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« there is not a single syllable said of the Spirit's 66 work, in the great and essential points of « faith and repentance, and the renewed life. “ But the whole account is confined to the “ common operations of nature, as distin“ guished from grace; in which natural men “ frequently excel; and sometimes indeed to “ such a degree, as to surpass in head-know“ ledge children of grace. And God the Holy “ Ghost is pleased to work by their instrumen“ tality, while they themselves remain uncon" scious of His power. He blesses His people 6 by thein; but they feel not His power in 6 them. For rather than His household shall “ want supply, He will feed them even from “ the table of their enemies. They become “ therefore like channels of conveyance, which “ conduct to others, but retain nothing them-. “ selves : or like the direction-post on the road, “ which point the traveller to the right path, " but never stir themselves a step towards it. “ These things may be done, and perhaps very “ often are done, by men perfectly strangers to “ vital godliness. And therefore when they “ cease to appear in their assumed character, " they are said by the world to have fallen away ¢ from grace; whereas the fact is, they never
65 were in grace. Every thing in such persons :“ is derived from natural causes, is supported
“ by natural means, and adopted for natural s purposes ; and thus beginning in nature, they ”S end in the same. And if a proper attention I was paid to these things, to discriminate be
66 by nature and thus begit a proper a
etween nature and grace, it would, under the “ Divine blessing; very much tend to diminish “ the apprehensions of the humble and fearful ** believer, respecting the danger of aposta“ tizing from the faith."
* But is there not a difficulty (I said) to the o cordial reception of this doctrine, in the cases ~ of those unhappy persons, who die by their “ own hands, and, as is generally supposed, “ from the effects of religious melancholy ?"
“Not the smallest (replied my friend) by " those who consider the subject in a proper « point of view. It is the grossest mistake to “ ascribe such instances of suicide, to a re“ ligious melancholy, when in fact they are « induced altogether from the total want of " religion."
• “ Men, from the awakenings of conscience, " and from the dread of divine displeasure in
the recollection of a miş-spent life, may be 6 driven to despair, and if there be no grace “ given to them of God, to make application of " the sweet promises of the gospel in the hour " of temptation, but left to themselves, may * be prompted to do an act at which nature * shudders ! But who would presume, but a * fool, to put this down to the score of religion, “ when every circumstance tends but to prove “ the very reverse, in the total want of all re“ ligion. Let us only suppose a case in point, " which is enough at once to answer all the “ childish observations which the world hath 's made on a subject of this nature, Let us
L . .
“ suppose, a man, under the immediate près“ sure and alarms of a guilty conscience, in the s prospect of the wrath to come, feels the “ rising temptation to make away with him“ self. Let us suppose further, that in this “ distressed state of mind, some precious reve“ lation and promise of the Gospel is, through “ Divine grace, revealed to his heart; that he • hears and believeth what that Gospel gra6 ciously proclaims, – that though his sins are “ as the scarlet, they shall be made white as “ snow ; though red as the crimson, they shall “ be as the wool; that the blood of Jesus “ CHRIST cleanseth from all sin : is it not " evident, that if the mind of such a man is, “ brought to believe in this precious promise, “ there can be no despair, and consequently “ there can be no self-murder? And will “ prejudice itself, even the grossest prejudice, , “ venture to say, or even believe, that a single « instance of suicide was ever committed under 6 such circumstances ? olanCCU .
, : “ Hence, therefore, you see, my brother, " (continued my friend) that it is not faith, s but the want of faith; not from religion, but “ from the total absence of religion, that a “ melancholy pervades the mind, which some“ times terminates so fatally as in that of self- . “ destruction."
. I was about to reply, when the voice of
« And triumph in my God :
“ His glorious grace abroad."
My friend whispered in my ear, “Do you i' 66 recollect what the prophet predicted of the 65 last Gospel days; In that day shall there “ be upon the belis of the horses, HOLINESS 66 UNTO THE LORD! * Such shall be the 6 gracious prelude to that day, when there 56 shall be no more the Canaanite in the land, 6 that the highway and the way of holiness
“ shall be so plain, that the wayfaring men, “ though fools, shall not err therein." . The farmer still sung;
“He rais’d me from the depths of sin,
“ The gates of gaping hell ; : : " And fix'd my standing more secure
..“ Than 'twas before I fell.” « Is not this strange doctrine” (I cried to my friend) ?>" Ask him yourself (he said) ; “ for if he sings with the spirit and with the " understanding also, he can explain.” . “Are you not inistaken, honest man, (I said) “ in what you are singing ?” “Oh, no, sir, “ (he immediately answered); He that raised “ me from sin, preserves me now from falling ;
“ The arms of everlasting love i
“ Beneath my soul He plac'd ; " And on thc Rock of Ages set
“My slipping footsteps fast, “ The city of my bless'd abode
Is wallid about with grace ;-
: “ To shield the sacred place.
“ And all his legions roar;
: “ And bounds his raging pow'r." “ Does this seem strange to you, sir?" (continued the 'countryman). “Surely, you « ought to know better than I : but for my “ part, I thank God, I know enough to know, “ that they are safer that are kept by grace, “ than they who never fell. The angels, who «kept not their first estate, fell from having
. f Isaiah XXXV 8. :