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my rock, why hast thou forsaken me? why go I mourning because of the enemy?" When the Lord turns your mourning into joy, you shall know why. You will then see that there was a need of all these things. It is to show you what is in your hearts, to mortify the spirit of self-righteousness," to teach you, that with"out him you can do nothing;" to make you wise and experienced against Satan's devices; to give you a tender sympathy and fellow-feeling in the sufferings and infirmities of your brethren, and to enable you to encourage and comfort others who shall be hereafter in your case, by relating what you have seen and known yourself in your various conflicts and strivings against sin. These are some of the reasons why the Lord suffers his dear children to groan being burdened, and sometimes permits their enemies to gain a short advantage over them, that he may humble and prove them, in order to do them good in their latter end. And, O! with what wisdom is all this appointed! A little of it we may see at present, but we shall not have a complete view till we get safe home. Then to look back upon the way by which he led us through the wilderness, will furnish matter for eternal praise.
Further, not only your mouths, but your lives shall praise him. What is the language of a believing heart, when the Lord pardons his sins, and binds up his wounds? It is this, "Now, Lord, I am thine, thy vows are upon
me, for thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of "truth. Shall I continue in sin because grace has "abounded? God forbid! I am crucified with Christ, "crucified to the world, and the world to me. The
* Ps. xlii. 9. § 2 Cor. i. 4.
+ 1 Pet. i. 6.
Deut. viii. 2—16.
John xv. 5.
"love of Christ constrains me. The time past is suffi"cient to have lived in vanity; henceforth I am the "Lord's. He has bound me by his tender mercies, to present myself, body and soul, to his service. Here, "O Lord, I offer my whole self, all that I am, and all "that I have, a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to "thee. O let me never, never wander from thee again, but walk in the light, as thou art in the light, "and have communion with thee here below, till thou "shalt remove me out of the reach of sin and sorrow " for ever*."
If there are any here who have neither known the loving kindness of the Lord, nor mourned under the sense of his displeasure, I am sure your lips are closed to this hour. And should you die thus incapable of praising the God who made you, and the grace which has brought the sound of the Gospel to your ears, it were better for you that you had never been born †. You have much reason to cry out, "O Lord, open "thou my lips." Open my eyes to see my danger, to see the evil of my nature and life. Open my lips to confess my wickedness. Open my heart to receive thy word, that I likewise may bear a part in the praises thy people pay thee, and not perish, (as without thy mercy I must do,) with a lie in my right hand. Consider, the time is short; death is near, and may be sudden. May the Lord enable you to consider the things belonging to your peace, before they are hid from your eyes!
And you, my friends, who at present enjoy the light
* Psal. cxvi. 14. 16. and xxxi. 5.; Rom. vi. 1.; Gal. ii. 20. and vi. 14.; 2 Cor. v. 14.; 1 Pet. iv. 3.; Rom. xii. 1.; 1 John i. 7. † Matth. xxvi. 24. Isa. xliv. 20. §1 Cor. vii. 29. Luke xix. 42.
of God's countenance, who know your sins are forgiven for his name's sake, and have a happy freedom of access at a throne of grace, O be mindful of your privileges; beware of sin, beware of self, beware of SaYour enemy envies you your liberty; he watches you with subtilty and malice; he spreads snares for your feet; he desires to have advantage of you, "that he "" may sift you as wheat t." Therefore be upon your guard, be humble, make much of secret prayer, keep close to the Scriptures of God; by the words of his lips you shall be preserved from the paths of the destroyer‡. Attend diligently upon the ordinances, and speak often one § to another, in love and faithfulness, of what the Lord has done and prepared for you, and of what manner of persons you ought to be, in all holy conversation and godliness. Thus you shall be kept safe from evil. Jesus has prayed for you, that your faith may not fail**. Fix your eyett and your heart upon him, as he that must do all for you, all in you, all by you. And he has said, "Yet a little while, and be"hold, I come quickly." Hold fast that which thou hast. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give "thee a crown of life. Amen. Even so, come, Lord
1 John ii. 12.
§ Mal. iii. 16. † Heb. xii. 2.
Luke xxii. 31.
2 Pet. iii. 11.
Rer. iii. 11.
Ps. xvii. 4.
** Luke xxii. 32.
SS Rev. ii. 10.; xxii. 26.
And we know that we are of God. A WELL-GROUNDED and abiding persuasion, not only that the doctrines of the Gospel are true in themselves, but that we through grace are surely and unchangeably interested in them, is highly desirable. If we may be safe, we cannot be happy and comfortable without it, when once we have received an experimental knowledge of the deceitfulness of our own hearts, and the variety, subtilty, and force of Satan's temptations : and He who knows our frame and situation, has, in his holy word, made a full provision for us in this respect, and declared it to be his intention, that those who flee for refuge to the hope he has set before them, might have strong consolation*; not be left at an uncertainty in a concern of the highest importance, but be rooted, grounded, established, and settled in the knowledge of his love, and be enabled to maintain it as an unshaken principle through every change of dispensation and frame," that he who hath begun a good work in them “ will perform it until the day of Jesus Christt.”
This animating confidence, so well suited, and so necessary, to render the soul superior to all the trials of life, to inspire a noble disdain of the sinful pleasures
+ Phil. i, 6.
* Heb. vi. 18. VOL. II.
and vain pursuits of the present evil world, and to engage the grateful exertion of every faculty and power in the service of God, is generally expressed by the word Assurance. But though the word is in frequent use, the thing itself has been, and still is, a subject of much dispute and controversy amongst professors of the Gospel. Many, not being conscious of such a cheering persuasion in themselves, and too hasty in supposing their attainments inust be a standard to others, have ventured to deny the possibility of such an assurance, and treated every claim to it as visionary and enthusiastic. On the other hand, some have maintained the opposite extreme, and held assurance so essential to faith, that without it no person has a Scriptural warrant even to hope that a work of grace is begun in his heart. This sentiment, especially when asserted by persons of undoubted character for gifts, graces, and usefulness, has greatly startled and discouraged weak and feeble-minded souls, and been too often an occasion of adding to the distress of those who rather ought to have been comforted.
Great differences of judgment have likewise obtained concerning the means whereby, the manner in which, and the persons to whom, this assurance is communicated, supposing it attainable. It is not needful to insist on particulars. Perhaps, the best way to prevent or remove mistakes, is to propose the truth simply; which, so far as it takes place, will necessarily prevent the entertainment of error. I only mention in general, that there is a variety of sentiments on this point, and the most of them supported by respectable names, in order to caution you against paying too great a deference to human authority, and to urge you to praise God for your Bibles, and to be diligent in the perusal of