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how slow of heart are we to believe what prophets and apostles have said concerning the salvation of God; and even what he testified of it, who is the true and faithful Witness, and who spoke as never man spoke.
Whether that peace of conscience you happily experience, through faith in the atonement, will meet with no interruption is not my province to determine. For such is the degeneracy of human nature, and such the base ingratitude of the human heart, that incidents the most trifling sometimes divert attention from the one thing needful, and too frequently betray into actions which involve guilt, and which, of course, deprive us of that tranquil. lity which is enjoyed in communion with God. Gratitude is not the characteristick of man. We are prone to be unmindful of benefits received
to lose sight of our perpetual obligations to divine goodness'; and in the hour of torpid. indifference, lightly to esteem the Rock of salvation. If, therefore, we forsake his law, and walk not in his judgments ; if we break his statutes, and keep not his commandments ;'
it may reasonably be expected that he will “visit our transgression with the rod, and our iniquity with stripes that we shall know and see it is an evil thing and bitter to forsake the Lord God, in whose favour there is life, and whose loving kindness is better than life.' .
But, supposing there were in the christian's conduct no deviation from the path of rectitude ; that, in duty, the eye were always single; that the honour of God were kept constantly in view, and that his prospects of interest in divine favour were never clouded; yet must he expect to meet with many things to try his faith and interrupt his quiet. Is it probable that a sinner, recently delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son, should not meet with temptations and assaults in consequence of allegiance to his new Sovereign? Can it be reasonably imagined that a man devoted to sensuality—who sought all his happiness in gratifying the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; who perhaps was uncommonly assiduous to involve all his com
panions in the same guilt, and was himself always foremost in the paths of death: is it imaginable, I ask, that such a man should relinquish his criminal pursuits, abandon the society of those whom he had perhaps ruined, or rendered vicious by his example and his counsel, and not meet with contempt, with ridi.cule or with slander? His associates in wickedness will not fail to mark the alteration of his conversation and his conduct ; but as they have no perception of the principles by which he is actuated, they will attribute both to im. proper motives—to pharisaical pride or sancti. monious ostentation. His deportment will be
construed into a tacit reprehension of their - sinful practices; and, when contrasted with what he himself once was, denominated hypocritical or enthusiastick.
Now, if this be the case between man and man, what may not the christian expect from the implacable malignity of Satan? He has lost a subject that was once vigilant and active: his government is renounced. Implicit subjection to his authority is no longer practicable.
He is treated as a vile usurper, and all compli. ance with his suggestions considered as actual rebellion against God. This indefatigable adversary of man, walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour: and though he be convinced of never having yet been able to destroy one of the subjects of Christ's kingdom, yet such is the inveteracy of his malice, that he continually labours to subvert their allegiance, to betray them into sin, and ever afterwards to harass them with guilt.
That afflictions are not in themselves joy. ous, but grievous, will on all hands be readily allowed: but that to man, in the present life, they have a salutary tendency, is a truth which may not, perhaps, be received with the same implicit credit. We are told, however, by one who was no stranger to calamity, that the great Parent of the universe doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. In the day of prosperity we are commanded to be joyful, but in the day of adversity to consider. These are hours in which we may reflect on the past, and contemplate the future with ad.
vantage: in which we may find leisure to recollect how the mind was imperceptibly drawn from the paths of virtue-to trace the gradual progress of vice-to remember with what compunction the bonds of duty were first broken ; how that compunction was insensibly diminished by a repetition of the same sins, till at length these sins, and perhaps, others more atrocious, were frequently committed without remorse, and without shame.
Were the mind thus occupied in seasons of distress, we should have some faint discoveries of the malignant nature of moral evil, as well as of the degree of our own guilt; and instead of murmuring at the hand by which we were stopped in the career of vice, perceive abandant cause to be astonished at the long suffering and forbearance of God! Each delinquent would have reason to exclaim ;. ' it is of the Lord's mercies that I am not consumed-Lord, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great.' And were these, or similar expressions, the genuine language of the heart, no abstruse reasoning would be needful to prove that the soul is in a