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bruise the broken reed nor quench the smoking flax, would never have raised those wishes for a better disposition of the heart, without an intention to gratify them. Ask, and ye shall have; seek, and ye shall find; is one of those comfortable promises, with which Scripture abounds : and we cannot, we ought not to, doubt, but that the strength of Israel will accept every one without distinction, who cometh to him in his Son's name. It is even possible, that a man's heart may be sincerely attached to God, when he himself is the most ready to suspect its sincerity. Actions, not words, are the best proofs of a state of grace: and the performance of those duties, from which our natural inclinations shrink, is assuredly the very highest exertion of religious obedience. Thus, if we may argue from our intercourse with each other, we are accustomed to set a much greater value upon the friendship which will expose itself for our sake to difficulties and inconveniences, than upon that which in serving us merely gratifies its own inclinations. The road of duty is, indeed, thorny and painful to those, whose natural affections run in a different channel: but let them earnestly pray to God, to grant them strength and perseverance, to remove their heart of stone, and to give them a heart of flesh. The first of these petitions he will most assuredly listen to: and, if the second be not immediately granted, they may be certain that the refusal proceeds from wise reasons best known to himself. He may for a time be deaf to their intreaties, with a view to try their faith and to exercise their patience; to show them, what weak, miserable, helpless creatures they are without his assistance; and to train them up in the school of spiritual discomfort, in order that they may be better prepared for the everlasting rest of heaven. This dissatisfaction with the world and with themselves proceeds from God: and, however painful it may be for the present, let them recollect, that the chastisement of their heavenly Father is the result, not of hatred, but of love. The sordid worldling, and the dissipated voptuary, are strangers to that conflict between
duty and inclination, which exists in a greater or in a less degree within the bosom of every Christian. Hence it is evident, that such a struggle, provided only that duty generally prevails, is an evidence of spiritual life. The dead feel not: the living only possess the powers of action and sensation. In the mean time, till God is pleased to grant them more of that peace which passeth all understanding, let them strengthen their hearts with some such promises as the following.
For a small moment have I forsaken thee ; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord, that hath mercy on thee. Oh, thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy
windows of agates, and thy gates with carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord: and great shall be the peace of thy children. In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear : 'and from terror ; for it shall not come near thee. No weapon that is formed against thee shall
every tongue, that shall rise against thee in judgment, thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord; and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord*
* Isaiah liv. 7.
THE INFLUENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT UPON THE
Man being by nature in a state of complete darkness and ignorance so far as relates to spiritual things, the first operation of the Holy Ghost must necessarily be to remove the veil from off his heart and to enlighten his understanding. This, however, as we have already seen, is of little use, unless the affections be also reclaimed from the love of sin and converted to the love of God. The divine principle, nevertheless, may exist in the heart, even when the favoured possessor of it least suspects its presence and is almost ready to despair from his supposed deficiency in it. The striking difference between the character of these humble, dejected, self-condemning, believers, and the character of those unhappy men, who know the truth only to hate and