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submitted and confessed his sin, he humbled himself before God, and counted himself, “as one born out of due time, less than the least of all saints, who obtained mercy, because he did it ignorantly and in unbelief.” Never did any one magnify the grace of God more than Paul. He was truly a wonderful instance of its sovereign efficacy and soul-transforming influence. He called himself “the chief of sinners,” and gloried in the cross of Christ, by which he was crucified to the world, and the world unto him. Entirely did he renounce his own righteousness, and placed his whole dependence on what Jesus Christ had done and suffered, in his room and stead. Some have endeavoured to undermine the kingdom of Christ, to lower his dignity, and run him down; but so did not Paul. He spent his time and strength, and employed all his energies to extend the knowledge of his gospel, and declared him to be “God, over all, and blessed for evermore, equal with God, in whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." · His zeal and love were transcendent, his labours very abundant; and we hear him saying, when he was “ Paul the aged,” “I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith, and henceforth there is Jaid up
for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord shall give me at that day.” He was ready to die in the cause of Christ, and did, at length, actually seal the truth with his blood, by becoming a glorious martyr.
But there are various degrees of soul prosperity, and Paul must be viewed as having reached the Zenith of those lovely and holy feelings, which
sometimes absorb the souls of good men, and almost transport them to heaven, before they die. Yet he was humble under his abundant revelations, and exclaimed, “By the grace of God I am what I am.”
When such bright patterns are exhibited to our view, we should not be discouraged because we cannot equal the copy; but should ardently pray for a participation of that grace which shall enable us to be " followers of them who through faith and patience now inherit the promises."
From this hasty sketch it may be observed, that in the school of Christ, his disciples must learn meekness and wisdom of their divine Lord. It is their business, and should be their study" to put on Christ,” and “to abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.” But still they are indebted to the grace of God for all the good that is in them, and which they are enabled to discover to others. Our language must still be, “ Lord, increase our faith.” In Christ there is an infinite fulness, and all our supplies must be derived from him, who is
“ full of grace and truth.” “ The Lord giveth more grace," or no soul could continue to prosper. We need his aid as much after conversion, as we do before; and it is by grace alone that we must advance, by gradual steps, till grace shall be crowned with glory.
Some pious christians may exclaim, “ Alas! when we compare ourselves with such characters as have been drawn, how can we conclude that we are the
children of God ?” But let no humble soul be discouraged, so long as he knows that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life," and desires no other. By indulging doubts and fears, we often deprive ourselves of much comfort, and Satan is always ready to use his infernal endeavours to destroy our peace. Gladly wouid he drive the saints to despair ; and were it not for that inward strength, and those secret supplies, which we constantly receive from above, we should never hold on our way. The people of God in all ages have found their life a warfare. Often have they been “ tossed with tempests and not comforted.” And it is said with much propriety of the saints in glory,
“Once they were mourning here below,
And wet their couch with tears ;
With sins and doubts and fears."
But the Lord, whose arm is omnipotent, carried them safely through. In every trial they were upheld. When they sunk in deep waters, or in mire and clay, the Lord “ brought them out of many waters, set their feet on a rock, and established their goings.” God is still the same, and why should be not deal bountifully with us also ? His arm is not shortened, nor his ear heavy. Let us keep near to him, for he hath said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” We say, we are unworthy. Nothing is more true, and nothing is more important to be known. What the Lord did for his people of old, was not for “ their worthiness' sake;", "but according to his mercy he saved them, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which
he shed on them abundantly.” Even so it is now. Our righteousnesses are unclean, and our strength is perfect weakness; but if we be led to hope, and believe in him who was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, we are accepted in the beloved, and shall be saved " with all the salvation of God.”
Still our minds are liable to be assailed with unbelief, and with many guilty fears.
Evil, and sometimes horrible, and even blasphemous thoughts are injected by the foe, and are cherished by our remaining depravity. These will excite the abhorrence of the Lord's people, who can say with David, “I hate vain thoughts, but thy law do I love." They will earnestly pray against them, and abhor themselves that such evil should, in any way, be found in them, and that it should so tenaciously cleave to them. They will pray to the Lord to suppress and subdue his enemies within them; and at the same time, most probably will think, that there never before were such beings as themselves. They look on their neighbours, and almost envy them that prosperity of soul of which they seem to be the subjects; and at the same time these same neighbours may indulge the same thoughts respecting them. Perhaps few things are surer signs of an interest in the favour of God, than to know the plague of our own hearts. This will lead to humility and self-loathing. Like Job, we shall “ abhor ourselves, and repent in dust and ashes.”
On the whole, then, sovl prosperity is not incompatible with seasons of darkness, and much mental