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such who, without opposition, resign themselves voluntary prisoners into their enemies' hands, as all careless and secure sinners do into the hands of sin and Satan. But when once persons come to be, in good earnest, engaged in the cause of Christ, what violent opposition do they meet with ? What dreadful temptations do they often encounter, which carry their own evidence with them, from what quarter they come? This I warn you of beforehand, that when you come to the experience, you may not be discouraged, but established in the faith of that revelation which you find experimentally true.
How frequently are Christians indeed called into this field of battle! How frequently are they assaulted with most violent and impetuous temptations, which will follow and hurry them, and sometimes foil them, notwithstanding all their good desires, godly resolutions, and most active endeavours after holiness!
What horrid blasphemous thoughts are often injected into the minds of such, which, though the greatest burthen and abhorrence of their distressed souls, yet follow and haunt them wherever they go, and whatever they do, and especially at the seasons of their nearest approaches to God! What doubting apprehensions, what subtle surprising reasonings will be darted into the minds of some, even the most established Christians, against the very being of God, and the truth of Christianity, notwithstanding their highest rational conviction, and fullest satisfaction of the truth of these great fundamentals of religion ! What horrible and amazing dispositions and affections will
seem to arise in the minds of some of the most devout and heavenly persons in the world, who, in the dreadful conflict, are sometimes made to roar by reason of the disquietness of their hearts ! What distressing darkness, dejections, and despondings will some Christians be exercised with, after clear and satisfying evidences of God's favour, against all the comforting considerations wbich can be proposed, and notwithstanding all the former manifestations of the love of God to their souls! And do not these, and such like fiery darts of the wicked one, as clearly discover the agency of Satan, as if we saw him make his attacks in a visible appearance?
I am sensible, that many of these temptations are ordinarily imputed to bodily disease ; because Satan frequently makes the fiercest attacks upon the weakest walls, where there is the greatest prospect of success. But though bodily disorder may expose us to darkness of every kind, yet what blasphemy can there be in the spleen ? How came infidelity by a lodging in the humours of the body? Or how can any disordered temperature of the body produce in the mind, contrary to the habitual bent and bias of the renewed soul, such fierce, impetuous, and irresistible blasphemies against the glorious God, and the blessed Redeemer of the world? If this be only from bodily disease, how comes it to pass, that many persons of vigorous health of body, have met with the same distressing trials? Herein, then, the truth of Christianity is confirmed by experience, when the Christian meets with the very same trials which the Scriptures forewarn bim of; and then the fierceness of the combat may not only establish him
in the faith, but strengthen his hopes of victory. He sees the divine original of the Christian institution, by the enmity and opposition of the infernal powers against it. He feels the warfare just such as the Scriptures describe; and may therefore conclude, that he has no temptation but what is common to men; and may confide in the Captain of his salvation, that he is leading him on to victory.
Thirdly, Another instance wherein the truth of Christianity is brought to be a matter of sensible experience, is the comfort, peace, and joy, of a reli
Our blessed Lord has told us, that “ his yoke is easy, and his burden light.”—Peace he leaves with his disciples; his peace he gives unto them, and this in a manner which the world cannot give. And the Apostle represents Christians as
rejoicing in Christ Jesus, without confidence in the flesh," and as having “ the love of God shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given unto them.” Now, what doubt can remain in the heart of a Christian, of the truth and faithfulness of these promises, when he feels them actually fulfilled unto him; when he sensibly feels, that Christ does not leave him comfortless, but manifests himself to him so as he doth not unto the world; and when he joyfully feels “ the Spirit of God, witnessing with his spirit that he is a child of God ?”
You may, perhaps, esteem this to be all cant and delusion, enthusiasm, or heated imagination : but is it reasonable in a man that was born blind, to conclude, that because he himself has no idea of light and colours, therefore no man ever saw the sun;
all pretences of delight, from the beautiful appearances of the creation, are mere chicanery and deceit?
I hope, Sir, you will quickly be led forward by the Spirit of God into these blessed paths of joy and peace; and then you will need no other argument to convince you of these glorious truths, than your own happy experience. Then, with surprising delight, you will be able to feel the exercise of faith in the Son of God; and to apply the gracious promise, that “ he who comes to Christ, he will in no wise cast out." Then you will feel a most humbling and soul-abasing sense of your own vileness and unworthiness; and, with sacred rapture, admire, adore, and praise, the riches of that sovereign grace by which you are plucked out of the hands of sin and infidelity, and out of the jaws of death and hell, and become “accepted in the Beloved.” Then à ray of (before unexperienced) light will break into your soul, and give you such a spiritual view of the divine perfections as you never before had, such a discovery of redeeming love as will fill you with wonder and praise. Then the world, with all its empty pageantry, will vanish out of sight; and you will be no longer emulous of the riches and grandeur of the greatest men in the world, nor of the pleasures of the most sensual epicure. Your soul will then be solaced with more pure and substantial joys, with delights more answerable to its desires, and more satisfying to its taste, than it is possible it should find from any of the vain amusements of time and
Then you will obtain such a sensible and affecting discovery of the future glory, as will put
soul upon the wing, and excite your most ardent desires after the more intimate and eternal enjoyment of that blessed hope. In a word, then "the light will shine out of darkness, and give you the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.” And if you are favoured with this delightful view, when you come to encounter the king of terrors, you will be able to stand the shock with courage, with comfort, and joy, (as I have seen many do,) from a delightful prospect of your future inheritance; and breathe out your last breath with that triumphant song, “ O death, where is thy sting ! O grave, where is thy victory !"
It is true, this is not always the happy frame of every sincere Christian. We are here in a militant state, and must often meet with sore conflicts from our spiritual enemies, as was before observed: but when these more exalted joys and comforts are wanting, believers have yet meat to eat which the world knows not of." The promises will still prove an anchor for their souls, to keep them sure and steadfast, in the most tempestuous seasons. They will find delight and comfort from the ordinances of God; and at least find occasional returns of sensible commupion with him, which will make them "rejoice more than when corn, and wine, and oil increase.” And often, in the midst of their greatest darkness, they will have sudden and surprising gleams of light and joy break into their souls, by which they will, s before they are aware, become like the chariots of Ammi-nadib.” At least they will be able to “ look unto Jesus as the author and finisher of their faith;" and comfort themselves by committing their souls to him, and venturing their eternal interests in his hand.