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sad strangeness between God and my soul. Alas! what shall I do to recover what I have lost ?
" I must justify: God, and condemn myself, even though he should banish me from his blessed presence for ever. But is there no ground of hope, that he will be gracious unto me? Will he not re. turn to the soul that seeketh him ? O what a blessed season would it be, might I again taste those heavenly consolations which I once enjoyed ! O that it were with me as in months paft, in the days when God preserved me; when his candle shone upon my head, and when, by his light, I walked through darkness! Lord, I entreat thy favour with my
whole heart; be merciful unto me, according to thy word. Hide not thy face from me, but restore unto me the joys of thy salvation. Grant me those heavenly smiles which chear the hearts of thy dear children; deal graciously with me, as thou useft to deal with thofe that love thy name. O let me regain the sense of thy life-giving favour, for the sake of himn who once cried, in agonies on the cross, My God, my God, why haft thou forsaken me? If I am interested in the benefits of his redemption, if I am a child of thine, suffer me not to pine away in difconsolation, for want of the tokens of a Father's love. Receive a returning prodigal to thy em
bracing arms, and say unto my soul, I am thy falvation.”
Reader, if your cafe bears any resemblance to to that which I have been describing, let me entreat you to ponder in your heart the following gracious declarations. · I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth; for the spirit before me would be overwhelmed, and the living souls which I have made. Because of his iniquity, for a short time I was wroth; and I (mote him, hiding my face in mine anger. And lie departed, turning back in the
ways; and I will heal him; I will be his Guide: and I will restore comforts to him, and to his mourners. For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid
face from thee, for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, faith the Lord thy Redeemer. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord, that hath mercy on thee."
To add no more, as to this point, the returning backlider stands in need of God's favour to secure him from future relapses. “ Alas!" says he, “ I
have * Dr. Lowth's translation of Ifai, lvii. 16, 17, 18, 19.
have within me a heart bent to backslide, and prone to wander from God. And though I be now restored in great mercy, I shall certainly go astray again, unless I am upheld and preserved by the favour of the Keeper of Israel. After God has spoken peace, I am still in danger of turning again to folly. * Thou, O Lord, sayest unto me, Go and pn no more; but, alas! thou knoweft my weakness and inconstancy. Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe, and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. Let thy favour furround me like a shield; cause thy face to shine, and I shall be faved. So will I not go back from thee; quicken me, and I will call upon thy name. Lord, put underneath me thine everlasting arin, and let thy right hand uphold me.
“ I have many enemies without, and many within, and having had such mournful proofs of my own unspeakable weakness, and of the deceitfulness and treachery of my heart, I am jealous over
“ O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrain'd to be!
Bind my wand'ring heart to thee.
Prone to leave the God I love ;
Seal it from thy courts above."
***** myself. O God, do thou establish, strengthen, and settle me; for my soul depends on thee alone. If thou art my defence, I shall not be greatly moved."
The promises of the divine word contain ample encouragement in this respect.
“ The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. Surely, he shall not be moved for ever. Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee, yea, I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
3. Having considered the case of a finner at his first conversion, and that of the returning back. slider, I would now just briefly observe, that the child of God, under heavy and pressing affliction, stands in need of the divine favour, and values it as life. The afflictions of the righteous are so many, and so various, that my reader will not expect me to enumerate them all; but let them be of what kind, or in what form foever they may, there is great need of that support under them which God alone can give. Suppose the christian to be exercised with poverty and outward straits, which indeed is no uncommon case, a sense of the divine
favour will greatly fortify his mind under the trials incident to such a state. It was once the faying of a gracious woman, “ I have many times been richly fed by a suitable promise from God, when I have not had a morsel of meat in the house." Perhaps none have greater opportunities of knowing what it is to live by faith, than the godly poor,
who have no stock in hand on which to depend. They may then peculiarly encourage themselves in the patronage of himn who is the Lord of the universe, and fay with the Pfalmift, “I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor." It is comfortable and relieving in such a case to recollect, that he hath said, “ Rob not the poor, * because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate. For the Lord will plead
* The pious Author might speak feelingly on this head. At one particular period, when a fine was haid upon him for no other offence thán preaching the gospel to poor finners, a fine which he was not able to pay, the officers seized on his furniture, and fold the most neceffary utensils of his house, for a mere trifle, to any one who was unfeeling enough to purchafe them. Mrs. Heywood requested it, as a favour, that one chest might be spared, as it was an ancient piece of family furniture; but this request was not regårded. The chest contained a small quantity of oat-meal, the scanty supply of the family.