“Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).
What of the man tempted to despair? When a man after the breach of conscience by some grievous sin, is plunged into this gulf, that he thinks verily hell is prepared for him, and he must needs be damned. What remedy now in such a case? Answer: Some think the only way is to propound unto him, the grounds of universal grace,; as that, because he is a man, Christ died for him, for Christ died for all. But this is slender comfort, for the despairing conscience will thus reply, God indeed has done his part, but I refused God’s grace when it was offered. Therefore another way of comfort must be sought, which is, by proving unto him out of God’s word, that he is within the covenant, and that the promises of grace and life do belong unto him. For the effecting whereof, one main ground is here propounded; to wit, that though a want all righteousness, yet if he truly hunger after it, he is blessed. And the right applying of this ground is this: search must be made, whether the party thus despairing, has in him any spark of true grace, or no. And this will be known by these two demands: first, whether he dislikes his sins because they are sins; secondly, whether he truly desires to be reconciled unto God, to repent and believe in Christ. Now if his conscience tells him, that these things be in him indeed, then he is brought within the compass of this blessedness here pronounced by Christ, and has title to this promise, that he shall be satisfied. For he that is grieved for his sin, because thereby he has offended God, and withal has an earnest desire of mercy and grace, to repent and believe, is truly blessed. And therefore it may be said unto him, seeing you find in heart this grief for sin, and desire of grace, you are blessed and shall be satisfied. Thus may the distressed soul receive comfort; but as for them that live in sin, here is no comfort, for they have no true dislike of sin, no purpose or desire to repent thereof.
By Puritan William Perkins