are in Society. And then too, they are apt to dote upon their own Notions of Things, hug their Mistakes, and think them true, however false and erroneous they may be.
A religious and cheerful Friend therefore I take in this Cafe to be of great Advantage, to comfort, advise, divert, and
improve them in better Things. And more especially do I recommend the frequent Converfation of their Spiritual Guide. For it is not to be imagined what Efficacy a seasonable Word hath sometimes; and what a sweet Alteration it causes in disconfolate People. It goeth like Oil into their Bones : or else (to use the Preacher's Comparison) The Words of the wise are as Gonds, and as Nails fastned by the Masters of Asemblies. Good Conversation strengthen's and exhilarates the Spirits to a great degree ; and is a very proper means against all fad and melancholy, or despairing Thoughts.
And indeed, I think, Religion is that which goes a great way towards the Cure of Melancholy: And without it, 'tis hardly ever to be cur'd. 'Tis Religion must give a Man a rational, and a wellgrounded Hope of the Security of his eternal Condition hereafter; without which 'tis difficult to imagine how his Heart fhould ever be ealy, and his Thoughts fcrene, quiet, and compos’d. And therefore he that would avoid this kind of evil Thoughts, I exhort and advise him first to fix the grand Point of Religion in himself; and then to cherish, and improve it -by cheerful and religious Conversation.