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spirit, and their sufferings were only in defence of a blind and misled conscience. This must be the case of those non-conformists, or our present advocates for the form must be in the wrong; and I confess that your present conversation brings it as a puzzling matter of debate afresh to my mind, though I am not able to decide it.
Cushi. It is certainly true that there were great numbers who suffered hunger, cold, and nakedness; moreover bonds and imprisonments; yea, and even death itself, rather than conform to the rules of the Common Prayer book. And, if they did it in defence of a blind or misled conscience, we may say of their sufferings as David said of the death of Saul's general, “Died Abner as a fool dieth,” 2 Sam. iii. 33. Yet I think it is easy to decide the matter between the ancient non-conformists and our present advocates; the non-conformists had the whole word of God on their side, but the others have not.
It is a blessed thing that men have no dominion over our faith; and that our faith is to stand in God's power, not in man's wisdom: but he who attempts to establish my faith on a human form endeavours to settle it in the wisdom of men, instead of the power of God. Faith is the gift of God the Father, a grace from God the Saviour's fulness, and is wrought in man by the operation of God the Holy Ghost; and in the promised aid of God, and the powerful operations of Father, Son, and Spirit, it must stand, and no where else.
I know there are many venerable and valuable characters, whom God has called to the ministry since their first ignorant attempt to qualify themselves for it at a university; and in that sphere they will shine (while they abide with God) wherein they were called; but, as the current of scripture does not flow in that channel, aud as their souls were not delivered in answer to that form, and as they make use of extempore prayer in their families, and between God and their own souls, I think they might forbear their public reflections on those prayers which have done so much for them.
Ahimaaz. Pray, my dear brother, what may I call thy name?
Cushi. My name is Cushi.
Cushi. I am an Israelite; and, blessed be God, through rich grace I hope I am an Israelite indeed.
Ahimaaz. That I firmly believe; for flesh and blood could never reveal unto thee the things that I have heard from thee; surely “the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel;” and the light and savour that my soul has felt under thy conversation is an additional proof of it; for the excellency and the power of religion is all of God. I wish my brother would relate a little of the dealings of God with him; I should be all attention; my heart is sweetly becalmed, and my seat quite easy; I do not believe that I should be tired if I was to sit here all night, nor that I should feel the want of food;—my very body has lost its appetite since my soul has been at this banquet.
Cushi. I can hardly help laughing at thee, my brother, for thou sayest thou couldst sit all night, whereas we have done that already; for it was twelve o'clock yesterday when we met under this tree, and now it wants but half an hour of that time; so that we have sat just twenty-three hours and a half! Surely, if some people were to hear thee, they would say, as the giddy multitude did of Peter and John, “These men are full of new wine.” Thy body having lost its appetite is no wonder; the body and soul are closely united, and both interested in the covenant of grace. If the soul is burdened the countenance of the body will proclaim it; the knees will tremble under its bur-, den, and the whole animal frame will feel the effects of it. But, on the other hand, if the soul be enwrapt in the vision of faith, as Paul was, it is so forgotten that the soul cannot relate whether the body was in the company or not; and when the soul is indulged with the smiles of God the body will forget both its wants and its infirmities, as Elijah did when his body fasted forty days, after the angels had entertained him under the juniper tree; or like Abraham, who when nearly an hundred years old ran to the tent, and ordered an entertainment for the best guest that ever visited this world.
· David certainly had some meaning when he said “My heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God," Psalm lxxxiv. 2. On the other hand, the terrors of God on his soul made the beauty of his body“to consume away like a moth," Psalm xxxix. 11.
But I shall proceed to give my dear brother some account of the dealings of God with me, and I shall do it with pleasure; for I never find my spirit more in its element than when, like David, I am telling others that fear God “what he hath done for my soul, Psalm lxvi. 16. Indeed I think this is doing the work of an evangelist more essentially than by relating what we have done for God.
In my younger days I was of a melancholy turn of mind, kept in perpetual bondage through the fear of death; and at certain seasons was rather devotional, after the manner of the Jews, but very ignorant of the nature and being of Jehovah. Nor did I ever rightly consider his omnipresence, his universal providence, his care for, nor his government of, the world, until the
great stir was made in Israel about David, the son of Jesse, killing the Goliath of Gath. The report of that wonderful act forcibly struck me; the thoughts of his formidable and panoplied antagonist, and the unarmed stripling (I mean David) going against him with no other armour than faith in God, whom he so often styles the shield of his help; (surely he was clad with żeal for the Lord God of Israel as with a cloak); his bold declaration to his formidable adversary, and the wonderful event that justified his confident prediction; these things wrought wonderfully upon me, and effectually brought me to believe, that “verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth.”
From that time I was led to watch narrowly the hand of God with that eminent man; and in my
heart I said, as Ruth did to Naomi, “Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” I saw him in so blessed a state, and so visibly defended and upheld by the Almighty, that at times I was provoked to jealousy; "secretly envied him his happiness, and would have given all the world for a part or lot in David's God, whom he so often styles the portion of his soul.
Ahimaaz. You bring many things to my mind; but to break in upon your warm conversation would extinguish the glowing fervour of your spirit; go on, my brother, I am all attention.
Cushi. I soon heard of Saul's hatred to David, of his cruel jealousy, and of his attempting to kill him; and some, who were very much attached to Saul, represented David in a bad light, and took the part of Saul, as one appointed, anointed, and set up, by God himself to be king over Israel. These things at times staggered me; and David's killing the Philistines, and scalping three hundred of them, in order to obtain Saul's daughter for his wife, was very puzzling to me. But I still observed that the protecting and delivering hand of God was evidently with him.
Jonathan, who I believe was a good man, his tender regard for David, espousing his cause, exposing himself to all the rage and malice of his father, and loving him as his own soul, often brought me to believe that there was a divine union between them; and indeed before ever I obtained boldness to speak to the sweet psalmist of Israel I felt something of the same blessed unction on my own soul. One thing greatly confounded me, and that was David's going down to the cave of Adullam, and appearing at the head of such a set of vagrants; for “all that were in distress, and all that were in debt, and all that were discontented, they gathered themselves unto him, and he became a captain over them," i Sam. xxii. 2. I could not easily get over the idea that such a set of men should join themselves to him; and that a favourite of heaven should put himself as commander in chief at the head of such a ragged regiment.
But, when Saul's awful apostasy from God was made known; his seeking to the witch of Endor for