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A Puritan’s take on Depression

August 3, 2009

Most Christians who know of the Puritans know that these people were incredibly deep people in Christ and in His Word.  In their day, they also dealt with depression, which they most often termed “melancholy”.  Bumbling around the internet tonight I became familiar with a new Puritan to me and found out that he wrote a massive book on the subject.  You’ll find the particulars on the book below along with a description of the book.  Then I’ve included a brief excerpt from it to demonstrate that true Christians can be depressed and not be sinning in the process.

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The Trouble of Mind and the Disease of Melancholy, by Timothy Rogers, 396 pp. ($22.50)

Publisher: Soli Deo Gloria  ISBN#: 9781573581202

Description: The Puritans have been described even by secular observers as “physicians of the soul.” They understood that both body and soul need healing from time to time, and they wisely treated body problems with physical solutions, and soul problems with spiritual solutions. The spiritual malady of depression (melancholy or “low spiritual frames”) is wisely dealt with by the Puritans on both levels, as it can have both physical and spiritual causes.

Timothy Rogers (1658-1728) himself suffered deep melancholy and was out of the pastoral ministry for eight years. Yet he does not allow his experience to become the standard for all others; rather, as a true Puritan, he makes the Word of God his unchanging standard. He skillfully provides guidance in regaining a sense of God’s favor in the midst of adverse and trying circumstances.

(Excerpt):

There are some of us that suffer with spiritual melancholy and though we know of the cure (Christ) our spirits, nevertheless, are oftentimes despondent, anxious, downcast, tormented, weighted down with the cares of this world, burdened with doubts, assaulted by the devil, and wrongly suffer under a sense of the guilt of sin and dreadful fear of eternal damnation. Like the psalmist so often expressed it. is as if God has forsaken us, that he does not hear and answer our prayers, that our bones are broken, that our strength has failed us, and that we are brought to the very brink of death.

There are seasons when minutes seem to pass like hours, which in turn seem to pass like days, and days pass like months. Then there are periods of time when our days seem to vanish as quickly as a vapor. There seems to be nowhere for the soul to find comfort and release from such a relentless and horrible condition. No amount of doctrinal understanding, reading, praying, church ordinances, or counseling from ministers and friends will quiet our spirits. We seem to be in utter despair and without all hope. Being careful that we do not miss the mark of salvation we go too far, becoming sinfully obsessive with the matter. Our minds simply will not give us rest. All is night and there is no sun to shine on our faces. Winter is constant and there are no summer days. There are storms but no calm.

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