WHILE we are led to acknowledge the sovereign grace of
GOD, manifested in raising to himself a people out of the ruins
of the fall; we have also the highest occasion to adore the wisdom
and goodness of the great head of the church, in forming those,
whom he has thus made the happy subjects of his grace, into
particular societies, whereby they become subservient to each
other’s welfare, and are instrumental in promoting the common cause of the dear Redeemer.
THE church of CHRIST is fitly represented by the similitude of a body. As a body is composed of different members, and each member hath not the same office; so the church of CHRIST consists of a number of persons, who are designed to answer various purposes, each of which is connected with the good of the whole.
The most settled and general part of my unbelief may appear by the following hints, viz. I cannot view Jesus Christ in that loveliness, excellency, and preeminence, as I find him set forth in the word of truth. I cannot find sufficient ability in my soul to believe in him, wholly and unfeignedly ; and how can I believe in him, without a right view of him ? Sometimes I can set him forth to others, in the words and light of Scripture, so that I believe many of the children of God have their very souls nourished and fed by what I say: and upon certain times I myself am much delighted in, and with the work ; but when I retire into myself, and consider the barrenness of my soul, my strangeness to, and alienation from God, Jesus Christ?
When the Holy Spirit has convinced a
sinner of his being in this unrighteous state,
then it becomes an important inquiry — how
can the Judge of all the earth ever look upon
and treat a sinner, as if he was a righteous
person ? To which the gospel answers direct-
ly — " God hath made Christ to be sin for us,
who knew no sin, that we might be made
the righteousness of God in him.
I do believe, from soul experience, that one of the greatest, if not the greatest burden and trial to the child of God, is the daily, hourly, minutely, momently workings of sin. The adulterous eye, the roving heart, the defiled imagination, the constant stream of iniquity polluting every word and thought, every feeling and desire, is and must be a burden to the soul, just in proportion as the fear of God lives and works in a man’s conscience.
We can have no greater evidence of a change in us from this state and condition, than a change wrought in the course of our thoughts. A relinquishment of this or that particular sin is not an evidence of a translation from this state; for, as was said, such particular sins proceed from particular lusts and temptations, and are not the immediate universal consequence of that depravation of nature which is equal in all. Such alone
are the vanity and wickedness of the thoughts and imaginations of the heart.
Where prayers are effectual, they will bring in spiritual strength. But the prayers of many seem to be very spiritual, and to express all conceivable supplies of grace, and they are persisted in with constancy, — and God forbid we should judge them to be hypocritical and wholly insincere, — yet there is a defect somewhere, which should be inquired after, for they
are not so answered as that they who pray them are strengthened with strength in their souls. There is not that spiritual thriving, that growth in grace, which might be expected to accompany such supplications.
A Continuation of the reading of The Broken Home. The following pages are committed to the Press, after no little mental conflict. The stricken deer, says Cowper, withdraws To seek a tranquil death in distant shades :and so the mourner should hide his wound beneath his mantle. But the Free-M asonry of those in sorrow would pour the balm into other hearts which the Spirit of Consolation may have given to each. From the simple desire of comforting those who mourn, this story of repeated bereavements is here told. It is proper to add, that the conversations reported in these sketches are copied verbatim from notes taken at the time. They are recited without enlargement or embellishment, that they may be the more touching from their simplicity. Long-treasured memories are now scattered upon the winds, with the prayer that they may help to bind up the brokenhearted.