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to his saints; but let them not turn again to folly. Open your heart to those whom God has appointed to comfort the feeble-minded, and to support the weak.-Use these means diligently and conscientiously. Wait on the Lord, and he will save you.
Steadily aim at a conformity to the will of God, both in heart and life. Walk in the fear of the Lord all the day long, and make it your constant care to please him. “ His salvation is nigh them that fear him. Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise, with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” If you favour fin, it is impoffible you should enjoy a comfortable assurance of God's favour; for “ your iniquity will separate between you and your God.” It will interpose, as a thick mift, to hide his face from you. If you grow indolent, negligent, and of a worldly spirit, you need not wonder to find yourself involved in darkness and perplexity respecting your state to. wards God; for he hath said, “ If ye walk contrary unto me, I also will walk contrary unto you.'
It must be owned, as has been before observed, that some pious and upright minds are suffered, for a time, to be involved in darkness through the prevalence of sore temptations; others are awfully • tried by spiritual desertions; and others again are
fub. " Fear
subject to a kind of constitutional melancholy. All these are objects of pity; and the Lord will eventually appear fortheir comfort and deliverance. He hath said, “I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made.” He will heal the broken in heart, and bind
Some are prevented from enjoying an assurance of the divine favour through causeless fears and jealousies. These are constantly encouraged not to fear, by him who knows the feebleness of their faith, and the weakness of their hands. thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, I am thy God. Fear not, thou worm Jacob; neither be dismayed, ye men of Israel.” They are afraid, because sin is in them as an active and refless principle, that they have no contrary principle of grace or holiness. And, because, for a season they have not strong consolation, they are afraid they have no right to it, nor to any other spiritual blesfing. These jealousies and fears, at least, evidence a desire to be right, and to be conformed to the will and image of God; which certainly springs from a gracious principle. In these persons, the want of skill to distinguish between the motions of the flesh, and those of the Spirit, is the occasion of their distressing fear. They ought to reason thus, He that sincerely repents of fin, believes in Jesus, and is desirous of giving his whole heart to God, is in a state of acceptance with his Maker, accord-' ing to the declarations of his word; I cannot deny but this is my case; therefore, why do I entertain these disquieting fears ?
It may be of service to such persons, to call to mind past experience, and to think of God's
gracious dealings with them. “I call to remembrance my song in the night; I commune with my own heart, and my spirit made diligent search. And I said, This is my infirmity (to entertain these gloomy fears, and desponding thoughts ;) but I will remer, ber the years of the right hand of the Most High. The Lord hath appeared of old unto me;' this I · must own; then observe what he saith to you at present, “ Yea, I have loved thee with an everlast ing love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” Let this be for your comfort.
After all, it must be acknowledged, that the true, folid and rational assurance of hope is often the result of many severe trials.
severe trials. When young disciples are filled with comfort, peace and joy, they are, for that season, ftrangers to doubts and fears respecting their acceptance with God. But this is not that assurance of which the scriptures speak.
No. XVIII, 2.
No sooner are their comforts withdrawn, than they are filled with perplexity, disquieted with fears, and ready to count all their former experience mere delusion. Assurance grows, and is established by repeated confli&ts, and by renewed experimental proofs of God's power to save and deliver us. When we have been brought low, and helped by his gracious hand; sorely wounded, and healed again; caft down, and raised up; when we have given up all hope, and been suddenly snatched from danger, and exalted to a place of safety ;when we have experienced these troubles and re. liefs a thousand times over, we learn to trust simply to the word and power of God, in every state and condition. This trust, this hope, when habitual and strong, becomes like an anchor of the foul, sure and stedfast, in all the storms of life. It bears, when thus confirmed, the name of alfurance. But in this holy confidence there are many degrees.
This assurance is built upon a foundation that cannot be shaken, though it is often much assaulted. It does not depend on occasional and changeable frames of mind, nor upon any thing precarious ; but upon the word of infallible truth, and an agree- . ment and correfpondence in the chriftian's experience with that word. Nor does this agreement
depend altogether on a train of laboured arguments and deductions, but is felf-evident to the gracious mind. For " he that believeth hath the witness in himself.” The most simple and unlearned may be the subjects of it, in a way as extensive and satisfactory, as the most wise and learned.
This holy confidence may be maintained in a believer, even under darkness, and the hidings of God's face. He that walketh in darkness, and hath, comparatively, no light of divine comfort, is encouraged, and even commanded to trust in the name of the Lord, and stay himself upon his God. He is to do this when the cheering rays of the Sun of righteousness do not fhine upon his mind, so as to afford him the refreshing light of extraordinary consolation and joy. Hereby, the foul of a christian is preserved tranquil and composed, though it hath not that degree of pleasure, which springs from the affecting manifestations of divine love.
This holy confidence carries the mind above the affli&tive and distressing things of this world. As it swims not upon a torrent of terrestrial pleasures, so it is not deeply depressed by the heavy weight of worldly sorrows. He who is well fatisfied respecting his interest in the divine favour, is not elevated by the most flattering things which. may attend him in this mortal state; neither is he,