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most ungodly has been sanctified, and the most miserable blessed, what folly is it to retain a doubt of the riches of grace! What wickedness, thus to darken the glory of Jehovah, by making his thoughts and ways like ours, or by ascribing to him promises to whose performance he is not equal! Let all discouraging surmises alone. Believe, for God hath said it, that nothing can exclude you from the benefit of the Redeemer's death, but that which is on your own part, impenitence and unbelief. O, it is distressing to see the convinced sinner pacing dejectedly around the promises of Christ, beholding their infinite worth, desiring to share in their participation; and yet, not only not approaching a step nearer to them, but listening to the idle vagaries of a spirit distressed, and canvassing the question whether he be not an exception to a rule which is otherwise evidently universal! Ab, my dear sir, such sorrow as springs from this unbelief is only making work for deeper remorse.
It is adding reproach to the reproaches which have already fallen on the Saviour. It is nurturing a feeling as likely to be destructive to your own best interests, as it is dishonourable to him.
See, too, what a mischievous delusion is this under which you are now labouring. While you are brooding over this distress, and feeding the grief that preys upon your peace, you are disposed plaintively to ask, “ Why does God permit me to endure this sorrow?” Do you not see that the fault is your own : that it is a sorrow which “ worketh death ;" which is no part of the means of your salvation, or of your pardon? You attempt to persuade yourself that there is no hope in your behalf, while you gather all your conclusions from a mere moodiness of feeling. Is it upon this criminal state, that you anticipate the pity and compassion of Jesus?
Believe me; a heart penetrated with a sense of its past ingratitude and guilt, and looking to the Saviour for his pardoning mercy, will never be spurned from the seat whence he dispenses it. Flee instantly to the cross of redemption. The Redeemer will never spurn the penitent at the place where, incarnate, he suffered for the deliverance of his sinful creatures from sorrow and death. There resolve to stay: and if the dread of perishing ever steal over you, encourage yourself with the simple language of the poet,
« But should I die with mercy sought,
When I the king have tried,
Where ne'er a sinner died.”
But if, on the contrary, you nourish apprehensions, which the whole tenor of Scripture concurs in reproving; if, “ wearied with the greatness of your way,” you continue to murmur and repine, the guilt and all its consequences are incurred by your own personal means.
The propensity to opposite and alternate extremes.--Appre
hension of having committed the unpardonable sin. Explanation of passages supposed to refer to it.-An instance of the dangerous influence of error on this subject.
MY DEAR SIR, How unhappily are we prone to extremes, in the subjects of eternal interest! While we are unimpressed with a sense of our condition, we are not only willing to admit the extent of divine mercy, and the sufficiency of the provision for pardon, but we are even disposed to believe them ready at our beck; and, not infrequently, secretly to fancy our salvation almost necessary to the happiness of our Maker. We merge all his attributes into that fictitious quality, unconditional pity: while we consider its very times and seasons in our own hands. How easily we then overlook every perplexity which can accompany the inquirer, and imagine the space between our mere wish and its object, so short and practicable that all present anxiety is superfluous. But, how is the scene changed, when we obtain some
insight into the moral state of our own hearts ! The divine compassion, which appeared so cessible and perhaps so venal, gives place to the scrutiny and requirements of justice. Where is now the belief, which we had so covertly cherished, of a heavenly interest in our favour? Where is the persuasion, founded on we knew not what, that we were safe, whatever became of others? They have given way to a sentiment almost as strong,—that we are precluded from hope. With such facility do we make the transition from presumption to despair! Our late petty excuses for a neglect of religion, and all those miserable subterfuges to which we loved to resort, give place to new cares, arising from" mistakes concerning the character of God, or from misconstrued expressions in his holy word.
Extremes meet. Either presumption or despair may keep the sinner back from salvation; and, while it is not easy to say which of them is the more offensive in the sight of God, we know that either may be cherished without reflecting, at the time, on its moral tendency. Thus, the inquirer may see his past security in its true light; while he is sensible of no guilt in questioning, as he now does, the promises of his Maker, or in limiting the benevolence of Christ. So difficult is it to be aware of the sin which besets