Puritan Board Doctor
“Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.” Jer 17:14
When I feel no malady, I want no remedy; when I feel no condemnation, I want no salvation; when I am not exercised with a sense of inward guilt and distress, I want no precious blood sprinkled upon my conscience; I want no love shed abroad in my heart; I want no blessed visit from the Lord of life and glory; I want no sweet promise to bring its dew into my soul; I want nothing that the Lord has to bestow; I can occupy my mind in the things of time and sense, and be carnal, sensual, and earthly. But when various exercises recommence in the soul, and the Lord sets to His hand, and begins to revive the work of grace in the heart, then I want something divine, something experimental, something applied, something done in my soul that He alone can do for me. Without, then, these exercises, without a knowledge of the dreadful malady, without strong temptations, without daily conflicts, what is internal religion to me? If unexercised, I can do without internal, experimental religion; without the felt power of God; without Christ, without the blessed Spirit, without the Bible. But place me in circumstances of guilt, of exercise, of distress, of sorrow, of trouble, and the various perplexities that encompass the child of God, and let the Lord work by these things to kindle in my breast the spirit of supplication, then my soul will be wanting every blessing that God has to bestow; it will be separate from the world, and living a life of faith and prayer; it will be dealing with God; it will be coming out of the creature in all its shapes and forms, looking simply and solely to the Lord Jesus Christ. So that as we have the knowledge of the malady in its various branches, and an acquaintance with temptation, guilt, sin, shame, and sorrow -as these things are opening a way for the precious truths of God, and giving a place in our hearts for their heavenly influence, we are arriving at the knowledge of the remedy.
I can appeal to your consciences, you that have any for there are very few that have consciences, there are very few really exercised about divine things, there are very few that the Lord is really teaching by His blessed Spirit, and leading down into the solemn depths of divine things I say, you that have consciences, whose souls are kept alive by daily exercises, who know the evils of your hearts by their continually bubbling and springing forth; you that are not deceived by a name to live, or an empty profession of religion: I say, you whose souls are thus exercised, know that “in all these things you live and in all these things is the life of your spirit.” Take away your exercises, your afflictions, your sorrows, your perplexities, and the working of God by these things, and where is your religion? It has made to itself wings, and flown away. But let your minds be well exercised in the things of God; let affliction befall; let the bonds and ties of this world be severed: let temptations come with overwhelming weight; let the corruptions of our fallen nature boil up; let your soul sink down into trouble; let eternity open before your eyes; let death come into sight; and let your souls be solemnly exercised on divine realities; then I will answer for it, you will want what God alone can bestow upon you; and in the silent watches of the night, you will be crying, to God to look down upon you, to visit and bless you, to speak words of mercy to you, to shed abroad His love in your hearts, and to comfort and cheer your troubled soul.
The Sick Man's Prayer and the Sinner's Cry