Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. (Psalm 42:5)
Many times God’s people enter into the valley of the casting down of their soul. In those instances there can arise doubts over the security of their soul in Christ. Their eyes turn from the beauty and glory of the Lord to the introspective analysis of their own actions. Introspection can be helpful and humbling. However prolonged introspection without turning our eyes upwards towards Christ brings our countenance from brightness in the Lord to the gloominess of the earth.
Edwards, in his advice to a young convert, briefly addresses this issue. May our eyes be constantly on those things above where Christ resides. Our salvation rests not upon proper phraseology in prayer but upon the faithfulness and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christian, lift up your eyes and cast off those garments of gloom! Feast upon His Word this day!
If at any time you fall into doubts about the state of your soul under darkness and dull frames of mind, it is proper to look over past experiences. Don’t, however, consume too much of your time and strength in poring and puzzling thoughts about old experiences, that in dull frames appear dim and are very much out of sight, at least as to that which is the cream and life and sweetness of them. Rather, apply yourself with all your might to an earnest pursuit after renewed experiences, new light, and new, lively acts of faith and love. One new discovery of the glory of Christ’s face, and the fountain of his sweet grace and love will do more towards scattering clouds of darkness and doubting in one minute than examining old experiences by the best mark that can be given for a whole year. (Stephen Nichols, Jonathan Edwards’ Resolutions and Advice to Young Converts, 32)