Souls are wont to be brought into trouble before God bestows true hope and comfort. The corrupt hearts of men naturally incline to stupidity and senselessness before God comes with the awakening influences of his Spirit. They are quiet and secure. They have no true comfort and hope, and yet they are quiet; they are at ease. They are in miserable slavery, and yet seek not a remedy.
Gradually the glow of fervent affections subsides. Worldly pursuits, even the most lawful and necessary, steal away the heart; and various perplexing entanglements beset the inexperienced traveler. He begins to see that there were many things faulty in his early course. He blames his own weakness or enthusiasm; and in avoiding one extreme he easily falls into the opposite, to which human nature has a strong bias. He enters into more company with the world and, of course, imbibes insensibly some portion of its spirit. This has a deadening effect on his pious feelings; and his devotions become less fervent and less punctual; and far more interrupted with vain, wandering thoughts, than before. He is apt to fall into a hasty or formal attendance on the daily duties of the closet, and a little matter will sometimes lead him to neglect these precious seasons of grace. A strange forgetfulness of the presence of God, and of his accountableness for every thought, word, and action, seizes upon him. Close self-examination becomes painful and, when attempted, is unsuccessful.
Timothy Rogers, English Puritan (May 24, 1658 – November 1728), was the son of John Rogers. His first published sermon was “Early Religion, or the Way for a Young Man to Remember His Creator” in 1683. He fell into a deep melancholy from 1688 to 1690. As a result of his sufferings and the grace of God which led him out of that dark despond, he published four sermons under the title “Practical Discourses on Sickness and Recovery” in 1690, which was followed by A Discourse on Trouble of Mind and the Disease of Melancholy in 1691. He continued to deal with melancholia throughout his life, but also testified to the grace of God working in him unto the end.
Let a soul in such an estate awake and look about him. His enemy is at hand, and he is ready to fall into such a condition as may cost him dear all the days of his life. His present estate is bad enough in itself; but it is an indication of that which is worse that lies at the door. The disciples that were with Christ in the mount had not only a bodily, but a spiritual drowsiness upon them. What says our Savior to them? “Arise; watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” We know how near one of them was to a bitter hour of temptation, and not watching as he ought, he immediately entered into it.
It is a woeful thing to consider what slight thoughts the most have of this thing. So men can keep themselves from sin itself in open action, they are content, they scarce aim at more; on any temptation in the world, all sorts of men will venture at any time. How will young men put themselves on company, any society; at first, being delighted with evil company, then with the evil of the company! How vain are all admonitions and exhortations to them to take heed of such persons, debauched in themselves, corrupters of others, destroyers of souls!
John Colquhoun, former pastor New Church in South Leith, Scotland. Educated at Glasgow University. Shortly after his conversion he walked all the way from Luss to Glasgow, a distance in all of about fifty miles, to buy a copy of Thomas Boston’s Fourfold State. MonergismDOTcom
From CCEL, “In his treatise, Owen addresses the nature and power of temptation, the risk of entering into it, and the means of avoiding its danger. Owen defines temptation as anything with the ability to entice the Christian’s mind or heart away from obedience to God and redirect it towards sin. Owen warns us that our power is not strong enough to protect us from temptation; rather, it is by God’s power of preservation that we are saved. As Christians, we can guard ourselves against temptation in part by praying for God’s power to help us resist it. His treatise teaches Christians how to recognize the threat of temptation and protect themselves against it.
By applying grace and mercy to an unmortified sin, or one not sincerely endeavored to be mortified, is this deceit carried on. This is a sign of a heart greatly entangled with the love of sin. Also, added to this narration, is the chapter “A Heart of Flesh – Richard Alleine.
A word now unto those with tender consciences that fear they may have committed sin for which there is no forgiveness. The trembling and contrite sinner is the farthest from it. There is not one instance recorded in Scripture where any who was guilty of “the great transgression” and had been given up by God to inevitable destruction, ever repented of his sins, or sought God’s mercy in Christ.
Does sin have dominion over me? Certain things are mentioned which leave the case doubtful; as when sin takes hold of the imagination, when it prevails in the affections, when there is a neglect of the means by which it is mortified, when a reservation is made in favor of any known sin, and when hardness of heart is manifested, III. Hardness of heart is specially considered, and distinguished into natural, judicial, and partial or comparative;