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religion, which I had at one time; and, therefore, I have neither heart nor motive to be very edvotional in my closet, or very exemplary in my family, or very liberal to the cause of God, or very much attached to the means of grace ? I was all this, whilst my comfort lasted : but, as that is gone, it would be a kind of hypocrisy on my part now, were I to do all that I used to * do, just as if nothing had happened to discourage or disconcert me. I know very well, that I am not doing right at present : but I know too, that I am quite willing to return to my ' first love, and to my 'first works' too, whenever God returns my first hopes to me. He has only to shine and smile upon my soul as in the days of old, in order to my becoming again all that I was in the days of old. This, I am waiting for; and I hope it will come in course of time. Accordingly, I do not go altogether out of the way of meeting with it.
I do not pray much in secret, certainly: but I still keep under a faithful ministry, and keep up my connexion with the church and sacraments of Christ. This, indeed, is my chief reason for hoping at all : for if God do not meet with my soul again there, I am not likely to find Him again at home. I have no heart to seek Him at home now : but, could I only get such another strong impulse in the sanctuary, as that which first sent me to my closet and my Bible, I make no doubt but I should go on again as well as ever. And, is not this new impulse likely to come ? Surely, my soul will not be required' of me, whilst it is in this unprepared state, nor before God has healed my backsliding! If it should be required of me this night'-or this yearwhat ?"
What would you say to a case like this? Sheshbazzar would have said at once, and that in his most solemn and tender manner, “Take the sinner's hope : for as a backsliding child, no line of the 'scarlet thread' of Adoption will save you, like Rahab, now that the Ark of the Covenant is sounding its Rams' horns around
walls." I say, in plainer terms, “• The hope set before you in the Gospel,' may well suffice
It would ill become you to stand out or stipulate with God for your
first joy. He deserves your
• first love, and your ‘first works' too, for the hope still before you in the Gospel. And it is this, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. This is hope enough to make any one happy, who believes it : yes, and holy too: for what could bind you to follow holiness, if the assuring promise of salvation, from the lips of a God who cannot lie, do not ?
“Do you dislike to have your hope of salvation thus thrown upon the eventual answer of
earnest prayer ? If so, you are not humble enough yet, to welcome salvation by grace alone. You will, however, be glad to do so, when you know yourself more intimately." Thus I should address such a woman, who was still “professing godliness," and yet unwilling to take up hope by prayer.
Look now at another case. There is a woman, not worldly-minded ; not exactly averse to devotion or diligence; and not at all wishing for any assurance of hope or faith, which would be a pillow to sloth or inconsistency. But she has lost all her hope ; as she calls her first enjoyment at the cross and the mercyseat. She can neither glow nor melt, think nor feel, there, as she once did : and just because she cannot, she says, that she cannot see one ray of hope for herself. The fact is, she means by a ray of hope, a beam, if not a burst, of that joy which shone upon her soul, when
she was first enabled to commit her soul into the hands of Christ : or she wants a degree of hope which would put down at once all the plagues of her heart: and keep out all temptation and vain thoughts; and make all duty delight, and all trials easy. She says, indeed, that she would be thankful for a single and the slightest ray of hope. But, tell her that God is sure to answer her
mercy; and that, although a fixed day-star of hope does not cheer her. It is not that form of hope which cheered her formerly. It does not warm or melt her heart at a glance, as her first believing views of the Lamb slain did. She is also too agitated, or too depressed, to grasp with her understanding, the sublime fact, that God's command, “ Call on Me,” is God's command to hope in him.
He means, “Hope,” when He says, “ Pray;" He means, “ Pray,” whenever he says, "Hope." But the very simplicity of