« הקודםהמשך »
ther. Notwithstanding his hatred of religion, he had many severe checks of conscience at times, which he could not hide even from his parents; they kept a strict hand over him in a religious way, and made him attend them at public ordinances, though full sore against his will. He was their only child, and I believe a child of many prayers and tears; for the state of his soul lay with a perpetual weight on his parents, and I believe they travelled hard to see Christ formed within him. Ahimaaz. If he wa
If he was so wickedly bent in heart, the more he knew of religion the greater was his sin; men in a state of rebellion, with their heads fraught with religious knowledge, are like the renowned ones in the antediluvian world; or like the Pharisees, who drew near to God, and honoured him with their lips, while their hearts were far from him. His poor parents must have grief enough to see an only child such an enemy to God. Pray, did his parents live to see their prayers answered in his conversion? I have no doubt but they were answered in their own bosom.
Cushi. Their prayers were wonderfully answered in their son's conversion, but they did not live to see the pleasing sight.
Ahimaaz. But is it not astonishing that a child should display such a wretched bent to wickedness in the face of so much piety, and practise it under the severe lashes of a guilty conscience? It is as if he was given up entirely to the devil, to sin in the open face of gospel light.
Cushi. It is the eye of justice darting his rays on the guilty conscience that alarms it, and keeps it awake: the devil, finding this, cannot get such a soul into a state of carnal security, the strong man cannot keep possession of such a palače in peace; therefore he stirs up the enmity of the mind to oppose and resist the light; he blows up heat and passion; and, when he can get such an one to sin, it is in a desperate way, that he may sink the poor soul in despair, and so overwhelm him with guilt and horror. The eye of justice is as terrible to Satan, and his dark kingdom, as it was to Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea. The devil hates the light of truth; hence it is that he so often stirs up the carnal mind of sinners to hate those that long for their salvation; the light of truth discovers the 'sinner's state, and Satan's works, which he cannot endure. When our Lord sent his disciples out to spread the true light, Satan, with all his counterfeited lustre, sunk down and skulked into his own infernal shade: “I saw Satan as lightning fall from heaven,” Luke x. 18. This being the case, the devil is obliged to act with an awakened .conscience as the highwayman does with the fearful traveller, do his business in haste, and be desperate in it.
Abimaaz. I almost wonder that our benign Benefactor did not indulge the pious parents of this poor sinner with the pleasing sight of his conversion before their decease,' as you know it must have greatly excited their gratitude to God; and the Lord says, “ He that offereth me praise glorifieth me.”
Cushi. The Lord is a sovereign, and doth as he pleases; yet several reasons may be assigned why the Lord did not thus indulge them: First, As he was their only child, I think he engrossed too much of their affections: Secondly, They gave him too much indulgence in his childhood, for which his rebellion
requited them: Thirdly, Their travelling hard in prayer for him brought many blessings on their own souls, and served as a spur to their devotions, under which they ripened for glory: And, lastly, His cruel requital to his parents, helped forward his convictions, when God brought in his bill, and laid him under a divine arrest.
Ahimaaz. The conversion of this man affords great encouragement to praying parents; and I believe it is right for believers to persevere in prayer for their children, notwithstanding the discouragements they often meet with; indeed the Messiah spoke “a parable to this end, that men ought always to pray and not to faint."
Cushi. We ought to pray for them, leaving the event to God, for “they that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” Many prayers and tears have been scattered about a throne of grace, that have been answered afterwards in “showers of blessings,” Ezek. xxxiv. 26. And much seed has been sown in sinners' hearts that for a while seemed to lie dormant, but afterwards hath shewn itself: " And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground, and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself, first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” Mark iv. 26-28.
Ahimaaz. Pray how old was the youth when his parents died? Were they people of property? Did they leave him any thing? Cushi. I believe he was about fifteen
of age at the death of his father, who articled him to an attorney at law, and left him a very considerable property; which he soon" spent when he got it into his own hands: but I do not wonder at it; for, as the old people were very fond of him, they were perpetually endeavouring to save what they could, in order to leave him in great possessions; and, if I am rightly informed, their anxiety in this matter was their sin : indeed I believe that whatsoever people get for their children with an unwarrantable anxiety, so as to close the bowels of liberality to all but their own offspring, greatly dishonour God by a visible distrust of his providence; while in reality they entail a curse upon all they leave; and perhaps this was the reason why they had such strong bands in their death. God will purge the soul that he saves from sin, if it be by fire.
Ahimaaz. Their placing their son with an attorney (a profession in which it is almost impossible for a man to live and keep a good conscience towards God), and their carefulness after this world's goods, gives me room to suspect that divinity never made a very deep impression upon their souls; for he that drinketh of the living water that the Saviour gives shall never thirst after the riches of this life: “But the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life," John iv. 13,14. Pray did you know them, or do you go by report?
Cushi. I have seen them, though I had no acquaintance with them; but they are reported to be singularly pious; yet I know it is not all gold that shines, nor are they all maids that pass for such, and wear white aprons. The best of saints are burdened with the remains of corrupt nature, which sometimes has broke out and left its spots in the brightest charac
ters; as incest in Lot, excess in Noah, adultery in David, and blasphemy in Peter; yet there are some sins of which they stand clear; I mean such as are real partakers of the Holy Ghost.
Ahimaaz. Pray, my brother, what are those sins from which you suppose every inspired soul to stand free? For my part, I would wish to stand for ever free from all sin; for it is the death of all real comfort, as well as a great dishonour to God, and a sweet morsel to them that eat up the sins of God's people.
Cushi. I think there are two sins which are not found in the dark catalogue of any gracious character in the Bible. One of which the law calls presumption, (Numb. xv. 30) which David calls “the great transgression,” Psalm xix. 13; and John calls it the “ sin unto death,” 1 John v. 16: but Christ calls it the unpardonable sin, Matt. xii. 31.
The other sin is covetousness, for this sin God was wroth with Israel and smote him, and of this he promises to heal him, Isaiah lvii. 17, 18. Paul calls it “ the root of all evil,” (1 Tim. vi. 10) and “ idolatry," Col. ïïi. 5; which the Saviour calls the service of mammon, Matt. vi. 24; and pronounces a wo on all such servants, Luke vi. 24, 25. To the best of my knowledge, I do not remember that daring presumption, and the love of money, are filed among any of the bills that God hath brought in against a real citizen of Zion; his character excludes both these; Psalm xv. They are the two sins against which David levels the force of his prayers:
“ Keep back thy, servant from presumptuous sins," Psalm xix. 13. heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness, Psalm cxix. 36: Both these are the devil's own marks,
“ Incline my