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were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and been made partakers of the Holy Ghost,' have fallen away ?
.| “Yes; (rejoined my companion ;) but none of those so spoken of were ever children of God, or born again of that incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth for ever.' Only observe the vast distinction of character, by which those enlightened persons whom the Apostle speaks of are marked, from the scripture-features of the truly regenerate ; and the contrast will immediately appear. They are said to be once enlightened,' that is, with head-knowledge; not renewed in heart-affections. They are described as those who have tasted of the heavenly gift ;' tasted, but not approved : like persons whose stomachs nauseate what the taste rejects, and digest it not. They are said to have been made partakers of the Holy Ghost;' that is, in his common operations upon the understanding ; not in his quickening and regenerating grace in the soul. In all these, and the like instances, there is not a single syllable said of the Spirit's work, in the great and essential points of faith and repentance, and the renewed life. But the whole account is confined to the common operations of nature, as distinguished from grace ; in which natural men frequently excel; and sometimes indeed to such a degree, as to surpass in head knowledge children of grace. And Gop the Holy Ghost is pleased to work by their instrumentality, while they themselves' remain unconscious of his power. He blesses his people by them; but they feel not his power in them. For rather than his household shall want supply, he will feed them even from the table of their enemies. They become therefore like channels of conveyance, which conduct to others, but retain nothing themselves: or like the directionposts on the road, which point the traveller to the right paih, but never stir themselves a step towards it. These things may be done, and perhaps very often are done, by men perfectly strangers to vital godliness. And therefore * * when they cease to appear in their assumed character, they are said by the world to have fallen away from grace ; whereas the fact is, they never were in grace. Every thing in such persons
is derived from natural causes, is supported by natural means, and adopted for na. tural purposes ; and thus beginning in nature, they end in the same. And if a proper attention was paid to these things, to discriminate between nature and grace, it would, under the divine blessing, very much tend to diminish the apprehensions of the humble and fearful
believer, respecting the danger of apostatizing from the faith.'
• But is there not a difficulty, (I said,) to the cordial reception of this doctrine, in the cases of those unhappy persons who die by their own hands, and, as is generally supposed, from the effects of religious melancholy?'
• Not the least, (replied my friend,) by those who consider the subject in a proper point of view. It is the grossest mistake to ascribe such instances of suicide to a religious melancholy, when in fact they are induced altogether from the total want of religion.
• Men, from the awakenings of conscience, and from the dread of divine displeasure in the recollection of a mis-spent life, may be driven to despair; and, if there be no grace given to them of God, to make application of the sweet promises of the gospel in the hour of temptation, but left to themselves, may be prompted to do an act at which nature shudders ! But who would presume, but a fool, to put this down to the score of religion, when every circumstance tends but to prove the very reverse, in the total want of all religion. Let us only suppose a case in point, which is enough at once to answer all the childish observations which the world hath made on a subject of this nature. Let us suppose a man, under the immediate pressure and alarms of a guilty conscience, in the prospect of the wrath to come, feels the rising temptation to make away with himself. Let us suppose further, that in this distressed state of mind, some precious revelation and promise of the Gospel is, through divine grace, revealed to his heart; that he hears and believes what that Gospel graciously proclaims that though his sins are as the scarlet, they shall be made white as snow; though red as the crimson, they shall be as the wool; that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin':' is it not evident, that if the mind of such a man is brought to believe in this precious promise, there can be no despair, and consequently there can be no self-murder? And will prejudice itself, even the grossest prejudice, venture to say, or even believe, that a single instance of suicide was ever committed under such circumstances ?
• Hence, therefore, you see, my brother,'continued my friend, that it is not faith, but the want of faith ; not from religion, but from the total absence of religion, that a melancholy pervades the mind, which sometimes terminates so fatally as in self-destruction.'
I was about to reply, when the voice of one singing attracted my attention. It was an husbandman at his' labour, busily engaged in ploughing the field, and at the same time exercising his mind in strains of melody. From the solemnity of the tune, I was induced to believe that it was a psalm or hymn that he was singing. How mercifully, (I thought with myself,) hath the LORD provided for the labouring
part of mankind; that while the hands are engaged day by day on things of the earth, the heart is unfettered, and able, through grace, to soar among the objects of heaven! As we approached nearer, we paused, and could very plainly distinguish the words: and thus be sring
Arise, my soul, my joyful pow'rs,
And triumph in my God:
My friend whispered in my ear,- Do you recollect what the Prophet predicted of the last Gospel days? In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE