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u there is not a single syllable said of the Spirit's ." 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-k.now"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 "by them; but they feel not His power in "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 *.* were in grace. Every thing in such persons "is derived from natural causes, is supported "by natural means, and adopted for natural f' purposes; and thus beginning in nature, they f' end in the same. And if a proper attention (' was paid to these things, to discriminate be
"tween 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" "cordial reception of this doctrine, in the cases u of those unhappy persons, who die by their "own hands, and, as1 is generally supposed, "from the effects of religious melancholy?"
"Not the smallest (repjied 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 reu ligious melancholy, .when in fact they are "induced altogether from the total want of *' teligion."
'" Men, from the awakenings of conscience, * and from the dread of divine displeasure in "the recollection of a mis-spent-life, may be "driven to despair, and if there be no grace "given to them of God, to make applicatipn 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 "made on a subject of this nature. Let us
"suppose, a many under the immediate pres"sure and alarms of a guilty conscience, in the *' prospect of the wrath to come, feels the "rising temptation to make away with him"self. Jjet us suppose further, that in this "distressed state of mind, some precious xeve"lation and promise of the Gospel is, through "Divine grace, revealed to his heart; that he "hears and believeth what that Gospel gra"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 (f instance of suicide was ever committed under
«« such circumstances ?- .
"Hence, therefore, you see, my brother, "(continued my friend) that it is not faith, '. 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 one singing attracted my attention. It was an husbandman at his labour, busily engaged in ploughing the field, and at the same time exercising his mind in strains of melody. From the solemnity of the tune, I was induced to believe that it was a psalm or hymn that he was singing. How mercifully (I thought with myself) hath the Lord provided for the laboring part of mankind; that while the hands are engaged day by day on things of the earth, the heart is unfettered^ and able, through grace, to soar among the objects of heaven I As we approached nearer, we paused, and could very plainly distinguish the words: and thus he sung,—
"Arise my soul, my joyful povv'rs,
"And triumph in my God:
"His glorious grace abroad."
My friend whispered in my ear, — " Do you "recollect what the prophet predicted of the "last Gospel days; In that 'day shall there "be upon the bells of the horses, Holiness "unto The Lord?* Such shall be the "' gracious prelude to that day, when there "shall be no more the Canaanite in the land, (' that the highway and the way of holiness "shall be so plain, that the wayfaring men, "though fools, shall not err therein," -f- —— — The farmer still sung;
* Zcch. xiv 20, 21
"He rais'd me from the depths of sin,
"The gates of gaping hell;
"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 mistaken, 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
"Beneath my soul He plac'd;
"My slipping footsteps fast.
*' The city of my bless'd abode
"Satap may vent his sharpest spite,
"And all his legions roar;
"And hounds his raging now 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
t Isaiah xxxv S.