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of hope, as many. If God be the object of your affection, if sin be the cause of your grief, if it be sin that makes you so wretched and miserable from day to day; if it be deliverance from this for which you are perpetually groaning, if it be this, against which you are struggling, that causes the painful conflict, that fills your mind with such distress, then there is hope. Yes, reader, these desires are not implanted in your heart by nature, but by grace. And God works not upon the mind of them who are seeking him, to tantalize and disappoint them. You often think, perhaps, that you are a hypocrite; but the hypocrite knows nothing of holy sorrow. He is a stranger to spi. ritual distress. He discovers no anxious fears about his state. He never weeps for his sins; but your rest is disturbed by night, your peace by day : your are ready to droop and die; your heart is almost broken with grief, on account of transgression; and shall you be lost? No! He says to the vine that has but a single cluster, " Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it.” Go on, therefore. It may be a day of small things with you. You shall increase. The oak was once an acorn, the gigantic stature was once an infant, and things great and permanent often rise from small beginnings. Despond not, therefore: the God of all mercy and grace will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoaking flax.
Remembrance of past Experience.
IT was an injunction which the apostle Paul gave to the Hebrews, to call to remembrance former days. Heb. x. 34. The christian is not only called to look forward, and anticipate what is to come, but he is to take a retrospective view of what is past. There is indeed, a looking back which is blameable ; such was the case of Lot's wife : but there is a looking back which is commendable, and this belongs to every christian. “ Thou shalt remember,” said Jehovah to the Israelites, “ all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee; to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna (which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know,) that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.” Deut. viii. 2. Past experience, therefore, must be reflected on, and the advantages of it will be every way great. Sometimes it will afford instruction, at other times humiliation, and frequently consolation. " I will remember," said the psalmist, “ the years of the right hand of the Most High. I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember thy wonders of old. O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore I will re.
member thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites from the hill Mizar.” Ps. xlii. 7. lxxvii. 10, 11.
But, to proceed, let us enquire what it is that the christian has to call to mind. And, first, we may observe, that he calls to remembrance his former ignorance, and the means by which he was brought out of darkness into God's marvellous light." Hearken unto me,” saith the Lord, " ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord, look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.” Is. li. l. It is good to recollect what we once were. “And you,” saith the apostle to the Ephesians, “ hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. Wherein, in time past, ye walked according to the course of this world ; according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of dis. obedience. Among whom, also, we all had our conversation in times past, in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” Eph. ii. 1, 2. " We ourselves, also,” saith the apostle again to Titus, “ were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hạting one another.” Tit. iii. 4. Well the christian remembers the ignorance of his mind, the enmity of his heart, the strength of his prejudices, and the violence of his opposition against every' thing serious and good. Religion had no charms for him: the sanctuary of the Lord was forsaken, the bible neglected, the sabbath profaned, and the ministers and people of
Remembrance of past Experience. .. God despised. He saw no beauty in holiness, he felt no attachment to truth, he discovered no excellencies in the Redeemer, and, in a word, possessed not the least concern about his immortal soul. He broke through every restraint, and pushed forward through every difficulty, to gratify his corrupt passions. Deaf to the calls of Providence, the expostulations of the righteous, the voice of conscience, and the solemn commands of God's sacred word, he ran with willing feet the road that leads to misery and woe. To this dark and awful period of his life the christian looks back with trembling. He beholds with hor. ror the dreadful precipice on which he stood. He meditates with concern the imminent danger to which he was exposed. He laments before God that so much of his time should have been lost, his powers misemployed, and his soul dead to God, and the enjoyment of his favour. But, above all, he wonders at the patience and forbearance of God." Why,” saith he, “ was I permitted to live? why not made a monument of vindictive justice, and suffered to sink into eternal despair? Why didst thou not cut me off as a cumberer of the ground, drive me out of light into darkness, and chase me out of the world ? Or why might I not have been left in a state of sin and wrath, to have filled up the measure of mine iniquity, to have continued, like others, in rebellion against thce ?
• Why was I made to hear thy voice,
And enter while there's room,
And rather starve than come?"
When he considers the evil from which he has been delivered, the happy state to which he is brought, the danger in which he was involved, and the consequent blessings that arise from the change, he cannot forget even the instruments that were employed. Ah! how he loves the very spot where he first heard the glad tidings of salvation? How he venerates the character whom God honoured as the mean of his conversion ! Well, perhaps, he recollects the words that darted into his soul, and, like a sharp two-edged sword, pierced even to the dividing asunder, as the apostle says, soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and was a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Heb. iv. 12. Or, perhaps, it was some conversation with a friend, some singular providence, some unexpected event, that was commissioned and sanctified for the hap. py purpose. A death in the family, a change in connexions, a heavy loss, a removal from one situation to another, was, perhaps, the mean of his first coming to think seriously about his state. He can never forget the place where, the circumstance how, the time when, or the instrument by whom, he was brought to see himself as a miserable sinner, and that Christ alone could be his Saviour. He blesses his God a thousand times that he was plucked as a brand from the burning; he admires the wonders of his providence as to the way in which he was led to attend to divine things; and rejoices, abundantly rejoices, in the remembrance of that all-powerful grace that opened his eyes, broke the fetters by which he was bound, and brought him into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.