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thyself, what Christ knows of thee, how wouldest thou go, like a blind man, asking some one to lead thee by the hand; or like a beggar, asking alms, and living by charity from day to day!
That Christ should counsel such, is like His condescending manner. He is all condescension and kindness. Oh, that he would give us grace to follow His counsel! But it will cost us many a struggle of our naturally proud hearts.
PERSONS, APPARENTLY IN A STATE OF BACKSLIDING AND DEPARTURE FROM GOD.
"But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul."
Deuteronomy iv. 29. To reflect, how near you once thought yourself to God, and now how far you are gone from Him, is enough to break the heart!
Still, if you implore grace to turn with all your heart and soul, he will bring back the wandering sheep.
"When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long." Psalm xxxii. 3. Sin, when we will not confess and forsake it, burdens the heart, till it is ready to burst. When we reflect on what God's own dear Son suffered
for our sins, no wonder that the burden should be heavy enough to sink us, day by day, deeper and deeper. Sullenness, added to sin, makes it so intolerable, that the spirits pine away and languish under it. Repentance is the first gleam of sunshine. The perfect day comes on, when, by faith, we cast all our burden on the Lord. Jesus is our noon-day Sun of righteousness.
"Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free Spirit." Psalm li. 11, 12.
The froward child murmurs at punishment, and smarts under the rod: still, his spirit rises in resentBut when he finds himself separated from his father, and from the family he really loves, his heart goes down. He cannot complain of this treatment; and he keenly feels it. When he is re-admitted, he hangs his head.
So, O Lord, we lie abashed before Thee! Never shall we regain our freedom and frankness of heart, till thou, by thy Holy Spirit, shalt freely restore it.
"I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again, to folly." Psalm lxxxv. 8.
The Backslider plays the fool, more unpardonably than an unconverted sinner: for he grieves that Holy Spirit, who has been specially gracious to him.
Lord, we hear thy message of peace, and thy warning against relapses into sin. Make us as deeply concerned to obtain restraining grace, as pardoning grace.
"Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence. When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up. In the multitude of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul."
Psalm xciv. 17-20.
Are we not walking on the edge of a precipice; where a single slip of the foot may hurl us to the bottom, and dash us to pieces?
Lord, we mourn before thee, that we have trifled with the small beginnings of sin. We bless thee, for recovering us, as in a moment. If the first thought was checked; if the wandering eye stopped; if the hasty tongue paused; if the proud imagination faded away;-if prayer, purity, meekness and humility were restored to our souls, they were the free gift of thy Spirit. "Take not thy Holy Spirit from me!"
"For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and
he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners." Isaiah Ivii. 17, 18.
God marks the backslider: he leaves him for a while to his own heart: then smites: then heals: then comforts. That he should comfort, would be too much to believe, did not the Lord assure us, My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord."
"Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and
thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see, that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of Hosts." Jeremiah ii, 19... The backslider needs only to be left by God, and he will make himself perfectly wretched.
"Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me, days without number." Jeremiah ii. 32.
Yes: such vanities too often fill up our time. The delights of conversation, the ornaments of dress, the preparations for company, the merest compliments of the world, ravish our silly souls. Alas! how easily, in this way, may unwatchful
believers glide into the neglect of private prayer! "Days without number." Think on this; and let conscience bear witness. Think, what is lost by neglecting, straitening, or hurrying, secret devo
"Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto for thou art the Lord our God."
Jeremiah iii. 22. Immediately to return, the moment conscience upbraids us with sin and with departure from God; immediately to close with the gracious offers of the Covenant, the moment the invitation sounds in our ears-this is the best course for the backslider. In this respect, the first thought is the right thought: "I will arise, and go unto my Father." But, to do this, we have need of more than human resolution: we need the influences of the Holy Spirit, to cast out our pride and obstinacy, our indifference and sloth, our vain excuses, our lingering love of sin.
“O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved! How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?"
Jeremiah iv. 14.
O believer!-if, indeed, thou deservest that title, after so long a departure from the Living God—yet now, immediately, go to that Fountain, which is