From what hath been spoken it will ensue, that, if there be such a law in believers, it is doubtless their duty to find it out, to find it so to be. The more they find its power, the less they will feel its effects. It will not at all advantage a man to have an hectical distemper and not to discover it, — a fire lying secretly in his house and not to know it. So much as men find of this law in them, so much they will abhor it and themselves, and no more.
Proportionably also to their discovery of it will be their earnestness for grace, nor will it rise higher.
How shall we renew this spiritual strength? how shall we increase it? It is greatly incumbent upon us to be daily increasing our spiritual strength, to be renewing it, to be strengthening the things that are ready to die. All the losses we are at and troubles we meet with, they are all for want of well discharging this duty, because we do not take care to renew our spiritual strength. The way whereby it is to be done is by waiting upon God.
Ponder the great advantages attending the people of God in an afflicted condition. — If a low and an afflicted state in the world be really best for the church, then your dejections are not only irrational, but ungrateful.
Gradually the glow of fervent affections subsides. Worldly pursuits, even the most lawful and necessary, steal away the heart; and various perplexing entanglements beset the inexperienced traveler. He begins to see that there were many things faulty in his early course. He blames his own weakness or enthusiasm; and in avoiding one extreme he easily falls into the opposite, to which human nature has a strong bias. He enters into more company with the world and, of course, imbibes insensibly some portion of its spirit. This has a deadening effect on his pious feelings; and his devotions become less fervent and less punctual; and far more interrupted with vain, wandering thoughts, than before. He is apt to fall into a hasty or formal attendance on the daily duties of the closet, and a little matter will sometimes lead him to neglect these precious seasons of grace. A strange forgetfulness of the presence of God, and of his accountableness for every thought, word, and action, seizes upon him. Close self-examination becomes painful and, when attempted, is unsuccessful.
We may also fancy, that the spirits of just men made perfect, are now looking at those warriors which are yet on the bloody field of battle, in close combat with the enemy, and take deep interest in their safety and success. We can suppose, that they are now addressing the combatants in some such language as this: “Though your conflict be severe, it cannot be long; the God that gave us the victory over the very same enemies as you now encounter, will assuredly crown you also with victory. Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, and you shall soon arrive where we now are, praising him who brought us safely through, and crowned us with final victory.”