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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 heathe 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 dis. pensations 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
of the agony of guilt, it is nevertheless your duty to be thankful: as the mercy hereafter to be enjoyed will not be lessened by the pain that precedes it.
Your imagining that no permanent good can arise from the incident which first led you to contemplate your conduct and your character, merely because trivial in itself, and no way connected with the glory of God or the happiness of man, is a conclusion derogatory to infinite wisdom, and implicitly limits the Holy One of Israel. The Almighty is never at a loss for means to accomplish his own designs. He can overrule, for this purpose, those that are apparently the most trifling, or, in reality, the most atrocious. “His thoughts are not our thoughts ; nor our ways his ways. : For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are his ways higher than our ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts.'
Little did Zaccheus think that his ardent curiosity to see Jesus, was in order to exalt the riches of grace in pardoning one who was, though little in stature, the greatest of sin. ners; much less that, on the same day, he was to become as conspicuous for restitution and benevolence as he had formerly been for extortion and oppression. Saul of Tarsus never imagined that his diabolical errand to Damas-cus would be the occasion of his boldly preaching the faith he purposely went to destroy. Nor the thief, when perpetrating the detestable crime for which he suffered on a gibbet, that he was to expire in such circumstances and in such company; or that he was then committing an act for which he was afterwards to be exhibited as a spectacle to angels and to men; that both might have incontestable proof, that he whom the selfrighteous Pharisees despised and rejected, was, in the last agonies of death, what he always professed to be in his life-the Saviour of sinners!
That state of darkness and of distress which you think peculiar to yourself, is common to every penitent when a sense of interest in divine forgiveness is withheld. Few persons
are led to dispute either the freeness or the all sufficiency of the grace manifested in the gospel for the pardon of sin: painful concern, in reference to this subject, generally arises from a fear of their having no right to partake of the distinguishing blessing. When this is the case, guilt holds the soul in bondage; unbelief obscures the first glimmerings of hope ; and it is precipitately concluded, that there is no ground on which to expect forgiveness. But, with regard to yourself, why this despondency? doubt neither the suffici. enčy nor the freeness of grace. That God who hath awakened and wounded the sleeping conscience, hath also directed to a physician acquainted with both the disease and theremedy; and who is not only able, but willing to present you faultless before the presence of his father with exceeding joy.
Why, then, do you judge it 'rather your duty to mourn than to believe; to feel the bitterness of sin, than to taste the sweetness of a promise; and to put away comfort lest it should check the overflowings of sorrow?'