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of the agony of guilt, it is nevertheless your duty to be thankful: as the mercy hereafter to be enjoyed will not be lessened by the pain that precedes it.
Your imagining that no permanent good can arise from the incident which first led you to contemplate your conduct and your character, merely because trivial in itself, and no way connected with the glory of God or the happiness of man, is a conclusion derogatory to infinite wisdom, and implicitly limits the Holy One of Israel. The Almighty is never at a loss for means to accomplish his own designs. He can overrule, for this purpose, those that are apparently the most trifling, or, in reality, the most atrocious. “His thoughts are not our thoughts ; nor our ways his ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are his ways higher than our ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts.'
Little did Zaccheus think that his ardent curiosity to see Jesus, was in order to exalt the riches of grace in pardoning one who was,
though little in stature, the greatest of sinners.; much less that, on the same day, he was to become as conspicuous for restitution and benevolence as he had formerly been for extortion and oppression. Saul of Tarsus never imagined that his diabolical errand to Damascus would be the occasion of his boldly preaching the faith he purposely went to destroy. Nor the thief, when perpetrating the detestable crime for which he suffered on a gibbet, that he was to expire in such circumstances and in such company; or that he was then committing an act for which he was afterwards to be exhibited as a spectacle to angels and to men; that both might have incontestable proof, that he whom the selfrighteous Pharisees despised and rejected, was, in the last agonies of death, what he always professed to be in his life--the Saviour of sinners!
That state of darkness and of distress which you think peculiar to yourself, is common to every penitent when a sense of interest in divine forgiveness is withheld. Few persons are led to dispute either the freeness or the all sufficiency of the grace manifested in the gospel for the pardon of sin: painful concern, in reference to this subject, generally arises from a fear of their having no right to partake of the distinguishing blessing. When this is the case, guilt holds the soul in bondage; unbelief obscures the first glimmerings of hope; and it is precipitately concluded, that there is no ground on which to expect forgiveness. But, with regard to yourself, why this despondency? doubt neither the suffici, ency nor the freeness of
That God who hath awakened and wounded the sleeping conscience, hath also directed to a physician acquainted with both the disease and theremedy; and who is not only able, but willing to present you faultless before the presence of his father with exceeding joy.
Why, then, do you judge it rather your duty to mourn than to believe; to feel the bitterness of sin, than to taste the sweetness of a promise; and to put away comfort lest it should check the overflowings of sorrow'
To souls under spiritual convictions of sin, belong all the consolatory promises that enrich the oracles of truth. The united power of earth and hell can neither hinder their accomplishment, nor devest the soul of the right it has to the blessings they contain. What shall I then say to repress fear and encourage hope? To this inquiry the language of truth answersComfort ye,
comfort ye my people ; speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem ; cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned ! Surely these are tidings suited to distress—that must raise dejection from the dust, and inspire doubt with confidence ! Come, then, 'thou that art of a fearful heart, be strong;' this night of darkness is but a kind prelude to that lucid interval when Jesus, the sun of righteousness, shall arise, and be as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds.
The soul, emerg'd from nature's night,
Shall view the dawning ray,
Bring in the welcome day:
Thy wounded breast shall prove;
Subdu'd by conqu’ring love.
Let not unbelief suggest that the enjoyment of this delightful season is impossible ; for with Christ, the Almighty Saviour, all things are possible. His resplendent beams can penetrate the dark recesses of the heart, dispel the gloomy horrours of guilt, and usher in the glorious, the welcome day of gospel grace. Then 'fear not, thou shalt not be ashamed neither shalt thou be confounded: for thy Maker is thy husband, and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel.'
Your present dejection may perhaps induce you to reply, I wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but walk in darkness.' Nevertheless, be not discouraged: the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God, thy glory. He will display the infinite freeness of his grace, and revive your disconsolate spirit with the manifestation of your interest in his love. His lenient hand will apply to the wounded conscience the pardoning blood of Christ, who is the great physician that healeth all our diseases-that stills the surges of the mind. When he giveth