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for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
Men of a persecuting spirit should beware left they be found fighting against God. It is awful, not only to be regardless of the divine favour themselves, but to take up arms against all those who are seeking to know their own personal interest in it. Let such consider what the gracious Redeemer said to Saul of Tarsus, “ Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick againft the goads.” Our divine Masser will take the part of his servants, and vindicate their cause against all their opposers.
Lord, my wild passions rage within,
Nor thy commands obey;
Draw my best thoughts away.
Do thou create my soul anew,
Conform my heart to thine, Melt down my will, and let it flow,
And take the mould divine.
Seize my whole frame by thine own hand,
My pow'rs to thee I bring; Marage the wheels by thy command,
And govern ev'ry spring.
The Subject improved by Way of Conviction to the
real Children of God.
JAVING, in the preceding chapter, addressed
those who are in a state of unregeneracy, I shall now turn myself to such as have been called by divine grace, out of darkness into the marvellous light of the gospel. These are in a state of reconciliation and friendship with God; they have tafted that the Lord is gracious, and can bear witness, by their own experience, that a sense of the favour of God is a privilege which may be enjoyed. Yet, as they have within them the depravity of nature, and are prone to go astray from the path of rectitude, it may be necessary to attempt some improvement of the subject by way of conviction to them. The word of God is profitable, not only for do&trine, but for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.
It is possible for you, my dear friends, to undervalue the privilege of friendship with your Maker. His favour certainly ought to be esteemed by you, at all times, above every thing else that can be thought of. You should have such a lively sense of
its importance, as may constrain you to say, on all occasions, “ In his favour is life; his loving-kindness is better than life.” But the objects of sense are so near you, and so apt to captivate attention, that you perhaps too frequently lose the sweet and comfortable sense of the love of God in Christ Je. sus our Lord.
Few of us, I fear, are so affected with this sub. ject as we ought to be. We do not ftir up ourselves, as the prophet speaks, to lay hold on God, to claim interest in him, as reconciled to us through. the death of his Son. We do not labour to quicken our dull and drowsy fouls, to aspire after an assured evidence of his favour, and an habitual sense of the greatness of this privilege. We are too indifferent about it, and can live day after day, at ease, without any peculiar manifestation of our Father's love. Most certainly it ought to be otherwise. We fome. times sit down pleased and contented with the com. mon blessings of his hand, without aspiring after endeared communion, intimacy and fellowship with him who should be our all in all.
My dearly beloved, are the consolations of God small in your esteem? Have you but little regard for his tokens of favour? Is it a matter of indifference with you, whether lie lift up the light of his countenance upon you or not? The great con
cern of the Redeemer upon earth, the important business he had to accomplish by his agonies and his blood, was to reconcile you to God, that you might be brought into a state of friendship with him. This is the grand subject of all the promises of grace. The gospel is the word of reconciliation. The office of the Holy Spirit is to make application of this to your hearts, and to give you the comfortable assurance of it. The Lord, of life and glory declares, that he waits to be gracious unto you. And is it possible that you should be indifferent about it!
There is a day coming when an assured sense of the divine favour will be deemed of the greatest importance by you, and when your former indifference about it will occasion painful reflections. Be ashamed then of your present fluggishness. Think within yourselves, how unaccountable it is, that the children of God should prize their Father's love no more. What can be of equal value with it? The full enjoyment of it constitutes the felicity of that world to which all your wishes and hopes are, or should be directed. For in the presence of Jehovah is fulness of joy, and at his right hand are pleasures for evermore. If therefore you put not a proper value on it at present, it is too evident, that you are greatly defective as to your meetness
-->>044 for the inheritance of the faints in light. You want more spirituality of mind, and heavenliness of temper.
There are others of God's children who fre. quently call in question their own interest in his favour. They are greatly dispirited, discouraged, and dejected on this account. They have many fears, jealousies, and misgivings of heart about it. Like the Pfalmift in his gloomy hours of defpon. dency, they remember God, and are troubled; they complain, and their spirit is overwhelmed with grief. They are ready to say, “ I fear the Lord is not my God; I fear I have no interest in his favour," They approach to his throne with sad and sorrowful hearts, or are kept at a distance from him through fears of his displeasure. And the more they think of their own sinfulness and unworthiness, the more they are deterred from drawing nigh to him. Conscious guilt, and oppressive fears damp the spirit of devotion. “My sins," says such a one,“ hang heavy on my soul. I dare not lift up mine eyes to heaven. The justice of the great Judge of all terrifies me, and his mercy, I fear, is far from me. My soul is shut up in darkness, and my mind is filled with terror. I am afraid God will call my sins to remembrance, and instead of enjoying the light of his countenance, I have