« PreviousContinue »
is the propitiation for the fins of the whole world (i). Could any one of these declarations have been made, if there had been a fingle individual actually or virtually "paffed over," in the plan of redemption; unconditionally excluded from the poffibi lity of obtaining falvation through Jefus Chrift; unbleffed with that preventing influence on his will, without which he must remain incapable of profiting by the Redeemer's death; tantalized by offers of mercy, with which he is left morally incompetent to clofe? Would our Lord have commanded his difciples to preach the Gospel to every creature (k); `if there had been a fingle perfon to whom it must neceffarily have been preached in vain? And muft it not neceffarily have been preached in vain to the man, had fuch there been, whom God had not freed by the antecedent operation of His grace upon the will from all impoffibility of believing? Is it poffible that redemption can be general, if election renders it neceffarily partial? Is it true that all men may be faved, if God bestows only on certain felect individuals
() John, ii. 12.
(4) Mark, xvi. 16. the
the preventing grace without which no man
IV. To perfons who truly repent through Christ, yet are at the fame time oppressed
by a proneness to defpondence, the following practical fuggeftions may not be altogether useless.
Direct your thoughts habitually and impartially to all the attributes and "the "whole counfel of God." Remember His mercy no less than his juftice; his redeeming love no less than his holy abhorrence of fin. Fix your attention no less ftedfaftly on the promises than on the threatenings of Scripture: on the encouragements held forth to the penitent, no lefs earnestly than on the curfes denounced against the careless and the prefumptuous. Be not eafily moved with apprehenfion that you pay more than proportionate regard to the confolations of the Gospel. The inherent bias of dejection will draw you with sufficient force towards the confines of unwarranted alarm. Beware left it urge you across the boundary.
In reflecting on your past fins, let them be regarded as grounds of habitual felfabasement, of profpective watchfulness, of zealous diligence, of unwearied exertion, of grateful and fervent love towards God your Redeemer for the ftupendous falvation fet before you. But view them not as obftacles to the forgiveness and accept
ance of a true and perfevering penitent; nor as affording the flighteft foundation for dread that the Holy Spirit, who has enabled you to bring forth the fruits of repentance, will withhold from you the grace and ffrength which you fhall hereafter seek as needful under impending trials of your faith. i
If feafons of dejection should recur; if, at the very time when your understanding is fatisfied of the truth and the actual relevancy of the fcriptural arguments which forbid you to defpond, even in the face of conviction, defpondence fhould opprefs your foul wonder not, nor be difmayed, as though an unprecedented or extraordinary event had befallen you. The ftate of mind is not uncommon. Survey it in its true colours. In the midft of defpondence, remember that you are defponding against your judgement and your confcience, against reafon and the word of God. Confider whether defpondence, thus conftituted and circumstanced, is not in part to be imputed to bodily indifpofition, to the tremors of nervous inquietude. Confider whether in part it may not be deemed, whether it must not in part be deemed, a fubtle
a fubtle and special temptation. The adverfary of man adapts his ftratagems to the individual whom he affails. The fanguine he tempts to rafhnefs, the lukewarm to inactivity, the confident to prefumption, the timid to defpair. To what method of fuperior promise could he resort for the purpose of deterring you from perfeverance in labouring for falvation, than the scheme of inducing you to believe that by you mercy is unattainable? From a method of fuch promife is it probable that he fhould refrain? Meet the danger with adequate circumfpection. Encounter the foe with appropriate arms. Let health receive due attention. Refift the devil, and he will flee from you. Take the field of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked One. Fly for fuccour to the throne of grace. Praying always with all prayer and fupplication in the fpirit, and watching thereunto with all perfeverance, plead with Him whofe foul was forrowful even unto death; with Him who knows what is the agony with which the victim of fin exclaims, My God! my God! why haft thou forfaken me! who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, having been in