Remember These Truths
Be sure that a theological error is not the root of your distress. Especially have a solid understanding of the covenant of grace and the riches of mercy revealed in Christ. It will be useful to you to understand these following truths, among others.
Our thoughts of the infinite goodness of God should be proportionate to our thoughts concerning his infinite power and wisdom.
The mercy of God has provided for all mankind so sufficient a Savior that no sinner shall perish for lack of a complete satisfaction made for his sins by Christ. No man’s salvation or pardon requires that he provide satisfaction for his own sins.
Christ has in his gospel covenant (which is an act of self-sacrifice) given himself with pardon and salvation to all that will penitently and believingly accept the offer. None perish that hear the gospel but the final, obstinate refusers of Christ and life.
He who believes the truth of the gospel so far as to consent to the covenant of grace—that God the Father would be his Lord and reconciled Father, and Christ his Savior, and the Holy Spirit his sanctifier—has true, saving faith and a right to the blessing of the covenant.
The day of grace is so coextensive or equal to our lifetime that whoever truly repents and consents to the covenant of grace before his death is certainly pardoned and in a state of life. It is everyone’s duty to do so, that pardon may be had.
Satan’s temptations are not our sins: it is only our yielding to temptation that is sin.
The effects of natural sickness or disease are not (in and of themselves) sins.
The smallest sins (formally) and least likely to condemn us are those which we are most unwilling to commit and least love or enjoy.
This book presents 17th-century pastor Richard Baxter’s wise, gentle advice to comfort and strengthen all who struggle with depression or know someone who does.
No sin that we hate more than we love shall condemn us, if we would rather leave and be delivered from it than keep it. This is true repentance.
He is truly sanctified who would rather be perfect in holiness of heart and life, in loving God, and in living by faith than to have the greatest pleasures, riches, or honors of the world, considering also the means by which both are attained.
He who has this grace and desire may know that he is elect. Making our calling sure by consenting to the holy covenant is also how we make our election sure.
The same thing that is a great duty to some may be no duty at all to another who, because of physical illness (fevers, delirium, melancholy, etc.), is unable to do it.
This article is adapted from Depression, Anxiety, and the Christian Life: Practical Wisdom from Richard Baxter, revised, updated, and annotated by Michael S. Lundy.
It comes as a surprise to some that Charles Spurgeon had a lifelong battle with depression. It shouldn’t be a surprise, of course: being full of life in a fallen world must mean distress, and Spurgeon’s life was indeed full of physical and mental pain.
God has a purpose for even our most difficult seasons. He offers hope and eternal perspective in the midst of them.
Depression can be quite as fiery a trial as any other. The good news is that God does indeed hear the cry of the afflicted.