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Spirit has been so gradual as to leave no traces of his first operations on the mind. In each case, however, the Lord acts like himself--as a sovereign ; distributing his own favours when, and. to whom he pleaseth; and as we cannot account for the various dispensations of his grace to sinners, we must rest satisfied while we gratefully rejoice in this certainty—that all are led to see the want of something to procure their acceptance with God, distinct from what is either natural or acquired, before a Saviour can be desirable: and if, to this end, it be your lot to feel much of the agony of guilt, it is nevertheless your duty to be thankful; as the mercy hereafter to be enjoyed will not be lessened by the pain that precedes it.
Your imagining that no permanent good can arise from the incident which first led you to contemplate your conduct and your character, merely because trivial in itself, and no way connected with the glory of God or the happiness of man ; is a conclusion derogatory to infinite wisdom, and implicitly limits the Holy One of Israel. The Almighty is never at a loss for means to accomplish his own designs. He can overrule, for this purpose, those that are apparently the most trifling, or, in reality, the most atrocious. • His thoughts are not our thoughts; nor our ways his ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are his ways higher than our ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts.'
Little did Zaccheus think that his ardent curiosity to see Jesus, was in order to exalt the riches of grace in pardoning one who was, though little in stature, the greatest of sinners; much less that, on the same day, he was to become as conspicuous for restitution and benevolence as he had formerly been for extortion and oppression. Saul
of Tarsus never imagined that his diabolical er. rand to Damascus would be the occasion of his boldly preaching the faith he purposely went to destroy. Nor the thief, when perpetrating the detestable crime for which he suffered on a gibbet, that he was to expire in such circumstances and in such company; or that he was then committing an act for which he was afterwards to be exhibited as a spectacle to angels and to men; that both might have incontestable proof, that he whom the self-righteous Pharisees despised and rejected, was, in the last agonies of death, what he always professed to be in his life-the Saviour of sinners!
That state of darkness and of distress which you think peculiar to yourself, is common to all under the bidings of God's presence. Few persons are led to dispute the freeness or the riches of grace manifested in the gospel for the pardon of sin : painful concern, in reference to this subject, generally arises from a fear of their having no right to partake of the distinguishing blessing. When this is the case, guilt holds the soul in bondage; unbelief banishes the first glimmerings of hope; and it is precipitately concluded, that there is no ground on which to expect forgiveness. But with regard to yourself, why this despondency? why doubt the riches, or the freeness of grace? That God who hath awakened and wounded the sleeping conscience, bath also directed to a physician acquainted with both the disease and the remedy; and who is not only able, but willing to present you faultless before the presence of his father with exceeding joy.
Why, then, do you judge it. rather your duty to mourn than to believe; to feel the bitterness of sin, than to taste the sweetness of a promise ; and to put away comfort lest it should check the
overflowings of sorrow ?! To souls under spiritual convictions of sin, belong all the consolatory promises that enrich the oracles of truth. The united power of earth and hell can neither hinder their accomplishment, nor divest the soul of the right it has to the blessings they contain. What shall I then say to repress fear and encourage hope? To this inquiry the language of truth answers - Comfort ye, comfort ye my people ; speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned !' Surely these are tidings suited to distress that must raise dejection from the dust, and inspire doubt with confidence! Come, then, 'thou that art of a fearful heart, be strong;' this night of darkness is but a kind prelude to that lucid interval when Jesus, the Sun of righteousness, shall arise, and be as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, even a morning 'without clouds.
The soul, emerg'd from nature's night,
Shall view the dawning ray,
Bring in the welcome day:
Thy wounded breast shall prove;
Subdu'd by conqu’ring love. Let not unbelief suggest, that the enjoyment of this delightful season is impossible ; for with Christ, the Almighty Saviour, all things are possible. His resplendent beams can penetrate the dark recesses of the heart, dispel the gloomy horrors of guilt, and usher in the glorious——the welcome day of gospel grace. Then fear not, thou shalt not be ashamed, neither shalt thou be confounded: for thy Maker is thy husband, and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel.' Your present dejection may perhaps induce
you to reply, 'I wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but walk in darkness. Nevertheless, be not discouraged: the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God, thy glory.' He will manifest the infinite freeness of his grace, and revive your disconsolate spirit with the sweet communications of his everlasting love. His lenient hand will apply to the wounded conscience, the pardoning blood of Christ, who is the great physician that healeth all our diseases —that stills the surges of the mind. • When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hideth his face, who can behold him ?' If he but say, 'Peace, be still,' there shall be a great calm.
Having therefore such a gracious and almighty Redeemer, let me entreat you to flee to him for free pardon ; for full redemption. Implore his omnipotent aid to conquer every enemy, to silence every doubt; and he will bring you off more than conqueror. The arms of his mercy are ever extended for the reception of sinners. He waits to be gracious. In bim are safety and everlasting strength. He is the eternal God-he is the sinner's refuge-the hiding place—a sanctuary in the day of trouble.
Should you say, I am weak and helpless ; let me ask with the prophet, 'Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.'
Now, is it possible to sink when upheld by Omnipotence? Can you faint under the benign influence of almighty succour ? No, this is impose sible; for thus saith the Lord, 'I am with thee; be not dismayed, I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness-In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.' Surely words more animating and consolatory cannot be easily selected: they ensure safety in the most perilous situation, and support under the most pressing difficulties; and were it not for such exceeding great and precious promises, the trembling sinner might sink under the weight of his guilt, and fall into absolute despair.
But the Lord, who is rich in mercy, hath given ample ground for consolation to the soul that is burdened with guilt and struggling for deli
He hath provided and revealed a Saviour who is not only able, but willing to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him. No supplicant was ever driven from his throne, or sought relief of him in vain. The Pharisees did not utter a disgraceful, but a delightful truth, when they said of Christ, in a way of reproach, He receiveth sinners. The wretched and forlorn, the helpless and the hopeless, will meet with a kind reception. • The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that is athirst
And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.'
Are you weary and heavy laden ? is conscience burdened with reiterated charges of guilt? do you find yourself unable to support the ponderous load ? If so, ' Cast your burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain you. Flee to this compas. sionate deliverer--this friend of sinners. Attend