Page images
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Adam with a text of scripture, and took the same method when he tempted the Son of God.

Ahimaaz. I think this is one of the most puzzling trials that ever Prodigalis had. It is a dreadful thing to a soul that is quickened, humbled, and blessed with a tender feeling of the evil of sin, and with a filial fear of God, and an heart bent to honour him, for such an one to be so left of God, as for his old wretched customs to be pursuing his mind, and entangling his thoughts, after he has so forely suffered under the fight and sense of them. But, as poor Job says, Such possess the iniquity of their youth, even in that sense, though not the guilt of them.' · For my part, I have often wished that God had took me to himself in my first love; or else had granted me a residence where I might never fee man, woman, or child ; yea, neither fun, moon, nor ftars. For the world is full of nothing but evil ; look which way you will, fin presents itself: and if that steals on the heart, then my comforts die; I. wilh either for heaven, or for the lonely cot of a hermit.

Cushi. If you had died in your first love, how could you have served your generation ? and if you were shut up like a hermit, how could you let your light shine before men, that they may fee your good works ?? 5. Your first request favours of a distrust of God's power to keep you; and the last favours of cow


ardice, and of a narrow spirit: just as if the devil was to be left sole ranger of the world, because he has spread the earth with traps. No; it well becomes the saints, as good soldiers of Jesus Chrift, to seek the welfare of the children of Israel, and the kingdom of their ever blessed Lord; to oppose the devil's reign, and expose the devil's works also ; and so to weaken his interest as much as possible. And though we find it a perilous work, and are in imminent danger at it, yet the battle is the Lord's; the cause of truth is the Lord's cause; and his truth is our armour ; and the promise of victory is sure to all the seed. The Lord tells us to quit ourselves like men, instead of creeping into holes: and we may depend upon it, that his strength will be made perfeet in our weakness, because he hath promised it. And when he comes to say, in the great day, Well done, good and faithful fervant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord, that will pay for all.

Abimaaz. Pray how long did Prodigalis labour under this trial ?

Cushi. For many months; yet no man could hate sin more; no man mourned over it, struggled with it, or prayed against it, more than he did; but notwithstanding all his efforts, he found himself to be a man burdened with the body of fin and death, which, God knows, he forely groaned under. Befides his situation was none of the most pleasing; he had a large flock to feed, whether his own soul was fourishing or barren; he had many enemies in

the the world, as well as friends; his enemies watched for his balting, and his friends looked at him as a copy; the first looked for destruction, and the latter for perfection, and both were deceived; for though he had as bafe an heart as the worst of them, and more temptations to grapple with than all of them, yet God did not permit him to be utterly cast down, to gratify his enemies, though there was enough exposed to convince his friends that he was not perfect, but that the treasure was in an earthen vefsel.

The poor creature travelled in this way till his very foul was bowed down within him, and Satan tempted him even to chuse strangling rather than life, Job vii. 15; or to drown himself, rather than fuffer thus; yea, he wanted him to imitate Jonah, leave the work, and flee from it; he was so beset with temptations, and with conscience, that his very heart and soul failed him. However, at last he went to his Lord with as heavy an heart as mortal could bear. He first sat down in his chair and reasoned with his Lord, until his forrow began to give way; he then kneeled on his knees-he confeffed

he wept-he pleaded-he supplicated, until he obtained these sweet words as an answer to his prayer-- If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our beart, and knoweth all things, i John iii. 20; he immediately felt strength communicated to his soul; his accusing conscience was filenced; he got up from his knees, and put the devil to fight with

this text-My flesh and my beart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever. Pfal. Ixxiii. 26.

Now was the dear Redeemer more precious to Prodigalis than ever ; his foul was sweetly becalmed, and blessed with a doubled portion of life and peace; every evil thought of his heart vanished every besetting sin was detested and abhorred, and heaven itself seemed, if possible, to be in full view; and the poor man vainly thought, and indeed often said, that he was ripening for glory ;-that his work was pretty well done that he should not be long in this world, and that he was too happy to live. But the Lord counterbalanced his anxiety for hea. ven, by laying the concerns of his flock in the midst of wolves, his wife, family, and friends, on his mind, which brought him into a streit between two, baving a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better than being here ; nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you, Phil. i. 23, 24, says Paul, and so Prodigalis thought, and therefore he prayed for submission to the will of God, that cbether he lived he might live to the Lord, or whether be died he might die to the Lord; that whether be lived therefore or whether he died, be might be the Lord's.

Abimaaz. That is a moft safe and a most blessed frame of mind to be resigned to the will of God. There is no galling cross when our wills lay straighe with the will of God; it is our perverse will con




'tradicting, or "laying counter to God's will, that makes the cross, and the loss is all our own; for when we have made it we are compelled to take it up. In this we act like Haman, who erected his own gallows at his own expence. The Saviour has coupled self-denial and the daily cross together ; if self be denied, the cross will lay easy; if self be consulted, then the cross galls us. But blessed for ever be the dear Redeemer, who knows whereof we are made-who knows the weakness of human nature, and confessed it ; though his body and soul were perfectly free and pure from that sin and corruption that we feel, yet he complained that the Spirit was truly willing, but ihe flesh was weak.

The faithfulness of the Saviour appears wonderful in the repeated deliverances of Prodigalis. Well might Eliphaz tell Job that God would deliver him in fix troubles, yea in seven no evil should touch bim. Job v. 19. Prodigalis is a living witness of the delivering hand of God, and must be well acquainted with the blessed Saviour, especially in his glorious office as an Advocate.

Cushi. Yes, the office of Christ as an Advocate is precious to Prodigalis, and to other poor tempted fouls, who lay under the accusations of Satan; indeed every poor finner has three to accuse him; sometimes his fins cry with an accusing voice, as the sins of Sodom are said to do, Gen. xviii. 20, 21. Conscience also will often accuse him, live how he may; and Satan will accuse him right or wrong;


« PreviousContinue »