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You cannot lay your hand upon your heart, look God in the face, and say that you are one of those stony-ground hearers. No, I know you dare not. Your profession did not begin by being drawn by love, nor did you immediately spring up into joy. No; the Lord first came near to you in judgment, setting your sins in order before you, and in the light of bis countenance; he exercised, tried, and disciplined you, by teaching you out of his law. You were suffered long to labour and travail; were burdened; in bondage and misery; endured much hunger and thirst; passed through much buffetting, both of men and devils; he searched your heart, and tried your reins; humbled you under his mighty hand; and brought you, after long labour, as a poor, naked, cursed, and perishing sinner, to Christ, and then granted you a free pardon, a feeling sense of his everlasting love to you in him, godly sorrow and repentance unto life; and the joy that you felt spring from pardoning love, operating in your heart, humbled you in self-loathing, and exalted Christ far above all blessing and praise. But, alas, sir! the joy of the stony-ground hearer was only from his natural and corrupt passions being moved; his joy lifted him up in pride and selfconceit, which never was the fruit of God's love to him: and this joy, having no root in God's everlasting love, it finally withered away. But the joy that springs up in the soul, under the experience of the pardoning love of God, shall never
finally wither: everlasting love is the root of it; wherefore, though it may often be damped, and wither for a time, through the temptations of Satan, the working of inbred corruption, the hiding of the Lord's face, and the suspension of sensible comfort; yet, when love operates, or is enjoyed again, then this joy springs up afresh, for it is a fruit of the Spirit, both the root and the branch. Love is the root that the stony-ground hea lacked: “ Be ye rooted and grounded in love." And this root is kept from dying in us, or finally withering away, because God's everlasting love is the fountain of it; and because his love in Christ is everlasting to us, so our love to him can never finally fail, his being the cause of ours: “We love him because he first loved us,” i John iv. 10.
Observe the connection between love and joy in these passages :-Of love, Jerem. xxxi. 3; Rom. V. 5; and visi. 39; 2 Thess. ii. 16, 17; Eph. iii. 19; 1 John iv. 8. Of joy, 1 Peter i. 8; Isa. xxxv. 10; li. 11; and Ixi. 7; Psalm xvi. 11.
We may, and often do, lose the happy enjoy. ment of the Lord's love in us; but his love to us can never be interrupted-it is everlasting; and he loves his children just the same when they are in the furnace of affliction as when filled with joy and peace in believing; nay, a part of his love lies, and is discovered, in scourging, chastising, and rebuking of us. As a loving Father to his children, he often has occasion to use the rod : “ He that spareth his rod hateth his sop; but he
that loveth him chasteneth him betimes," Prov. xiii. 24. “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But, if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons,” Heb. xii. 6-8. But the fool's back always calls loudly for stripes before our gracious God and loving Father lays them on. I can tell well enough what the Lord is teaching you ; it is, that you may not live upon frames and feelings, nor upon sensible comforts and consolations only; but that you may be kept living upon the fulness of grace that is in Christ Jesus. While you are hugging your comforts, and living upon them, you are a true Quaker and Arminian indeed; because that is living upon a stock in hand, upon what you experience in yourself, as if there was never to be a change; whereas the Lord will make all his children be strong in the grace that is in Christ, and not in the grace that is in themselves; for their brightest enjoyments may wither in an hour; therefore the Lord will bring them to go by prayer to Christ for a daily and continual supply; and hence we have the promise of being strengthened, or renewed in the inward man, day by day, 2 Cor. iv. 16.
When your comforts have been all taken away, and the devil and corruption come in, and spring up like a flood, a few times, then you will begin
to understand the difference between the old man and the new-between that which is born of the flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit. When unbelief works, hardness of heart is felt, the lusts of the flesh begin to move, enmity and rebellion boil up, and inordinate affections crawl forth, you may perceive the old man in motion; and we shall feel him, at times, in all his members as long as we are in this world. But, when faith is in exercise, love enjoyed, contrition of heart felt, liberty experienced, our minds kept in perfect peace, stayed upon God, our thoughts in pleasing captivity to the obedience of Christ, with joy unspeakable and full of glory felt in our souls, then is the new man strengthened, or renewed; and he stands. in need of renewing, in some member or other, every day, as the old man must be mortified, and put off daily. God is about teaching you some wholesome lessons upon this ground, you may be assured; and you must be weaned from living upon comfort. Zion's breasts of consolation must only be enjoyed for a time, while we are babes. Milk, you know, is for such, but strong meat for men; and the Lord has declared that his people shall be fed with knowledge, understanding, and doctrine, (Jer. iii. 15; Isa. xxviii. 9,) as well as milk. He has now put up the breast, withdrawn his comforts and consolations; and you think some strange thing has happened unto you, as you find every corruption, the root of every sin in your heart, and the devil still alive. When you were first delivered, when the day of your espousals arrived, and you were taken down into the wine ccllar, or banquetting house, to have your fill of love, (Cant. ii. 4,) you then thought that the devil and the old inan were gone for ever, and that you should never be troubled with them any more. I know you entertained such thoughts; but I suppose now you find them still in being, don't you? “Yes, you will say, 'to my sorrow. Well, these are some of the old inhabitants of the land, that are left to try and to prove Israel, but still to do them good in their latter end. The Lord is pleased, in general, to favour us with much of his love and presence at our first deliverance; which you may call the bounty money at our first coming over to the standard: but, when this is spent or passed through, then we are called to go to war, and engage with the world, the flesh, the devil, heretics and lypocrites; and in this war we must continue Christ's faithful servants and soldiers until our life ends, as the prayer book of the church of England expresses it. When in this actual service the Lord gives us strength equal to our day; and the promise is a penny a day, which we find faithfully performed, for he affords fresh sup. plies of grace and a little reviving daily, in some way or other; indulging us with a little of the old fare which we had when in the wine cellar; and this encourages and keeps us on in the heavenly race.