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not only joyfully receives, but gratefully confides in the divine testimony.
If, therefore, we are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God: If faith be his gift, and no man can come to Christ except the Father draw him: If, without divine energy, we can neither over<eome our natural propensity to evil, love the divine character, nor cordially trust in revealed •mercy: If, after having tasted that the Lord is gracious, we cannot stand stedfast in the faith, unless he that began the good work perform it until the day of Christ; what need have we to implore the Father of mercies to work in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure—that he would guide us by his counsel, and afterwards receive us to glory!
Come then—a still, small whisper in your ear.
A NXIETY like yours, Lavinia, interests all the feelings of humanity, and imperceptibly raises the soft emotions of compassion. The severity of your trial strikes me with peculiar force: it resembles, in many respects, what I have formerly experienced; and if the recital of similar distress could excite encouragement, I might relate how your affectionate correspondent, and others have been exercised in the same circumstances. 'For among the various methods of consoiation to which the miseries inseparable from our present state have given occasion, one of the first comforts which one neighbour administers to another, is a relation of the like infelicity, combined with circumstancesof greater bitterness.'
But alas! what can the repetition of distress avail her whose troubles are thought to be too personal, and too great to be lessened by comparison! What! must I then be silent? No; humanity forbids the thought: the distress that I cannot remove, let me endeavour to alleviate; or rather, let me attempt to direct my amiable querist to that God who is the sinner's friend, a very present help in trouble, and who never said to the seed of Jacob—Seek ye me in vain.
Those depressions of guilt which create disquietude, are the natural consequences of sin. The soul alarmed by the stings of conscience, now perceives how detestable it is in the sight of him who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and who cannot look on iniquity but with abhorrence. A sense of deserved wrath stimulates the risings of despair, and leaves the soul without the least apparent prospect of forgiveness. Permit me, however, to remind you of those days and months in which the commission of sin was never followed by compunction; in which conscience, now replete with charges of guilt, suffered you to enjoy the pleasures of tranquillity without hinderance, though subject to the same condemnation which is now the sole ground of uneasiness. The remembrance of this tranquillity may indeed add pungency to grief already great: you will, nevertheless, lose nothing by the comparison, but find, on the contrary, that it will lead to the discovery of something adapted to relieve the mind from perplexity and sorrow.
The Almighty, who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, generally brings the soul into a state of deep disquietude on account of sin, previous to the manifestation of pardoning mercy. 'He killeth and maketh alive: he woundeth that he may heal-—he bindeth up the broken in heart. Though he cause grief, he will not cast off for ever: he will have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies—weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.'
There are, undoubtedly, many exceptions to this rule. Some persons are drawn with loving kindness, by a discovery of divine benevolence to man in the astonishing work of redemption: others experience the same goodness in a way that cannot be described, because the work of the Holy Spirit has been so gradual as to leave no traces of his first operations on the mind. In each case, however, the Lord acts as a sovereign, distributing his own favours when, and to whom he pleaseth; and as we cannot account for the various dispensations of his grace to sinners, we must rest satisfied while we gratefully rejoice in this certainty—that all are led to see the want of something to procure their acceptance with God, distinct from what is either natural or acquired, before a Saviour can be desirable: and if, to this end, it be your lot to feel much