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cluded that he only was left in Israel, a prophet of the Lord.
The dejection of Job assumed yet more distinctly and fully the appearance of religious depression. Hear his distressing language: Even to-day is my complaint bitter; my stroke is heavier than my groaning.
The arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit; the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me. My sighing cometh before I eat, and my roarings are poured out like water. My soul is weary of life. Thou writest bitter things against me, thou holdest me for thine enemy.
The case of the Church, however, in the Propbet, and of the royal Psalmist, will furnish us with the most complete view of the symptoms of this malady. Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, Israel, My way is hid from the Lord? My judgment is passed over from my God? But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. This is the language of an habitual gloom of mind. It resembles that of the Psalm in wbich the text
In the day of my trouble, exclaims the sacred author, I sought the Lord; my sore ran in the night and ceased not-he prayed earnestly, But found no consolation. My soul refused to be comforted—a fixed melancholy seized him. I remembered God and was troubled
meditation on God, which is the usual source of relief, aggravates his malady. I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed-billows of distress rose all around, and deluged, as it were, his soul. Thou holdest mine eyes waking, I am so troubled I cannot speak - neither sleep, nor prayer, nor praise could yield him any succour. I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart, and my spirit made diligent search.-He inquires after evidences of God's former favour, but to no purpose. Will the Lord cast off for ever? Will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? Doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious ? Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? With mixed emotions of fear, agitation, and anxious solicitude, he asks in melancholy strains, if he is rejected of God, if the divine mercy is exhausted; if his faithfulness and grace have failed; if his anger hath shut up the bowels of his compassion. And I said, This is my infirmity. This is my disease, my distress. I cannot explain the questions which I have put. I cannot tell what to do. I am filled with the greatest consternation, and excruciated with unceasing anguish of mind. Though the relation of God to his people, and his attributes of grace and mercy, might seem in every other ease to
afford hope of deliverance, yet so singular and oppressive are my calamities, that the contemplation of them serves only to enhance my misery and to aggravate my forebodings of final rejection at the hands of God.
Such then are some of the symptoms of a religious depression of mind. We proceed to consider,
II. THE CAUSES OF IT.
It is undoubtedly sometimes natural and occasioned by BODILY DISTEMPER. Religious feelings may ebb and flow with the animal spirits. Infirm, debilitated constitutions greatly affect the operations of the mind. Persons in such circumstances, are ready to view things on the most gloomy side, and the least circumstance may occasion dejection. They are too apt to fix on the more awful and profound parts of truth, and to perplex themselves with embarrassing questions, which tend to increase the malady. Confinement also without exercise, or change of scene, will often tend to produce depression. An excess of business likewise, and engagements wearing and exhausting the strength, or an occupation unfriendly to the health, may have the same consequences. I mention this class of causes first, because, if the spring of dejection be corporeal malady, the case is at once, in a great measure, accounted for :
and as miraculous interpositions are no longer to be expected, the aid of the physician must be sought.
SUPERSTITION is at times an occasion of religious dejection in those pious persons, who are in situations unfavourable for acquiring knowledge. An over-scrupulous conscience administers food to such a disposition. There is nothing so trifling which a superstitious and scrupulous mind may not magnify into an affair of vital importance. The conscience has not a healthy sensibility, but is irritable. They can say, or do nothing without exciting an unnatural alarm, an alarm for which no reasonable account can be given. Reliance on dreams, sudden impressions, illusive voices, imaginary warnings of the death of distant friends, casting lots, the opening of the Bible and fixing on the first verse which presents itself, is altogether vain, superstitious, and unlawful; and the exercise of any such unfounded reliance cannot fail to produce dangerous fancies and extraordinary gloom of mind. Vows rashly made, and apprehensions of having committed the sin against the Holy Ghost, have the same tendency. It is surprising that, in the present age and in a Protestant country, cases of this kind should so frequently occur; and that so many persons should be inapprehensive, or ignorant, of the folly and sin
fulness of what is so explicitly rebuked and condemned in the Holy Scriptures.
A more common cause of this dejection is
a MISAPPREHENSION OF THE DOCTRINE OF REMIS
SION OF SINS. The former causes are easily understood. This may be less obvious and accessible. The distress of the awakened and contrite heart is relieved by a persuasion of the grace of Christ in freely forgiving sin. When the penitent is led simply to credit this cheering truth and to act upon it, his extreme alarm subsides; for peace of conscience is the natural fruit of faith in the blood of the Redeemer. Being justified by faith, he has peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; and he begins to walk in the ways of holy obedience with consistency, and with increasing spirituality and delight. But if he errs as to this scriptural course, if he mistakes the entire plan of the Gospel as a plan of salvation by grace, and continues to trust to himself, and to endeavour to establish his own righteousness, instead of submitting himself to the righteousness of Christ, his distress of mind is likely to increase, and if other things concur, to plunge him at last into a settled melancholy, Though he is truly penitent, yet he dares not believe that he is. Though he is invited freely to the cross of the Saviour, yet he ignorantly excludes himself from its benefits. Though all of every character who feel and acknowledge