Experience teacheth us, that though many die obstinate and wilful in this malady, yet multitudes again are able to resist and overcome, seek for help and find comfort, are taken e faucibus Erebi, from the chops of hell, and out of the devil's paws, though they have by obligation, given themselves to him. Some out of their own strength, and God's assistance, "Though He kill me," (saith Job,) "yet will I trust in Him," out of good counsel, advice and physic. Bellovacus cured a monk by altering his habit, and course of life: Plater many by physic alone. But for the most part they must concur; and they take a wrong course that think to overcome this feral passion by sole physic; and they are as much out, that think to work this effect by good service alone, though both be forcible in themselves, yet vis unita fortior, "they must go hand in hand to this disease:" -- alterius sic altera poscit opem. For physic the like course is to be taken with this as in other melancholy: diet, air, exercise, all those passions and perturbations of the mind, &c. are to be rectified by the same means. They must not be left solitary, or to themselves, never idle, never out of company. Counsel, good comfort is to be applied, as they shall see the parties inclined, or to the causes, whether it be loss, fear, be grief, discontent, or some such feral accident, a guilty conscience, or otherwise by frequent meditation, too grievous an apprehension, and consideration of his former life; by hearing, reading of Scriptures, good divines, good advice and conference, applying God's word to their distressed souls, it must be corrected and counterpoised. Many excellent exhortations, phrænetical discourses, are extant to this purpose, for such as are any way troubled in mind: Perkins, Greenham, Hayward, Bright, Abernethy, Bolton, Culmannus, Helmingius, Cúlius Secundus, Nicholas Laurentius, are copious on this subject: Azorius, Navarrus, Sayrus, &c., and such as have written cases of conscience amongst our pontifical writers. But because these men's works are not to all parties at hand, so parable at all times, I will for the benefit and ease of such as are afflicted, at the request of some friends, recollect out of their voluminous treatises, some few such comfortable speeches, exhortations, arguments, advice, tending to this subject, and out of God's word, knowing, as Culmannus saith upon the like occasion, "how unavailable and vain men's councils are to comfort an afflicted conscience, except God's word concur and be annexed, from which comes life, ease, repentance," &c. Presupposing first that which Beza, Greenham, Perkins, Bolton, give in charge, the parties to whom counsel is given be sufficiently prepared, humbled for their sins, fit for comfort, confessed, tried how they are more or less afflicted, how they stand affected, or capable of good advice, before any remedies be applied: to such therefore as are so thoroughly searched and examined, I address this following discourse.
Two main antidotes, Hemmingius observes, opposite to despair, good hope out of God's word, to be embraced; perverse security and presumption from the devil's treachery, to be rejected; Illa solus animæ, hæc pestis; one saves, the other kills, occidit animam, saith Austin, and doth as much harm as despair itself, Navarrus the casuist reckons up ten special cures out of Anton. 1. part. Tit. 3. cap. 10. 1. God. 2. Physic. 3. Avoiding such objects as have caused it. 4. Submission of himself to other men's judgments. 5. Answer of all objections, &c. All which Cajetan, Gerson, lib. de vit. spirit. Sayrus, lib. 1. cons. cap. 14. repeat and approve out of Emanuel Roderiques, cap. 51 et 52. Greenham prescribes six special rules, Culmannus seven. First, to acknowledge all help come from God. 2. That the cause of their present misery is sin. 3. To repent and be heartily sorry for their sins. 4. To pray earnestly to God they may be eased. 5. To expect and implore the prayers of the church, and good men's advice. 6. Physic. 7. To commend themselves to God, and rely upon His mercy: others, otherwise, but all to this effect. But forasmuch as most men in this malady are spiritually sick, void of reason almost, overborne by their miseries, and too deep an apprehension of their sins, they cannot apply themselves to good counsel, pray, believe, repent, we must, as much as in us lies, occur and help their peculiar infirmities, according to their several causes and symptoms, as we shall find them distressed and complain.
The main matter which terrifies and torments most that are troubled in mind, is the enormity of their offences, the intolerable burthen of their sins, God's heavy wrath and displeasure so deeply apprehended, that they account themselves reprobates, quite forsaken of God, already damned, past all hope of grace, incapable of mercy, diaboli mancipia, slaves of sin, and their offences so great they cannot be forgiven. But these men must know there is no sin so heinous which is not pardonable in itself, no crime so great but by God's mercy it may be forgiven. "Where sin aboundeth, grace aboundeth much more," Rom. v. 20. And what the Lord said unto Paul in his extremity, 2 Cor. xi. 9. "My grace is sufficient for thee, for my power is made perfect through weakness:" concerns every man in like case. His promises are made indefinite to all believers, generally spoken to all touching remission of sins that are truly penitent, grieved for their offences, and desire to be reconciled, Matt. ix. 12, 13, "I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance," that is, such as are truly touched in conscience for their sins. Again, Matt. xi. 28, "Come unto me all ye that are heavy laden, and I will ease you." Ezek. xviii. 27, "At what time soever a sinner shall repent him of his sins from the bottom of his heart, I will blot out all his wickedness out of my remembrance saith the Lord." Isaiah xliii. 25, "I, even I, am He that put away thine iniquity for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins." "As a father" (saith David Psal. ciii. 13) "hath compassion on his children, so hath the Lord compassion on them that fear him." And will receive them again as the prodigal son was entertained, Luke xv., if they shall so come with tears in their eyes, and a penitent heart. Peccator agnoscat, Deus ignoscit. "The Lord is full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger, of great kindness," Psal. ciii. 8. "He will not always chide, neither keep His anger for ever," 9. "As high as the heaven is above the earth, so great is His mercy towards them that fear Him," 11. "As far as the East is from the West, so far hath He removed our sins from us," 12. Though Cain cry out in the anguish of his soul, my punishment is greater than I can bear, 'tis not so; thou liest, Cain (saith Austin) , "God's mercy is greater than thy sins. His mercy is above all His works," Psal. cxlv. 9, able to satisfy for all men's sins, antilutron, 1 Tim. ii. 6. His mercy is a panacea, a balsam for an afflicted soul, a sovereign medicine, an alexipharmacum for all sins, a charm for the devil; his mercy was great to Solomon, to Manasseh, to Peter, great to all offenders, and whosoever thou art, it may be so to thee. For why should God bid us pray (as Austin infers) "Deliver us from all evil," nisi ipse misericors perseveraret, if He did not intend to help us? He therefore that doubts of the remission of his sins, denies God's mercy, and doth Him injury, saith Austin. Yea, but thou repliest, I am a notorious sinner, mine offences are not so great as infinite. Hear Fulgentius, "God's invincible goodness cannot be overcome by sin, His infinite mercy cannot be terminated by any: the multitude of His mercy is equivalent to His magnitude." Hear Chrysostom, "Thy malice may be measured, but God's mercy cannot be defined; thy malice is circumscribed, His mercies infinite." As a drop of water is to the sea, so are thy misdeeds to His mercy: nay, there is no such proportion to be given; for the sea, though great, yet may be measured, but God's mercy cannot be circumscribed. Whatsoever thy sins be then in quantity or quality, multitude or magnitude, fear them not, distrust not. I speak not this, saith Chrysostom, "to make thee secure and negligent, but to cheer thee up." Yea but, thou urgest again, I have little comfort of this which is said, it concerns me not: Inanis púnitentia quam sequens culpa coinquinat, 'tis to no purpose for me to repent, and to do worse than ever I did before, to persevere in sin, and to return to my lusts as a dog to his vomit, or a swine to the mire: to what end is it to ask forgiveness of my sins, and yet daily to sin again and again, to do evil out of a habit? I daily and hourly offend in thought, word, and deed, in a relapse by mine own weakness and wilfulness: my bonus genius, my good protecting angel is gone, I am fallen from that I was or would be, worse and worse, "my latter end is worse than my beginning:" Si quotidiæ peccas, quotidie, saith Chrysostom, púnitentiam age, if thou daily offend, daily repent: "if twice, thrice, a hundred, a hundred thousand times, twice, thrice, a hundred thousand times repent." As they do by an old house that is out of repair, still mend some part or other; so do by thy soul, still reform some vice, repair it by repentance, call to Him for grace, and thou shalt have it; "For we are freely justified by His grace," Rom. iii. 24. If thine enemy repent, as our Saviour enjoined Peter, forgive him seventy-seven times; and why shouldst thou think God will not forgive thee? Why should the enormity of thy sins trouble thee? God can do it, he will do it. "My conscience" (saith Anselm) "dictates to me that I deserve damnation, my repentance will not suffice for satisfaction: but thy mercy, O Lord, quite overcometh all my transgressions." The gods once (as the poets feign) with a gold chain would pull Jupiter out of heaven, but all they together could not stir him, and yet he could draw and turn them as he would himself; maugre all the force and fury of these infernal fiends, and crying sins, "His grace is sufficient." Confer the debt and the payment; Christ and Adam; sin, and the cure of it; the disease and the medicine; confer the sick man to his physician, and thou shalt soon perceive that his power is infinitely beyond it. God is better able, as Bernard informeth us, "to help, than sin to do us hurt; Christ is better able to save, than the devil to destroy." If he be a skilful Physician, as Fulgentius adds, "he can cure all diseases; if merciful, he will." Non est perfecta bonitas a qua non omnis malitia vincitur, His goodness is not absolute and perfect, if it be not able to overcome all malice. Submit thyself unto Him, as St. Austin adviseth, "He knoweth best what he doth; and be not so much pleased when he sustains thee, as patient when he corrects thee; he is omnipotent, and can cure all diseases when he sees his own time." He looks down from heaven upon earth, that he may hear the "mourning of prisoners, and deliver the children of death," Psal. cii. 19. 20. "And though our sins be as red as scarlet, He can make them as white as snow," Isai. i. 18. Doubt not of this, or ask how it shall be done: He is all-sufficient that promiseth; qui fecit mundum de immundo, saith Chrysostom, he that made a fair world of nought, can do this and much more for his part: do thou only believe, trust in him, rely on him, be penitent and heartily sorry for thy sins. Repentance is a sovereign remedy for all sins, a spiritual wing to rear us, a charm for our miseries, a protecting amulet to expel sin's venom, an attractive loadstone to draw God's mercy and graces unto us. Peccatum vulnus, púnitentia medicinam: sin made the breach, repentance must help it; howsoever thine offence came, by error, sloth, obstinacy, ignorance, exitur per púnitentiam, this is the sole means to be relieved. Hence comes our hope of safety, by this alone sinners are saved, God is provoked to mercy. "This unlooseth all that is bound, enlighteneth darkness, mends that is broken, puts life to that which was desperately dying:" makes no respect of offences, or of persons. "This doth not repel a fornicator, reject a drunkard, resist a proud fellow, turn away an idolater, but entertains all, communicates itself to all." Who persecuted the church more than Paul, offended more than Peter? and yet by repentance (saith Curysologus) they got both Magisterium et ministerium sanctitatis, the Magistery of holiness. The prodigal son went far, but by repentance he came home at last. "This alone will turn a wolf into a sheep, make a publican a preacher, turn a thorn into an olive, make a debauched fellow religious," a blasphemer sing halleluja, make Alexander the coppersmith truly devout, make a devil a saint. "And him that polluted his mouth with calumnies, lying, swearing, and filthy tunes and tones, to purge his throat with divine Psalms." Repentance will effect prodigious cures, make a stupend metamorphosis. "A hawk came into the ark, and went out again a hawk; a lion came in, went out a lion; a bear, a bear; a wolf, a wolf; but if a hawk came into this sacred temple of repentance, he will go forth a dove" (saith Chrysostom) , "a wolf go out a sheep, a lion a lamb. This gives sight to the blind, legs to the lame, cures all diseases, confers grace, expels vice, inserts virtue, comforts and fortifies the soul." Shall I say, let thy sin be what it will, do but repent, it is sufficient. Quem púnitet peccasse pene est innocens. (Seneca. "He who repents of his sins is well nigh innocent.") 'Tis true indeed and all-sufficient this, they do confess, if they could repent; but they are obdurate, they have cauterised consciences, they are in a reprobate sense, they cannot think a good thought, they cannot hope for grace, pray, believe, repent, or be sorry for their sins, they find no grief for sin in themselves, but rather a delight, no groaning of spirit, but are carried headlong to their own destruction, "heaping wrath to themselves against the day of wrath," Rom. ii. 5. 'Tis a grievous case this I do yield, and yet not to be despaired; God of his bounty and mercy calls all to repentance, Rom. ii. 4, thou mayst be called at length, restored, taken to His grace, as the thief upon the cross, at the last hour, as Mary Magdalene and many other sinners have been, that were buried in sin. "God" (saith Fulgentius) "is delighted in the conversion of a sinner, he sets no time;" prolixitas temporis Deo non præjudicat, aut gravitas peccati, deferring of time or grievousness of sin, do not prejudicate his grace, things past and to come are all one to Him, as present: 'tis never too late to repent. "This heaven of repentance is still open for all distressed souls;" and howsoever as yet no signs appear, thou mayst repent in good time. Hear a comfortable speech of St. Austin, "Whatsoever thou shall do, how great a sinner soever, thou art yet living; if God would not help thee, he would surely take thee away; but in sparing thy life, he gives thee leisure, and invites thee to repentance." Howsoever as yet, I say, thou perceivest no fruit, no feeling, findest no likelihood of it in thyself, patiently abide the Lord's good leisure, despair not, or think thou art a reprobate; He came to call sinners to repentance, Luke v. 32, of which number thou art one; He came to call thee, and in his time will surely call thee. And although as yet thou hast no inclination to pray, to repent, thy faith be cold and dead, and thou wholly averse from all Divine functions, yet it may revive, as trees are dead in winter, but flourish in the spring! these virtues may lie hid in thee for the present, yet hereafter show themselves, and peradventure already bud, howsoever thou dost not perceive. 'Tis Satan's policy to plead against, suppress and aggravate, to conceal those sparks of faith in thee. Thou dost not believe, thou sayest, yet thou wouldst believe if thou couldst, 'tis thy desire to believe; then pray, "Lord help mine unbelief:" and hereafter thou shall certainly believe: Dabitur sitienti, it shall be given to him that thirsteth. Thou canst not yet repent, hereafter thou shall; a black cloud of sin as yet obnubilates thy soul, terrifies thy conscience, but this cloud may conceive a rainbow at the last, and be quite dissipated by repentance. Be of good cheer; a child is rational in power, not in act; and so art thou penitent in affection, though not yet in action. 'Tis thy desire to please God, to be heartily sorry; comfort thyself, no time is overpast, 'tis never too late. A desire to repent is repentance itself, though not in nature, yet in God's acceptance; a willing mind is sufficient. "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness," Matt. v. 6. He that is destitute of God's grace, and wisheth for it, shall have it. "The Lord" (saith David, Psal. x. 17) "will hear the desire of the poor," that is, such as are in distress of body and mind. 'Tis true thou canst not as yet grieve for thy sin, thou hast no feeling of faith, I yield; yet canst thou grieve thou dost not grieve? It troubles thee, I am sure, thine heart should be so impenitent and hard, thou wouldst have it otherwise; 'tis thy desire to grieve, to repent, and to believe. Thou lovest God's children and saints in the meantime, hatest them not, persecutest them not, but rather wishest thyself a true professor, to be as they are, as thou thyself hast been heretofore; which is an evident token thou art in no such desperate case. 'Tis a good sign of thy conversion, thy sins are pardonable, thou art, or shalt surely be reconciled. "The Lord is near them that are of a contrite heart," Luke iv. 18. A true desire of mercy in the want of mercy, is mercy itself; a desire of grace in the want of grace, is grace itself; a constant and earnest desire to believe, repent, and to be reconciled to God, if it be in a touched heart, is an acceptation of God, a reconciliation, faith and repentance itself. For it is not thy faith and repentance, as Chrysostom truly teacheth, that is available, but God's mercy that is annexed to it, He accepts the will for the deed: so that I conclude, to feel in ourselves the want of grace, and to be grieved for it, is grace itself. I am troubled with fear my sins are not forgiven, Careless objects: but Bradford answers they are; "For God hath given thee a penitent and believing heart, that is, a heart which desireth to repent and believe; for such an one is taken of him (he accepting the will for the deed) for a truly penitent and believing heart."
All this is true thou repliest, but yet it concerns not thee, 'tis verified in ordinary offenders, in common sins, but thine are of a higher strain, even against the Holy Ghost himself, irremissible sins, sins of the first magnitude, written with a pen of iron, engraven with a point of a diamond. Thou art worse than a pagan, infidel, Jew, or Turk, for thou art an apostate and more, thou hast voluntarily blasphemed, renounced God and all religion, thou art worse than Judas himself, or they that crucified Christ: for they did offend out of ignorance, but thou hast thought in thine heart there is no God. Thou hast given thy soul to the devil, as witches and conjurors do, explicite and implicite, by compact, band and obligation (a desperate, a fearful case) to satisfy thy lust, or to be revenged of thine enemies, thou didst never pray, come to church, hear, read, or do any divine duties with any devotion, but for formality and fashion's sake, with a kind of reluctance, 'twas troublesome and painful to thee to perform any such thing, præter voluntatem, against thy will. Thou never mad'st any conscience of lying, swearing, bearing false witness, murder, adultery, bribery, oppression, theft, drunkenness, idolatry, but hast ever done all duties for fear of punishment, as they were most advantageous, and to thine own ends, and committed all such notorious sins, with an extraordinary delight, hating that thou shouldst love, and loving that thou shouldst hate. Instead of faith, fear and love of God, repentance, &c., blasphemous thoughts have been ever harboured in his mind, even against God himself, the blessed Trinity; the Scripture false, rude, harsh, immethodical: heaven, hell, resurrection, mere toys and fables, incredible, impossible, absurd, vain, ill contrived; religion, policy, and human invention, to keep men in obedience, or for profit, invented by priests and lawgivers to that purpose. If there be any such supreme power, he takes no notice of our doings, hears not our prayers, regardeth them not, will not, cannot help, or else he is partial, an excepter of persons, author of sin, a cruel, a destructive God, to create our souls, and destinate them to eternal damnation, to make us worse than our dogs and horses, why doth he not govern things better, protect good men, root out wicked livers? why do they prosper and flourish? as she raved in the tragedy -- pellices cælum tenent, there they shine, Suasque Perseus aureas stellas habet, where is his providence? how appears it?
"Marmoreo Licinus tumulo jacet, at Cato parvo,
Pomponius nullo, quis putet esse Deos."
("Licinus lies in a marble tomb, but Cato in a mean one; Pomponius has none, who can think therefore that there are Gods?")
Why doth he suffer Turks to overcome Christians, the enemy to triumph over his church, paganism to domineer in all places as it doth, heresies to multiply, such enormities to be committed, and so many such bloody wars, murders, massacres, plagues, feral diseases! why doth he not make us all good, able, sound? why makes he venomous creatures, rocks, sands, deserts, this earth itself the muck-hill of the world, a prison, a house of correction? Mentimur regnare Jovem, &c., with many such horrible and execrable conceits, not fit to be uttered; Terribilia de fide, horribilia de Divinitate. They cannot some of them but think evil, they are compelled volentes nolentes, to blaspheme, especially when they come to church and pray, read, &c., such foul and prodigious suggestions come into their hearts.
These are abominable, unspeakable offences, and most opposite to God, tentationes fúdæ, et impiæ, yet in this case, he or they that shall be tempted and so affected, must know, that no man living is free from such thoughts in part, or at some times, the most divine spirits have been so tempted in some sort, evil custom, omission of holy exercises, ill company, idleness, solitariness, melancholy, or depraved nature, and the devil is still ready to corrupt, trouble, and divert our souls, to suggest such blasphemous thoughts into our fantasies, ungodly, profane, monstrous and wicked conceits: If they come from Satan, they are more speedy, fearful and violent, the parties cannot avoid them: they are more frequent, I say, and monstrous when they come; for the devil he is a spirit, and hath means and opportunities to mingle himself with our spirits, and sometimes more slyly, sometimes more abruptly and openly, to suggest such devilish thoughts into our hearts; he insults and domineers in melancholy distempered fantasies and persons especially; melancholy is balneum diaboli, as Serapio holds, the devil's bath, and invites him to come to it. As a sick man frets, raves in his fits, speaks and doth he knows not what, the devil violently compels such crazed souls to think such damned thoughts against their wills, they cannot but do it; sometimes more continuate, or by fits, he takes his advantage, as the subject is less able to resist, he aggravates, extenuates, affirms, denies, damns, confounds the spirits, troubles heart, brain, humours, organs, senses, and wholly domineers in their imaginations. If they proceed from themselves, such thoughts, they are remiss and moderate, not so violent and monstrous, not so frequent. The devil commonly suggests things opposite to nature, opposite to God and his word, impious, absurd, such as a man would never of himself, or could not conceive, they strike terror and horror into the parties' own hearts. For if he or they be asked whether they do approve of such like thoughts or no, they answer (and their own souls truly dictate as much) they abhor them as much as hell and the devil himself, they would fain think otherwise if they could; he hath thought otherwise, and with all his soul desires so to think again; he doth resist, and hath some good motions intermixed now and then: so that such blasphemous, impious, unclean thoughts, are not his own, but the devil's; they proceed not from him, but from a crazed phantasy, distempered humours, black fumes which offend his brain: they are thy crosses, the devil's sins, and he shall answer for them, he doth enforce thee to do that which thou dost abhor, and didst never give consent to: and although he hath sometimes so slyly set upon thee, and so far prevailed, as to make thee in some sort to assent to such wicked thoughts, to delight in, yet they have not proceeded from a confirmed will in thee, but are of that nature which thou dost afterwards reject and abhor. Therefore be not overmuch troubled and dismayed with such kind of suggestions, at least if they please thee not, because they are not thy personal sins, for which thou shalt incur the wrath of God, or his displeasure: contemn, neglect them, let them go as they come, strive not too violently, or trouble thyself too much, but as our Saviour said to Satan in like case, say thou, avoid Satan, I detest thee and them. Satanæ est mala ingerere (saith Austin) nostrum non consentire: as Satan labours to suggest, so must we strive not to give consent, and it will be sufficient: the more anxious and solicitous thou art, the more perplexed, the more thou shalt otherwise be troubled and entangled. Besides, they must know this, all so molested and distempered, that although these be most execrable and grievous sins, they are pardonable yet, through God's mercy and goodness, they may be forgiven, if they be penitent and sorry for them. Paul himself confesseth, Rom. xvii. 19. "He did not the good he would do, but the evil which he would not do; 'tis not I, but sin that dwelleth in me." 'Tis not thou, but Satan's suggestions, his craft and subtlety, his malice: comfort thyself then if thou be penitent and grieved, or desirous to be so, these heinous sins shall not be laid to thy charge; God's mercy is above all sins, which if thou do not finally contemn, without doubt thou shalt be saved. "No man sins against the Holy Ghost, but he that wilfully and finally renounceth Christ, and contemneth him and his word to the last, without which there is no salvation, from which grievous sin, God of his infinite mercy deliver us." Take hold of this to be thy comfort, and meditate withal on God's word, labour to pray, to repent, to be renewed in mind, "keep thine heart with all diligence." Prov. iv. 13, resist the devil, and he will fly from thee, pour out thy soul unto the Lord with sorrowful Hannah, "pray continually," as Paul enjoins, and as David did, Psalm i. "meditate on his law day and night."
Yea, but this meditation is that mars all, and mistaken makes many men far worse, misconceiving all they read or hear, to their own overthrow; the more they search and read Scriptures, or divine treatises, the more they puzzle themselves, as a bird in a net, the more they are entangled and precipitated into this preposterous gulf: "Many are called, but few are chosen," Matt. xx. 16. and xxii. 14. with such like places of Scripture misinterpreted strike them with horror, they doubt presently whether they be of this number or no: God's eternal decree of predestination, absolute reprobation, and such fatal tables, they form to their own ruin, and impinge upon this rock of despair. How shall they be assured of their salvation, by what signs? "If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and sinners appear?" 1 Pet. iv. 18. Who knows, saith Solomon, whether he be elect? This grinds their souls, how shall they discern they are not reprobates? But I say again, how shall they discern they are? From the devil can be no certainty, for he is a liar from the beginning; if he suggests any such thing, as too frequently he doth, reject him as a deceiver, an enemy of human kind, dispute not with him, give no credit to him, obstinately refuse him, as St. Anthony did in the wilderness, whom the devil set upon in several shapes, or as the collier did, so do thou by him. For when the devil tempted him with the weakness of his faith, and told him he could not be saved, as being ignorant in the principles of religion, and urged him moreover to know what he believed, what he thought of such and such points and mysteries: the collier told him, he believed as the church did; but what (said the devil again) doth the church believe? as I do (said the collier) ; and what's that thou believest? as the church doth, &c., when the devil could get no other answer, he left him. If Satan summon thee to answer, send him to Christ: he is thy liberty, thy protector against cruel death, raging sin, that roaring lion, he is thy righteousness, thy Saviour, and thy life. Though he say, thou art not of the number of the elect, a reprobate, forsaken of God, hold thine own still, hic murus aheneus esto, let this be as a bulwark, a brazen wall to defend thee, stay thyself in that certainty of faith; let that be thy comfort, Christ will protect thee, vindicate thee, thou art one of his flock, he will triumph over the law, vanquish death, overcome the devil, and destroy hell. If he say thou art none of the elect, no believer, reject him, defy him, thou hast thought otherwise, and mayst so be resolved again; comfort thyself; this persuasion cannot come from the devil, and much less can it be grounded from thyself? men are liars, and why shouldst thou distrust? A denying Peter, a persecuting Paul, an adulterous cruel David, have been received; an apostate Solomon may be converted; no sin at all but impenitency, can give testimony of final reprobation. Why shouldst thou then distrust, misdoubt thyself, upon what ground, what suspicion? This opinion alone of particularity? Against that, and for the certainty of election and salvation on the other side, see God's good will toward men, hear how generally his grace is proposed to him, and him, and them, each man in particular, and to all. 1 Tim. ii. 4. "God will that all men be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth." 'Tis a universal promise, "God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world, but that through him the world might be saved." John iii. 17. "He that acknowledged himself a man in the world, must likewise acknowledge he is of that number that is to be saved." Ezek. xxxiii. 11, "I will not the death of a sinner, but that he repent and live:" But thou art a sinner; therefore he will not thy death. "This is the will of him that sent me, that every man that believeth in the Son, should have everlasting life." John vi. 40. "He would have no man perish, but all come to repentance," 2 Pet. iii. 9. Besides, remission of sins is to be preached, not to a few, but universally to all men, "Go therefore and tell all nations, baptising them," &c. Matt. xxviii. 19. "Go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature," Mark xvi. 15. Now there cannot be contradictory wills in God, he will have all saved, and not all, how can this stand together? be secure then, believe, trust in him, hope well and be saved. Yea, that's the main matter, how shall I believe or discern my security from carnal presumption? my faith is weak and faint, I want those signs and fruits of sanctification, sorrow for sin, thirsting for grace, groanings of the spirit, love of Christians as Christians, avoiding occasion of sin, endeavour of new obedience, charity, love of God, perseverance. Though these signs be languishing in thee, and not seated in thine heart, thou must not therefore be dejected or terrified; the effects of the faith and spirit are not yet so fully felt in thee; conclude not therefore thou art a reprobate, or doubt of thine election, because the elect themselves are without them, before their conversion. Thou mayst in the Lord's good time be converted; some are called at the eleventh hour. Use, I say, the means of thy conversion, expect the Lord's leisure, if not yet called, pray thou mayst be, or at least wish and desire thou mayst be.
Notwithstanding all this which might be said to this effect, to ease their afflicted minds, what comfort our best divines can afford in this case, Zanchius, Beza, &c. This furious curiosity, needless speculation, fruitless meditation about election, reprobation, free will, grace, such places of Scripture preposterously conceived, torment still, and crucify the souls of too many, and set all the world together by the ears. To avoid which inconveniences, and to settle their distressed minds, to mitigate those divine aphorisms, (though in another extreme some) our late Arminians have revived that plausible doctrine of universal grace, which many fathers, our late Lutheran and modern papists do still maintain, that we have free will of ourselves, and that grace is common to all that will believe. Some again, though less orthodoxal, will have a far greater part saved than shall be damned, (as Cúlius Secundus stiffly maintains in his book, De amplitudine regni cúlestis, or some impostor under his name) beatorum numerus multo major quam damnatorum. He calls that other tenet of special "election and reprobation, a prejudicate, envious and malicious opinion, apt to draw all men to desperation. Many are called, few chosen," &c. He opposeth some opposite parts of Scripture to it, "Christ came into the world to save sinners," &c. And four especial arguments he produceth, one from God's power. If more be damned than saved, he erroneously concludes, the devil hath the greater sovereignty! for what is power but to protect? and majesty consists in multitude. "If the devil have the greater part, where is his mercy, where is his power? how is he Deus Optimus Maximus, misericors? &c., where is his greatness, where his goodness?" He proceeds, "We account him a murderer that is accessory only, or doth not help when he can; which may not be supposed of God without great offence, because he may do what he will, and is otherwise accessory, and the author of sin. The nature of good is to be communicated, God is good, and will not then be contracted in his goodness: for how is he the father of mercy and comfort, if his good concern but a few? O envious and unthankful men to think otherwise! Why should we pray to God that are Gentiles, and thank him for his mercies and benefits, that hath damned us all innocuous for Adam's offence, one man's offence, one small offence, eating of an apple? why should we acknowledge him for our governor that hath wholly neglected the salvation of our souls, contemned us, and sent no prophets or instructors to teach us, as he hath done to the Hebrews?" So Julian the apostate objects. Why should these Christians (Cúlius urgeth) reject us and appropriate God unto themselves, Deum illum suum unicum, &c. But to return to our forged Cúlius. At last he comes to that, he will have those saved that never heard of, or believed in Christ, ex puris naturalibus, with the Pelagians, and proves it out of Origen and others. "They" (saith Origen) "that never heard God's word, are to be excused for their ignorance; we may not think God will be so hard, angry, cruel or unjust as to condemn any man indicta causa." They alone (he holds) are in the state of damnation that refuse Christ's mercy and grace, when it is offered. Many worthy Greeks and Romans, good moral honest men, that kept the law of nature, did to others as they would be done to themselves, as certainly saved, he concludes, as they were that lived uprightly before the law of Moses. They were acceptable in. God's sight, as Job was, the Magi, the queen of Sheba, Darius of Persia, Socrates, Aristides, Cato, Curius, Tully, Seneca, and many other philosophers, upright livers, no matter of what religion, as Cornelius, out of any nation, so that he live honestly, call on God, trust in him, fear him, he shall be saved. This opinion was formerly maintained by the Valentinian and Basiledian heretics, revived of late in Turkey, of what sect Rustan Bassa was patron, defended by Galeatius Erasmus, by Zuinglius in exposit. fidei ad Regem Galliæ, whose tenet Bullinger vindicates, and Gualter approves in a just apology with many arguments. There be many Jesuits that follow these Calvinists in this behalf, Franciscus Buchsius Moguntinus, Andradius Consil. Trident, many schoolmen that out of the 1 Rom. v. 18. 19. are verily persuaded that those good works of the Gentiles did so far please God, that they might vitam æternam promereri, and be saved in the end. Sesellius, and Benedictus Justinianus in his comment on the first of the Romans, Mathias Ditmarsh the politician, with many others, hold a mediocrity, they may be salute non indigni but they will not absolutely decree it. Hofmannus, a Lutheran professor of Helmstad, and many of his followers, with most of our church, and papists, are stiff against it. Franciscus Collius hath fully censured all opinions in his Five Books, de Paganorum animabus post mortem, and amply dilated this question, which whoso will may peruse. But to return to my author, his conclusion is, that not only wicked livers, blasphemers, reprobates, and such as reject God's grace, "but that the devils themselves shall be saved at last," as Origen himself long since delivered in his works, and our late Socinians defend, Ostorodius, cap. 41. institut. Smaltius, &c. Those terms of all and for ever in Scripture, are not eternal, but only denote a longer time, which by many examples they prove. The world shall end like a comedy, and we shall meet at last in heaven, and live in bliss altogether, or else in conclusion, in nihil evanescere. For how can he be merciful that shall condemn any creature to eternal unspeakable punishment, for one small temporary fault, all posterity, so many myriads for one and another man's offence, quid meruistis oves? But these absurd paradoxes are exploded by our church, we teach otherwise. That this vocation, predestination, election, reprobation, non ex corrupta massa, præviso, fide, as our Arminians, or ex prævisis operibus, as our papists, non ex præteritione, but God's absolute decree ante mundum creatum, (as many of our church hold) was from the beginning, before the foundation of the world was laid, or homo conditus, (or from Adam's fall, as others will, homo lapsus objectum est reprobationis) with perseverantia sanctorum, we must be certain of our salvation, we may fall but not finally, which our Arminians will not admit. According to his immutable, eternal, just decree and counsel of saving men and angels, God calls all, and would have all to be saved according to the efficacy of vocation: all are invited, but only the elect apprehended: the rest that are unbelieving, impenitent, whom God in his just judgment leaves to be punished for their sins, are in a reprobate sense; yet we must not determine who are such, condemn ourselves or others, because we have a universal invitation; all are commanded to believe, and we know not how soon or how late our end may be received. I might have said more of this subject; but forasmuch as it is a forbidden question, and in the preface or declaration to the articles of the church, printed 1633, to avoid factions and altercations, we that are university divines especially, are prohibited "all curious search, to print or preach, or draw the article aside by our own sense and comments upon pain of ecclesiastical censure." I will surcease, and conclude with Erasmus of such controversies: Pugnet qui volet, ego censeo leges majorum reverenter suscipiendas, et religiose observandas, velut a Deo profectas; nec esse tutum, nec esse pium, de potestate publica sinistram concipere aut serere suspicionem. Et siquid est tyrannidis, quod tamen non cogat ad impietatem, satius est ferre, quam seditiose reluctari. (Epist. Erasmi de utilitate colloquior. ad lectorem.-- Let whoever wishes dispute, I think the laws of our forefathers should be received with reverence, and religiously observed, as coming from God; neither is it safe or pious to conceive, or contrive, an injurious suspicion of the public authority; and should any tyranny, likely to drive men into the commission of wickedness, exist, it is better to endure it than to resist it by sedition.)
But to my former task. The last main torture and trouble of a distressed mind, is not so much this doubt of election, and that the promises of grace are smothered and extinct in them, nay quite blotted out, as they suppose, but withal God's heavy wrath, a most intolerable pain and grief of heart seizeth on them: to their thinking they are already damned, they suffer the pains of hell, and more than possibly can be expressed, they smell brimstone, talk familiarly with devils, hear and see chimeras, prodigious, uncouth shapes, bears, owls, antiques, black dogs, fiends, hideous outcries, fearful noises, shrieks, lamentable complaints, they are possessed, and through impatience they roar and howl, curse, blaspheme, deny God, call his power in question, abjure religion, and are still ready to offer violence unto themselves, by hanging, drowning, &c. Never any miserable wretch from the beginning of the world was in such a woeful case. To such persons I oppose God's mercy and his justice; Judicia Dei occulta, non injusta: his secret counsel and just judgment, by which he spares some, and sore afflicts others again in this life; his judgment is to be adored, trembled at, not to be searched or inquired after by mortal men: he hath reasons reserved to himself, which our frailty cannot apprehend. He may punish all if he will, and that justly for sin; in that he doth it in some, is to make a way for his mercy that they repent and be saved, to heal them, to try them, exercise their patience, and make them call upon him, to confess their sins and pray unto him, as David did, Psalm cxix. 137. "Righteous art thou, O Lord, and just are thy judgments." As the poor publican, Luke xviii. 13. "Lord have mercy upon me a miserable sinner." To put confidence and have an assured hope in him, as Job had, xiii. 15. "Though he kill me I will trust In him:" Ure, seca, occide O Domine, (saith Austin) modo serves animam, kill, cut in pieces, burn my body (O Lord) to save my soul. A small sickness; one lash of affliction, a little misery, many times will more humiliate a man, sooner convert, bring him home to know himself, than all those parænetical discourses, the whole theory of philosophy, law, physic, and divinity, or a world of instances and examples. So that this, which they take to be such an insupportable plague, is an evident sign of God's mercy and justice, of His love and goodness: periissent nisi periissent, had they not thus been undone, they had finally been undone. Many a carnal man is lulled asleep in perverse security, foolish presumption, is stupefied in his sins, and hath no feeling at all of them: "I have sinned" (he saith) "and what evil shall come unto me," Eccles. v. 4, and "Tush, how shall God know it?" and so in a reprobate sense goes down to hell. But here, Cynthius aurem vellit, God pulls them by the ear, by affliction, he will bring them to heaven and happiness; "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted," Matt. v. 4, a blessed and a happy state, if considered aright, it is, to be so troubled. "It is good for me that I have been afflicted," Psal. cxix. "before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Thy word." "Tribulation works patience, patience hope," Rom. v. 4, and by such like crosses and calamities we are driven from the stake of security. So that affliction is a school or academy, wherein the best scholars are prepared to the commencements of the Deity. And though it be most troublesome and grievous for the time, yet know this, it comes by God's permission and providence; He is a spectator of thy groans and tears, still present with thee, the very hairs of thy head are numbered, not one of them can fall to the ground without the express will of God: he will not suffer thee to be tempted above measure, he corrects us all, numero, pondere, et mensura, the Lord will not quench the smoking flax, or break the bruised reed, Tentat (saith Austin) non ut obruat, sed ut coronet he suffers thee to be tempted for thy good. And as a mother doth handle her child sick and weak, not reject it, but with all tenderness observe and keep it, so doth God by us, not forsake us in our miseries, or relinquish us for our imperfections, but with all pity and compassion support and receive us; whom he loves, he loves to the end. Rom. viii. "Whom He hath elected, those He hath called, justified, sanctified, and glorified." Think not then thou hast lost the Spirit, that thou art forsaken of God, be not overcome with heaviness of heart, but as David said, "I will not fear though I walk in the shadows of death." We must all go, non a deliciis ad delicias, ("Not from pleasures to pleasures.") but from the cross to the crown, by hell to heaven, as the old Romans put Virtue's temple in the way to that of Honour; we must endure sorrow and misery in this life. 'Tis no new thing this, God's best servants and dearest children have been so visited and tried. Christ in the garden cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" His son by nature, as thou art by adoption and grace. Job, in his anguish, said, "The arrows of the Almighty God were in him," Job vi. 4. "His terrors fought against him, the venom drank up his spirit," cap. xiii. 26. He saith, "God was his enemy, writ bitter things against him" (xvi. 9.) "hated him." His heavy wrath had so seized on his soul. David complains, "his eyes were eaten up, sunk into his head," Ps. vi. 7, "his moisture became as the drought in summer, his flesh was consumed, his bones vexed:" yet neither Job nor David did finally despair. Job would not leave his hold, but still trust in Him, acknowledging Him to be his good God. "The Lord gives, the Lord takes, blessed be the name of the Lord," Job. i. 21. "Behold I am vile, I abhor myself, repent in dust and ashes," Job xxxix. 37. David humbled himself, Psal. xxxi. and upon his confession received mercy. Faith, hope, repentance, are the sovereign cures and remedies, the sole comforts in this case; confess, humble thyself, repent, it is sufficient. Quod purpura non potest, saccus potest, saith Chrysostom; the king of Nineveh's sackcloth and ashes "did that which his purple robes and crown could not effect;" Quod diadema non potuit, cinis perfecit. Turn to Him, he will turn to thee; the Lord is near those that are of a contrite heart, and will save such as be afflicted in spirit, Ps. xxxiv. 18. "He came to the lost sheep of Israel," Matt. xv. 14. Si cadentem intuetur, clementiæ manum protendit, He is at all times ready to assist. Nunquam spernit Deus Púnitentiam si sincere et simpliciter offeratur, He never rejects a penitent sinner, though he have come to the full height of iniquity, wallowed and delighted in sin; yet if he will forsake his former ways, libenter amplexatur, He will receive him. Parcam huic homini, saith Austin, (ex persona Dei) quia sibi ipsi non pepercit; ignoscam quia peccatum agnovit. I will spare him because he hath not spared himself; I will pardon him because he doth acknowledge his offence: let it be never so enormous a sin, "His grace is sufficient," 2 Cor. xii. 9. Despair not then, faint not at all, be not dejected, but rely on God, call on him an thy trouble, and he will hear thee, he will assist, help, and deliver thee: "Draw near to Him, he will draw near to thee," James iv. 8. Lazarus was poor and full of boils, and yet still he relied upon God, Abraham did hope beyond hope.
Thou exceptest, these were chief men, divine spirits, Deo cari, beloved of God, especially respected; but I am a contemptible and forlorn wretch, forsaken of God, and left to the merciless fury of evil spirits. I cannot hope, pray, repent, &c. How often shall I say it? thou mayst perform all those duties, Christian offices, and be restored in good time. A sick man loseth his appetite, strength and ability, his disease prevaileth so far, that all his faculties are spent, hand and foot perform not their duties, his eyes are dim, hearing dull, tongue distastes things of pleasant relish, yet nature lies hid, recovereth again, and expelleth all those feculent matters by vomit, sweat, or some such like evacuations. Thou art spiritually sick, thine heart is heavy, thy mind distressed, thou mayst happily recover again, expel those dismal passions of fear and grief; God did not suffer thee to be tempted above measure; whom he loves (I say) he loves to the end; hope the best. David in his misery prayed to the Lord, remembering how he had formerly dealt with him; and with that meditation of God's mercy confirmed his faith, and pacified his own tumultuous heart in his greatest agony. "O my soul, why art thou so disquieted within me," &c. Thy soul is eclipsed for a time, I yield, as the sun is shadowed by a cloud; no doubt but those gracious beams of God's mercy will shine upon thee again, as they have formerly done: those embers of faith, hope and repentance, now buried in ashes, will flame out afresh, and be fully revived. Want of faith, no feeling of grace for the present, are not fit directions; we must live by faith, not by feeling; 'tis the beginning of grace to wish for grace: we must expect and tarry. David, a man after God's own heart, was so troubled himself; "Awake, why sleepest thou? O Lord, arise, cast me not off; wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest mine affliction and oppression? My soul is bowed down to the dust. Arise, redeem us," &c., Ps. xliv. 22. He prayed long before he was heard, expectans expectavit; endured much before he was relieved. Psal. lxix. 3, he complains, "I am weary of crying, and my throat is dry, mine eyes fail, whilst I wait on the Lord;" and yet he perseveres. Be not dismayed, thou shalt be respected at last. God often works by contrarieties, he first kills and then makes alive, he woundeth first and then healeth, he makes man sow in tears that he may reap in joy; 'tis God's method: he that is so visited, must with patience endure and rest satisfied for the present. The paschal lamb was eaten with sour herbs; we shall feel no sweetness of His blood, till we first feel the smart of our sins. Thy pains are great, intolerable for the time; thou art destitute of grace and comfort, stay the Lord's leisure, he will not (I say) suffer thee to be tempted above that thou art able to bear, 1 Cor. x. 13. but will give an issue to temptation. He works all for the best to them that love God, Rom. viii. 28. Doubt not of thine election, it is an immutable decree; a mark never to be defaced: you have been otherwise, you may and shall be. And for your present affliction, hope the best, it will shortly end. "He is present with his servants in their affliction," Ps. xci. 15. "Great are the troubles of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth them out of all," Ps. xxxiv. 19. "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh in us an eternal weight of glory," 2. Cor. iv. 18. "Not answerable to that glory which is to come; though now in heaviness," saith 1 Pet. i. 6, "you shall rejoice."
Now last of all to those external impediments, terrible objects, which they hear and see many times, devils, bugbears, and mormeluches, noisome smells, &c. These may come, as I have formerly declared in my precedent discourse of the Symptoms of Melancholy, from inward causes; as a concave glass reflects solid bodies, a troubled brain for want of sleep, nutriment, and by reason of that agitation of spirits to which Hercules de Saxonia attributes all symptoms almost, may reflect and show prodigious shapes, as our vain fear and crazed phantasy shall suggest and feign, as many silly weak women and children in the dark, sick folks, and frantic for want of repast and sleep, suppose they see that they see not: many times such terriculaments may proceed from natural causes, and all other senses may be deluded. Besides, as I have said, this humour is balneum diaboli, the devil's bath, by reason of the distemper of humours, and infirm organs in us: he may so possess us inwardly to molest us, as he did Saul and others, by God's permission: he is prince of the air, and can transform himself into several shapes, delude all our senses for a time, but his power is determined, he may terrify us, but not hurt; God hath given "His angels charge over us, He is a wall round about his people," Psal. xci. 11, 12. There be those that prescribe physic in such cases, 'tis God's instrument and not unfit. The devil works by mediation of humours, and mixed diseases must have mixed remedies. Levinus Lemnius cap. 57 & 58, exhort. ad vit. ep. instit. is very copious on this subject, besides that chief remedy of confidence in God, prayer, hearty repentance, &c., of which for your comfort and instruction, read Lavater de spectris part. 3. cap. 5. and 6. Wierus de præstigiis dæmonum lib. 5. to Philip Melancthon, and others, and that Christian armour which Paul prescribes; he sets down certain amulets, herbs, and precious stones, which have marvellous virtues all, profligandis dæmonibus, to drive away devils and their illusions. Sapphires, chrysolites, carbuncles, &c. Quæ mira virtute pollent ad lemures, stryges, incubos, genios æreos arcendos, si veterum monumentis habenda fides. Of herbs, he reckons us pennyroyal, rue, mint, angelica, peony: Rich. Argentine de præstigiis dæmonum, cap. 20, adds, hypericon or St. John's wort, perforata herba, which by a divine virtue drives away devils, and is therefore fuga dæmonum: all which rightly used by their suffitus, Dæmonum vexationibus obsistunt, afflictas mentes a dæmonibus relevant, et venenatis fumis, expel devils themselves, and all devilish illusions. Anthony Musa, the Emperor Augustus, his physician, cap. 6, de Betonia, approves of betony to this purpose; the ancients used therefore to plant it in churchyards, because it was held to be an holy herb and good against fearful visions, did secure such places as it grew in, and sanctified those persons that carried it about them. Idem fere Mathiolus in dioscoridem. Others commend accurate music, so Saul was helped by David's harp. Fires to be made in such rooms where spirits haunt, good store of lights to be set up, odours, perfumes, and suffumigations, as the angel taught Tobias, of brimstone and bitumen, thus, myrrh, briony root, with many such simples which Wecker hath collected, lib. 15, de secretis, cap. 15. [Symbol: Jupiter] sulphuris drachmam unam, recoquatur in vitis albæ, aqua, ut dilutius sit sulphur; detur ægro: nam dæmones sunt morbi (saith Rich. Argentine, lib. de præstigiis dæmonum, cap. ult.) Vigetus hath a far larger receipt to this purpose, which the said Wecker cites out of Wierus, [Symbol: Jupiter] sulphuris, vini, bituminis, opoponacis, galbani, castorei, &c. Why sweet perfumes, fires and so many lights should be used in such places, Ernestus Burgravius Lucerna vitæ, et mortis, and Fortunius Lycetus assigns this cause, quod his boni genii provocentur, mali arceaniur; "because good spirits are well pleased with, but evil abhor them!" And therefore those old Gentiles, present Mahometans, and Papists have continual lamps burning in their churches all day and all night, lights at funerals and in their graves; lucernæ ardentes ex auro liquefacto for many ages to endure (saith Lazius) , ne dæmones corpus lædant; lights ever burning as those vestal virgins. Pythonissæ maintained heretofore, with many such, of which read Tostatus in 2 Reg. cap. 6. quæst. 43, Thyreus, cap. 57, 58, 62, &c. de locis infestis, Pictorius Isagog. de dæmonibus, &c., see more in them. Cardan would have the party affected wink altogether in such a case, if he see aught that offends him, or cut the air with a sword in such places they walk and abide; gladiis enim et lanceis terrentur, shoot a pistol at them, for being aerial bodies (as Cúlius Rhodiginus, lib. 1. cap. 29. Tertullian, Origen, Psellas, and many hold) , if stroken, they feel pain. Papists commonly enjoin and apply crosses, holy water, sanctified beads, amulets, music, ringing of bells, for to that end are they consecrated, and by them baptised, characters, counterfeit relics, so many masses, peregrinations, oblations, adjurations, and what not? Alexander Albertinus a Rocha, Petrus Thyreus, and Hieronymus Mengus, with many other pontificial writers, prescribe and set down several forms of exorcisms, as well to houses possessed with devils, as to demoniacal persons; but I am of Lemnius's mind, 'tis but damnosa adjuratio, aut potius ludificatio, a mere mockery, a counterfeit charm, to no purpose, they are fopperies and fictions, as that absurd story is amongst the rest, of a penitent woman seduced by a magician in France, at St. Bawne, exorcised by Domphius, Michaelis, and a company of circumventing friars. If any man (saith Lemnius) will attempt such a thing, without all those juggling circumstances, astrological elections of time, place, prodigious habits, fustian, big, sesquipedal words, spells, crosses, characters, which exorcists ordinarily use, let him follow the example of Peter and John, that without any ambitious swelling terms, cured a lame man. Acts iii. "In the name of Christ Jesus rise and walk." His name alone is the best and only charm against all such diabolical illusions, so doth Origen advise: and so Chrysostom, Hæc erit tibi baculus, hæc turris inexpugnabilis, hæc armatura. Nos quid ad hæc dicemus, plures fortasse expectabunt, saith St. Austin. Many men will desire my counsel and opinion what is to be done in this behalf; I can say no more, quam ut vera fide, quæ per dilectionem operatur, ad Deum unum fugiamus, let them fly to God alone for help. Athanasius in his book, De variis quæst. prescribes as a present charm against devils, the beginning of the lxvii. Psalm. Exurgat Deus, dissipentur inimici, &c. But the best remedy is to fly to God, to call on him, hope, pray, trust, rely on him, to commit ourselves wholly to him. What the practice of the primitive church was in this behalf, Et quis dæmonia ejiciendi modus, read Wierus at large, lib. 5. de Cura. Lam. meles. cap. 38. et deinceps.
Last of all: if the party affected shall certainly know this malady to have proceeded from too much fasting, meditation, precise life, contemplation of God's judgments (for the devil deceives many by such means) , in that other extreme he circumvents melancholy itself, reading some books, treatises, hearing rigid preachers, &c. If he shall perceive that it hath begun first from some great loss, grievous accident, disaster, seeing others in like case, or any such terrible object, let him speedily remove the cause, which to the cure of this disease Navarras so much commends, avertat cogitationem a re scrupulosa, (Tom. 2. cap. 27, num. 282. "Let him avert his thoughts from the painful object.") by all opposite means, art, and industry, let him laxare animum, by all honest recreations, "refresh and recreate his distressed soul;" let him direct his thoughts, by himself and other of his friends. Let him read no more such tracts or subjects, hear no more such fearful tones, avoid such companies, and by all means open himself, submit himself to the advice of good physicians and divines, which is contraventio scrupulorum, as he calls it, hear them speak to whom the Lord hath given the tongue of the learned, to be able to minister a word to him that is weary, whose words are as flagons of wine. Let him not be obstinate, headstrong, peevish, wilful, self-conceited (as in this malady they are) , but give ear to good advice, be ruled and persuaded; and no doubt but such good counsel may prove as preposterous to his soul, as the angel was to Peter, that opened the iron gates, loosed his bands, brought him out of prison, and delivered him from bodily thraldom; they may ease his afflicted mind, relieve his wounded soul, and take him out of the jaws of hell itself. I can say no more, or give better advice to such as are any way distressed in this kind, than what I have given and said. Only take this for a corollary and conclusion, as thou tenderest thine own welfare in this, and all other melancholy, thy good health of body and mind, observe this short precept, give not way to solitariness and idleness. "Be not solitary, be not idle."
SPERATE MISERI -- UNHAPPY, HOPE.
CAVETE FELICES -- HAPPY, BE CAUTIOUS.
Vis a dubio liberari? vis quod incertum est evadere? Age púnitentiam dum sanus es; sic agens, dico tibi quod securus es, quod púnitentiam egisti eo tempore quo peccare potuisti. Austin. "Do you wish to be freed from doubts? do you desire to escape uncertainty? Be penitent whilst rational: by so doing I assert that you are safe, because you have devoted that time to penitence in which you might have been guilty of sin."