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tears, that he haih commanded them, “ to comfort one another," " to comfort the mselves together,

" and especially, “ to comfort the feeble-minded 8." And, doubtless, if private Christians are bound to comfort one another, much more is it the duty of ministers of the gospel, to imitate the apostles of Christ, in being helpers of their joy h. Accordingly, this solemn charge is given, and is again, and a third time, repeated to those; “ Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.

Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned."

That I therefore may, in obedience to that high command, be instrumental in administering comfort to such afflicted and discouraged believers, as may be disposed to read this treatise; I shall, in dependance on the Spirit of truth, endeavour,

First, to discourse of spiritual comfort in general.

Secondly, I shall consider the great inportance and usefulness of it to believers.

In the third place, I shall shew the way in which, many of them lose the comfort which they formerly attained.

Fourthly, 1 shall point out some of the sad consequences of their having forfeited their usual comfort.

In the Fifth place, I shall briefly consider the nature and the signs of melancholy.

Next, I shall unfold some of the designs of God, in permitting any of his saints to lose their wonted consolation.

8 1 Thess. v. 14.

ei Thess. iv. 18.

2 Cor. i. 24.

fi Thess. v. 11.
i Isa. xl. 1, 2.

Afterwards, I shall shew how disconsolate Christians may recover their former comfort.

Next, I shall point out the means which they ought to employ, in order to attain increasing comfort. And,

In the Last place, I shall give some directions, by observing which, exercised believers may become established in spiritual consolation.

CHAPTER I.

OF SPIRITUAL COMFORT IN GENERAL.

Comront, in its general acceptation, is that refreshing pleasure, or enlivening satisfaction of spirit, by which a man is upheld and strengthened against all evils, whether felt or feared : or, it is that inward solace, which supports and invigorates the heart under trouble of every kind.

There are three sorts of comfort; natural, sinful, and spiritual.--Natural comfort is the refreshment of our natural spirits, by the good creatures of God, the gifts of his bounty. When God “ giveth us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, he thereby filleth our hearts with food and gladness.” There is comfort in every creature of God. When we are hungry, food comforts us; when tbirsty, drink refreshes us; when cold, clothes warm us; and when in affliction, or in want of advice, friends encourage us. But, besides these common and

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necessary gifts of Providence, every sense hath something peculiar to itself, which affords it comfort. The eyes have beautiful colours, to give them pleasure: the ears, besides ordinary, have melodious sounds, to delight them : the taste has not only the suitableness of common food, but the sweetness of honey, to please it; and, the smell, besides common odours, has fragrant flowers to regale it.- Sinful, or unholy comfort, is the pleasure which sinners take in gratifying their lusts, or the delight which they have in abusing the gifts of Divine bounty. Sometimes, the true Christian is ready to wonder how wicked men can, at any time, feel themselves comfortable : but he has no cause to wonder; for their very commission of sin, is a momentary comfort to their depraved nature. “ It is as sport: to a fool to do mischief.” “The ecorners delight in their scorning.66 Their soul delighteth in their abominations 1." To commit iniquity is agreeable to their sinful nature, and therefore is a comfort to it. Indeed, were it not for the frequent opportunities which they have, of gratifying some lust, either of the flesh or of the mind, life would be an insupportable burden to them. " Evil men,” saith Solomon, "sleep not, except they have done nuischief: and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall o." Ah! How inexpressibly dreadful is the condition of that man, to whose heart it is a pleasure, a comfort, to sin against a holy, and a gracious God! Sinful comfort also, is the pleasu

1

Prov.
Pros iv. lo.

x. 23.

m Prov. j. 22.

Isa. lxvi. 3.

that self-righteous persons take, in relying, either on their own righteousness wholly, or partly on the righteousness of Christ, and partly on their own, for their justification and title to eternal life; and the delight which hypocrites feel, in reflecting on their counterfeit graces and attainments.--Spiritual or holy comfort, is that inward solace or satisfaction, which supports, strengthens, and exhilarates holy souls; and which they have in and from the Lord Jesus, their Covenant-head, by the exercise of faith, hope, love, and the other graces of the Holy Spirit P; or it is that spiritual delight, that holy joy, which cheers and invigorates the hearts of believers, under all their inward and outward troubles. It is this only that deserves the name of pure, solid, and durable consolation. If it is a comfort to the wicked man, amidst all his afflictions, to gratify his carnal and ungodly lusts; it cannot, surely, but be a real and even a great consolation to a holy man, under all the trials of life, to exercise his spiritual graees, and to perform his holy duties..

The word Comfort is, in Scripture, used in a twofold sense. It is sometimes employed to ex: press that which gives consolation; but more frequently, to signify the consolation itself, which is received from it, or enjoyed by means of it. Ist, It is employed in Scripture, to express, that which gives, or is a mean of giving, consolation to the soul of an afflicted believer ; whether it be a pere son 4 or a thing, in which, by the blessing of Christ, comfort is hidden, and by which it is afforded'; or, a word or reason, suggesting to the mind of the

! Rom, k. 1-5.

& Col. iv. 11.

Ps. cxix. 76.

Christian, matter of consolation! Each of these is styled Comfort, because it is a mean or instrument of dispensing consolation to the saints. 2d, The term is, by the Spirit of inspiration, more frequently employed to express the consolation itself, which believers receive, whether by means of persons, or of things, or of reasons; and which they feel or enjoy in their souls. It is in this last sense, chiefly, that I proposė, in this treatise, to discourse of spiritual comfort.

In order to illustrate the general nature of this inestimable blessing, I shall present it, to the view of the devout reader, under the following particulars:

1. Spiritual comfort usually supposes trouble of some kind, either felt or feared ; or the prospect of

some difficult duty, to the performance of which the believer needs to be encouraged. It is under affliction, or uneasiness, that the heart of the Christian needs to be comforted. The Lord Jesus accordingly saith, “ Blessed are they that mourn for. they shall be cemforted;" He made the first promise of the Holy Spirit, as a Comforter, to his disciples, when, in the prospect of his departure from them, sorrow had filled their heart". “God," says the apostle Paul, “ comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them who are in any trouble w;" and he styles him, “ The God, who comforteth them that are cast down Y.” The soul, that it may be qualified for spiritual consolation, must be quickened and humbled. It is “ the spirit of the humble,

s Ps. cxis. 50.

2 Cor. i. 4. John xvi. 6, 7.

1 2 Cor. i. 4.

(Matt. v. 4.
* 2. Cor. vii. 6. -

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