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Despair

( Originally Published 1879 )

No calamity can produce such paralysis of the mind as despair. It is the cap stone of the climax of human anguish. The mental powers are frozen with indifference, the heart becomes ossified with melancholy, the soul is shrouded in a cloud of gloom. No words of consolation, no cheerful repartee, can break the death-like calm ; no love can warm the pent-up heart ; no sunbeams dispel the dark clouds. Time may effect a change; death will break the monotony. We can extend our kindness, but cannot relieve the victim. We may trace the causes of this awful disease; God only can effect a cure. We may speculate upon its nature, but cannot feel its force until its iron hand is laid upon us. We may call it weakness, but cannot prove or demonstrate the proposition. We may call it folly, but can point to no frivolity to sustain our position. We may call it madness, but can discover no maniac actions. We may call it stubbornness, but can see no exhibitions of indocility. We may call it lunacy, but cannot perceive the incoherences of that unfortunate condition. We can call it, properly, nothing but dark, gloomy despair, an undefined and undefinable paralyzation of all the sensibilities that render a man happy, and capable of imparting happiness to those around him. It is a state of torpid dormacy, rather than a mental derangement of the cerebral organs.

Me miserable ! which way shall I fly
Infinite wrath, and infinite despair?
Which way I fly is hell; myself am hell?
And in the lowest deep -a lower deep
Still threatening to devour me opens wide,
To which the hell I suffer seems a heaven. —Milton.

It is induced by a false estimate of things, and of the dispensations and government of the God of mercy. Disappointments, losses, severe and continued afflictions, sudden transition from wealth to poverty, the death of dear friends, may cast a gloom over the mind that does not correctly comprehend the great first cause, and see the hand of God in every thing, and produce a state of despair, because these things are viewed in a false mirror. Fanaticism in religious meetings has produced the most obstinate and melancholy cases of despair that have come under my own observation. Intelligence, chastened by religion, are the surest safeguards against this state of misery ; ignorance and vice are its greatest promoters. Despair is the destruction of all hope, the deathless sting that refines the torment of the finally impenetent and lost. It is that undying worm, that unquenchable fire, so graphically described in holy writ.

Remember this, that God always helps those that help themselves, that he never forsakes those who are good and true, and that he heareth even the young ravens when they cry. Moreover, remember too, that come what may, we must never give up in life's battle, but press onward to the end, always keeping in mind the Words—NEVER DESPAIR.

Despair is the death of the soul. If we will sympathize with God's system of salvation, there is no occasion for despondency or a feeling of condemnation, as we discover our defects from time to time; but, on the other hand, of cheerful hopefulness, and confidence of this very thing, that "He who hath begun a good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ"



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