« AnteriorContinuar »
haps he may have both to survive him,) had her case been their's!'
My heart was too full to reply. I felt all that kind of sensation which the poet entered into, to the contemplation of a subject so hopeless and awful, when he said
Then if it be an awful thing to die,
o ', ; BLAIR'S GRAVE.
It was sometime before I prevailed on myself to remove from the spot of this awful scene. But at length I caught the arm of my companion, and we walked away together towards the end of the street, which terminated in the fields. We had gone a considerable space, without any conversation ; the minds of both being, I imagined, fully absorbed in ruminating on a subject, that was beyond all others the most distressing! Formy part, the circumstance, had awakened in my breast a train of thoughts, which tended to dissipate all my new-formed
hopes. What, (I said to myself,) if an 'end so horrible should be at length the termination of my pilgrimage? What if all my fond desires of grace should ultimately prove a delusion ? Are the people of God exposed to such overwhelming temptations of the enemy? May they really be awakened to the life of God in the soul, and yet finally fall away?
I found these, and the like distrustful ques. ' tions, involuntarily arising in my mind, and inducing much anxiety ; when my friend, as if privy to what passed within me, broke silence, • How gracious, (he exclaimed,) is our God, in the midst of such awful judgments, as are walking by our side, through the world, to keep us unhurt! Do you not perceive the evidence of that scripture ; 6A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee; only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked* ?" Oh! it is a blessed, soul-reviving thought, amidst all the, melancholy proofs around us, that we are passing through the enemy's territories, that there is' a gracious nevertheless in the covenant which screens us · from his malice. Nevertheless, (says the
* Psalm xci. 7, 8.
Apostle,) the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal; the LORD knoweth them that are his*.' Let mine outcasts dwell within thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoilert.' This is enough. Outcasts, and sometimes considered as the offscouring of all things, they are. But still they are God's outcasts. Teinpted they may be, and certainly will; but conquered they shall not. And could a looker-on but see objects spiritually, he would discover, as the impious monarch of old did, One walking with his people in the hottest furnace, that even the smell of fire may not pass upon themt.
. . You very much rejoice my heart, (I replied,) by what you say. My fears were all alive in the view of this awful scene, lest an event sa truly hopeless might one day be my portion.'.
That, (answered my companion hastily,) . is impossible to a child of God. The promise
is absolute. No weapon formed against thee shall prosper\l.' And God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bcar it.'
• But is it not said, (I replied,) that some who
were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and been made partakers of the Holy Ghost,' have fallen away?'',
“Yes; (rejoined my companion ;) but none of those so spoken of were ever children of God, or 'born again of that incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth for ever.' Only observe the vast distinction of character, by which those enlightened persons whom the Apostle speaks of are marked, from the scripture-features of the truly regenerate ; and the contrast will immediately appear. They are said to be sonce enlightened,' that is, with head-knowledge; not renewed in heart-affections. They are described as those who have tasted of the heavenly gift ;' tasted, but not approved : like persons whose stomachs nauseate what the taste rejects, and digest it not. They are said to have been made partakers of the Holy Ghost ;' that is, in his common operations upon the understanding ; not in his quickening and regenerating grace in the soul. In all these, and the like instances, there is not a single syllable said of the Spirit's work, in the great and essential points of faith and repentance, and the renewed life. But the whole account is confined to the common operations of nature, as distinguished from grace; in which natural men frequently excel; and sometimes indeed to such a degree, as to surpass in head knowledge children of grace. And God the Holy Ghost is pleased to work by their instrumentality, while they themselves' remain unconscious of his power. He blesses his people by them ; but they feel not his power in them. For rather than his household shall want supply,'he will feed them even from the table of their enemies. They become therefore like channels of conveyance, which conduct to others, but rétain nothing themselves : or like the direction- . posts on the road, which point the traveller to the right path, but never stir themselves a step towards it. These things may be done, and perhaps very often are done, by men perfectly strangers to vital godłiness. And thereforeTM ? when they cease to appear in their assumed character, they are said by the world to have fallen away from grace; whereas the fact is, .. they never were in grace. Every thing in such persons is derived from natural causes, is-supported by natural means, and adopted for na: tural purposes ; and thus beginning in nature, they end in the same. And if a proper atten-'. tion was paid to these things, to discriminate :between nature and grace, it would, under the divine blessing, very much tend to diminish the apprehensions of the humble and fearful