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dares not act tņus. He feels and confesses his inability, but at the same time he is desirous to use those means which are most likely to obtain the Divine blessing. The grand catholicon, or universal remedy for all spiritual diseases, is faith in Christ. He is the Physician of souls; and he can, and does, kindly heal all, however miserable and wretched, who look to him for relief. While the eye of faith is fixed on his glorious person, characters, and offices, we cannot be unhappy. And if, through the power of temptation, or the prevalence of indwelling sin, we experience awful declensions of the power of godliness in our souls, there is no way of obtaining a revival but by looking again to Christ. God is determined to honor his Son Jesus. No sinner can be saved but by him. No Christian can find rest or peace but in him. If therefore we make use of the wisest means to obtain communion with God, without looking through them, and above them, to Christ, they will prove at last only snares and traps, by which we have deceived and ruined our souls. Let us beware of using them in a legal spirit, or making a Savior of them, lest, instead of leading us to God, they should lead down to hell. Jesus must be the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end of all our hopes and enjoyments. Means are only so far useful as they may assist us in looking to him. They can never be useful to us at all, without the special blessing of the Holy Spirit: With that blessing they may do wonders. I speak thus, beeause our earthly hearts are prone to stop short of Christ, and to expect comfort and rest in almost any thing. O beware of harboring in your bosom, even for a moment, any kind or degree of satisfaction, unless it be derived from Christ, and renders his blessed name more and more precious to your soul. If you are enabled to keep this caution in view, I trust that what I now write, shall not be written in vain.
To you whose case I have attempted to describe, I would, in the first place, say, Examine and inquire into the causes of your present mournful state, in order that you may pray against them. Survey your past conduct towards God. You have in former times enjoyed the comforts and pleasures arising from a sense of the Di. vine favor; but perhaps you have rested in them as if they were your God, or as if you supposed that nothing further was to be sought after; and God, to convince you of your folly, has cut down the props on which you were leaning. Perhaps your enjoyments made you, through the depravity of your nature, proud, overbearing, and censorious in your carriage towards your Christian brethren; and God has removed them, in or. der to humble you, and that his fear may eyes. You have enjoyed assistance and enlargement in spiritual duties; but probably you were not thankful for these things. They became common, and you esteemed them too lightly; and therefore God is now teaching you by painful experience to be more sensible of their value, that you may give him the honor due to his name. Or while you were thus indulged, perhaps you became too solicitous with God about some worldly good: and he has granted your request, and sent leanness into the soul. It is possible that these and other things may have combined together to introduce the languor of which you con plain; but whatever may have robbed you of your felicity, it is necessary that you
be before your should search it out, that you may be the better able to seek its removal. This examination, however, will not be likely to succeed, unless at the same time we inquire also of God. Like Job,* we must say unto God, Show me wherefore thou contendest with me. He can bring many things to our recollection which would otherwise escape us. He can throw light upon every circumstance, and easily discover the root of bitterness, which has sprung up, and troubled and defiled us.
Secondly, However cold and dull you may find yourself in secret prayer, yet persevere in it. None but those who have been tried in the ways of God, can form an idea of the numerous difficulties which the Christian meets with in drawing near to the mercy-seat.
Satan is ever at his elbow, watching for an opportunity to gain some advantage over him. When we are in a languid state, he often whispers in our ears, “It is of no use to pray now, defer it till you are in a better frame." Sometimes you find, no doubt, such sluggishness in your heart, that you can hardly persuade yourself to begin: And sometimes you are ready to think that God has shut out your prayer, because he does not appear to favor you as in times past; but be assured of this, that to omit prayer is to leave the plain path of duty, and to forsake your own mercies. If but one sentence in fifty comes in a lively manner from the heart; if you can do nothing but complain to God that you know not how to pray; if you can only prostrate yourself before him, and wish to pray; or even wish that you had a desire to pray; it is better to keep on in this manner, than not attempt to pray at all. If Satan can prevail with you to leave off there is no knowing whither he may lead you; therefore keep on: And remember, for your encouragement, what is written in the Psalms, God will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.* Remember also that grace is free, and our success depends on the intercession of Christ.
* Jeb x, 2.
Thirdly, Select such portions of God's word as are adapted to your case; and read them over and over, and make them the subjects of frequent meditation. Many professing people make a sort of lottery-book of the Bible; they open it at random, and think the first passage they cast their eyes on to be designed of God for them. But this is really tempting God. No man in his senses, who is laboring under any bodily complaint, will presume to think that the first medicine he casts his eyes on in a druggist's shop, must at all events be proper for him. And why we should presume to approach the Bible in such a manner, I know not. All the prescriptions contained in that blessed volume are intended for those who are willing to make use of them; and are suited to their various situations, and their different degrees of grace. The language of the Holy Spirit is, Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.t I take it for granted that you
have no reserve. You are willing to take God as your God; and that too upon his own plan. You wish sin to be subdued, and to have your heart devoted to God. Then freely take whatever you find in the Scripture suited to your case, and doubt not that God designed you should do so. Consider particularly the 421, 43d, 51st, 77th, 85th, 103d, 130th, and 139th Psalms; also Isaiah, chapter the 41st; Jeremiah the 31st; Micah the 7th; and Hebrews the 12th. These are mentioned as specimens only. The word of God contains a bound* Psalm cii. 17.
+ Rev. xxii. 17.
less store, which the more it is used, the more abundant satisfaction it will yield.
Fourthly, Have recourse to some prudent and experienced friend or minister for conversation and prayer. In days of old it was the custom of those who feared the Lord to speak often one to another: And the Lord hearkened, and heard it: And a book of remembrance was written before him, for them that feared the Lord and that thought upon his name. Close, serious conversation frequently proves a greater blessing than many are
I know indeed, that in the present day it is difficult to determine where we may freely unbosom ourselves. The conversation of many professors has so little of God in it, that to him who is mourning the absence of Christ it appears disgusting. But if you have a friend or minister at hand, of an affable disposition, and who lives near to God, esteem him as an invaluable treasure. Converse with him freely, and get lim to pray with and for you. He may be instrumental in discovering to you the secret windings of sin, and the operations of grace, or in rekindling in your breast earnest desires after Jesus, and closer conformity to his blessed image.
Fifthly, Set apart some extraordinary seasons for reading and prayer. The propriety of this, in times of distress, is, with respect to nations and churches, generally seen: And it is equally proper for individuals. Half a day's business, or half a night's sleep, is no sacrifice to make for this purpose. Our blessed Lord, under the pressure of spiritual concerns, continued all night in prayer to God.* It would be well if our dull
* Luke vi. 12.