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tempt; sometimes I find them so profuse with the mercy of God, as to entail it on all the human race; and at other times so sparing, as to declare that some of the Lord's redeemed are in hell. In short, pride, arrogance, self-seeking, and self-deifying, are all that I could ever see in the self-righteous free-willer. Confounding the sense of God's word, and rebelling against his sovereign will, I have discovered in those whom I have known; and such proceedings appear to me no better than an introduction to the performances exhibited in hell.
O sinner, lay by pleading thy own merit, for God will surely reject thy confidences to the end of the chapter: “Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils ? and in thy name done many
wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity,” Matt. vii. 22, 23. Thus you see that hell itself will not cure the legalist of boasting, nor will the encomiums of the Judge himself ever set the elect at it; they will stick to their being unprofitable servants to the last, as hath been already observed; and it must be so, for the Lord declares that “he that humbleth himself shall be exalted, and he that exalteth himself shall be abased,” Luke xviii. 14.
Ahimaaz. I see clearly that faith is a soulhumbling, self-emptying, and self-abasing, grace, as well as an evidence of things not seen; but I am at times led to doubt whether I have any faith at all.
Cushi. Didst thou never discover in the word of God, as well as in the first open vision that thou hadst, an amiableness and a suitableness in the Saviour, as he
is set forth in the word, insomuch that thy very soul went out after him ?-That was Faith's eye discovering the object of life: “ He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life," John viii. 12. And hast thou not found thy heart so bent for a part and lot in him, that all the world hath appeared as nothing when compared to him ?-That is Faith's power, inclining the will to choose and embrace him above all other objects: “ He that cometh to God must believe that he is a rewarder.” Again, Faith lays hold on eternal life. Thus Faith shines on the understanding, discovering the Saviour as the object most desirable, and inclining the will to choose him: and then, lastly, she calls in love to admire her choice. This is the grace that availeth: “ Neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love,” Gal. v. 6. And as soon as love comes into the soul, she casts out slavish fear, and brings in her own attendants, which are joy and peace: “God fill you with joy and peace in believing,” Rom. xv. 13. The believer cannot_now express his sensations—“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory,” 1 Pet. i. 8.
Ahimaaz. What you have said of faith my soul has often experienced, and sweetly enjoyed; therefore I hope I am really blessed with that spiritual grace; and I do find that it purifies my heart, for answers of pardon and peace are often brought to me from the Saviour by Faith's prayer.
Cushi. Then thou art upon the foundation, and mayest say, with the apostle, “ This is the confidence
that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us, and we have the petitions we desired of him," i John v. 14, 15.
Thy faith is genuine-a real evidence of things not seen. Poverty of spirit is a sure mark of those who shall obtain “ the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” Phil. iii. 14. When a man sees the insufficiency of his own righteousness, he accepts an imputed one; when he feels his lost estate, he is thankful for a Saviour; when he is conscious of the infinite debt that he has contracted, he flies to the surety; and when sensible of the deceitfulness of his own heart, that he dare not place any confidence in the flesh, he embraces the rock for want of a shelter; and when his refuges of lies are all swept away, and his false hopes rooted up, then he digs deep, and founds all on the Rock of Ages. This is the man that is poor in spirit;-stripped of pride, and humble in heart, like the poor prodigal, he comes to God with humble confession, knocks at mercy's door, and begs the bread of heaven: such an one is sure of the prize: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” Matt. v. 3.
Thirdly. The Holy Ghost is sent into the believer's heart to influence, enlighten, and instruct, his understanding and conscience, and to bear a joint witness with conscience that the believer is justified by his faith; and where there used to be nothing but the sentence of self-condemnation, and the tormenting accusation of an evil conscience, things are so changed, that the believer finds the accusation is silenced, and a joint testimony for God evidently felt and enjoyed : “ He that believeth has the witness in himself, for the Spirit beareth witness," i John v. 6, 10. These things enable
souls to say,
“ Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience.” As I said before, the believer hath a joint witness; for “ the Spirit beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God,” Rom. viii. 16. Thus you see that love, joy, peace, and faith, are " the first fruits of the Spirit,” Rom. viii. 23; and the spirit of these fruits, are the forefaste and "earnest of our [future) inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory,” Eph. i. 14.
Ahimaaz. I clearly see that my soul is interested in the covenant of grace; nor am Į without the evidence, the first fruits, and the earnest, that you have mentioned; and I believe, according to my present frame and views, that I shall never doubt again, “thou, Lord, of thy goodness, hast made my hill so strong."
I suppose that Prodigalis enjoyed these heavenly blessings in Christ Jesus, these sweet foretastes of heaven in a wonderful degree; for it is often seen that a miserable prodigal meets with a conspicuous deliverance, and a soul-humbling reception, when God gives him repentance unto life. Indeed, if such poor souls had not, it would be impossible for them to believe to their eternal salvation; their having such a dreadful sight of an angry God, and their sinful selves, it requires a work of faith with power to put their unbelief to the blush, and the devil and conscience to silence; nothing will confound these but a wonderful ray, an almighty deliverance, and a divine and all-prevailing evidence.
Cushi. That is another excellent speech; you begin to mend upon it, I think. But to your inquiry. Prodigalis did, I believe, enjoy as much of the foretastes of heaven as most do, until the spirit of grace had armed him with the whole armour of God, and then he led him forth as an armed soldier of Jesus Christ, to be tempted of the devil.
Ahimaaz. It is amazing to me that the devil should be so unwearied in tempting the children of God, seeing he has met with nothing but repeated disappointments; besides, the Saviour has promised power to his children sufficient to vanquish all the power of the devil; insomuch that “ nothing shall by any means hurt them,” Luke x. 19. The devil must know this, because he never could destroy one of God's elect: “ The gates of hell shall not prevail against them,” Matt. xvi. 18. I am surprised that Satan does not raise the siege as an assailant, and get weary of the suit as a plaintiff.
Cushi. There is no likelihood of that; Satan still ploughs in hope; and, though he cannot destroy the elect, yet, if he cannot destroy their peace, or get them to rebel against God, it is pleasing to him: the devil has a feast when we have a fast. And, on the other hand, when we are on the mount the devil has a double hell: besides, his enmity against Christ and his elect is so deeply rooted, that he cannot endure the sovereignty of the Saviour, nor the objects of his choice.
Ahimaaz, But why is the devil so incensed against the Saviour, any more than against God the Father?
Cushi. Several reasons may be assigned for it. First, The Lord Christ left the rebel-angels in their rebellion“ when he charged them with folly,” Job iv. 18. Secondly, He cursed and condemned their prime leader in Eden, Gen. iii. 14. "Thirdly, " He