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“I know not the man ?” Is it you, of whom it is said in the world, None can equal him for his love of money, his desire of business, his ambition to be great ? Is it you, of whom it is whispered in the neighbourhood, He is not so particular, he is not so religious; he is better company, he is more free and lively with us than he was ? Is it you, of whom it is said with sorrow in the church, He seldom is found in his place; he is shy and indifferent to those he formerly delighted to associate with. He has lost his zeal. He possesses little or no spirituality. He is never seen in any scene of activity and usefulness? Ah ! miserable man ! 'look back, and ask what thou hast been doing. Blush for thy declension. Think of the happy moments formerly enjoyed, the sweet calm
of thy mind, and the bright hope of thy soul. Where are these now? Let conscience speak, and it will pronounce thee wretched. Go thou to thy duty. Return to him from whom thou hast revolted : still there is forgiveness. Pray for a revival; and, wretched as thou art, there is a hand that will receive, mercy that will forgive, grace that will revive, and power that will protect thee.
To the weak and discouraged christian the remembrance of past experience may afford consolation. When Manoah was favoured with a divine manifestation, he misconstrued it, and said unto his wife, “ We shall surely-die, because we have seen God.” But his wife said unto him, “ If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would, as at this
time, have told us such things as these.” Judges xiii. 22, 23. In like manner may a christian rea
What mean all my former experience, if I know not the Lord ? Should I ever have enjoyed communion with him, and been blessed with his presence, if he had meant to have destroyed me? Should I ever have so ardently longed to be conformed to him, to bear his image, and be devoted to his glory, if I had not tasted that he was gracious ? If I am an hypocrite, what mean these fears, these anxieties, respecting my state ? Why so wretched when I fall into sin ? Why so happy when kept from it? Why, if I am to be a castaway, do I maintain the struggle? Why did I formerly renounce the world, and how was I able to rise superior to it, if I never was a recipient of grace? If I be deceived, what mean the happy sabbaths I have enjoyed, the delightful feel. ings I have possessed when at a throne of grace? Surely, if my heart has never been changed, then from what have all my former views, experience, enjoyments, desires, conflicts, and feelings, been derived? Can they be from any other source than grace ? And shall grace be given in vain ? Will the Almighty, after shewing me all these things, abandon me for ever? Can it be? Can reason prove it? Doth scripture assert it? Surely not. Yes, christian, you may safely reason thus. You may, with propriety, make use of your former experience in this way.
God never gave you light only to make you more wretched : he has not convinced you of sin to terrify you with the thought of its never being par. doned; he has not favoured you with a view of his glory, that you might know the loss of it.
Surely, he has not taught you to struggle with sin, to breathe for holiness, to desire to be his, and then determined to cast you away from his
presence for ever. No; this be far from him. You may, therefore, say with David, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul; and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God." Ps. xlii. 5.
Farther; the recollection of past experience excites thankfulness. When the Israelites gained the victory over the Philistines, Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, “ Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” 1 Sam. vii. 12. David looks back with thankfulness, and remembers the kind interpositions of Jehovah : “ Unless the Lord," says he, “ had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence. When I said my foot slippeth, thy mercy, O Lord, held me up. I was brought low, and he helped me.” Ps. xciv. 17, 18. $. Thou hast delivered my soul from death, inine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. 'What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.” Ps. cxvi. 12, 13. Saint Paul contemplates with pleasure the wonderful deliverances wrought on his behalf, when he says, “ Having obtained help of God, I continue unto this day.” Acts xxvi. 22. What reason have you, christian reader, to use the same language! How has the Lord supported you from your youth, even until now! How often has he supplied your wants, dissipated your fears, sanctified your trials, delivered you from danger, and and directed your footsteps! Health, perhaps, has
been continued in times of general sickness; your character preserved, notwithstanding the attempts of malignant foes; your conscience saved from guilt, when surrounded with fiery temptations: With what gratitude mast you look back upon these mercies; and with what wonder, too, at the kindness of God, who has caused every thing to work together for good!
The recollection, too, of the many delightful opportunities you have enjoyed, the many privileges you have been favoured with, the helps you have received, and the mercies that have been ; bestowed, all call for grateful acknowledgments. Surely, on a review of your past experience, notwithstanding all the trials and discouragements of the way, you must bear testimony to the wisdom of his providence, the greatness of his patience, the faithfulness of his word, and the wonders of his love,
As the remembrance of past mercies should excite gratitude, so it should operate as a spur to duty. You have found christian, the yoke of Jesus to be easy, and his burden light. The mildness of his government, the nature of his service, the clemency of his heart, the supplies of his grace, are all powerful arguments to stimulate to diligence. Recollect how little you have done ; how imperfectly you have done it; how much you have to do; how little time there is before you; and how soon eternity will open to your view. You cannot be too devoted, you cannot be 100 actively employed for so good a Master. “ It is high time,” says the apostle, “ to awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we
believed." The grace you have received, the
many answers to prayer given, the enemies that have been conquered, the difficulties that have been surmount. ed, should encourage you to go forward. Think not of fainting now, after the battles that have been won, and the glory that has been obtained. Despair not now, after the strength that has been communicated, and the deliverances you have experienced. Relax not now, after you have found the Lord to be faithful. Let the recol- . lection of past favours stimulate to future exer. tions. Strength shall be given equal to the day. His grace is sufficient, and it is 'he that hath said, " Trust in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength. Therefore be stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” Is. xxvi. 3. 1 Cor. xv. 58.
Lastly ; learn, froin past experience of the divine goodness, to live more by faith, to be more dependent on the faithfulness and promises of God. I appeal to you, O christian reader, whether the Lord has ever been “unio you as a a wilderness, and a land of darkness." "He has not given you up to wretchedness and woe ; he has not left you to yoursell. A thousand and a thousand times he has alleviated your pain, heard your cries, and delivered you in the day of trouble. Why not, then, trust him with all your concerns, and leave, cheerfully leave, every event in his hand ? Remember, from what you have already seen, that there is no darkness but he can turn into light, no crooked thing but he can make straight, no enemy but he can conquer,