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have had sublime joys, nor remarkable depressions, has reason to conclude that he is a partaker of divine grace.
Another hint or two may be further suggested on the subject of this chapter. You believe, dear reader, that it is by divine power and grace you have been inade to differ. Your intercourse henceforth is to be with God the Father of spirits, and with his Son Jesus Christ. * Beyond all doubt, therefore, you are to expect divine assistance and support, for without this you cannot stand for a moment. But here learn not to place any dependance on sudden impressions, dreams, or remarkable texts striking your mind, without any evident tendency to good. This is too common with many, who have not much knowledge and experience, to imagine every thing as coming from God, not considering that much may arise from a nervous frame, a melancholy habit, or a busy imagination. The enemy of souls, also, may easily suggest things, which at first are apparently good, but which, if pursued, will in the end have an evil tendency. Examine every thing, therefore, by the sacred scriptures, and whatever impression you have, ask whether it is reasonable, scriptural, and likely to be beneficial. For want of attention to this, many have laid themselves open to the charge of enthusiasm ; and the enemies of truth have taken occasion, from the weakness and inexperience of one individual, to brand all the whole body of believers in Christ, as a weak, fanatical, and ignorant people.
* 1st John, i. 3.
Again my dear reader, never boast of nor depend on your experience, as if superior to others. If you have had those convictions, and felt that pungent sorrow of which we have been speaking, beware that you do not unchristianise those who have not felt exactly the same. Or, if been led in a gentle gradual way, do not think that the paroxisms of distress others have laboured under to be unnecessary or singular. Whatever your experience has been on your first coming to the knowledge and enjoyment of the truth, be humble and modest in your relation of it. Neither place dependance on your present feelings. Nothing is so subject to change as human beings. Have you been happy hitherto, and found every thing pleasant and delightful; be thankful, but look also for and prepare against the enemies and difficulties that may arise. Are you still mourning and cast down under the recollection of your former conduct ; remember, weeping may endure for a night, joy shall come in the morning. *
“ He that goeth forth weeping, bearing precious seed, doubtless shall come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”+
Lastly, review your experience, and God's gracious dealings with you. Admire his goodness, that you were brought into such a situation, connexion, or circumstance, where your mind was impressed. That you have the scriptures in your hands, and means for understanding them. That you are now travelling in a road, where
* Psal. xxx. 5.
+ Psal. cxxyi. 5.
though there may be some trials, yet where you
This chapter might have been greatly enlarged; but having written a distinct Treatise on Religious Exprience, I must beg leave to refer the reader to that publication.
Holy practice the result of just principles. Retirement.
Meditation. Self-examination. Prayer ejaculatory, closet, family, and social. Rules for understanding
the scriptures. Advice as to reading human authors. HAVING laid down directions as to doctrines and experience, let us come now to duties. For while christianity presents to the mind important sentiments which are to be believed, and great truths which are to be felt, so it proposes to us essential duties which are to be performed. Indeed, the latter rise out of and are immediately connected with the former; so that to believe aright, and feel as we ought to do, is but laying the foundation of holy practice. Some may hold the truth in unrighteousness, and may make pretensions to high experience, while, alas! they are slaves to sin and Satan : but there never were any who had right and proper views of the doctrines, and felt the real influence of grace on their minds, but what delighted in holiness, and desired to adorn the doctrines of God their Saviour in all things. Young converts, however, cannot be supposed to understand at once what are the best means to be used for the attainment of this great object. Indeed, some, who have been right in the main, have been sadly bewildered for a time, by falling in the way of blind guides, who have erroneously exhorted them to works of superstition and supererogation, instead of those plain and simple duties which the Bible suggests. A few directions, therefore, on this subject, I hope, will be found suitable and edifying.
And first, my dear reader, endeavour to gain as much time as you possibly can for retirement. Religious society, no doubt, will be advantageous to you in many respects, and God never designed that man should cut himself off from intercourse with his fellow creatures; but then it must beremembered, that all our time must not be spent in this way. It is well to step aside not only from the world and its cares, but even from the company of the saints, that there may be some time for serious meditation and reflection. Perhaps it is one great evil of the present day, that there is too much hearing, and too little meditating. But, as one observes, “it is not the bee's touching of the flowers that gathers honey, but her abiding for a time upon them, and extracting the sweet;" and thus it is not he that converses most, that hears most, but he that meditates and digests what he hears, that is likely to be the wisest and strongest christian. Let no one say, that he wants matter to call forth the exercise of his mind to this delightful employ. He is placed in a world where the various objects are as so many preachers, reminding him of the wisdom, power, and goodness of his Creator.
He has constantly passing before him various and wonderful displays of divine providence. He has in his hand a volume which contains innumerable interesting subjects. He has around him perpetual monitors of the vanity of the world, the shortness of time, and the certainty of death; so that he has an inexhaustible source of profitable meditation. Often, then, retire and meditate : you will find it the way to improve the faculties of your mind, to