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vrought in their heart. They that are in the willerness, bare Dot Uow that divine 6 evidence,” that satisfactory convictioll, " of things not seen,” which they once enjoyed. They liare not now that in ard demonstration of the Spirit, which before chabled each of them to say, “ The life I live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." The light of hearen docs not now!"oline in their hearts," sieither do they " sec Hiiu that is invisible; " but darkness is ngain on the face of their souls, and blindness on the eyes of their w erstanding. The Spirit no longer “witnesses with their spirits, that they are the children of God;” neither does he contine as the Spirit of Adoption, “ crying" in their hearts, “iblaFather." They have not now a sure trust in his love, and a liberty of approaching him with holy boldness. "Tinh he sliv me, yet will I trust in bim, is no more the language of their heart; but they are shorn of their strength, and become weak and fee! le-njinder?, cren as other men.
2. Hence, SCC024!!!, Proceels the loss of Love; which cannot but rise or fail, at the saine time, and in the same preportion, with time, living faith. eccorilingly, they that are deprived of their futh, are deprived of the love of God also. They cannot 14"y" “I ri, thou moet all things, thou kinoirist that I love ihre.” They are not how happy in God, as crerrone is that truly loves him. They do not delight in him as intimne pastünd "smeline ochurer of his ointments.” Once, all ticir o ire prinsipite llib', iulid to the remembrance of bois name';” !! POL! ( their desires are coled and deed, il 1,0 lohy extirouilt. This their love of God is waxed cull, so is also their love of their neighbour. They have not now that zeal for the souls of men, that louging after their welfare, that ferrent, resikeras, active desire of their being reconciled in God. They cannot feel thiose “bowels of mercies" for the sheep that are 10+, that tender “compassion for the ignorant, and them that we out of the way.” Once they rere “ geutle toward a)!!7.(1)," pricelis instructing such as opposed the truthi, uid, “if any wis overtaken in a fault, restoring such a one in the spirit of niches:" but, after a suspense, perhaps, of many days, 2er begins to regain its power; yea, peerisimess ind iuipzicale ilirust sore ai thiem, that they may fall; and it is well if they are one sometimes driven, eren to “ render evil for evil, ülid railing for railing.”
3. In consequence of the loss of faith and love, follours, thirdly, luss of Jor in the cly Ghost. For if the loving con
sciousness of pardon be no more, the joy resulting therefrom cannot remain. If the Spirit does not witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, the joy that flowed from the inward witness must also be at an end. And, in like manner, they who once “ rejoiced with joy unspeakable,” “ in hope of the glory of God," now they are deprived of that “ hope full of immortality,” are deprived of the joy it occasioned; as also of that which resulted from a consciousness of “the love of God," then “shed abroad in their hearts.” For the cause being removed, so is the effect : the fountain being dammed np, those living waters spring no more, to refresh the thirsty soul,
4. With loss of faith, and love, and joy, there is also joined, fourtbly, the loss of that Peace, which once passed all understauding. That sweet tranquillity of mind, that composure of spirit, is gone. Painful doubt returns ; doubt, whether we ever did, and perhaps, whether we ever shall, believe. We begin to doubt, whether we ever did find in our hearts the real testimony of the Spirit; whether we did not rather deceive our own souls, and mistake the voice of nature for the voice of God; nay, and perhaps, whether, we shall ever hear his voice, and find favour in his sight. And these doubts are again joined with servile fear, with that fear which bath torment. We fear the wrath of God, even as before we believed : we fear, lest we should be cast out of his presence; and thence siuk again into that fear of death, from which we were before wholly delivered.
5. But even this is not all; for loss of peace is accompanied with loss of Power. We know every one who has peace with God, through Jesus Christ, has power over all sin. But whenever he loses the peace of God, he loses also the power over sin. While that peace remained, power also remained, even over the besetting sin, whether it were the sin of his nature, of his constitution, the sin of his education, or that of his profession ; yea, and over those evil tempers and desires, which, till then, he could not conquer. Sin had then no more dominion over him ; but he hath now no more dominion over sin. He may struggle, indeed, but he cannot overcome; the crown is fallen from his head. His enemies again prevail over him, and more or less bring him into bondage. The glory is departed from him, even the kingdom of God wbich was in his beart. He is dispossessed of righteousness, as well as of peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.
II. 1. Such is the nature of what many have termed, and not improperly, “ The Wilderness State.” But the nature of it may be more fully understood by inquiring, Secondly, What are the Causes of it? These, iudecd, are various. But I dare not rank among these the bare, arbitrary, sovereign Will of God. He “rejoiceth in the prosperity of his servants : he delighteth not to afflict or grieve the children of men.” His invariable will is our sanctification, attended with “peace and joy in the Holy Ghost." These are his own free gifts; and we are assured “the gifts of God are," on his pari, “without repentance.” Ile veror repentetis of what he hath given, or desires to withdraw them from us. Therefore he never deserts us, as some speak; it is we only that ilesort bim.
[1.] 2. The most usual cause of inward darkness is Sin, of one kind or another. This it is which generally occasions what is often a complication of sin and misery: sind, first, Sin of Commission. This may frequently be observed to darken the soul in a moment; especially if it be a known, a wilful, or presumptuous sin. ,, for instance, a person, who is now walking in the clear ligin of Ciud's countenance, should be any way prevailed on to commit a single act of drunkeuness, or uncleaness, it would be no wonder, if, in that very hour, he fell into utter darknes. It is true, there have been some rery rare (80s, wherein Good lucia prereuted ilis, by an extraordinary display of his personing mercy, almost in the very instant. Bet in general, such an alinse of the goodness of God, sogress an incin hibrire, olesions an immediate estrangement from God, and it laskuess that may be felt."
3. Put it may be bopeed this case is not very frequent; that there are not in , so che spie the riches of his good
CS, as, illetheilik in diis light, so grossly, and presumptuon is in reic urait luim. That light is much more frequchis lond, by gi!!' 11'?¥ 19, Sirs of Omission. This, indeed, does not immediatel: que me the Spirit, but gradually and slowly. The former may be compared to pouring water upos a fire; the latter to ritraring the fuc from it. And many times will that loving spirit reprove our neglect, before he departs fron 115. Mbiury are the inward checks, the secret plotices lie siva's, Birkere his influences are withdrawn. So that Only a tato col wil is, wilfully persisted in, can bring 115 mio Llerinde hici
1. ict, D illos conocidos jun 13ore frequently occasious via this in mlect of Police Pirver; the irant whereot cannot be supplied by any other ordinance whatever. Nothing can be nioře plain, than that the life of God in the soul does not continue, much less increase, unless we use all opportunities of communion with God, and pouring out our hearts before him. If, therefore, we are negligent of this, if we suffer business, company, or any avocation whatever, to prevent these secret exercises of the soul, (or, which comes to the same thing, to make us hurry them over in a slight and careless manner,) that life will surely decay. And if we long or frequently intermit them, it will gradually die away.
5. Another sin of omission, which frequently brings the soul of a believer into darkness, is the neglect of what was so strongly enjoined, even under the Jewish dispensation: “Thou shalt, in any wise, rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him : Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart.” Now if we do hate our brother in our heart, if we do not rebuke him, when we sce him in a fault, but suffer sin upon him, this will soon bring leanness into our own soul; seeing hereby we are partakers of his sin. By neglecting to reprove, our neighbour, we make his sin our own : we become accountable for it to God: we saw his danger, and gave him no warning : so, “if he perish in his iniquity,” God may justly require “his blood at our hands.” No wonder then, if by thus grieving the Spirit, we losc the light of his countenance.
6. A third cause of our losing this is, the giving way to some kind of Joward Sin. For example : We know, every one that is “proud in heart, is an abomination to the Lord ;” and that, although this pride of heart should not appear in the outward conversation. Now how easily may a soul, filled with peace and joy, fall into this snart of the Devil? How natural is it for him to imagine, that he has more grace, more wisdom or strength, than he really has ? To “ think more bighly of himself than he ought to think?” How natural to glory in something he has received, as if he had not received it? But sceing God continually “resisteth the proud, and giveth grace only to the humble,” this must certainly obscure, if not wholly destroy, the light which before shone on his heart.
7. The same effect may be produced by giving place to Anger, whatever the provocation or occasion be; yea, though it were coloured over with the name of zeal for the truth, or for the glory of God. Indeed, all zeal, which is any other than the flame of love, is “ earthly, animal, and devilish.” It is the flame of wrath: it is flat, sinful angcr, ncither better uor worse. And nothing is a greater enemy to the mild, gentle love of God than this: they never did, they never can, subsist together in one breast. In the same proportion as this prevails, love and joy in the Holy Ghost decrcase. This is parti. cularly observable in the case of offence; I mean, anger at any of our brethren, at any of those who are united with us either by civil or religious tirs. If we give way to the spirit of offence but one hour, we lose the sweet influences of the Holy Spirit; so that, instead of amending them, we destroy oursdres, and become an easy prey to any enemy that assaults us.
8. But suppose we are alare of this share of the Devil, we may be attacked from another quarter. When fierceness and anger are asleep, and love alone is waking, we may be no less endangered by Desire, which equally tends to darken the soul. This is the sure cilicct of any foolish (esire, any rain or inordivate ailection. If we set our alicction on things of the earth, on any person or the under the sun; if we desire any thing but God, and what tends to God; if ure scek happiness in any creature; the jealouis God will surely contend with us, for he can admit of no rival. And if we will not hear his warning voice, and return unto him with our whole soul, if we contime to grire him with our idols, and running after other gods, we sul soon be cuki, barren, and dry; and the god of this world will Nini and skin our hearts.
9. Lui tuis!. tris peuils does, cren when we do not give way to a tisoitiie sil. It is cuongh, it gives hius sufficient advantage, il vodi, 10t6 stir up the gift of God which is in us;” if we rlo Do: 9.10!ize continually to enter in at ihe strait gate;" if we do not punesely strive for the mastery,” and "iake the kind ons of heaven by violence.” There needs to more than notivaslit, and we are sure to be conquered. Let 11s only be carclas or "tut in our mind," let us be casi and indikert, od our natural darkness will soon ret:!rn, and overspread our soul. It is (nonghi, therefore, if we give way to spiritual skill; this will c riually darken the soul: It will as suriy destroy the light of God, if not so swiftly, as murder or adultery.
10. But it is well to be aliserted, that the cause of our darkness, Giraiserer ii be, whether onission or commission, whether inward or outward sin),) is not alırays nigh at hand. Sometimes the sin which occasioned the present distress may licat a considera!le distance. It might be committed days, or wechs, or months before. And that God now withdraws his