The previous post in this series may be found here
In the fourth chapter, Sibbes continues with his initial observations.
First, he notes that often our trouble stems from how we think about situation. Words like depression are used to describe many different things. Sometimes, as Sibbes here notes, depression is a matter of sullenness and anger:
Whence we may further observe, that we are prone to cast down ourselves, we are accessory to our own trouble, and weave the web of our own sorrow, and hamper ourselves in the cords of our own twining. God neither loves nor wills that we should be too much cast down. We see our Saviour Christ, how careful he was that his disciples should not be troubled, and therefore he labours to prevent that trouble which might arise by his suffering and departure from them, by a heavenly sermon; ‘Let not your hearts be troubled,’ &c., John 14:1. He was troubled himself that we should not be troubled. The ground, therefore, of our disquiet is chiefly from ourselves, though Satan will have a hand in it. We see many, like sullen birds in a cage, beat themselves to death. This casting down of ourselves is not from humility, but from pride; we must have our will, or God shall not have a good look from us, but as pettish and peevish children, we hang our heads in our bosom, because our wills are crossed.
His note at the end is of particular importance,
This casting down of ourselves is not from humility, but from pride; we must have our will, or God shall not have a good look from us, but as pettish and peevish children, we hang our heads in our bosom, because our wills are crossed.
It pretends to humility, because we see one brought down. But the discouragement is more anger. The loss is the loss of what we wanted.
How can we use this information:
Therefore, in all our troubles we should look first home to our own hearts, and stop the storm there; for we may thank our own selves, not only for our troubles, but likewise for overmuch troubling ourselves is trouble.
Trouble may thus have its root in sin. Sometimes the trouble is sin directly leading to the discouragement. At other times, the sin leads to a condition, fear, grief, condemnation, physical or relational complications, which themselves give way to discouragement.
The way out of such a hole is to begin with faith, for God remedies sin and pride. But to fall into a sullen depression makes way for more troubles: One in such a state can do no good to neighbor nor show worship to God; such a dark heart is a slander of God; it makes one forget all the good which God has previously done; it works pain on everyone in proximity:
Therefore, we should all endeavour and labour for a calmed spirit, that we may the better serve God in praying to him and praising of him; and serve one another in love, that we may be fitted to do and receive good, that we may make our passage to heaven more easy and cheerful, without drooping and hanging the wing. So much as we are quiet and cheerful upon good grounds, so much we live, and are, as it were, in heaven. So much as we yield to discouragement, we lose so much of our life and happiness cheerfulness being, as it were, that life of our lives and the spirit of our spirits by which they are more enlarged to receive happiness and to express it.