Imágenes de página



of a creature, (especially a guilty and depraved creature,) with the glorious and holy God. Yet we are exhorted to "come boldly to the throne of grace:"1 and the scriptures continually speak of our "walking with God," " leaning on him," "lifting up "our souls to him," " and pouring out our hearts "before him :" and of his delighting in the prayers "of the upright." He encourages us to cast all 66 our care on him, and to roll our burden on the "LORD, and he will sustain us." These and numerous other passages, imply, that our gracious Father, glorious and holy as he is beyond all conception, admits true christians to a very intimate intercourse and communion with him. "Because ye are sons, "God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father." "The spirit "of adoption," includes filial confidence, as well as filial submission, reverence, love, and gratitude. We are also encouraged, by our blessed Saviour, in the strongest language, to be importunate,3 in our prayers; and to " pray always and not faint."Jacob, wrestling with God, and saying, "I will not "let thee go, except thou bless me," prevailed, and was specially honoured. "Thy name shall no more



be called Jacob, but Israel; for as a prince hast "thou power with God and with man, and hast "prevailed.""

P. lxxy. 1. 1. The dangers, &c." Whether Cal

3 Araidas. Importunity.

Heb. iv. 16. 2 Gal. iv. 6, Luke xi. 8, 4 Gen. xxxii. 24-28.

5 "

The dangers of wild fanaticism, listless indolence, danger. ous security, or agonizing despondence,'

vinists, or the evangelical clergy, be better employed than other professed christians and ministers, may be a proper subject of enquiry: but certainly, as a body, they shew few symptoms of ' listless indolence.' Whatever may be their motives, or the object at which they aim; they in general manifest earnestness, and activity, in the concerns of religion. The ministers, of this company, preach more frequently, more earnestly, and longer sermons, in general, than others do: their congregations are commonly more numerous, than those of their opponents; and their decided adherents spend much more time, at least in the publick services of religion, than is customary to men in general. The ministers especially are instant in season, and out of season." They "teach publickly and from house to house.' And in doing this; often beyond, what they are required to do by their superiors, or are in any way remunerated for by man; they give great umbrage to numbers; and, as one said of Bishop Burnett, set ' an ill-natured example;' that is, they do so much as to shame those, who "will not shut the doors "for nought." Zeal, and earnestness, and activity, whether properly directed or no, must be predicated of them as a body, whatever may be the conduct of some individuals: and listless indolence' is not their general characteristick; even their enemies themselves being judges.

[ocr errors]

* Euxcipus, axaipws, on favourable and unfavourable seasons. 2 Tim. iv. 4. 2 Acts xx. 20. 3 Mal. i. 10.




Agonizing despondence. Numbers dream terrie ble things about us, in this respect.. It might indeed excite our smile; did it not induce prejudices in the minds of many, not only against some of our tenets, but against a life of devotedness to God, which calls forth the tear of commiseration. But would those, who are so greatly disquieted by the idea of our being gloomy and melancholy, and exposed to agonizing despondence, come near enough to observe; they would find, that, in general, "the ❝ voice of joy and thanksgiving is in our dwellings;" and cheerfulness an inmate in our families, and a constant guest at our social meetings.

Undoubtedly, there are among both Calvinists, and Anticalvinists, individuals, of a melancholy constitution and turn of mind; and this morbid state of body and soul, may take occasion from their religious tenets, to prevail more than it otherwise might do. When a man, whatever were his previous creed, is brought to view himself as a sinner, exposed to condemnation; when all his former pleas are silenced, and all his former confidences fail him: when, with the jailor, he "trembles and cries out, "What must I do to be saved?" till this question is answered to his satisfaction; till he is enabled to find peace and joy in believing;" he must experience a degree of alarm and distress. While he reviews his life past, and bemoans his numberless and heinous transgressions, perhaps fearing lest they

should be too great and too many to be forgiven; lest he should have committed the unpardonable sin; lest it should now be too late to seek that salvation, which he has long despised; or, on some account, he should be excluded from mercy, and left to perish for ever: it cannot be wonderful, if his godly sorrow be mingled with that "fear which hath "torment." The more distinct and realizing his views are of eternity, of eternal happiness, or eternal misery, the awful alternative before him! the greater must be his solicitude, according to the unalterable laws of our rational nature: and when, through temptation, misapprehension, or unbelief, his fears predominate; the distress may verge towards despondency. In this state of mind, if by any means the subject of the divine decrees, which he cannot be supposed to understand, come before his mind; it will probably, for a time, augment his discouragement. But of all, with whom I have, during a long course of years, conversed, under distress about their souls; I have scarcely known any, who did not, after a short time, either revert to their former state of carnal security; or, having "sown in tears,

did not reap in joy," and attain to permanent peace and prevailing hope. The transition from alarm and distress, to joy and confidence, in the convertson the day of Pentecost, and in the case of the jailor at Philippi, was indeed more sudden, than is now generally observed, or would be approved by numbers: but it was of the same nature.

1 John iv. 18.

. As this statement accords to the narratives of scripture; it is also coincident with the general experience of mankind, in things temporal. The near prospect of ruin, in a man's circumstances, of which he was not before-aware; or of death, from some disease, which he had not supposed to be dangerous; will necessarily excite alarm, and often cause great dejection. So long as doubt prevails, whether any refuge or remedy can be found; and while the evil. seems irreparable, the case hopeless, and the impending misery intolerable; dejection will increase. Many circumstances, apparently trivial, or indee foreign to the main concern, may, from the present state of the sufferer's mind, enhance his anguish : and it need not be said, what the dreadful termina» tion of this "worldly sorrow which worketh death," very frequently is. On the contrary, when unexpected deliverance dawns on the mind, it inspires hope, yet uncertainty prolongs anxiety: "hope de



ferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire "cometh it is a tree of life." And when the deliverance, connected with many agreeable circumstances, is obtained, the joy, and exultation, will bear some proportion to the preceding dismay and dejection.

If it be thus in temporal concerns, why should it not be so with the things, which are eternal, if we do indeed believe them? Except the promises and threatenings of scripture be either forgotten, or disbelieved; how can we be indifferent about obtaining

Prov. xiii. 12.

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »