Imatges de pàgina
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dence offers us a remedy; and let us make use of it. While we are under the dominion of melancholy, we should avoid all difficult and painful business as much as we can; we should take care of our bodily health, and make allowance for the weakness of our minds. We must seek for comfort from God by prayer, and we must strengthen our spirits by cheerful reading ; taking special care, however, that it be not of a kind either to flatter our vanity, or our passions; we should seek the conversation of our most cheerful acquaintance; in short, we may make use of every lawful and reasonable method to overcome this melancholy, and recal a more lively and energetic temper of mind. Happy are you, if, in such a case, you have a good and sensible friend, to whom you can unburthen your heart; this is the greatest of all consolations to a wounded and dejected spirit. Alas! I have too often felt that sorrow and dejection, when too long suppressed,

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prey with redoubled. violence on the heart; whereas, when we impart our distress to a friend, we find, even in doing so, something that alleviates our pain, and seems to pour a balm into our wound.

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5. If we are, nevertheless, still a prey to melancholy, we have sure help in God. Let us, with humble and earnest supplication, seek from Him that hope and comfort, which he alone can give; patiently enduring the continuance of such sensations, and accounting them (as they really are) a species of trial. Instead, therefore, of yielding to the languor of our minds (which may cause us to fail in our daily and positive duties) we should, with increased ardour, seek in those very duties the farther means of cure; and let us also remember, that whatever infirmity of our nature is not sinfully encouraged, or weakly submitted to, is a farther inducement to our gracious God to

grant us the aid of his Holy Spirit. God sees the heart, and his judgment is unerring. He gives his assistance to all who sincerely struggle against their spiritual weakness; and when, through his aid, we have resisted any doubt, or overcome any temptation, we have more favour in his sight, than if the temptation had not assailed us--than if those terrors had never oppressed us with doubts of our spiritual state.

6. We must, therefore, constantly and unremittingly exert ourselves to fight our way through every obstacle towards our heavenly Canaan, still making these very obstacles so many greater incitements to a steady courage and unshaken faith. And let those who are subject to religious doubts and terrors of mind, yet who sincerely endeavour to perform their duty, remember, for their comfort, that this state of mind, however painful, is much more safe, and more acceptable to God,

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than confident security, and self-satisfaction, which is but the result of vanity. A soul which is penetrated with a deep sense of its own unworthiness, which, afflicted and sorrowful, even unto death, cries out with our blessed Lord on the Cross, “ My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,” is beheld by our heaven. ly Father with much more compassion, than the more confident soul, which trusts in its own merits; though the latter may have more of the forms of righteousness.

7. Our imagination is, however, too active, and apt to lead us after vain and seducing objects which, for a time, will obscure, and, perhaps, overcome our best inclinations, and weaken our sense of duty. But despair not. If, when the delusion vanishes, and the Divine Grace touches your heart, you repent of your errors, and endeavour to regain the right way,

God will not hastily separate himself from you ; nor, when your heart is

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with him, will he too severely judge your infirmity. Let us but endeavour steadily to keep up in our souls a lively sense of God's continual presence, and we need not be tvo scrupulous or unhappy about our conduct; for we shall find this sense of God's presence with us the most effectual check upon our passions-but if ever this sense should seem to be lost amidst the multiplicity of our occupations, and the various occurrences of life, let us stop and examine ourselves, and if we find that (although we may have been too much engrossed by the world) God is really our first object, we may still hope to find ourselves in his favour; for he is a most merciful Father, and he ever beholds mankind with compassion and patience; nor, until they have repeatedly provoked him, does he give them up to their own sinful desires, or deny them the grace of his Holy Spirit.

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