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What the Apostle Paul declared of himself, and the faithful in his day, all the faithful find, in their experience every day. We wrestle not (says he) against flesh and blood only but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness, in high places.
And what a conflict must he have to maintain, and what fainting of the soul will such a state induce, who hath an enemy so subtle, so powerful, and so full of malignity, to contend. with, and whose approaches, are for the most part, all secret and unperceived ?
These general outlines of the subjeet, are in themselves sufficient to explain the cause of the faintness, of the life of grace in the soul : and why it is that the believer hath so much reason, to go softly all his days. And indeed, the most superficial view of the case, is in itself enough to demonstrate, that unless suitable, and seasonable supplies of grace, were continually granted him from above; totally impossible would it be for him, to resist such a legion of foes a single hour.
But perhaps it will be taking a more effectual method, to illustrate and explain the doctrine,
if from a general observation of the subject, we were to examine, some more particular instances of it.
Suffer me therefore to enter into your experiences concerning these things, and in one, or two of the more striking testimonies of them, which may serve as examples for the rest, shew you, what I know must be the exercises, of every truly regenerated heart, in the faintness of which the text speaks, induced in the struggles of grace with corruption.
All sin, is in its very nature, a source, of sorrow; and for which, we are told, that the whole creation, groaneth, and travaileth, in pain together. But in the believer, it is attended, with peculiar aggravations. Hence David, reeking under the galling effects, in the mind of fresh contracted guilt, dwelt upon this, as the most painful
circumstance A a 20 circumstance of it; Against thee, thee only (say's he repeating the word) have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight. As if, conscious that sin, in all its multiform appearances, became, as it really is, directly levelled against God. And what were the workings, and faintings, of David's heart, upon those occasions, we learn from his many penitential expressions. Innumerable evils (says he) have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head; therefore my heart faileth me.
And elsewhere, he speaks of his transgressions, as having gone over his head, and having become a sore burden too heavy indeed for him to bear.
These are very strong terms, to denote the depression of soul. When sins, and the grossest of all sins, even sins against covenant-mercies, and against a Covenant-God surround the believer, and they encompass him, as a band of armed men, on every side; when they take hold of a man, as the arm of justice seizes, the self condemned criminal, by the shoulder; when a sense of their number, adds to his terror, being more than the hairs of the head, and a sense of their magnitude, swells the sad account, being greater than the heaviest burden, too heavy to be
born: born: when the whole force is accumulated together, and the soul can neither look within, but with apprehension; nor look up, with any hope: who but must faint, and drag on heavily in the path of grace, and mourning as he goeth, as one did of old, crying out; O wretched mån that I am who shall deliver me from the body of this death !
these, and similar situations, well known to the faithful; who but must faint, and tire, along the heavenly road, when causes so many, and distressing to the soul, conspire to induce it?
And have you not found my Brother, (for I speak to the man that is no stranger to those heart-exercises) have you not found, that Satan hath availed himself of those dark seasons, to . harrass the soul with his temptations ?
What the Psalmist hath said, of the natural world, may with equal truth, be applied to the spiritual. Thou makest darkness (says he) and it is night, wherein all the beasts of the forest creep forth. For when God withdraws his shining on the soul, and darkness is induced over the mind, the enemy creeps forth from his den, and adds to the gloom tenfold darkness, by his suggestions.
Hath the temptation, never arisen in your mind, during such seasons, and while you have been deeply wounded, by reason of some fresh contracted guilt, or the supposed absence of the God of your hope; have you not been prompted to fear, that all your former prospects, were a delusion ? that the voice of Jesus you never had known, neither had you any part or lot, in this