Six Differences between Melancholly and Trouble of Conscience. Diff. 1. Melancholly may be in those that are most grosly ignorant; but trouble of conscience cometh with some enlightening work. Diff. 2. Me∣lancholly prevails on men by degrees, but trouble of Conscience many times comes suddenly, as lightning. Diff. 3. Melancholly trouble is exceeding confused, but troubles of Conscience are more distinct. Diff. 4. The more melancholly any hath, the less able are they to bear outward affliction; but the more trouble of Conscience, the more able to bear outward afflictions. Diff. 5. Melancholly puts a dulness upon the spirits of men, but trouble of Conscience for sin puts a migh∣ty activity upon mens spirits. Diff. 6. Trouble of Conscience cannot be cured the waies melancholly may.
FIrst, Melancholly, it is many times in men and women where there is most gross Ignorance of God, and of Sin, and of the things of their Eter∣nal Estate; it may consist with gross ignorance: Many melancholly people are most ignorant and sottish, and know nothing of the Principles of Religion: but troubles of Conscience can ne∣ver come without some new Light of God dar∣ted in, and setled upon the hearts of men and Page 415 women; it comes alwaies with some inlight∣ning work of the Spirit. Melancholly is many times with a great deal of darkness within; the mind is dark where melancholly prevails, and many times gross ignorance; but never any true trouble of Conscience, but God comes in with some light. And therefore if any man or wo∣man be troubled, and say it is for sin, I put this to you; What hath God discovered to you now, more than before? What Truths of God hath God setled upon their hearts more than be∣fore? If they can give no further account of no other light let into them, than before, or further Truth let in upon their hearts than before; then indeed it may be suspected not to be trou∣ble for sin; as many melancholly people have the name of being troubled for sin, and they have fears of Hell, because of dark thoughts: But 'tis not the true work of the Spirit upon the Soul, except it be with convincement of some new Light, or settling some Truth more upon the Soul than before.
Secondly, Melancholliness comes by degrees upon men and women; alterations of the Body are not sudden things, the temper of men and womens Bodies cannot suddenly be altered to any extremity, but gradually, from one degree to another: but trouble of Conscience comes many times as a flash of Lightning from Heaven. Many men and women have come to the Con∣gregation with scornful spirits, prophane, wic∣ked, and ungodly; never knew what sin meant, nor trouble for sin meant, and God hath met with them in the Word, and fastned some Sen∣tence Page 416 upon their hearts so, that they fall down under the power of it: that comes just as an Arrow struck into their Liver, and they could never get out of it, & have gone away with hor∣rors of soul; and therfore this hath not been me∣lancholliness Certainly the humors of the Body, never so suddenly alters the Spirits of men: but when God comes to work, when the Spirit of God, and Bondage comes to work, it needs no matter before, no preparative matter, for the work of the Word is such, as it works immedi∣ately, without any preparation: Therfore ma∣ny men that understood as little of trouble of Conscience as ever any did in their lives, and yet God lets some Truth reach them, fitted to their hearts and dispositions; that he finds his own sin come to be discovered, and the man is smitten: as he in 1 Cor. 14. 25. the ignorant man that comes into the Church, and hears there the Saints prophesie, He is convinced, and falls down, and saith, verily God is among them, of a truth God is in them: it is a remarkable Text: what e∣ver he thought before; it may be he heard strange Stories of the Church of Christ, of prophane Meetings, That Gods People, when they met together, they blew out the Candles, and committed Uncleanness, and Wickedness. As there be notorious lies reported abroad of such Sects in the world; for certainly there is no such Sect in the world; but such reports are raised, meerly to make the Meettings of Gods Saints odious in the esteem of others. As the Jesuite said, Do you but Calnmniate strongly, some∣what Page 317 will stick, though nothing be true: Well, what ever thoughts they had of the Assemblies of the people of God (for it is like the Heathens had strange thoughts) but when he came in, and heard what was done, he is Convinced, and Judged, and the secrets of his heart came to be discovered; the text saith, The man falls down and Worships God, and reports God is among them. So many people hear great Relations of such Men, and such Preachers, and Sermons, and they go to hear what they can say, and what they do; and may be go with an intention to scorn; as I have known some, come and sit close to a Pilar, and with an intention to jeer, and scorn, but before they have been gone, God hath darted some truth into their Conscience, and they have been struck with the word, and gone away with terrors in their Conscience, this cannot be melancholly. As Paul, when God converted him, God comes and meets him, with light from heaven, and strikes him from his horse, and he stands trembling, and cries out, Lord! What wilt thou have me to do? There is a great deal of difference between this and melan∣cholly.
A Third Difference is this, Melancholly is ex∣ceeding Confused, they are exceeding Confused in their thoughts, and the trouble of their Spirit: And many times they have troubles, and sinkings, but they can give no account of it at all; yea, their trou∣bles be beyond their ground, the grounds that they be troubled about, are very confused, that they understand them not themselves; but trou∣bles Page 418 of Conscience are a great deal more distinct, and there the soul seeth ground for the trouble beyond the trouble. As in Melancholly, the trouble is beyond the ground of trouble; so in affliction of Con∣science, the ground is beyond all trouble; I am troubled indeed▪ but I see cause to be troubled more; and this is a great part of many mens trouble, That they can be troubled no more.
A Fourth Difference is this, The more melanchol∣ly there is in any man or woman, the less able are they to bear any outward affliction that befals them: but the more trouble of Conscience, the more able shall they be to bear afflictions that befals them. Those who feel the trouble of Sin heavie, do account all other af∣flictions light: but melancholly people do feel all Afflictions heavie, they cannot bear the least cross, their hearts are ready to sink upon any thing, and the more melancholly increaseth, the more weak are their spirits, and the less able to bear any cross. But now, trouble of Conscience, the more sin, and the heavier the butthen of sin lies upon the Soul, the more slight thoughts hath the soul of outward crosses. Alas, it may be he hears of some that have some grievous diseases in their bodies; Oh saith he that is troubled in conscience, Oh if it were no worse with me than so, it were but a flea bite, but it is another manner of matter: if God would change my trouble, I could easily bear that. As Francis Spira hath this expression, Oh! (saith he) were I but released, and set free, as before, from trouble of spi∣rit, my thinks I could scorn all the threatnings of cruel Page 419 Tyrants, and with undaunted resolution bear all tor∣ments: So that the height of this trouble makes the other less. It was a good Speech of a reve∣rend Divine of our times, when he heard any impatient under afflictions; he used to say thus, Surely the Reason why Affliction is heavie upon you, is because Sin is light. Those that be impatient un∣der Afflictions, it is a•sign Sin is light, because Af∣flictions are heavie; troubles of Conscience would make all Afflictions light, Melancholly wil not.
Fifthly, A principal Difference above all that hath been named is this, Melancholly doth mightily dull the spirit of any man or woman wheresoever it pre∣vails it makes them heavie, and dull, and unapt: But now, trouble of Conscience for Sin, it puts a mighty quickness in men, it puts an activity, another manner of activity and stirring in the spirit than ever was before. You shall have many men and wo∣men sit dully under a Minister many years, under the word, and never act; but when God comes to stir, and awaken Conscience for Sin, their Spirits be active and stirring then, in another manner than they were before. Whereas poor people, overwhelm'd with melancholly, they sit moping, and heavie, and dull, and lumpish, and no activity of spirit at all; but trouble of Con∣science for sin, is as fire in his bones. As Jeremiah said, He would speak no more in the Name of the Lord; but the word of God was as fire in his bones, and made him active and stirring, so trouble in Conscience makes them active and stirring; now they can pray, they could not pray Page 420 before; now they be active, and working; As Acts 9. When God troubled Paul, the text saith, Behold, Paul Prayes: Go saith the Lord to Annani∣as to Saul, Behold he prayes: as if Paul never pray∣ed in all his life before. Certainly you that can∣not pray, that never prayed, but read a prayer, or prayers your mothers taught you; you can∣not Pray: but if ever God troubles your Con∣sciences for sin, then you will Pray, as if you were in heaven, Oh mighty Prayers then, Oh for Christ, Oh Pardon of Sin, and Peace; then there is another manner of acting, and stirring of his spirit, in Prayer; than ever was before. But melancholliness, will not do it; but makes a man heavie, and dull, in the very act of Pray∣er. There is a notable example of the actings of Spirit in troubles that come from Sin, where∣as the other makes them dull: 'tis that in the Book of Ezra, Chap. 9. vers. 3. and 5. Verse 3. And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and pluckt off the hair of my head, and of my beard, and sate down astonied. This you will say made him dull; mark what follows: Verse. 5. And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heavi∣ness, and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and I spread forth my hands unto the Lord my God, and said, Oh Lord my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my faee to thee my God, for our ini∣quities are increased over our heads, and our trespasses are grown up to the heavens, &c. There mark the Prayer Ezra makes at the evening Sacrificed when the time was come that he should stir and seek God, then his Spirit was mighty active, Page 421 and stirring, though he were astonished before. If it had been melancholly, his heart would have sate still then; so that trouble of Conscience puts life into the Soul in Prayer. And so it makes the soul active in meditation and contemplation; melancholly people be dull, and heavie, and know not how to meditate, nor what to medi¦tate on. Those troubled in Conscience, Oh what quick thoughts have they about God, & Christ, and eternity, and the law, and sin; and their souls work about such objects, that they can have no help unto from their bodies and senses, and yet their spirits are raised higher than be¦fore, in their workings•… And so when they come to hear the Word, Oh how active be their spirits; in catching of the word, and at every truth. I appeal to you that are troubled, what difference there is between your spirits now, and what they were before you were troubled for sin, before you came to the Congregation, to see and be seen, and wondered what men meant to be so earnest; and now, you mark e∣very tru•h, and catch hold of every sentence, and mark the mind of God, and understand what is said: before you came and heard, and never understood what was meant by such and such things; you saw the Minister earnest, but you could not conceive what the man meant in his earnestness, but now you see what he means in his earnestness, and understand what weight is in those truths, you hear revealed: this is som•¦what like, when the spirit is thus •…ed, and acted in Prayer, and Pearing. And in Confe∣rence, Page 422 when you were in Conference with good men, before, Conference about good things was dry, and a dull thing, and you savored not the things confered on, but presently were asleep: but now, if you come where there is Conference of God and his Word, and Christ, and the like, your mind closeth with this. If you were only melancholly, this would make you more dull and heavie, but this makes you more lively and active, therefore there is a great deal of difference.
Lastly, Trouble of Conscience cannot be cured as Melancholly is. Melancholly many times is worn out with time, and Physick cures that, and out∣ward comforts and contentments cures that, but trouble of Conscience is a wound of a higher na∣ture. As Francis Spira said, when they brought Physitians, and thought it trouble of body; Alas poor men, they think to cure me by Physick: Ah it is a∣nother manner of malladie, and must have another man∣ner of medicine than Plaisters and Drugs to cure a fain∣ting Soul and Spirit for Sin. Conscience must have Gospel Antidotes; therefore you that thought you had trouble of Conscience for Sin, and you are now eased, or perhaps not so much troubled now as before; look back what cured you, how comes it to pass you be less troubled than be∣fore? hath time worn it away? such a Sermon, and such apprehensions of such a truth, darted into you mightily, and troubled you; you had such troubles, but what hath cured you? many times one can give no account but this, Sure time hath worn it away; if so, then it was not a Page 423 right trouble. So it may be you took Physick, your body was troubled before, now it is live∣ly, and more blood in your veins, more spirit now, and may be now your affliction is taken a∣way, and this hath •ured you: if there be no other trouble than this, certainly you know not what trouble of conscience means, at least not in a saving way; either it was not trouble of conscience at all, or else it is not cured aright, but as the thorn that lies rotting and rankling in the flesh; a thorn when it first gets in, puts one to a great deal of pain; perhaps if it be let alone, the pain will be over for the present; but it lies rankling, and will put you to pain afterward, if it be not cured: So of trouble of Conscience for Sin, and if nothing have cured it, but these things, it is like the thorn in the flesh, and will trouble you afterward. There is another man∣ner of Cure, for it is the greatest thing God can do to comfort a troubled Conscience, it must be the bloud of Christ applied by the holy Ghost; it must be a plaister made of the bloud of Jesus Christ, and applied by the holy Ghost to Cure this. And therefore I beseech you consider what hath been said about this Argument; and as the Psalmist saith, Blessed is the man that wisely considereth of the poor, so I say blessed is the man and woman, that wisely considereth of these troubles; in this, dont cast it upon your children, & friends, Oh they be froward, or mad-men, or melancholly, Oh do not say so. You that are acquainted with storms and tem∣pests, you think them dreadful, it may be some Page 424 of your friends have lately known what dread∣ful storms there have been; now if any of them should make relation of it, and another should sa•, this is but a conceit, and a fancy, and no re∣allity but a dream; would you think these men spake like wise men? Certainly, if any storm you have met withal at Sea hath terror in it, know, stroms in Conscience hath a thousand times more than storms at Sea: Therfore when you see any troubled in Conscience for sin, fear and tremble, let your Conscience shake at it, and make use of their trouble. I remember a story of one Vergerius that came to comfort Francis Spira, and he came to comfort him as o∣ther men did; but he saw such dreadfulness upon Francis Spira, that it struck terror in his Soul, that he left his Bishopprick, and went to Basil, and became a famous Protestant. Thus when we hear of troubles of Conscience, slight it not, but let the fear of God be upon you; go and renounce Sin. Oh if some of our friends did know what slighting of a troubled Consci∣ence were, it would make them do as he did; though he had a rich Bishopprick, he renounced all. And thus we have done with this First Use.