The Compassion of Christ to Weak Believers
Adapted from a Sermon by Samuel Davies, 1724-1761
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench… Matthew 12:20 ESV
The Lord Jesus has all those virtues in the most perfect way, which make him infinitely friendly, and qualify him for the administration of a just and gracious government over the world. The virtues of fallen man, on the other hand, when they are prominent, very often lead into those vices which have a kind of natural tendency to them. Strict justice transforms itself into excessive severity. Goodness and mercy sometimes degenerate into softness and a sentimentalism, inconsistent with justice.
But in Jesus Christ these seemingly opposite virtues center and harmonize in the highest perfection, without running into extremes. Therefore, he is at once characterized as a Lamb, and as the Lion of the tribe of Judah: a lamb for gentleness towards humble penitents; and a lion to tear his enemies to pieces!
Christ is said to judge and make war. We read recently in Revelation how the one “called Faithful and True … judges and makes war;” (Rev. 19:11) and yet he is called The “Prince of Peace” (Is 9:6) in Isaiah chapter 9. He will, in time, show himself dreadful to the workers of iniquity; and the terrors of the Lord are a very proper topic to persuade men to repentance. But now he is patient towards all men, and he is all love and tenderness towards the vilest penitent.
The meekness and gentleness of Christ is to be our pleasing topic this morning; and we come to it with a particular attention to any who are mourning, desponding souls among us, whose weakness makes them in great need of strong consolation. To such, in particular, the words of our text is addressed, "a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench."
The general meaning of our text seems to be contained in this observation: That the Lord Jesus has the tenderest and most compassionate regard to the feeblest penitents, however oppressed and desponding; and that he will approve and cherish the least spark of true love towards himself.
A 'bruised reed' seems naturally to represent a soul at once weak in itself, and crushed with a burden; a soul both weak and oppressed. The reed is a slender, frail plant in itself, and therefore a very proper image to represent a soul that is feeble and weak.
A bruised reed is still more frail, hangs its head, and is unable to stand without some prop. And what can be a more vivid picture of a poor soul, not only weak in itself, but bowed down and broken under a load of sin and sorrow, that droops and sinks, and is unable to stand without divine help? Strength may bear up under a burden, or struggle with it, until it has thrown it off; but oppressed weakness, frailty under a burden; what can be more pitiable? and yet this is the case of many a poor penitent. He is weak in himself, and in the meantime crushed under a heavy weight of guilt and distress.
And what would become of such a frail oppressed creature, if, instead of raising him up and supporting him, Jesus should tread and crush him in his indignation? But though a reed, especially a bruised reed, is an insignificant thing, of little or no use, yet "a bruised reed he will not break," but he raises it up with a gentle hand, and enables it to stand, though weak in itself, and easily crushed to ruin.
Perhaps the imagery, when expanded fully, may be this: "The Lord Jesus as an Almighty Conqueror, marches through our world; and here and there a bruised reed lies in his way. But instead of disregarding it, or trampling it under foot he takes care not to break it. He raises up the drooping straw, worthless as it is and supports it with his gentle hand." And so, poor broken-hearted penitents, this is how he takes care of you, and supports you, worthless as you are. Though you seem to lie in the way of his justice, and it might crush you with its heavy foot yet he not only does not crush you, but takes you up, and gives you strength to carry your burden and flourish again.
The other image is equally significant and moving. The ‘smoldering wick' he will not quench. It seems to be an allusion to the wick of a candle or lamp, the flame of which is put out, but it still smokes, and retains a little fire which may be again blown into a flame, or rekindled by the touch of more fire. Many such dying snuffs or smoking wicks are to be found in the candlesticks of the churches, and in the lamps of the sanctuary. The flame of divine love is just expiring, it is sunk into the socket of a corrupt heart, and produces no clear, steady blaze, but only an unpleasant smoke, although it shows that a spark of godly fire still remains. Or it produces a faint quivering flame that dies away, then catches and revives, and seems unwilling to be quenched entirely.
The devil and the world raise many storms of temptation to blow it out; and a corrupt heart, like a fountain, pours out water to quench it. But even this smoldering wick, this dying ember, Jesus will not quench, but he blows it up into a flame, and pours in the oil of his grace to revive and nourish it. He walks among the golden candlesticks, and trims the lamps of his sanctuary. Where he finds empty vessels without oil, or without a spark of heavenly fire, like those of the foolish virgins he breaks the vessels, or throws them out of his house.
But where he finds the least spark of true grace, where he discovers but the glimpse of sincere love for him, where he sees the principle of true piety, which, though just expiring yet makes the heart susceptive to divine love, as a candle just put out is easily rekindled; there he will strengthen the things which remain and are ready to die. He will blow up the smoldering wick to a lively flame, and cause it to shine brighter and brighter to the perfect day. Where there is the least principle of true holiness he will nourish it. He will provide the expiring lamp with fresh supplies of the oil of grace, and of heavenly fire; and all the storms that beat against it will not be able to put it out, because it is sheltered by his hand.
My hope is that some of you begin already to feel the pleasing energy of this text. Are you not ready to say, "Blessed Jesus! is this your true character? Then you are just such a Savior as I need, and I most willingly give myself up to you!" You feel that you are at best, only a bruised reed, a feeble, shattered, useless thing. Your heart is at best but a smoldering wick, where the love of God often appears like an expiring flame that quivers and catches, and hovers over the lamp, just ready to go out. There may be someone here who resonates with these feelings. Well, and what do you think of Christ? "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench," and therefore, may not even your guilty eyes look to this gentle Savior with encouraging hope? May you not say to him, with David, in his last moments, He is “all my help and my desire!" (2 Sam. 23:5)
In unfolding this subject, we will first illustrate the character of a weak believer, as represented in our text; and then, in the second place, illustrate the care and compassion of Jesus Christ even for such a poor weakling.
And so, to begin,
I. I am to illustrate the character of a weak believer, as pictured in our text, by "a bruised reed, and smoldering wick."
The metaphor of a bruised reed, as already mentioned, seems most naturally to convey the idea of a state of weakness and oppression. And, therefore, in illustrating it, we are naturally lead to the description of the various weaknesses which a believer sometimes painfully feels, and to the heavy burdens which he sometimes groans under; I say sometimes, for at other times even the weak believer finds himself strong, “strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might,” (Eph 6:10) and “strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might.” (Col 1:11) The joy of the Lord is his strength: and he "can do all things through him who strengthens him (me)." (Phil 4:13) Even the oppressed believer at times feels himself delivered from his burden, and he can lift up his drooping head, and walk upright. But, regrettably! the burden returns, and crushes him again. And under some burden or other many honest-hearted believers groan out the most part of their lives.
Let us now see what are those weaknesses which a believer feels and laments:
He finds himself weak in knowledge; a simple child in the knowledge of God and divine things.
He is weak in love; the flame of love for God is not always bright and strong and does not drive and support all his devotions, but at times it languishes and dies away into a smoking ember.
He is weak in faith; he cannot keep a strong hold of the Almighty, cannot hang his all upon his promises with cheerful confidence, nor build a firm, immovable hope on the rock Jesus Christ.
He is weak in hope; his hope is dashed with rising winds of fears and jealousies, and sometimes is just overwhelmed.
He is weak in joy; he cannot reach the good things of Christianity, nor taste the comforts of his religion.
He is weak in zeal for God and the interests of his kingdom; he wishes that he was always full of zeal, always tireless in serving his God, and promoting the interests of God’s redeeming love in the world. But, sadly! At times his zeal, with his love, languishes and dies away into a smoking ember.
He is weak in repentance; he is troubled with that plague of plagues, a hard heart.
He is weak in the conflict with indwelling sin, that is perpetually rising up within him.
He is weak in resisting temptations; which crowd around him from the outside, and are often likely to overwhelm him.
He is weak in courage in the face of the king of terrors, and to venture through the valley of the shadow of death.
He is weak in prayer, in persistence, in childlike boldness, in approaching the God of mercy.
He is weak in abilities to promote the conversion of sinners and save souls from death.
In short, he is weak in everything, in which he should be strong. He has indeed, like the church of Philadelphia, a “little power,” (Rev. 3:8) and at times he feels it. But it seems to him much too little for the work he has to do.
The believer feels these weaknesses or defects deeply and painfully, and bitterly mourns over them. A sense of them keeps him on his guard against temptations: he is not eager to rush into the combat. He would not play with temptation, but would keep far away from it; nor would he run the risk of being defeated by showing off his strength. This sense of weakness also keeps him dependent on God. He clings to that support given to Paul in an hour of hard conflict, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.;" and when a sense of his weakness has this happy effect upon him, then with Paul he has reason to say, "When I am weak then I am strong." (2 Cor 12:9, 10)
The believer feels and mourns over these weaknesses; and this is the big difference in this case between him and the rest of the world. They are weak also, much weaker than he is; they have, actually, no spiritual strength at all; but, tragically! they do not feel their weakness, but the poor vain creatures boast of their strength, and think they can do great things when they feel like doing them. Or, if their repeated falls and defeats by temptation force them to confess their weakness, they plead it, (that is their weakness,) rather as an excuse, than lament it as at once a crime and a failure. But the poor believer resorts to no such trick to hide his guilt. He feels that even his weakness itself has guilt in it, and therefore he laments his weakness with sincere sorrow, among his other sins.
Now, does what has been said describe the very character of some of you? Do you feel yourselves to be such weaklings, such frail reeds? Well, hear this kind assurance, "Jesus will not break such a feeble reed but he will support and strengthen it!"
But, perhaps, you not only feel you are weak but you are oppressed with some heavy burden or other. You are not only a reed as to weakness but you are a bruised reed, trampled under foot, crushed under a load. Even this is no unusual or discouraging case, for:
The weak believer often feels himself crushed under some heavy burden. The frail reed is often bruised; bruised under a due sense of guilt. Guilt lies heavily at times on his conscience, and he can’t throw it off. The frail reed is often bruised with a sense of remaining sin, which he finds still strong within him, and which at times triumphs, and tramples him under foot.
The frail reed is often bruised under a burden of deficiencies: the lack of tenderness of heart, the lack of ardent love to God and mankind, the lack of heavenly-mindedness and victory over the world; the lack of conduct and resolution to direct his behavior in a given intricate and difficult situation, and the lack of nearer fellowship with the Father and his Spirit. In short, a thousand pressing needs crush and bruise him!
He also feels his share of the calamities of life that are in common with other men. But these burdens we pass over, because they are not peculiar to him as a believer, nor are they what affect his heart the most. He could easily bear up under the calamities of life if his spiritual deficiencies were corrected, and the burden of guilt and sin were removed. Under these last he groans and sinks. Indeed, these burdens lie with all their full weight upon the world around him; but they are dead in trespasses and sins, and do not feel them: they do not groan under them, nor endeavor to be delivered from them. They lie content under them, with more senselessness than the beasts of the field, until the day when they sink under the intolerable load into the depth of misery!
But the poor believer is not so insensitive, and his soft heart feels the burden, and groans under it. "While we are still in this tent," says Paul, "we groan, being burdened." (2 Cor 5:4) The believer deeply understands that heartfelt exclamation, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death!" (Rom 7:24) He cannot be easy until his conscience is appeased by a well-attested pardon through the blood of Christ. Also, the sins he feels working within him are a real burden and uneasiness to him, though they should never break out into action, and publicly dishonor his Christian profession.
And is not this the very character of some poor oppressed ones among you? I hope it is. You may consider your case to be very discouraging, but Jesus looks at it in a more favorable light; he looks upon you as proper objects of his compassionate care. Bruised as you are, he will bind up, and support you!
But we go on to consider the character of a weak Christian, as pictured in the other metaphor in our text, namely, a smoldering wick. The most natural interpretation of this metaphor is that of true and sincere grace, but languishing and just expiring, like a candle just blown out, which still smokes and still has a feeble spark of fire.
It points to a receptiveness to growth in grace, or a readiness to catch that godly fire, just like a candle just put out is easily re-lit. This metaphor therefore leads us to the description of the reality of religion in a low degree, or to outline the true Christian in his most languishing hours. And in so doing I will mention those dispositions and exercises which the weakest Christian feels, even in these sad seasons; for even in these, he is still very different from the most polished hypocrite in his highest achievements.
And now, I ask for your most serious attention, on this subject; for, if you have the least spark of real religion within you, you are now likely to discover it, as we are not going to rise to the high condition of Christians of the first rank but to stoop to the character of the lowest. Now the peculiar dispositions and exercises of heart which such weak Christians feel in some measure, we may discover from the following short history of their case:
The weak Christian in such failing hours does indeed sometimes fall into such a state of carelessness and insensibility, that he has very few and only superficial thoughts about the things of God. But, generally, he feels an uneasiness, an emptiness, an anxiety within, under which he droops and languishes, and all the world cannot heal the disease! He has chosen the blessed God as his supreme happiness; and, when he cannot derive happiness from that source, all the attractions of created enjoyments become insipid to him, and cannot fill up the great void which the absence of the Supreme Good leaves in his craving soul.
Sometimes his anxiety is indistinct and confused, and he hardly knows what ails him; but at other times he feels it is for God, the living God, that his soul pants. The smoke of this smoldering wick naturally ascends towards heaven. He knows that he never can be happy until he can enjoy communion in God’s love. Let him turn which way he will, he can find no solid ease, no rest, until he comes to this center again.
Even at such times, he cannot be thoroughly reconciled to his sins. He may be communicating with some of them in an unguarded hour, and seem to be negotiating a peace; but the truce is soon ended, and they are at odds again. The hostility of a renewed heart soon rises against this old enemy. And there is this circumstance which is remarkable in the believer's hatred and opposition to sin. It is that it does not mainly, much less entirely, come from a fear of punishment, but from a generous sense of its intrinsic vileness and ingratitude, and its opposition to the holy nature of God. This is the ground of his hatred to sin, and sorrow for it; and this shows that there is at least a spark of true grace in his heart, and that he does not act altogether from the base, selfish and greedy principles of mere human nature.
At such times, he is very worried of the sincerity of his religion, afraid that all his past experiences were delusions, and afraid that, if he should die in his present state, he would be forever miserable. This is a very anxious state!
The insensible world can lie secure, while this grand concern lies in the most dreadful suspense. But the soft-hearted believer is not able to be so fool-hardy: he shudders at the thought of everlasting separation from that God and Savior whom he loves. He loves him, and therefore the fear of separation from him, fills him with anxiety. This to him, is the most painful ingredient of the punishment of hell.
Hell would be a more terrible hell to a lover of God, because it is a state of banishment from him whom he loves! But has God kindled this flame in his heart only in order to make him capable of more terrible pain? Will he exclude from his presence the poor creature that clings to him, and languishes for him? No! the wick that is only smoldering with his love was never intended to be fuel for hell; but God will blow it up into a flame, and nourish it until it mingles with the multitudes singing his praises in heaven.
The weak believer seems sometimes driven by the tempest of lusts and temptation from off the rock of Jesus Christ. But he strives towards it on the stormy waves, and endeavors to lay hold of it, and recover his place there; for he knows that there is no other foundation of safety; but that without Christ he must perish forever.
It is the usual disposition of the believer's soul to depend upon Jesus Christ alone. He retains a kind of inclination or tendency towards him like the compass needle turns towards the north pole; and, if his heart is turned from its course, it trembles and quivers until it gains its favorite point again, and fixes there. Sometimes, indeed, a consciousness of guilt makes him shy of his God and Savior; and after such base ingratitude he is ashamed to go to him: but at length, necessity as well as inclination, constrain him, and he is forced to cry out, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life;" (John 6:68) "In you alone I find rest for my soul; and, therefore, to you I must run, though I am ashamed and confounded to appear in your presence!"
In short, the weakest Christian on earth knows very well that his comfort rises and falls as he lives nearer to, or farther from his God. The love of God has such a usual predominance even in his heart, that nothing in the world, nor even all the world together, can fill up God's place. No, when God is gone, heaven and earth together cannot begin to take his place.
The weakest Christian on earth, longs to be delivered from sin; from all sin, without exception: and the body of death hanging about him is the burden of his life.
The poor languishing Christian has his hope, all the little hope that he has, built upon Jesus Christ. The poor creature that often fears he is altogether a slave to sin, honestly, though feebly, tries to be holy, to be holy as an angel, yes, to be holy as God is holy. He has a heart that feels the attractive charms of holiness, and he is so captivated by it, that sin can never take over his heart again. That tyrant is forever dethroned, and the believer would rather die than yield himself as a devoted slave to sin's tyranny again.
And so, we have a plain picture of the character of a weak Christian. Some of you, it may be feared, cannot lay claim even to this low character. If so, you may be sure you are not true Christians, even of the lowest rank. You may be sure you have not the least spark of true religion in your hearts but are utterly destitute of it.
But some of you, I hope, can say, "Well, after all my doubts and fears, if this is the character of a true, though weak Christian, then I may humbly hope that I am one. I am indeed confirmed in it, that I am less than the least of all other saints on the face of the earth, but yet, I see that I am a saint; for I can say that my heart has been exercised in this way, even in my dark and languishing hours. This secret uneasiness and persistent anxiety, this thirst for God, for the living God, this tendency of soul towards Jesus Christ, this firm hostility to sin, this panting and struggling after holiness: these things I have often felt!"
And have you indeed? Then away with your doubts and jealousies; away with your fears and despondencies! There is at least an immortal spark kindled in your hearts, which the united power of men and devils, of sin and temptation, will never be able to quench! It will certainly yet rise into a flame, and burn with splendid intensity forever!
As further encouragement, we go on in the second place,
II. To illustrate the care and compassion of Jesus Christ for such poor weak Christians as you.
This may seem to be a needless task to some: for who is there that does not believe it? But to such I would say, it is no easy thing to establish a trembling soul in the full belief of this truth. It is easy for one that does not see his danger, and does not feel his extreme need of salvation, and the difficulty of the work to believe that Christ is willing and able to save him. But to a poor soul, deeply aware of its condition, this is no easy matter. Besides, the heart may need to be more deeply impressed with this truth, though the understanding may be convinced; and to impress this truth is the goal of what follows.
For this purpose, we need but read a few of the many kind declarations and assurances which Jesus has given us in his word, and consider the happy experiences of some of his saints there recorded, who found him true and faithful to his word.
The Lord Jesus Christ seems to have a peculiar tenderness for the poor, the mourners, the broken-hearted; and these are peculiarly the objects of his role as mediator. Isaiah writes: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; (2) to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; (3) to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.” (Is 61:1-3)
And then, paraphrasing, Isaiah 66: “Thus says the LORD: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.’ Could you ever build me a temple as good as that? Could you build a dwelling place for me? My hands have made both heaven and earth, and they are mine. I, the LORD, have spoken!” Had he only spoken these words in majesty and power to us guilty worms, the sound of them might have overwhelmed us with awe but they could not have inspired us with hope. But he says them to let us see how low he can stoop. Hear the encouraging sequel of this, his majestic speech: "I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word!" Isaiah 66:1-2.
He loves to dwell on this subject, and therefore you hear it again in the same prophecy: "Thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:," what does he say? "I dwell in the high and holy place." (Is 57:15) This corresponds with his character; this is a dwelling in some measure worthy of him. But think of this! will he stoop to dwell in a lower mansion, or pitch his tent among mere mortals? He does! he dwells not only in his high and holy place but also, "with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite!"
He charges Peter to feed his lambs as well as his sheep; that is, to take the tenderest care even of the weakest in his flock. (John 21:15) And he severely rebukes the shepherds of Israel in Ezekiel 34, "Because," says he, "You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the broken bones. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with force and harshness." (Ezek 34:4)
But how wonderfully opposite is the character of the great Shepherd and Sustainer of souls! "Behold," says Isaiah, "the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him!" How justly may we tremble at this proclamation of the approaching God! for who can stand when he appears? But how wonderfully are our fears calmed in what follows! If he comes to take vengeance on his enemies, he also comes to show mercy to the lowest of his people. "He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young!" (Is 40:10, 11.) That is, he will exercise the tenderest and most compassionate care towards the lowest and weakest of his flock.
"The LORD … looked down," says the Psalmist, "from his holy height; from heaven the LORD looked at the earth;" not to view the grandeur and pride of courts and kings, nor the heroic exploits of conquerors but "to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die!" (Ps 102:19-20) He will hear the prayer of the destitute, and not despise it. This was written for the generations to come. It was written for your and my encouragement. Over three thousand years ago, this encouraging passage was entered into the sacred records for the support of poor desponding souls today and to the ends of the earth.
And how ready is God to providentially care for his people! There are none of the seven churches of Asia so highly commended by Christ as that of Philadelphia; and yet in commending her, all he can say is, "I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name!" (Rev 3:8)
See, how acceptable is a little strength to Jesus Christ, and how ready he is to build it up! "He gives power to the faint," says Isaiah, "and to him who has no might he increases strength!" (Is 40:29)
Hear also what words of grace and truth came from Jesus himself. "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls!" (Matt 11:28-29)
"All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out!" (John 6:37)
"If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink!" (John 7:37)
"The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price!" (Rev 22:17)
Consider what strong consolation there is here! What exceedingly great and precious promises are these! We might easily add many more but these will do.
Let us now see how his people in every age have always found these promises made good.
Look at David and he will tell you, pointing to himself, "This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles!" (Ps 34:6)
Paul, in the midst of affliction, calls God "the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction!" (2 Cor 1:3, 4) "God," he says, "comforts the downcast." (2 Cor 7:6) What a wonderfully emphatic declaration this is! "God, the comforter of the humble has comforted us!" (This is the literal translation of the text.) He is not only the Lord Almighty, the King of kings, the Creator of the world but among his more magnificent characters, he assumes this title, the Comforter of "the humble."
This is how Paul found him in an hour of temptation, when he had this supporting answer to his repeated prayer for deliverance, "My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness!" Since this was the case, since his weakness was more than covered by the strength of Christ, and was a means of glorifying God, Paul seems quite unconcerned about what infirmities he worked under. "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor 12:9) He could take no pleasure in feeling himself weak: but the suffering was made up by the pleasure he found in leaning upon his almighty support. His wounds were painful to him: but the pleasure he found in feeling the divine physician dressing his wounds, in some measure swallowed up the pain!
But on top of all these arguments go to the cross and there learn Christ’s love and compassion, from his groans and wounds, and blood, and death! Would he hang there in such agony for sinners if he were not willing to save them, and care and nurture them? There you may have much the same evidence of his compassion, as Thomas had of his resurrection: you may look into his hands, and see the print of the nails; and into his side, and see the scar of the spear; which loudly proclaim his readiness to pity and help you!
And now, if by God’s grace there is among us one such poor, trembling, doubting soul, you should raise up your drooping head, and take courage! May you not venture your soul into such compassionate and faithful hands? Why should the bruised reed shy away from him, when he comes not to crush it down but raise it up!
As much as I am really anxious that those who are yet outside of Christ be compelled by the healing anguish and sorrow of conviction, and repentance; I am also anxious that every honest soul, in which there is the least spark of true piety, should enjoy the pleasure of it. It is indeed a sad thing that those who have a title to so much happiness, should enjoy so little of it! It is very inappropriate that they should go bowing their head in their way towards heaven as if they were hurrying to the place of execution! and that they should serve so good a Master with such heavy hearts! And so, lift up the hands that hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees! "Comfort, comfort my people! says your God." (Is 40:1) "Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might." (Eph 6:10) Trust in your all-sufficient Redeemer; Be able to say with Job: “Though he slay me, I will hope in him.” (Job 13:15)
And don’t dwell on causeless doubts and fears concerning your sincerity. When they arise in your minds, examine them, and search out whether there is any good reason for them; and if you discover that there is not, then reject them and resist them, and entertain your hopes in spite of them, and say with the Psalmist, “why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God." (Ps 42:11)