« AnteriorContinuar »
the real Christian should, when left to himself, feel the painful effects of unbelief? be harassed with doubts and fears, and sometimes manifest distrust of the divine goodness? Human nature is the same in both, and so totally depraved, that, without foreign aid, it has neither power nor inclination to counteract the pernicious influence of this diabolical principle. It is not, therefore, the mere promulgation of a fact in reference to salvation by Jesus Christ, that will calm the perturbed mind, or excite confidence in divine mercy. The carnal mind is alienated from God; and this alienation, especially if attended with deep conviction of apostacy and guilt, generates suspicion, and suspicion distrust: the impediments to reconciliation and to peace must therefore be removed before there can be either confidence or affection. But as the springs to resist evil in the moral system are in man so completely weakened, the sinner must inevitably fall a prey to his own disease, unless he that spake the world into being, mercifully interpose to save the soul from perdition.
If then it be true, that in God we live, and move, and have our being; and that without his divine agency we perform no physical action, surely no argument can be wanted to prove that we must stand solely indebted to him for that faith which counteracts the sinful propensities of our nature, which purifies the heart, and overcomes the world ; which, in opposition to sense, is conversant with invisible realities, and which not only joyfully receives, but gratefully confides in the divine testimony.
If, therefore, we are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our suffciency is of God : If faith be his gift, and no
man can come to Christ except the Father draw him : If without divine energy we can neither overcome our natural propensity to evil, love the divine character, nor cordially trust in revealed mercy: If, after having tasted that the Lord is gracious, we cannot stand steadfast in the faith,
unless he that began the good work perform it 1. until the day of Christ; what need have we to
implore the Father of mercies to work in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure-that he would guide us by his counsel, and afterwards receive us to glory!
Come then-a still, small whisper in your ear,
He may perhaps-perhaps he may—too late.-Cowper. ANXIETY like yours, Lavinia, interests all
the feelings of humanity, and imperceptibly raises the soft emotions of compassion. The severity of your trial strikes me with peculiar force: it resembles, in many respects, what I have for. merly experienced ; and if the recital of similar distress could excite encouragement, I might re. late how your affectionate correspondent, and others, have been exercised in the same circumstances. For among the various methods of consolation, to which the miseries inseparable from our present state have given occasion, one of the first comforts which one neighbour administers to another, is a relation of the like infelicity, combined with circumstances of greater bitterness.'
But alas! what can the repetition of distress avail her whose troubles are thought to be too personal, and too great to be lessened by comparison! What! must I then be silent? No; humanity forbids the thought: the distress that I cannot remove, let me endeavour to alleviate; or, rather, let me attempt to direct my amiable querist to that God who is the sinner's friend, a very present help in trouble, and who never said to the seed of Jacob-Seek ye me in vain.
Those depressions of guilt which create disquietude, are the natural consequences of sin. The soul, alarmed by the stings of conscience, now sees what an abominable thing it is in the sight of him who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and who cannot look on iniquity but with abhorrence. A sense of deserved wrath stimulates the risings of despair, and leaves the soul without the least apparent prospect of forgive
Permit me however to remind you of those days and months in which the commission of sin was never followed by compunction-in which conscience, now replete with charges of guilt, suffered you to enjoy the pleasures of tranquillity, though subject to the same condemnation which is now the sole ground of uneasiness. The remembrance of this tranquillity may indeed add pungency to grief already great: you will, nea vertheless, lose nothing by the comparison, but find, on the contrary, that it will lead to the discovery of something adapted to relieve the mind from its present perplexity.
The Almighty, who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, generally brings the soul into a state of deep disquietude on account of sin, previous to the manifestation of pardoning mercy. 'He killeth and maketh alive: he wound. eth that he may heal—he bindeth up the broken in heart. Though he cause grief, he will not cast off for ever: he will have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies-weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.'
There are undoubtedly many exceptions to this rule. Some persons are drawn with loving kind. ness, by a discovery of divine benevolence to man in the astonishing work of redemption : others experience the same goodness in a way that cannot be described, because the work of the eternal