« AnteriorContinuar »
the person of the Lord Jesus, still more in preportion as we see our daily want of him; to long for the time to come when sin shall be rooted out; and to cause a sense of our weakness to prompt the soul to a greater dependence upon divine strength; by thus overruling all dispensations to his glory, and his people's welfare ; we see a needs-be in every dispensation, and discover the beauty and ten-, dency of that Scripture, which says, ' after that ye were illuminated, (not before, but after,) ye endured a great fight of affliction*.' In a word : however we may long for an exemption from all sin, and would purchase it, were it possible, with the price of a thousand worlds; however we may, and do, groan under this body of sin and death, which we carry about with us ; yet, while Jesus, who could, if he saw it right, deliver his tried ones, whom he hath chosen in the furnace of affliction, with a word speaking, sees it not fit; let us not despond. If your sense of sin, and unallowed infirmities, lead you to a more firm reliance upon him ; if it make his promises dearer, his faithfulness more evident, and his presence more desirable, depend upon it, by and by, your groans will be changed into songs of rejoicing, and your lan
* Heb. x. 32.
guage will be like that of the Apostle, Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.'
THERE sat a man upon my right hand in the prayer-meeting, to whom the leader of this little circle next addressed himself, in order to inquire into the Lord's gracious dealings with his soul. I hope," (said the Poor Man, calling upon him with all the freedom of one who had been long acquainted,) I hope, (said he,) that you will now be able to give us some tes-, timony of the word of his grace. I long, me. thinks, to hear from an old disciple like you, some evidence of the faithfulness of our Covenant-making, and Covenant-fulfilling God.'
• Alas!' (replied the other,) “my language must be much the same as you have often heard, I still groan under the burthen of unbelief, and know not when I shall obtain deliverance from it. It will be a long time, I fear, before I shall be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith I myself am comforted of God.' I frequently compare myself to
the unworthy spies, whom Moses sent to view the promised land ; and fear that, like them, I shall never attain the possession of it, through the same besetting sin of unbelief. If I attend the means of grace, I return, for the most part, unbenefitted, through the suggestions of this evil heart of unbelief. If I hear the word of a preached Gospel, though I know the truth as it is in Jesus, and love to sit under the sound of it; yet too often like the Israelites, it doth not profit me, not being mixed with faith. If at any time I read the Bible, and turn to those 'exceeding great and precious promises,' which belong to the Lord's people, their sweetness is lost in me, through a fear that I have no interest in them. And how many of the providences of my God, which I well know to be every one of them fraught with a sure blessing in
their final issue to his people, are perverted in • their effects on me, by the impatience and diso trust of my unbelieving heart! And can such a creature say any thing by way of encouragement to the LORD's exercised family, when he . himself is so faithless, and unbelieving?' .
I confess,' (rejoined the Poor Man,) that such a state as you describe, cannot afford much assistance to the cause of Christ. But blessed be our God, this is the Christian's char
ter, that, if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful, he cannot deny himself. Your want of faith indeed is injurious to your peace, but not to his cause. Unbelief, like a worm of the bud, cankers the bloom and fragrancy of the sweetest flowers of grace. And had our fathers of the church in the wilderness been in this frame of mind, instead of surrounding the Christian piłgrim as they now do, with such a glorious cloud or witnesses, they would have stood in the highway only, as so many pillars of salt. But let me tell you, my drooping brother, that I am too well acquainted with your real character, as well from an insight into your experience, as from my own, (long exercised as I have been by unbelief, both in times past, and even now too frequently feeling its remains;) not to know, that the very sorrow which you express, on account of the supposed want of faith, carries with it an evidence, that you must have some faith thus to complain. That your faith is not equal to your wishes, I will readily allow. For indeed, whose is? But that you differ most essentially from those that are shut up in total unbelief, is most evident. In proof of what I say, compare your situation now, with what it was in the days of your unregeneracy. You were then, not only without Christ and
without God in the world;' but absolutely un- . conscious of the want. Whereas now your most earnest desires are, that Christ might dwell in your heart by faith,' and be fully formed there the hope of glory.' If there were no faith in your heart, whence arise these desires for more? It is the preciousness of the gift „which makes you long for greater manifestations of the Giver. And it is a consciousness of the remains of unbelief, that makes you apprehensive that you have no faith at all. While, therefore, you groan under those remains, every .sigh proves that they are but remains, from which the merciful goodness of our God will in his own time deliver you. Carry your complaints to him who is both the Author and Finisher of faith' Let us copy the apostles' prayer, “Lord, increase our faith!! And depend upon it, that if our faith be but as a grain of mustard seed, however small and inconsi. derable it may be, still it is not of nature's growth, nor of nature's production. That small portion which you possess, is the gift of the same Almighty power who created the faith of Abraham. Keceive it, I entreat you, as the earnest of the promised inheritance, to the praise of His glory.'..