by Timothy Rogers
Formatted, corrected, annotated, and modernized by William H. Gross www.onthewing.org March 2021
Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. (Psa 42.5)
We all get depressed from time to time. But Melancholy, or what today we call clinical depression, is quite different. Timothy Rogers suffered from it himself. So he speaks of it with a familiarity and compassion that is often missing in medical texts. And the solution he offers is not psychiatric or pharmacological; it is spiritual. He offers a cathartic, drawn entirely from the word of God, designed to restore order to the soul, when it has fallen into confusion.
How? Rogers takes us on an exploration of the inner workings of the mind, and of the corruptions of the human heart. He touches each diseased part, and there applies the grace, mercy, and love of God. He proclaims there is a balm in Gilead, whose name is Jesus Christ. A Christian’s depression is very often the result of forgetting or disbelieving the fundamental truths of the faith. And so Rogers reminds us of those extraordinary truths, time and time again, in various settings.
What makes this an exceptional work, isn’t just that he is ahead of his time in examining the topic, but that his expression of the truth of God, is itself conveyed in a powerfully poetic form. It is rich in imagery and illustration. His claim that it lacks eloquence is unfounded; I found it captivating.
I know from experience that depression is a dark and lonely place to be; we can lose our sense of direction. Persons who suffer from it withdraw from the society of friends and family, cast adrift in a maze of incoherent thoughts, irrational fears, and internal conflicts. Rogers navigates this maze for the reader, having found his way back to the Light.
He addresses two distinct audiences. The first is comprised of friends and family of the sufferer. They want to know how to minister to their loved one; and for that, he gives practical guidance. The second audience is the sufferer himself. Rogers takes both parties by the hand down these darkened corridors. The candle he holds, is the word of God. He knows that reasoned arguments and forceful castigations do little good. Instead, he brings the Gospel to bear. He lets it hold sway in the mind and soul of the sufferer. He reminds Christians of what they already know, and warns unbelievers of the danger ahead – that their fears are warranted.
Sufferers are (1) those who have been faithful followers of Christ, but are overcome with doubts and fears about their salvation; (2) those who failed to attend to the means of grace, and have lost their assurance of salvation; (3) those who at one time had a firm conviction of their salvation, but some awful sin has now beset them, and cost them their peace of mind — they doubt that forgiveness is yet available by God’s grace; and (4) those who, like Job, have been deeply hurt by some trauma, loss, or adversity that convinces them that God is their enemy, and not their friend. These four categories of counsel are woven throughout.
Rogers lays a firm foundation for our assurance of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. But more than that, he assures us, or rather reassures us, of the unfailing love of God for His people – especially in the face of sin, adversity, divine correction, and personal suffering. God remains our heavenly Father in every crucible of life; and we remain His dearly beloved children. For none can pluck us from the hand of Christ, or from the hand of the Father who gave us into his care (Joh 10.28-29). The Lord our God is ever jealous for us, and we are ever secure in Christ, who died to bring us to God (1Pet 3.18). By the will of God, none has been or can be lost (Joh 6.39). Let us rest in that.
I’ve added a Biographical Sketch drawn from several sources, to give a broader view of this man, and of his life beyond the scope of this text. Depression can be seasonal, and its relief seasonal. In Rogers’ life, such seasons came, and went, and came again, as the Sketch reveals.
Charles Spurgeon, who also suffered from melancholy, wrote this: “Yes, a child of God may be in despondency for many a year. Timothy Rogers was the victim of despondency for many years, and yet he came out into the light; and then wrote his experience in his memorable book upon ‘Trouble of Mind,’ which has been of great service to others in like condition.” 1
Rogers writes, “I beg of you who are at ease now, to regard these things. For if you fall so low, the anguish and bitterness of your spirits will not allow you to give such a distinct and careful attention to what will be spoken to you then, as you may now.” Those are words of wisdom.
Whether you’re interested in knowing how to minister to those suffering with depression, or you are yourself depressed because God seems to have withdrawn from you, this is medicine for your soul, preventative as well as curative. If it sounds evangelistic at times, it’s because the Gospel is not only redemptive for the lost, but restorative for the found.
William H. Gross
June 1, 2021
Table of Contents
Letters from Various Divines
Letters to Relations
CHAP. 1. The Anger of God toward His Servants
CHAP. 2. The Anger of God toward His People is short-lived
CHAP. 3. The Advantages of God’s Anger
CHAP. 4. The Great love of Christ in suffering God’s wrath
CHAP. 5. Long-continued angers are unreasonable.
CHAP. 6. The Duty to sense God’s Wrath
CHAP. 7. What to do if you think God is angry with you.
CHAP. 8. Of Faith in Christ
CHAP. 9. Direct Acts of Faith
CHAP. 10. People in Anguish should not look for Assurance, but Sin.
CHAP. 11. A Distressed Conscience is no sign of Reprobation.
CHAP. 12. God’s ends in long afflictions.
CHAP. 13. The Duty of those delivered from Melancholy.
CHAP. 1. The life we enjoy by God’s favour.
CHAP. 2. Of heaven and hell.
Inferences from God’s Favour
CHAP. 3. The favour of God is to be diligently sought.
CHAP. 4. Take heed not to lose the favor of God.
CHAP. 5. Of Assurance.
CHAP. 6. How we may know we have God’s Favour.
CHAP. 7. How to preserve a sense of God’s favour.
CHAP. 8. The privileges of those who have God’s favour.
CHAP. 1. The many miseries of this mortal life.
CHAP. 2. The fall of Adam was the cause of our miseries.
CHAP. 3. Good Christians have unique occasions for weeping.
CHAP. 4. What dreadful apprehensions a deserted soul has.
CHAP. 5. Answering some Objections.
CHAP. 6. Why Melancholy and Troubled People love Solitariness.
CHAP. 7. The joy that fills a soul when God’s favour returns.
CHAP. 8. The joy that comes after a long desertion.
CHAP. 9. The ends that God has in Afflictions.
CHAP. 10. Conclusion of the whole Treatise.