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the one, and escaping the other? Surely the apathy of men in general, in those infinitely important concerns, when contrasted with their eagerness about the things of time and sense ; is far more wonderful and lamentable, than the temporary, even though excessive, discouragement of a comparatively few persons. This first distress, however, is far from being universal : for considerable numbers discover the refuge nearly as soon, as they perceive their danger, or they become acquainted with their real character, state, and misery, as lost sinners, gradually; and in proportion to their increasing attention to the sacred scriptures: so that, from the time, when their thoughts are turned to religious subjects; they experience little alarm, and hope generally prevails.
But there are, in most religious companies, individuals of feeble and imaginative minds; in which ideas, that have no necessary connexion, become inseparably associated. This is often attended by a diseased state of the body: which gives the enemy of souls an advantage in harassing them with terrie fying suggestions. These persons, who are often in other respects amiable and conscientious, are uncomfortable themselves, and troublesome to their fellow-christians'; and they require peculiar patience and gentleness from their pastors. But, amidst all their fears, and doubts, and complaints, they are so far from · agonizing despondency;' that they possess a hope, which they would not exchange for the whole world: they have also their seasons of consolation; and many of them at last meet death, not only with serenity, but even with exulting joy.-In most congregations, there are also sone persons, who have just enough regard to religion, to render a worldly course of life uneasy to them. They live in a state of perpetual warfare with their own consciences, and are truly wretched; and often, when alarmed by the prospect of death, are overwhelmed with terror. Religion may be the occasion of their distresses: for if they were hardened infidels, or totally ignorant of the scriptures, they would be more secure and insensible: but their want of religion, their consciousness, that they are not true christians, is the cause of their distresses. These, associating with more zealous persons, at least frequenting the same places of worship, are frequently confounded with them.
Even true christians, if at any time they grow negligent in duty, or yield to temptation, lose their comfort, and are for a time at least, much disquieted: -and so it ought to be. But the peculiar tenets of Calvinism are very seldom much thought of, by the -conscientious part at least, of those, who are permanently disquieted in mind about their religious concerns. Not unfrequently, at first, they have many difficulties on these subjects; but, whether they accede to them or no; these tenets form no prominent part of their subsequent conversation, respecting their discouragements. Their doubts are principally about their conversion, not their election : and arise from uncertainty whether their faith be genuine and saving, or no; and not from questioning whether Christ be able and willing to save all who truly believe in him.
There is another reason, which sometimes makes zealous christians appear dejected. They firmly believe the word of God, in every part: and when they occasionally visit beloved relatives, who do not even appear to be religious; they cannot endure the thought of their being finally miserable: yet, comparing their conduct and conversation with the word of God; they are unable to exclude the mournful conviction, that they are in the broad road to destruction. Their endeavours, to convince them of this are treated as bigotry, uncharitableness, or spiritual pride. They become heartless in the attempt; and can only weep over them and pray for them. They are out of their element in the company of such persons : and while they try to appear cheerful, their hearts ach and bleed. Thus, their dejection is not on their own account; but arises from tender solicitude about those, whom they love, but cannot serve. When however they “ go
back to 66. their own company;" and have poured out their sorrows in prayer, they recover their former serenity and cheerfulness. Thus David, Jeremiah, and St. Paul, had sorrow of heart, on account of those whom they loved, but could not induce to seek and serve the Lord. 1 And even our Saviour himself wept over unbelieving and rebelling Jerusalem.”
No doubt cases may arise, in which curious and carnal persons lacking the Spirit of Christ, have before their eyes the sentence of God's predestina
| Ps. cxix. 136. Jer. ix. 1. xiji, 17. Rom. ix. 1-3.
tion,--whereby the devil does thrust them into desperation :'' but these are very rare, and it would be difficult to meet with orfe or two well attested instances of this, in the whole history of modern Calvinists.
P. lxxv. l. 13. Let those, &c.'? “ If so be ye “ have tasted, that the Lord is gracious."3 The godly consideration of-our election in Christ, is
full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort ' to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves * the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the “flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up
their mind to high and heavenly things.”-If any man should profess that he can distinguish by his feelings what sentiment, what inclination, or what resolution is from the Spirit of God, in any other way, than that described in the article; the evangelical clergy in general would consider him as an enthusiast, and as dangerously deluded. They believe, however, that all holy inclinations and resolutions, even all good desires, are from the Holy Spirit.
P. lxxv. I. 21. "I do not mean, &c.'' There is no scriptural proof, that the consolations of the Holy Spirit are communicated only on extraordinary occasions. The apostle indeed says, “ As the suf“ ferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation « also aboundeth in Christ :"1 but he does not intiinate that the comforting influence of the Holy Spirit is exclusively restricted to times of peculiar trial. - The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace:” and “ If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he " is none of his." The apostle prays for the christians at Rome in general, that “the God of
"Art. xvii. See on p. 56. Refutation.
* • Let those who think differently, point out the authority in • scripture, or in our public formularies, for saying that a man • may feel the influence of the Holy Ghost, so as to distinguish
what sentiment, what intention, what inclination, or what • resolution, is owing to that influence.'
3 1 Pet. ii. 3. 4 Art. xvii.
S'I do not mean to assert, that the' comfort and assistance of ..the Holy Spirit are never felt by truly good and pious persons,
on extraordinary occasions. This would be to contradict both • scripture and experience. It would be to deprive the Christian may be distinguished by this mark of special favour, will be ' found among those whose work, co respond with their profesisions of faith, whose affections are really set on things above, ' while they neglect no duty within their sphere of action, whose • hearts are prepared by habitual devotion for the gifts of the • Spirit, and who evince an humble sense of their own unwor
hope would fill them with all peace and joy in “ believing, that they might abound in hope by “ the power of the Holy Ghost."4 The effect of “ grieving the Holy Spirit," must be the loss, or interruption, of his comforting influences. Accord ingly, David, after his dreadful fall, when brought to deep repentance, prays,
“ Restore unto me the
of his best support and consolation under the severe trials, tempo tations, and afflictions, to which it pleases God to subject his faithful servants in this probationary world; and to check tho confidence of approaching bliss, which sometimes beams upon • his dying hours, and gives an animating lesson to the witnesses • of his death. I conceive, however, that the few persons who
thiness, and a sincere belief in the superintending providence - and controlling power of God, by a cheerful resignation to his • will, and a constant trust in his protection.' 1. 2.Cor. i. 5. 2 Gal. y. 22.
3 Rom. viii. 9. A Rom. xy. 13,