'The Signs and Causes of Melancholy' by Richard Baxter (1716).

From 'The Signs and Causes of Melancholy. With Directions Suited to the Case of those who are Afflicted with it. Collected out of the works of Mr. Richard Baxte', 1716.


"I do not call those Melancholy, who are rationally sorrowful for Sin, and sensible of their Misery, and Solicitous about their Recovery and Salvation, tho' it be with as great Seriousness as the Faculties can bear, as long as they have sound Reason, and the Imagination, Fantasie or Thinking Faculty, is not Crazed or Diseased... ."

"Sinful Impatience, Discontents and Cares, proceeding from a Sinful Love of some bodily Interest, and from want of sufficient Submission to the will of God, and Trust in him, and taking Heaven for a satisfying Portion. This is one of the most common Causes."

"It is presupposed that God trieth his Servants in this Life, with manifold Afflictions, and Christ will have us bear the Cross and follow him in submissive Patience."

"And here Impatience is the Beginning of the working of the Sinful Malady. Our Natures are all too regardful of the Interest of the Flesh, and too weak in bearing heavy Burdens... ."

"And this Impatience turneth to a settled Discontent and Unquietness of Spirit, which affecteth the Body it self, and lieth all Day, as a Load, or continual Trouble at the Heart.
And Impatience and Discontent do set the Thoughts on the Rack, with Grief and continual Cares, how to be eased of the troubling Cause; they can scarce think of any thing else; and these Cares do even feed upon the Heart, and are to the Mind as a consuming Feaver to the Body.
And the secret Root or Cause of all this, is the worst Part of the Sin, which is too much Love of the Body and this World."

"There is yet more Sin in the Root of all, and that is, it sheweth that our Wills are yet too Selfish and not subdued to a due Submission to the Will of God; but that we would be as Gods to our selves, and be at our own Chusing, and must needs have what the Flesh desireth... .
And this sheweth that we are not sufficiently humbled for our Sin, or else we should be thankful for the lowest State... ."

"Another great Cause is the Guilt of some great and wilful Sin, when Conscience is convinced, and yet the Soul is not converted; Sin is beloved and yet feared: Gods wrath does terrifie them; and yet not enough to overcome their Sin: Some live in secret Fraud and Robbery, and many in Drunkenness, in secret Fleshy Lusts, either self-Pollution or Fornication, and they know that for such things, the wrath of God cometh on the Children of Disobedience; and yet the Rage of Appetite and Lust prevaileth, and they dispair and Sin, and if God convert these Persons, the Sins which they now Live in, may possibly hereafter plunge their Souls into such Depths of Sorrow, in the Review, as may swallow them up. And when Men truly converted, yet dally with the Bait, and renew the wounds of their Consciences by their Lapses, it is no wonder if their Sorrows and Terrors are renewed. Grievous Sins have fastened so on the Consciences of many, as to cast them into incurable Melancholy and Distraction."

"Directions to the Melancholy.


Do not misunderstand me: In Cases of absolute necessity, I say again, you must strive to do it, what ever come of it. If you are backward to believe, to repent, to love God and your Neighbour, to live soberly, righteously and godly, to pray at all; here you must strive, and not excuse it by any Backwardness; for it is that which must needs be done, or you are lost."