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It was not until that I had passed a very considerable portion of time in the life of man, that I felt the full conviction of my being but 'a stranger and a pilgrim upon the earth.' And it becomes even now, one of the most astonishing circumstances, in the new view of things which are continually opening before me, that there should have been so much ignorance in my mind by nature, on a subject, which in itself appears so exceedingly plain and evident. Not that I was altogether void of apprehension, that the present life formed a bounded prospect. But yet my ideas were, like those of the great mass of unawakened characters, who believe as though they believed not; and who, though ready enough to confess in the general, that man is but a dying creature, yet in the particular instance as it concerns themselves, live as though they never thought to die.
I pause in the moment of recollection,
to look back upon the whirlpool, in which, for. so many years, I was hurried on by the unceasing current! unconscious of the perilous situation in which I then moved, and unconcerned
at what I saw of the sudden departure of those around me, swallowed up in the vortex!
Dread Power! awful even in thy mercies! Do I now stand secure on the edge, upheld by a strength not my own, no longer within the reach of the tide, and beholding the solemn prospect of thousands still ingulphed? Can I call to mind the past danger and the present deliverance, unmoved with pity over the unthinking throng, and untouched with gratitude to thee, the sole Author of every mercy? I feel, (blessed be the grace that inspires it,) the rising hymn of thankfulness in my heart, while the tear drops from my eye; 'Lord, how is it that thou hast manifested thyself unto me, and not unto the world?'
——•The reader who condescends to interest himself in the history of a poor traveller to Zion, must be content to admit of these occasional interruptions by the way.
You may, perhaps, my brother, consider every thing of this kind, but as the unnecessary parenthesis of the tale. But they are not so to the writer. The life of a pilgrim, and of Zion's Pilgrim particularly, furnishes but a comfortless view in the retrospect. It is like treading over large tracts of waste, thorny, and unimproved ground. Every little spot, therefore, wHich can be looked back upon with delight, is like the sweet herbage, and the refreshing stream, here and there only to be found on the barren heath; and which are, beyond all calculation, precious to the traveller.
If the reader cannot enter into a full participation with the writer, in these enjoyments, he hopes he will at least suffer them to remain as so many efiisades in the history. It is possible, from an unison of hearts, some fellow-traveller on the road to Zion, may find in them an harmony of sound corresponding to his own song of praise: and to him they will be not uninteresting. "< '.
One reflection, I think, cannot fail to strike the gracious mind with force, in the review of a long period of unawakened nature, when once brought out of it; and that is, the distinguishing ftro/ierties of preserving grace. I never knew, until grace taught it me, how much I owed, and was continually accumulating the debt, during the season of my unregeneracy, to this one principle. But now, under Divine teaching, I have learnt somewhauof this spiritual arithmetic, and can enter into the full apprehension of what the Apostle means when he says, 'preserved in Jesus Christ, and called *.' * Jiide i. 1.
Do you ask what that is? Every man's personal experience becomes the truest commentator. But for the grace of preservation in Jesus Christ, there never could have been a calling to Jesus Christ. Calculate, if you can, how long a space you lived, unconscious of your state, 'without God and without Christ in the world.' And had you been cut off in the awful state of an unawakened, unregenerated mind; where would have been your portion? And were there no seasons of peculiar peril, no sickness, no intemperance, no hair-breadth escapes, in which life hung as by a thread over an hopeless eternity? Oh! the countless instances of preservation in Christ Jesus, before the redeemed of the Lord are brought to the apprehension of divine things which are of Christ Jesus! Have you never seen the unconscious babe watched over, in all its helpless defenceless hours, by the sedulous tenderness and care of its anxious parent? Such, and infinitely higher, must be his preservation of his people, who not only watches over them 'every moment lest any hurt them* ;' but, what peculiarly endears his loving-kindness to the heart, he watches over them for good in those moments also, in the days of their unregencracy, * Isaiah xxvii. 3.