The following "sketch" (Spencer's word for case study) deals with the matter of feeling and behavior from the point of view of a conservative Christian. It is also a sample of one sort of pastoral counseling that was done by a Presbyterian preacher prior to the near capitulation of the Christian ministry to psychiatry. In his Sketches (which appeared in a First and Second Series), Spencer discussed a large variety of problems and how he handled them. There are many good insights in Spencer, although his work is outdated. In this sketch, among other things, Spencer rightly observed:
1. That feelings are largely involuntarily ("Your heart will not feel at your bidding").
3. That feelings flow from behavior ("He could 'feel' when he found his father's arms around him"; "I find, if a poor creature will turn to God, in the name of Jesus, he will learn to feel as he never felt before").
From early spring down to the autumn of the year, a very sedate and contemplative man had been accustomed to call upon me, in respect to has religious thoughts and anxieties. At first he seemed to have thoughts only, but they ripened by degrees into anxieties. He began by asking about theories, or doctrines, apparently without any idea of making an application of the truth to himself. He had points of difficulty which he wished to have explained, and then he found other points; and these gradually changed in character from abstract questions to those of the application of the truth. From the first, I tried to lead him on to the personal application; but months passed away before he appeared to have much sense of his sin, or much anxiety about himself.
are pardoned on account of Jesus Christ. Faith in Him is the only way for them.
I finally said to him one evening, "I do not know' my dear sir, what more can be said to you. I have told you all that I know. Your state as a sinner lost, exposed to the righteous penalty of God's Law, and having a heart alienated from God; and the free offer of redemption by Christ; and your instant duty to repent of sin and give up the world and give God your heart; and the source of your help through the power of the Holy Spirit assured to you, if you will 'receive' Christ: all these things have become as familiar to you as household words.. What more can I say? I know not what more there is to be stud. I cannot read your heart. God can, and you can by His aid. Some things you have said almost made me think you a Christian, and others again have destroyed that hope. I now put it to your own heart—If you are not a Christian, what hinders you?"
He thought a moment,—said he,—
“Come to Christ, now. Trust Him. Give up your darling world. 'Repent: so iniquity shall not be your ruin.'"
As I was uttering this he hung his head, cast his eyes upon the floor, and stood like a statute of stone. I let him think. There he stood for some long minutes. Then turning suddenly to me, reaching to me his hand, says he,—
"The human heart is the greatest mystery in the world; inexplicable, contradictory to itself; it is absurd. Man is a riddle. Who would imagine that when a sinner really wishes to feel his sins more, and wishes to have the love of Christ in his heart, it is because he is not willing to give up the world. He says, (as I said to you that last night) 'I can't feel,' as an excuse for holding on to it. I found as soon as I was willing to 'go home,' as you called it, the road was plain enough."
Sinners, not willing to give up the world, and wanting an excuse for their irreligion, exclaim, "I can't feel."