« PreviousContinue »
ment while writing, I feel all the tender inAuences of the claim; and pause to lift an eye: of humble supplication to the God of all grace, that he may give to every one of them grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.' Grace doth not destroy, it only heightens and refines our feelings.
Among the number there was one more intimately wrapped about my heart, whose iufluence in every thing but religion, I have ever found it to be both my interest and my happiness to feel : for whom there needs no other claim than nature's feelings to call forth every energy of the mind in the promotion of her welfare ; and in grace, my earliest and latest prayers for her salvation will cease but with
Perhaps some reader, circumstanced in the same particularity of situation and of sentiment, may feel his mind drawn out in a similar affection. As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man*.'
I sustained very much of conflicts and per. secutions from the whole of my unawakened relations. But from her, in the sweet and al. most irresistible claims in which her arguments were encircled, ten-fold more than all.
You * Proverbs xxvii. 19.
have made up your mind, I suppose,' said one of them to me, in a very pointed and half-angry manner, one day when the conversation had! been serious, to forego all your future prospects in this world. Neither the profits nor pleasures of this life can be worth your attention. And as to the scorn and derision of mankind, no doubt you move in an atmosphere too high to be sensible of it.' I do very earnestly wish, (said another, that you would reflect, before it be too late, on the folly and standal of associating yourself with such low and ignorant persons, as you have lately made your companions. A man of your education and ability to be seen with such ! Have you no pridė, no regard to your own character?' A third up. braided me with blasting all the hopes of my family ; and that I should certainly bring myself to beggary. And a fourth very jocularly desired me first to be assured of the reality of what I professed to be looking forward to another world for, before I relinquished all the prospects and enjoyments of this.
But all these were trifling, compared to the solicitations, the remonstrances, the jealousies, displeasure, and a long train of other persuasions, with which that very near and tender friend before-mentioned armed herself to pre
yail upon me to relinquish my pursuit.' And if no power but nature had been with me to resist her claim, very sure am I, that I must have yielded to entreaties coming from an advocate so endearing. If,' said she, in a moment of peculiar solemnity, after speaking of a dear friend to both, departed into the world of spirits, “if those new sentiments of yours be really founded in truth, what is become of him whom we followed to the grave ? It is impossible that so much sweetness and amiableness can be lost.' The reader who knows what the conflicts of nature and grace mean ; whose heart at times is like that of the Shulamite, in the contentions of two armies, will know somewhat of what I have felt in those seasons. Adored Redeemer! I have not wanted, thou knowest, that evidence of being thy follower; in plucking out an eye, cutting off an arm, and taking up a cross ! It was the legacy of my late companion, that I might know the fellowship of Christ's sufferings. And here was an answer to his prayer.
It was much about the same period, in which my friend was thus deeply exercised with the unceasing importunity and persecutions of my relations, that I received a more formidable as sault from another quarter. While I was seek:
ing consolation from retirement and reading in the intervals of more important engagements, a circumstance arose in consequence of the latter, which very much affected me.
I FOUND an author, whose writings were particularly directed to the subject of divine grace. The title first attracted my notice and invited me to the perusal. But the trial it afterwards proved to me, will be, I hope, thus far useful, to caution me against curiosity in future. It is a good thing, (the apostle saith,) that the heart be established with grace*! But it is dangerous in the unexperienced and the unestablished, to be running about in quest of novelty. The leading doctrines of this writer's creed, founded on what hath been generally distinguished by the five points of the Dort Assembly, from being originally formed there, were to this purpose : That grace is equally free, and equally offered to all; the acceptance or refusal of it depended upon ourselves. And hence, that the improvement or mis-improvement rests upon the will of man. That the regeneration of the Holy Ghost doth not so operate as to be irresistibly effectual, but that a man's own conduct may frustrate the life-giving power. And lastly, the final perdition of the people of God is very possible, notwithstanding all that the everlasting love of the Father, and the infinite merits of the Redeemer, and the operation of the Holy Ghost, hath wrought, in order to prevent it.
* Heb. xiii. 9.
The reader who hath accompanied me thus far in my pilgrimage, hath seen enough of my weakness not to know that such a train of doc. trine was sufficient for a time to throw a damp upon all my confidence. I am like the sensitive plant in these things; the least touch makes me recoil. To hear, therefore, of the bare pos"sibility of falling from grace, in the close of life, and apostatizing from him whom my soul love eth,' (and apostatize I certainly should, if the perseverance depended upon myself,) what a distressing apprehension !
Neither did my trials end here. There was yet another in reserve for this season of temptation. What David remarks of the natural world, is equally applicable to the spiritual ; • Thou makest darkness, and it is night; 'wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth. When the Lord withdraws his shining on the