Three Ways the Glory of Christ Comforts the Downcast Soul

This is John Owen’s description of how contemplating the glory of Christ brings comfort to the soul troubled with depressive feelings. I’ve underlined some key sentences.

It is a woeful kind of life, when men scramble for poor perishing reliefs in their distresses. This is the universal remedy and cure, – the only balsam for all our diseases. Whatever presseth, urgeth, perplexeth, if we can but retreat in our minds unto a view of this glory, and a due consideration of our own interest therein, comfort and supportment will be administered unto us. Wicked men, in their distress (which sometimes overtake even them also), are like “a troubled sea, that cannot rest.” Others are heartless, and despond, – not without secret repinings at the wise disposals of Divine Providence, especially when thee look on the better condition (as they suppose) of others. And the best of us all are apt to wax faint and weary when these things press upon us in an unusual manner, or under their long continuance, without a prospect of relief. This is the stronghold which such prisoners of hope are to turn themselves unto. In this contemplation of the glory of Christ they will find rest unto their own souls. For, –

Our troubles are slight compared to the glory of Christ

1. It will herein, and in the discharge of this duty, be made evident how slight and inconsiderable all these things are from whence our troubles and distresses do arise. For they all grow on this root of an over-valuation of temporal things. And unless we can arrive unto a fixed judgement that all things here below are transitory and perishing, reaching only unto the outward man, or the body, (perhaps unto the killing of it), – that the best of them have nothing that is truly substantial or abiding in them, – that there are other things, wherein we have an assured interest, that are incomparably better than they, and above them, – it is impossible but that we must spend our lives in fears, sorrows, and distractions. One real view of the glory of Christ, and of our own concernment therein, will give us a full relief in this matter. For what are all the things of this life? What is the good or evil of them in comparison of an interest in this transcendent glory? When we have due apprehensions hereof, – when our minds are possessed with thoughts of it, – when our affections reach out after its enjoyments, – let pain, and sickness, and sorrows, and fears, and dangers, and death, say what they will. we shall have in readiness wherewith to combat with them and overcome them; and that on this consideration, that they are all outward, transitory, and passing away, whereas our minds are fixed on those things which are eternal, and filled with incomprehensible glory.

Our troubles are stilled by the glory of Christ.

2. The minds of men are apt by their troubles to be cast into disorder, to be tossed up and down, and disquieted with various affections and passions. So the Psalmist found it in himself in the time of his distress; whence he calls himself unto that account, ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me?” And, indeed, the mind on all such occasions is its own greatest troubler. It is apt to let loose its passions of fear and sorrow, which act themselves in innumerable perplexing thoughts, until it is carried utterly out of its own power. But in this state a due contemplation of the glory of Christ will restore and compose the mind, bring it into a sedate, quiet frame, wherein faith will be able to say unto the winds and waves of distempered passions, “Peace, be still;” and they shall obey it.

Our troubles are overwhelmed by increasing awareness of God’s love.

3. It is the way and means of conveying a sense of God’s love unto our souls; which is that alone where ultimately we find rest in the midst of all the troubles of this life; as the apostle declares, Rom. 5: 2-5. It is the Spirit of God who alone communicates a sense of this love unto our souls; it is “shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.” Howbeit, there are ways and means to be used on our part, whereby we may be disposed and made meet to receive these communications of divine love. Among these the principal is the contemplation of the glory of Christ insisted on, and of God the Father in him. It is the season, it is the way and means, at which and whereby the Holy Ghost will give a sense of the love of God unto us, causing us thereon to “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” This will be made evident in the ensuing Discourse. This will lift the minds and hearts of believers above all the troubles of this life, and is the sovereign antidote that will expel all the poison that is in them; which otherwise might perplex and enslave their souls.

(from the preface of John Owen’s Meditations and Discourses on the Glory of Christ, in Works 1:278)

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