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tions perished. But this is the very process, by which divine strength, is made perfect in human weakness. However low, the life of God in the soul may seem, it is not lost': though apparently dying, it is never dead.
Neither indeed is it possible. And for this plain reason. Grace is an immortal spark. And therefore what is immortal, nothing mortal can extinguish. Many waters cannot quench it: neither can the floods drown it. It is an incorruptible seed, which liveth and abideth for ever. And how shall any corruptible principle, destroy its everlasting property? It may seemingly be long buried in the earth, and no traces of it appear. But (as the Prophet beautifully speaks) it shall revive as the corn and grow as the vine. And how doth corn revive, and the vine grow? Jesus himself explains the one, and common experience manifests the other. Except (says Christ) a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die it abideth alone but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit. And as the vine groweth out of a dry ground, and in its appearance is but a dry stick, which seems to promise nothing; so the believer whose life is hid with Christ in God, is in himself always dry, and unpromising, and in Christ alone, is his fruit found.
Such in reality, is the state of every true believer. It is all in creature weakness, divine
strength is made perfect. And the more feeble the Lord's people are the more occasion it affords, for the display of his power, in supporting them. The more the wall seems to be tottering; the more doth. it manifest the strength of the prop, which bears it up. Hence the Church is described, as coming up out of the wilderness leaning upon her beloved.
Perhaps I shall more happily succeed, in explaining the truth of this doctrine, if I pursue the same method, as in the former part of my sermon, in descending from general to particular observations of it. For this will be to come home to men's bosoms, by illustrating the truth from their own experiences.
I will suppose then for argument sake, that some precious soul, before whom I am now speaking, may be, in the present moment, in such a degree of faintness, by reason of fresh contracted guilt, and transgressions and sin, as to be ready to give up all for lost, and is writing bitter things against himself.
Perhaps your offences have been attended with peculiar aggravations. You not only groan over sins of infirmity, into which, in an un
guarded hour, you have fallen, but such as you have run into, in cooler seasons, through the impulse of unrestrained affections, and the power of temptation. Your transgressions, you will tell me, are against better knowledge, against covenant-engagements, strong convictions, and great grace, and what David calls presumptuous sins, from the commission of which, he so earnestly begged God to be kept.
I will be very ready to agree with you, that such instances arising from the frequent assaults of Sin, and Satan; are enough, to bow down
the soul, and induce great heaviness of spirit. · But yet, under this aggravated state of the case,
still I contend, that when the believer is effectually called, to the Christian warfare, (and you will remember, that I am now considering the subject, on this presumption) however faint he drags on the way, he is yet pursuing.
And in confirmation of it, a more precious .. evidence cannot be desired, than what your own expérience furnisheth.
You groan being burthened. Sin is not rooted out. You see, you feel, you faint, under its baleful effects daily. In the contest, by which
the enemy harrasseth you, your spirits are enfeebled; and from his strength, and your weakness, you find yourself too often led captive by him at his will.
· But tell me my Brother, (for I appeal to the testimony of your own breast for the truth of what I say) are not these things, furnishing con, tinual sorrow, and heaviness of heart? Do you not find, your very soul, humbled to the dust before God, by reason of this state. And would you not purchase, were it possible, an exemp. tion from those remains of indwelling sin, with the price of every thing you possess? If such be your experience, certainly there must be grace yet living in the soul, to induce such desires, though like corn buried in the earth, it seems for a while lost, amidst the rubbish of corruption.
Moreover; there is another sweet distinguishing character, by which we trace evidences, that the reed though bruised, is not broken, neither the smoking flax quenched; and that is, from the sighs, which the soul sends forth, under this state of mind for deliverance. The Apostle Paul felt exactly what you feel, and spoke both your, and my experience, when he said; O wretched Man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death.
Language Language like this, cannot proceed, from that sorrow of the world which worketh death. But these are the breathings of a soul awakened, by the Holy Ghost: which feels its own corruption, which loaths itself, in its own sight, and under the deepest self abasement, and holy indignation against sin, and his own heart, is secretly leading by the Spirit to Jesus, to be delivered both from the power and guilt of it.
I defy nature, in her highest attainments, to imitate this. Nothing but grace, can lead to such things. And therefore my Brother do let me charge you, to write down these testimonies, among the memorandums of your life. For if such sweet properties, are still with you, then is that blessed promise, evidently accomplished in your experience. I will pour out (saith God) the spirit of grace and supplication ; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn, for him as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first born. *
While therefore you fear, that grace is totally withered, and every gift of the Holy Spirit dried up, as the grape apeareth on the vine; He that looketh on, and who seeth, not as man seeth; saith, no! there is wine in the cluster, destroy it
nge * Zech, 12, 10.