Prov. xviii. 14. The spirit of a man will sustain his injirmity:
hut a wounded spirit who can hear P
MA being placed in a world where troubles of
various kinds continually await him, he is endued
with a firmness of mind suited to the occasion, so
that he is enabled to bear them with a considerable
measure of composure and ease. Previously to the
arrival of afflictions, they appear more formidable
than they really are. We should suppose that
poverty, and sickness, and pain, and losses of friends
and relatives, would produce a permanent depressure
of mind : but this is not found to be the case : time
soon heals the wounds that are inflicted by them ;
and habit soon reconciles men to the burthens which
they are called to sustain. Where piety is super-
added to natural fortitude, and the grace of God is
in full activity, a man can support any load, however
heavy. What an accumulated weight of afflictions
came on Job! yet he not only blessed God for them,
but, when his wife urged him to renounce his alle-
462.] A WOUDEP SPIRIT. 10/
giance to God on account of these visitations, he
with wonderful composure answered, " Shall we
receive good at the Lord's hands, and shall we not
receive evil ?"
Yet there are bounds beyond which a man cannot
go, without almost miraculous assistance. The
spirit, like the body, may be borne down by a weight
beyond its strength: and when the spirit, which
ought to support a man under all his other trials, is
itself broken, he must fall of course.
ow there are many things which inflict so deep a
wound upon the spirit, as to destroy all its energy,
and incapacitate it for its proper office : and that we
may provide an antidote against them, and afford
some consolation under them, we will,
I. Consider the case of a wounded spirit —
A spirit may be deeply wounded,
1. By nervous disorders —
[The mind may be disordered, as well as the body, and
indeed through the medium of the body: and it is certain
that there are disorders which so operate upon the nerves as
to weaken and depress the animal spirits, and to sink a man
into the very depths of despondency. This is often mistaken
for religious melancholy: but it frequently has nothing to do
with religion: it is found in persons Avho never turned their
minds at all to the subject of religion: and, as it comes with,
and by, a bodily disease, so it ceases with the removal of that
disease. But in its effect it is inexpressibly painful, unfitting
persons for every duty, indisposing them for all the proper
means of relief, and leading them to put away from them-
selves all manner of consolation. They constrain their kind-
est friends to apply to themselves that proverb, " As vinegar
upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to a heavy heart %"]
2. By great and long-continued afflictions —
[Job himself, who had so nobly sustained all his com-
plicated afflictions, sank at last, and cursed the day of his
birth. or is it at all uncommon for men of the greatest
fortitude thus to sink. To produce this, is the tendency of
calamities of any kind, personal, domestic, or public. See the
Apostle's caution to the Church of Corinth respecting their
conduct towards a member whom they liad excommunicated
from among them. As tl.ey had been formerly too backward
" Prov. XXV. 20.
108 PROVERBS, xviir. 14. [462.
to punish his oflfence, so now they were too backward to re-
store him: on which occasion St. Paul says to them, " Ye
ought rather to forgive him, and to comfort him, lest perhaps
such an one should be swallowed up with over-much sorrow ''."
Here the grief was purely personal: but in Jacob it was of a
domestic nature. He had, in his own apprehension, lost his
favourite son, Joseph; and now he was afraid of losing Ben-
jamin also: that, he said, would fill up the number of his
sorrows, and " bring down his grey hairs with sorrow to the
grave ^" How many at this day have ground to adopt this
complaint, in reference to their children ! Public calamities, it
is true, do not so often press with an unsupportable weight
upon the mind: yet have we several instances of their de-
pressing, almost to the lowest ebb of sorrow, persons of the
strongest and the holiest minds. How were Moses and Joshua
discouraged, when unexpected circumstances arose to render
doubtful the ultimate success of their mission''! or was it a
love of life, or a fear of death, that made Hezekiah so ex-
tremely dejected at the prospect of his approaching dissolu-
tion, but an apprehension of the evils that would accrue to
his country in the event of his removal; and that one con-
sideration reduced him to such a state of grief as would in
any other view have been utterly unworthy of him as a saint
of God*.]
3. By guilt upon the conscience —
[What terrible effects did this produce on the mind of
the traitor Judas! He could not retain the wages of his
iniquity, nor bear his own existence; but sought in suicide a
termination of the sorrows he could no longer endure ^. or
is it at all uncommon for persons who once " made a mock of
sin," to feel so bitterly the torments of an accusing conscience,
as to be driven by them to habits of intoxication, and even to
death itself, as a refuge. Even good men, previous to their
having received a renewed sense of God's pardoning love upon
their souls, have been brought to such terrors and despon-
dency, as to find within their own souls a foretaste of hell
itself. David's experience in this particular is a just, but
lamentable, exhibition of this painful truth ^ J
4. By violent temptations —
[Satan, though he can no longer possess the bodies of men
as formerly he did, has yet great power over their souls. " His
fiery darts" can inflict the deadliest wound. Paul himself
was not able to endure *' the buffetings" of that malignant
enemy, till, by repeated cries to his Divine Master, he had
''2 Cor. 11.7, 'Gen. xlii. 38. & xliv. 31.
'' Exod. V. 22, 23. Josh. vli. 7, 8. • Isai. xxxviii.13,14.
'Matt, xxvii. 3—5. «Ps. xxxi. 9,10. & xxxviii.l — 8. &:xI.12.
462.] A WOUDED SPIRIT. 109
obtained from him augmented supplies of grace and strength''.
As for Job, though he was a perfect man, yet he sank entirely
under the assaults of this great adversary * Even the
Lord of Glory himself, when he had assumed our feeble nature,
was so exhausted in his first conflicts with Satan, that he needed
to have " angels sent from heaven to strengthen him \" And in
his last hours, when all the powers of darkness made their
united assault upon him, he was constrained to say, " My
soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." What wonder
then if Christians of ordinary stature be on some occasions
unable to bear up under the wounds which he inflicts upon
5. By spiritual desertion —
[This, after all, is the most overwhelming to a pious soul.
With the presence of his God a man may bear any thing:
but when " God hides his face from him, he must of necessity
be troubled V In this respect also David shews us what an
insupportable affliction this is, and how impossible it is for the
strongest or most pious mind to endure it " But in
our blessed Lord himself we see the most awful exempUfi-
cation of this truth : for when all his other afflictions together
had not been able to extort from him one complaint, this
forced from him that heart-rending cry, "My God, my God!
why hast thou forsaken me"?"]
Seeing then that many may be fainting under the
agonies of " a wounded spirit," we will,
IL Administer some balm for its relief —
There is no wound that can be inflicted on the
soul in this life, which may not, by an application of
the proper remedies, be h'-^aled. Consider then,
1 . There is no affliction which is not sent by God
for our good —
[Afflictions, of whatever kind they be, " spring not out
of the ground:" they are all appointed by God, in nmnber,
weight, and measure, and duration. If it be disease of body,
it is he that inflicts the wound: if the trial come from any
other quarter, it still is his chastening rod that strikes us, with
a view to our spiritual good, " that we may be made partak-
ers of his holiness." Convictions of sin are the work of his
Spirit, to prepare us for the final restoration of his favour:
and Satan himself, as in the case of Job and of Peter, is re-
strained by God, so as ultimately to display the triumphs of
^ 2 Cor. xii. 7, 9. 'Job vi. 2 — 4. & vii. 2 — 4,13 — 16.
" Matt, iv.ll. ' Ps. XXX. 6, 7.
«" Fs. Ixxvii. 2—4. & Ixxxviii. 3 — 7, 14 — 16. ¦ Matt, xxvii. 46.
110 PROVERBS, XVIII. 14. [462.
divine grace, and to benefit the souls which he endeavours to
destroy : and God himself, in the hidings of his face, seeks
only so to humble and purify our souls as to prepare us for
the fuller manifestations of his love and mercy"
ow it must be granted, " that afflictions are not for the
present joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterwards they
work the peaceable fruits of righteousness unto them that are
exercised thereby." " If we be in heaviness through manifold
temptations, God sees that there is " a needs be" for themP;
and that by putting us into the furnace, we shall be purged
from our dross, and come out of it as vessels better fitted for
his service''. Well therefore may th^ consideration of the
end for which they are sent, and of the benefit to be derived
from them, reconcile us to the pressure of them, and dispose us
patiently to wait for the removal of them. Covdd Job have
fox'eseen the issue of his troubles, they would have been de-
prived of more than half their weight.]
2. Our afflictions, of whatever kind they be, will
endure but a little time —
[The Apostle speaks of all, even the heaviest afflictions,
as light and momentary ^ Even life itself is but as a shadow
that declineth ; or a w eaver's shuttle, which soon finishes the
piece that is to be severed from the loom. And when once
this frail life is ended, there is an everlasting termination of all
our sorrows. If only we have believed in Christ, and sought
an interest in him, we enter immediately into " his presence,
where is fulness of joy for evermore." Into that blissful world
nothing that is afHictive can ever enter to disturb their peace :
" all tears are wiped away from their eyes; and there shall
be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall
there be any more pain: for the former things are passed
away^" And, as no created evil can then impair their bliss,
so no created good can add to it: " The city has no need of
the sun, neither of the moon to lighten it; for the glory of God
does lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." How little will
the transient clouds that once occasioned a momentary gloom
be remembered, when our dwelling is for ever fixed in the full
splendor of the Sun of Righteousness. Surely we need not
be much cast down at trials, however painful to flesh and blood,
when we consider that tlieir duration is but as the twinkling of
an eye, and that they will so soon terminate in inconceivable
and everlasting felicity.]
3. There is in Christ a full sufliciency for every
wound —
[We need not go to the eternal world for consolation ;
• Isai. Ifv. ;, 5. ' I' 1 Pet. i. 6. *» Mai. iii. 2, 3.
¦^'iCor. iv.17. • Kev. xxi. -1. * Rev. x."iii. 23.
for we may find it here. What says the prophet Jeremiah? " la
there no balm in Gilead? Is there no Physician there? Why
then is not the heakhof the daughter of my people recovered"?"
Did we but cry to Jesus, as Paul did, we should find " his
grace abundantly sufficient for us." " If we cast our burthen
upon him, he would sustain us." See the experunent tried by
David, and the account which he gives of the result: how
soon was he " taken out of the horrible pit, out of the mire and
clay, and a new song was put into his mouth, even praise unto
our God''!" The very office which our blessed Lord under-
took, was that, not of a Redeemer only, but of a Comforter;
" to comfort them that mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for
ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for
the spirit of heaviness^." Let all then look unto him, whatever
their affliction now be : even though, like David, they were
under the depths of dereliction, they shall soon, with him, have
occasion to say, " Thou hast turned my mourning into dancing;
thou hast put off my neckcloth, and girded me with gladness ^'*
The Lord Jesus " will not break a bruised reed, or quench
the smoking flax, but will bring forth judgment xmto victory :"^
and, if we confide in him, " our heaviness may indeed continue
for a night, but joy shall come in the morning."]
° Jer. viii.22. * Ps. xl. 1—3. ' Isai. Ixi. 2, 3.

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