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God, and joint-heirs with Christ. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord1.
1 Rom. viii. 14. 38.
THE HOLY SPIRIT, A COMFORTER, AND AN
THE Christian, who has been accustomed to observe the workings of his heart, well knows, that there are times, in which his views of a better world are greatly darkened and obscured. He is deprived of that comfortable reliance on the fatherly goodness of God, which once constituted his greatest joy and his highest privilege. His love toward his Saviour appears to be strangely diminished: and, instead of that fervent affection which once he experienced, he feels nothing but a cold and painful indifference. He sees others, rejoicing in the paths of holiness, and full of that peace which passeth all understanding; while his better prospects are fearfully clouded, and a deep gloom overhangs his dejected spirits. Scripture, instead of offering him
consolation, presents only a menacing aspect: and he dwells, with an oppressive melancholy, upon those passages, which contain the severe denunciations of an offended God against hardened and impenitent sinners. Ordinances, that once seemed to bring all heaven upon his ear, now delight no more: and, though he sedulously frequents them, he appears to himself to have as it were, no interest in them. The precious dew of God's Holy Spirit descends upon all around him: while he alone, like Gideon's fleece, remains unaltered. Public and private devotion are equally inefficacious: and even the social conversation of a dear and religious friend no longer produces its wonted effect. Weary of himself and sick of the world, bewailing the deadness of his own heart and mourning for the loss of those better days which once he knew, he is ready to exclaim: O that I had wings like a dove, for then would I flee away and be at rest 1.
1 In spiritual trials that are the sharpest and most fiery of all; when the furnace is within a man; when God doth not
Such appears frequently to have been the case with that favoured servant of God, the holy Psalmist of Israel.
O Lord, says he, rebuke me not in thy wrath, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore. There is no soundness in my flesh, because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones, because of my sin. For mine iniquities are gone over mine head; as a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me. am troubled, I am bowed down greatly, I mourning all the day long. I am feeble and sore broken; I have roared by reason of the
only shut up his loving kindness from its feeling, but seems to shut it up in hot displeasure; when he writes bitter things against it yet then, to depend upon him and wait for his salvation, this is not only a true, but a strong, and very re. fined faith indeed; and, the more he smites, the more to cleave to him. Well might he say; When I am tried, I shall come forth as gold. Who could say that word; Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him? though I saw, as it were, his hand lifted up to destroy me, yet from that same hand would I expect salvation. Abp. Leighton's Comment. on 1 Pet. i. 7. vol. i. P. 84.
disquietness of my heart. Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee. My heart panteth, my strength faileth me; as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me1.
In another psalm he exclaims: My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with the multitude that kept holy-day. Notwithstanding this use of outward means, the heart of the prophet could still find no comfort. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted withQ in me? Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of the water-spouts; all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. In this melancholy situation, David looks up for help to him, from whom alone help can come. O my soul, hope thou in God; for I will yet praise him,
1 Psalm xxxviii.