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A BELIEVER UNDER THE HIDINGS OF GOD'S
• Your observations, my dear brother,' (said another, who sat at a corner of the room,) are truly refreshing to my soul. I have been long exercised under the hidings of the divine countenance, and sometimes tempted to cry out, with the Church of old, " My hope is perished from the Lord.' But I perceive, from what you have been saying to our friend, mourning under the unbelief of his heart, that the same arguments, by a parity of reasoning, are applica. ble to my case also. Spiritual darkness, and spiritual doubtings, are but too nearly allied, and proceed from the corruption that dwells within. It may be said of both, it is your ini. quities which have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you.' And when this is the case, when as in Paul's voyage,
neither sun nor stars for many days appeared, and no small tempest is added to the darkness of the horizon ; faith will be at a low ebb, and all hope, that the soul is then in a state of safety, will for a time be taken away. But blessed be God, when I can find no comfort in myself, I know that Christ is the same. I still see a loveliness in his person, and a suitableness and all-sufficiency in his power to save, when I cannot say that I see my interest in him to be clear. "When wilt thou come unto me?' is frequently the language of my heart, though I cannot always call him mine. . And the recal. lection of past experiences is sometimes a list to me during the passing cloud. I call to mind the time and place, and the gracious manner and means, when, where, and by which the Lord hath heretofore comforted and refreshed my soul.' So that, like the wife of Munoah, I am led to conclude, if the Lord had not intended mercy, he would not have showed me all these things.' And I always find that sweet text of the Prophet to be consolatory, during the . heaviest night of this kind of trial ;Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obéyeth the voice of his servant, and walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay himself upon his God.'..
• I rejoice truly, my dear brother,” (replied the Poor Man,) in the testimony you bear to the faithfulness of your God, under your sufferings. It is an easy thing to speak a word for God's goodness, when the Lord is surrounding us with the sunshine of his blessings. But it must be a gracious soul indeed to rejoice in
God, when he hath nothing but his word to trust in. And when God hides his face from his people ; stands at a distance from their prayers ; seemingly thwarts all their desires ; gives no answer by Urim and Thummim; then, to hold fast by God, and to lie passive before him ; this is what the Prophet felt, and what none but those who are taught of God the Holy Ghost can say with him ; ' Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flocks shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.'
I had entered with so much earnestness of participation into every man's case, as they related their several experiences one after another, that I was unconscious of the lapse of time, and felt not a little distressed, when I heard one of the company say, Our hour is come, it is past eight o'clock.'—The following hymn was then given out and súng; which appeared to be a very suitable conclusion to the :solemin service:
No more, my God, I boast no more
Of all the duties I have done ;
Now for the love I beår his name,
What was my gain I count my loss ;
And nail my glory to his cross.
Yes, and I must, and will esteem
All things but loss for Jesus' sake :
And of his righteousness partake !
The best obedience of my hands
Dares not appear before thy throne ;
By pleading what my Lord hath done.
But, if I felt myself pleased with the hymng my mind was more abundantly refreshed and delighted with the concluding prayer, which followed it; in which the person who prayed, did not confine himself to general expressions ; but, more or less, included therein the wants and desires of all the Lord's tried family; and in particular, the several cases whic had been spokeu of during the evening. Neither as a stranger and visitor in this little society, did the leader in prayer forget to mention me, at the mercy-seat ; that the Lord would supply all my wants, whatever they might be, out of
the abundant riches of his grace, which are in Christ Jesus.'
After withdrawing from the room, and taking leave of the friend who had conducted me thither, I retired to my closet to meditate upon what I had seen and heard. And the conclusion I formed upon the whole was this, I had discovered in the scriptures of truth, that in all ages of the Church, the Lord hās had a seed which served him. I no less discovered also, that this seed we a distinguished from the rest of mankind by certain marks and characters. I observed very clearly in the little circle to which I had now been introduced, that its members were widely distinguished from the unawakened world, in all their pursuits, complaints, and desires. I remarked yet further, that although their complaints and desires differed in their degree of earnestness; yet, like a family-feature, there was a sufficient similarity in all, to manifest their relationship to each other. But what became my highest gratification, was the discovery, that, however unconscious of it before, their situation was my own. And I felt that union of soul, which the mind feels in a state of nature on the discovery of affinity, so as to be drawn towards them in the warmth of a lasting love and affection. I resolv