The Need of Pain for the Necessity of Spiritual Comfort

Written by John Colquhoun
Taken from A Treatise on Spiritual Comfort
Edited for thought and sense

He-hears-our-cries“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.”

–Psalm 23:4

It is trouble, that renders spiritual consolation necessary, as well as desirable.

If the believer were not feeble, and incapable of being supported by a created arm, the office of a Divine Comforter would be unnecessary.  If he had not a painful, as well as a spiritual, sense of his want of heavenly consolations, earthly comforts would be more acceptable to him than they: and if his heart were not prepared for them, by being humbled, as well as afflicted, they would no more refresh it, than a shower of rain would refresh a rock.  Accordingly, Christ seldom communicates sensible comfort to the saints, but when they are either in inward or outward trouble.

It is by their being troubled, that they become disconsolate, and so become fit for being consoled: and it is their sharpest afflictions, that often serve to prepare them for the sweetest consolation. He, therefore, brings them usually into the wilderness, before he speaks comfortably to them.  It may be proper here to remark that, as Divine comfort is the opposite of trouble, so it must be more powerful and effectual, than either outward or inward trouble; for there is no prevailing, but by that which is the stronger: it must be more forcible to raise up the dejected soul, than the grievance is, to cast it down; otherwise it cannot at the time, be comfort to it.


Met the author and part of your Christian heritage: John Colquhoun D.D. (1748–1827), theological writer, born at Luss in Dumbartonshire in January 1748, was originally a shepherd and weaver, but, having acquired the rudiments of knowledge at a village school, studied at Glasgow for the Scottish ministry, and was licensed in August 1780 and received a charge in South Leith in March 1781. He died on 27 Nov. 1827 at South Leith. He published ‘A Treatise on Spiritual Comfort,’ 1813; also ‘The Covenant of Grace,’ 1818.

Shortly after his conversion he walked all the way from Luss to Glasgow, a distance in all of about fifty miles, to buy a copy of Thomas Boston’s Fourfold State. This book had a moulding influence on his early Christian life. He came to esteem it next to his Bible. The influence of Boston’s teaching was later to permeate his ministry and writings.