Taken and adapted from, “The Works of the Rev. William Bridge, Volume V”
Written by, William Bridge
Material sourced from the Dead Puritan Society
“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.”
–Psalm 42:5-6 (ESV)
Sometimes the discouragements of the saints and people of God, are drawn from their sins, their greater and grosser sins: the peace and quiet of the saints and people of God is many times interrupted by these sins.
Oh, says one, I am a man or woman of a rebellious heart, I have so slight a spirit, so unholy and uneven a conversation, that when I reflect upon my heart and life, I cannot but be discouraged. I know, indeed, it is a great evil for a man to labour under a sore temptation, or a sad desertion; but were my heart good, my life good, my conversation good, I should not be discouraged; but as for me, I have committed and do commit such and such great sins, have I not reason, and just reason now to be discouraged?
No, for discouragement itself is a sin, another sin, a gospel sin; now my sin against the law, is no just cause why I should sin against the gospel.
I confess, indeed, there is much evil in every sin, the least sin is worse than the greatest affliction; afflictions, judgments and punishments are but the claws of this lion; it is more contrary to God than the misery of hell: Chrysostom had so great a sense of the evil of it, that when the empress sent him a threatening message, go, tell her, said he, I fear nothing but sin. And, in some respects, the sins of the godly are worse than the sins of others, for they grieve the Spirit more, they dishonour Christ more, they grieve the saints more, they wound the name of God more, they are more against the love, and grace, and favour of God than other men’s sins are.
And the Lord doth see the sins of his own people; yea, so far he sees sin in them, that he doth chastise and afflict them for it; not only from their sin, but for their sin; and therefor, saith the apostle, in 1 Corinthians 11:30, speaking of the unworthy receiving of the Lord’s supper, “For this cause many are sick and weak among you.” And he doth not speak only of saints in appearance, and in church estate, but of such also as were saints indeed, and therefore he saith, “We are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” He puts himself in; we are judged that we may not be condemned with the world. Our Saviour Christ saith, Revelation 3:19, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten, be zealous therefore and repent.” It seems, then, it was for sin committed, else why should he say, repent; and, repent therefore? Repentance is for sin committed already, and these were such as he loved too, whom he threatens thus to rebuke and chastise; and doth any father rebuke, chastise, or correct his child only from sin, and not for sin?
Was not Moses a gracious and a holy man? And yet for his unbelief and sin he lost the land of Canaan. Was not Samson a good man? And yet by his sin he lost his eyes and his life too. Was not David a gracious and a holy man? And yet for his sin the Lord said, “The sword should never depart from his house;” and yet Christ had made satisfaction for his sin too, as well then, as for the saints now. But now, though there be never so much evil in the sins of God’s people, yet they have no reason, no just cause or scripture reason to be cast down, and to be discouraged in that respect.