Edward Payson Archive

Selected Thoughts


A Wounded Spirit Who Can Bear


One reason why the anguish of a wounded spirit is more intolerable than any other species of suffering, is, that it is impossible to obtain the smallest consolation or relief under it. This can scarcely be said, with truth, of any other species of suffering to which mankind are liable. If they lose friends, they have usually other friends to sympathize with them, and assist in repairing their loss. If they lose property, they may hope to regain it, or, if not, their losses cannot be always pres­ent to their mind, and many sources of enjoyment are still open to them. If they are afflicted with painful diseases, they can usually obtain, at least, temporary relief from medicine, and receive some consolation from the sympathy of their friends. In all cases, they can, for a time, lose their sorrows in sleep, and look forward to death as the termination of their troubles. But very different is the situation of one who suffers the anguish of a wounded spirit. He cannot fly from his misery, for it is within. Nor can he forget it, for it is every moment present to is mind. Nor can he divert his attention from it, for it enga­ges his thoughts, in defiance of all endeavors to fix them on any other objects. Nor can he derive consolation from any friends or temporal blessings he may possess, for everything is turned to poison and bitterness, and the very power of enjoyment seems to be taken from him. Nor can he even lose his sorrows in sleep, for sleep usually flies from a wounded spirit, or, if obtain­ed, it is disturbed and unrefreshing. Hence the exclamation of Job, When I say, My bed shall comfort me, my couch shall ease my complaint; then, thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions.

Look which way it will for relief, the wounded spirit can discover nothing but aggravations of its wretchedness. If it looks within, it finds nothing but darkness, and tempest and despair. If it looks around on its temporal possessions, it sees nothing but gifts of God which it has abused, and for its abuse of which it must give a terrible account. If it looks back, it sees a life spent in neglect of God, and ten thousand sins, fol­lowing it as accusers to the judgment-seat. If it looks forward, it sees that judgment-seat to which it must come, and where it expects nothing but a sentence of final condemnation. If it looks up, it sees that God who is wounding it, and whose anger seems to search it like fire; and if it looks downward, it sees the gulf which awaits its fall. Not even to death can it look forward as the termination of its miseries, for it fears that its miseries will then receive a terrible increase. True, there is one object to which it might look for relief, and find it. It might look to the Saviour, the great Physician, and obtain not only a cure for its wounds, but everlasting life. But to him it will not look, till its impenitence and unbelief are subdued by sovereign grace.

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