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than my groaning. Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him ; on the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him. Oh that I knew where I might find him!'
You ought, my dear friend, to keep in mind the necessary distinction we have before made, between the favour of God, as it is in itself, and that sen. 'sible enjoyment of it which you now seem to want. We sometimes find the man after God's own heart exprefsing himself in such language as this, “ How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? For ever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me ? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily ? Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; lighten mine eyes, left I sleep the sleep of death.” Salvation may be experienced in its reality where the joy of it is wanting. And hence the same person thus prays, “ Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.” An earthly father may sometimes frown upon the child whom he dearly loves. Joseph's affection for his brethren was sincere, at the very time that he spake so roughly to them. The God of love and grace doth fometimes, for wise ends, suspend the manifestations of
his favour from the heirs of salvation. A skilful physician prescribes to his patients, in some cases, such medicines as occasion pain and sickness, in order to remove those humours which might endanger the conftitution. His intention is not to kill, but to cure.
The circumstances of God's children are often such as call for fatherly chastisements. He therefore fufpends his smiles, or withdraws the comfortable sense of his love and favour, leaving them, for a time, in darkness and disquietude. When David thought his mountain stood so strong, that, in a sort of blameable security, he concluded he should never be moved, he had presently reason to complain, “ Thou hideft thy face, and I am troubled.” Of ancient Ifrael the Lord said, “ For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his own heart."
The Almighty may deal thus with the objects of his love, to rouse them from a state of security ; to subdue pride, and make them humble; to wean them from the world, and excite in them more earnest longings after their heavenly reft; to teach them to put a higher value on his favour, and to quicken their diligence in seeking him; and, in a word, he deals thus with them, that they may
learn to sympathize with others who may be tried in the same way.
Give not up, therefore, all hope of interest in the divine favour, on account of your present disconfolate state. If you walk in darkness, and have no light, ftill trust in the name of the Lord, and Hay yourself upon his powerful arm, and unchanging love. Remember, you are yet exposed' on the tempestuous fea of life, and have not reached the port of uninterrupted reit. Your sun
Your sun may be under a cloud, and not shine upon you, but he is still in the heavens. Careless finners have no solicitude about God's favour; it is fincere love alone that is attended with jealousy. Fits of fickness are incident to those who are alive, not to the dead. They who are dead in trespasses and fins never mourn under a sense of God's absence. Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, O
you thát hope in the Lord.
But perhaps some disquieted soul may fay, How can I conclude that God looks upon me with an eye of favour, when I cannot bring my heart to love him, and delight in him, as his word requires me to do? Does not his love to sinners kindle in their hearts a return of affection to him ? Do not I hear the heirs of salvation saying, “We love him.be. cause he firf loved us?!"
To this I would answer;--spiritual life may be hid, even from the christian's own, view, as well as from that of others. Desertions, temptations, and the prevailing corruptions of the heart may, for a time, so becloud the mind, that the evidences of grace cannot be clearly discerned. As the love of God to us may be concealed under a cloud of darkness, the same may be said with respect to our love to him. The principle may exist when the operation of it is not very apparent. You are afraid you do not love him whom you know to be worthy of your most ardent affection. But.per- ; haps your judgment of yourself is not according to truth. Can you find no spark of love amidst the ashes which surround it? Examine yourself carefully. Though you cannot, with full confidence say, “Lord, thou knowelt all things, thou knoweft that I love thee;" perhaps you can appeal to the Searcher of hearts, that you desire to love him. And can you suppose this to be the case with those who are entirely destitute of spiritual life? If unregenerate finners sincerely desire to love God, and are disquieted, grieved, and distressed that they cannot love him as they ought, we will no longer affirm, that their minds are carnal, and enmity against their Maker and Sovereign. Instead therefore of concluding, that you are entirely def
titute of the gracious principle of which we are speaking, earnestly and constantly pray, that the holy flame of divine love may be so enkindled in your bosom, as to put the matter out of doubt ref. pecting its existence there. Let it be your daily request at the throne of grace, that the love of God may be fhed abroad in your heart, by the Holy Ghost given unto you.
But there is scarcely any end of the jealousies and fears of those who are weak in the faith. Methinks I hear one saying, 'You have not yet touched my fore; I am grievously afflicted in my own person, in my family, and in my circum. stances; the hand of the Almighty is heavy upon me; if I am interested in his favour, why am I thus ?' I would answer, in the words of the apostle, “ Ye have forgotten the exhortation that speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not the chaftening of the Lord, neither faint when thou art rebuked of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chafteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” If fatherly chastisements are tokens of love, then great and heavy chastisements are token's of great love. Health and prosperity are liberally granted to many who abuse them to the ruin of their souls; they may, on the other hand, be denied to you in great mercy. The father