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and he perceives not his danger. He is little concerned either about the promises, or the terrors, of religion; and he fancies, that he cannot but be safe in the road which is trod by so many thousands besides himself.

This is generally the situation of the voluptuary; and it is more safe, because the danger is concealed? Can his condition be thought preferable to yours? God has been pleased in his mercy, to open the eyes of your understanding, and to show you the hideous gulph which yawns at your feet.

of his enmity toward you?

Can this be a sign

Surely it is rather a

mark of his loving kindness, a proof that he has not yet forgotten to be gracious. You might still have been wrapt in the sleep of spiritual insensibility; like numbers, who must daily occur to your observation: and would you be willing to exchange your situation for theirs? You will readily answer; No. Why then, let me ask, should you doubt, but that God, who has begun a good work in you, will also in his own due time accomplish it? You cannot distrust, either his power, or his love.

He is able to save even to the uttermost: and his love will never permit him to reject any afflicted sinner, that comes to him in his Son's


2. You will perhaps say: I find within myself such little evidence of my being under the guidance of the Spirit, that I dare not hope to meet with a favourable reception from God.

Consider the reason, why Christ came into the world was it to save the just, or the unjust; the angel, or the sinner? If we had never deflected from our original purity, should we have had any need of a Saviour? Guilt, not innocence, requires expiation. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. The question is not, whether you have attained to immaculate perfection; but whether you are heartily sorry for your imperfection, and labour to make greater advances in holiYour very self-condemnation shows, that you possess at least one Christian grace, that of humility: and your grief is a proof, that you have the desire to become better. Reflect then a moment: whence can this


humility and this desire have proceeded? Are they the deeds of the flesh, or the fruits of the Spirit?

3. But I fear, that these are the only fruits which I produce: I fear, that they alone are scarcely sufficient to prove, that I am in a state of grace.


Do you imagine, then, that you are to attain to the summit of Christian practice, before you have well set out upon your journey? There is a growth in holiness, as well as in the natural body: neither of them attain to their full stature suddenly: and we must be content in both cases to be children, before we are The main point is, Whether or no, you are pressing forward. If you are; however slow and even insensible your progress may be, it is a proof that the spiritual life is not extinct. Your present situation may be incomfortable; and it is wisely ordered, that it should be so. It effectually prevents you from resting satisfied with your present attainments, and it constrains you to labour more abundantly. In the mean time, remember,

for your comfort, the gracious promise of him, who spake as never man spake.

Blessed are the poor in spirit; for their's is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled1.

Thus is heaven promised as the reward of your humiliation; comfort, as the happy result of your sorrow; and the fullest satisfaction, as the end of your eager desire after a more perfect communion with God.

4. After all, it may very possibly be, that you have made a much greater progress in religion, than you yourself are conscious of. That very Christian, whom you look up to as so much your superior, may perhaps at the same time be mourning his own deficiency in those graces, which to him seem to flourish much more abundantly in your heart.

They, who are the most advanced in holiness, have always the most accurate percep

1 Matt. v. 3.


tion of sin and, consequently, they are much more sensible of their failings, than others who have had less experience of themselves. They see so much imperfection in their very best deeds, so much obstinacy even in their reformed wills, and so much corruption in their purest affections; that, while they deeply perceive the necessity of being saved solely by the merits of Christ, they are apt to think no human heart so replete with perverseness as their own. Even the laborious Apostle of the Gentiles pronounced himself less than the least of all the Apostles, unworthy of bearing the name of an Apostle and every Christian, who possesses the least degree of self-knowledge, can most feelingly exculpate him from the charge of an affected humility. They, who complacently view their own good deeds, and, while they bless themselves that they are not like other men, verily believe that they produce the fruits of the Spirit in the highest perfection, are much further removed from the kingdom of God, than the humble, self-condemning, penitent, sinner, who dares not so

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