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and remove the fears of the mournful believer; and in doing this, he added to my obligation to him tenfold. . .
——-' Your case, my friend,' (cried the Poor Man, addressing himself to the Mourner,) 'is by no means singular. It is the uniform complaint of the faithful in all ages. What one ancient servant of the Lord groaned under, all of them have found, that when 'we would do good, evil is present with us.' And the reason is obvious. It ariseth from the workings with -in of the different principles, grace and corruption. There are in every regenerated person two principles, a body of sin, and a spirit of grace; 'the flesh lusting against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things which ye would. There is not a part of the mind but what feels the influence of both. In the renewed nature, the understanding is enlightened, the affections spiritualized, the will inclined to God: while in the unrenewed nature still remaining, there is darkness in the understanding; carnal and earthly affections still continuing in the heart; and the will stubborn, rebellious, and frequently inclining to disobedience. In short, the mind is like the region of the earth, while twilight is upon it; it is neither dark nor light, but a mixture of both: no portion of the hemisphere being so light, but the shades of darkness are blended with it; and none so dark, but the tints of light are beautifully incorporated. And this is perfectly accountable. A state of grace is a middle state, between that of nature and glory. In a state of nature unawakened, unregenerated, unrenewed, sin reigns with unrivalled sway. In a state of glory, grace reigns unin* terrupted, and without any opposition. But the intermediate state is a state of warfare. Every one in this state feels and experiences the conflict. And as it is said, in allusion to this very circumstance, in the allegory of the bondwoman's son and the heir of promise, so believers find it; 'as then he that was born after the flesh, persecuted him that was born after the spirit; even so it is now*.'
'But however mortifying this-doctrine be to our nature, (and abundantly so it hath ever been found to the best of men,) yet as it tends, under divine grace, to make the believer go softly all his days; as it makes Jesus more dear : and as it affords to the believer one of the truest evidences of the renewed life; he ought rather to inquire, how such a state may be over-ruled to God's glory and his own benefit, than, by a false estimate, to question the ten♦ Gal. iv. 29.
dei* mercies of the Lord toward him, in the very moment of receiving the strongest proofs of them. Let me desire you to examine your own complaints again; and to see whether in the very moment of receiving the strongest proofs of them—Let me desire you to examine your own complaints again; and to see whether in every one of them, even in the midst of your groaning under the apprehension that there is no grace in your heart—whether great grace is not then in exercise. You say, that if the love of Christ were shed abroad in your heart, you could not live so far from him as you do; that if you really were under grace, you could not stay away from a throne of mercy as you do. But say, could you complain of the want of love to Christ, if you had never tasted what that love is? And if you visit not a mercy-seat so often as you wish, say, are not these things your continual burthen? Do you not groan under such marks of a dead and lifeless heart? And are not these sorrows of the soul, for the unallowed sins of the body, very plain evidences of the spiritual warfare? They never groan at sin, though they may in the prospect of the punishment of it, who have no renewed nature. It is the believer only who dreads the sin, more than the penalty due to it. And if grace be thus in exercise to endear the person of the Lord Jesus, still more in proportion as we see ouiv daily want of him; to long for the time to come when sin shall be rooted out; and to cause a sense of our weakness to prompt the soul to a greater dependence upon divine strength; by thus over-ruling all dispensations to his glory, and his people's welfare; we see a needs-be in every dispensation, and discover the beauty and tendency of that Scripture, which says, after that ye were illuminated, (not before, but after,) ye endured a great fight of affliction*.' In a word: however we may long for an exemption from all sin, and would purchase it, were it possible, with the price of a thousand worlds; however we may, and do, groan under this body of sin and death, which we carry about with us; yet, while Jesus, who could, if he saw it right, deliver his tried ones, whom he hath chosen in the furnace of affliction, with a word speaking, sees it not fit; let us not despond. If your sense of sin, and unallowed infirmities, lead you to a more firm reliance upon him; if it make his promises dearer, his faithfulness more evident, and his presence more desirable, depend upon it, by and by, your groans will be changed into songs of rejoicing, and your lan• Heb. x. 32.
will be like that of an Apostle,' Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.' ,
THE CRIES OF UNBELIEF. '.'
There sat a man upon my right hand in the prayer-meeting, to whom the leader of this little circle next addressed himself, in order to inquire into the Lord's gracious dealings with his soul. 'I hope,' (said the Poor Man, calling upon him with all the freedom of one who had been long acquainted,) 'I hope, (said he,) that you will now be able to give us some testimony of the word of his grace. I long, methinks, to hear from an old disciple like you, some evidence of the faithfulness of our Covenant-making, and Covenant-fulfilling God.'
'Alas!' (replied the other,) 'my language must be much the same as you have often heard. I still groan under the burthen of unbelief, and know not when I shall obtain deliverance from it. It will be a long time, I fear, before I shall be able 'to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith I myself am comforted of God.' I frequently compare myself to