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Apostle,) the foundation of God stantleth 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 upoilerf.' This is enough. Outcasts, and sometimes considered as the 'offscouring of all things,' they are. But still they are God's outcasts. Tempted they may be, and certainly will; but conquered they shall not. And could a lookcr-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 them}:.' -
'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 so 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||.' 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 bear it.'
'But is it not said, (I replied,) that some who • 2 Tim. ii. 19. f Isaiah xvi. 4.
* Dan. iii. 25. 27. fl Isaiah liv. 17.
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 retain nothing themselves: or like the directionposts 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 godliness. And therefore 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 natural purposes; and thus beginning in nature, they end in the same. And if a proper attention 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 believer, respecting the danger of apostatizing from the faith.' < .
'But is there not a difficulty, (I said,) to the cordial reception of this doctrine, in the cases of those unhappy persons who die by their own hands, and, as is generally supposed, from the effects of religious melancholy?'
'Not the least, (replied my friend,) by those who consider the subject in a proper point of view. It is the grossest mistake to ascribe such instances of suicide to a religious melancholy, when in fact they are induced altogether from a total want of religion.
'Men, from the awakenings of conscience, and from the dread of divine displeasure in the recollection of a mis-spent life, may be driven to despair; and if there be no grace given to them of God, to make application of the sweet promises of the gospel in the hour of temptation, but left to themselves, may be prompted to do an act at which nature shudders! but who would presume, but a fool, to put this down to the score of religion, when every circumstance tends but to prove the very reverse, in the total want of all religion. Let us only suppose a case in point, which is enough at once to answer all the childish observations which the world hath made on a subject of this nature.
. Let us suppose a man under the immediate pressure and alarms of a guilty conscience, in the prospect of the wrath to come, feels the rising temptation to make away with himself. Let us suppose further, that in this distressed state of mind, some precious revelation and promise of the gospel is, through divine grace, revealed to his heart; that he hears and believes what that gospel graciously proclaims—' that though his sins are as the scarlet, they shall be made white as snow ; though red as the crimson, they shall be as the wool; that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin:' is it not evident, that if the mind of such a man is brought to believe in this precious promise, there can be no despair, and consequently there can be no self-murder? And will prejudice itself, even the grossest prejudice, venture to say, or even believe, that a single instance of suicide was ever committed under such circumstances?! ...
'Hence, therefore, you see, my brother,'continued my friend, 'that it is not faith, but the want of faith; not from religion, but from the absence of religion, that a melancholy pervades the mind, which sometimes terminates so fatally as in self-destruction.'