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opened for sin and for uncleanness. There wash, and be clean. Jesus Christ maketh thee whole. But art thou yet so much in love with sin, as to give it a lodging in thy breast, one day, or one night longer? God forbid, for Jesu's sake!
"I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God! Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth. Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still therefore my bowels are troubled for him: I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord." Jeremiah xxxi. 18-20.
This bemoaning of himself the backslider experiences, after that he is turned, and has come again under instruction. There is a sorrow short of this: a sorrow, that worketh death. Try yourself by these marks: First, Are you willing to take shame to yourself for your rebellions? Next, Do you cast the burden of your guilt upon the Lord Jesus? Thirdly, Are you fitting your neck to the yoke; with indignation against all sin, and
vehement desires after perfect holiness? Lastly, Do you render all the praise of this to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for their respective offices in the work of your salvation?
"I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely for mine anger is turned away from him." Hosea xiv. 4.
Backslidings are like a long, deep wound, or fretting sore. When healed, they commonly leave a scar behind them.
Lord Jesus, we may well bear the burden of shame, remembering how Thou didst bear the load of our sins. Make us to be of a lowly, loving spirit, when thinking of ourselves, and Thee!
"Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple."
Jonah ii. 4.
Fear and hope divide the heart of the backslider. He dreads God's displeasure; yet turns to Him, remembering what joy he once had in ordinances: thus he keeps his eye still on God. He knows he can find deliverance and comfort nowhere else.
"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you
as wheat but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." Luke xxii, 31, 32. As I have sinned, like Peter; grant me, O Lord, Peter's repentance, tenderness of heart, faith, vigilance, and love to his forgiving Master! And let my experience, as well as his, instruct me how to give warning, counsel and encouragement to others.
PERSONS MOURNING, AFFLICTED, AND DOWNCAST IN
"As thy days, so shall thy strength be."
Deuteronomy xxxiii. 25.
All our spiritual strength is from God: we are, in ourselves, perfect weakness, even at the best. The strength, which God imparts, is communicated to those who ask for it in the name of Jesus: He then strengthens us with all might, by his Spirit, in the inner man. It is plain, that, to such a strength as this, there is no limit. It is immeasurable, and inexhaustible. This is our comfort in trying times.
Though He slay me, yet will I trust in him."
Grant to us, Lord, strong faith, in our greatest extremity of danger, sorrow and suffering! Help
us, by thy Spirit, not to forget, at such a moment, the Man of sorrows. We can never be lost, if we are found in Him.
"Yet the Lord will command his loving-kindness
in the day-time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life." Psalm xlii. 8.
"Loving-kindness in the day-time," and "Songs in the night," maintain a goodly fellowship with Prayer unceasing."
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God." Psalm xlii. 11.
There is such infirmity, sometimes, in the mind, that a person can scarcely be reasoned with: but as long as reason is in exercise, we should appeal to the grounds of faith and hope. "GOD IS LOVE; and He is ALMIGHTY. Then, why art thou cast down, O my soul? Hope in Him; and praise Him, even in tears.
"Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me." Psalm 1. 15. "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." Psalm lv. 22.
These precepts are very simple, and the promises most encouraging: the difficulty lies in doing what is recommended-disburdening the soul to God. For we sometimes cling to our griefs, as if we would not part with them: this is displeasing to God. We should despatch them out of the way, as soon as possible, by prayer: after which, considering how much work lies before us, we should " up and be doing." Thus may we glorify God in the most trying dispensations.
"I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with my own heart: and my spirit made diligent search. Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
Psalm lxxvii. 6 – 10.
Could any words better describe the experience of the dejected believer? And what is his consolation? To forget Self, and remember the Saviour. This poring over Self becomes, at length, an utter infirmity of the soul. Look from Self; look to Christ. Remember what proofs of Wisdom, Power, and Love, God has given. The glories of Creation;