To determine whether we are this smoking flax that Christ will not quench, we must remember these rules:
We must have two eyes: One to see imperfections in ourselves and others; the other to see what is good. “I am black,” says the church, “but comely” (Song of Solomon 1:5). Those who are given to quarreling with themselves always lack comfort, and through their infirmities they are prone to feed on such bitter things that will most nourish the disease which troubles them. These delight to be looking only on the dark side of the cloud.
We must not judge ourselves always according to our present feelings, for in temptations we shall see nothing but the smoke of distrustful thoughts. Fire can be raked up from the ashes, even though it isn’t seen. Life in the winter is hidden in the roots.
We must beware of false reasoning, such as: because our fire does not blaze up like it does in others, therefore we have no fire at all. By false conclusions we may end up sinning against ourselves. The prodigal wouldn’t say that he was no son, but that he was not worthy to be called a son (Luke 15:19). We must neither trust in false evidence, nor deny the true evidence; in doing so we should dishonor the work of God’s Spirit in us, and lose the help of the very evidence that would cherish our love to Christ, and arm us against Satan’s discouragements. Some are as faulty in this way as if they had been hired by Satan, the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10), to plead for him in accusing themselves.