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painful operation, if, peradventure you may at length regain your health. But what is the health of a dying body, compared with the salvation of an immortal soul? Or who is that earthly physician, that may be trusted like the Heavenly One, whose advice we have heard?
Much more pleasant is a minister's work in healing a broken heart, than in breaking a hard
To warn you of your danger, is, indeed, our duty : but to congratulate you on your safety, would be our joy. We join the angels in rejoicing over a returning sinner; and, as we see you united to the flock of Christ, we are ready to cry, with the Apostle, What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing ?, are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming ?-for ye are our glory and joy : 1 Thess. ii. 19, 20.
With what pleasure was that letter written (though written in bonds) which was sent by a servant returning like a new creature to his master! I beseech thee, for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds : which in time past was to thee unprofitable ; but now profitable to thee and to me! Whom I have sent again: thou, therefore, receive him; that is, mine own bowels. He, perhaps, departed for a season, that thou shouldst receive him for ever : as a brother beloved. -Receive him as myself! Philem. 10--17.
You see plainly, here, for what a minister labours, and what is the proper effect of the Gospel ;
and may he, who, to meet our deep necessities, came down, and took upon him the form of a servant (Phil: ii. 7), and sends by whom and in what way he will, give success to my endeavours for your benefit? that, receiving yourself the inestimable blessing of a saving conversion to God, you may become a blessing to every family with which you live! Let your prayers be united with mine to this end: and be not discouraged, because you cannot pray as you would. Pray as you can.
God looketh not at the expression, but at the heart; and hath declared, that he is nigh unto all them that call upon him: Ps. cxlv. 18. The Scriptures which you read will furnish you with both matter and language for prayer; an example of which I shall leave you at the conclusion.
If, convinced of your sad state in having wandered from the best of Fathers—and if, tired, like the prodigal, of its slavery-you are desirous to return, remember how graciously our Lord invites all that labour, and are heavy laden, to come unto him for rest (Matt, xi. 28); declaring, that he will in no wise cast him out that comes (John vi. 37), that his blood shall cleanse such from the guilt of sin, and his Spirit deliver them from the power of it; and that he will freely give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him: Luke xi. 13.
As bis servants and witnesses upon earth, we are bound to declare these truths; and to declare
them with firmness, on the authority of his words We can speak of them also from our own experience: we have been in your condition: we were convinced of our danger: we advanced upon the credit of his truth : our prospects brightened as we advanced ; and the more we know of religion and its Author, the more we feel and admire its evidence and importance! Can we then avoid adopting the words of the Apostle (though in an humbler sense) That which we have seen and heard, declare we unto you, that ye may have fellowship with us: and, truly, our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ : and these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full : 1 John i. 3, 4.
It is in advancing, that you may expect the same increasing conviction ; for a Christian's evidence grows with his experience. He, that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself (1 John v. 10); and, in his time and measure, shall be enabled to resist every temptation to apostasy, with the holy confidence of that faithful servant*, who, when urged to save his life by reviling his Master, replied, Eighty and six years have I served Christ, and never received any thing but kindness from him ; how then can I now
1; blaspheme my King and my Saviour !"
Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, supposed to have been a disciple of St. John, and the person meant by the Angel of the Church of Smyrna, in Rev. ii. 8.He suffered about the year 167.
ALMIGHTY GOD, who dwellest in the high and holy place, with him also that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at thy word, mercifully attend to the cry of a lost siņner, who desires to approach thee in the name and mediation of thy Son Jesus Christ!
I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies, for I have sinned against Heaven and in thy sight. God be merciful to me a sinner.
But who is a God like unto thee, pardoning ina. quity, transgression and sin! Thou delightest in mercy. Thou hast often called when I have refused. Thou now 'criest in my heart, Turi ye, for why will ye die? Turn thou me; O Lord, and I shall be turned. Heal me, and I shall be healed. Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.
Glory to thy holy name, that when I forgot thee thou didst remember me; and still saidst; Seek ye my face. Pour upon me now thy promised Spirit of grace and supplication, and incline
my heart to reply, Thy face, Lord, will I seek! Yea, I will seek thee with my whole heart; for blessed is the man whom thou choosest; and causeth to approach unto thee! Remember me, therefore, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people ! O visit me with thy salvation, that I may see the good of thy chosen
Let the Spirit of Truth lead me into all truth: and so open the eyes of my understanding, that I may savingly understand the Scriptures, and find that wisdom which giveth life to them that have it.
And, since thou hast given eternal life so freely, and declared this life to be only in thy Son, grant that I may not be of them that draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul: that my trust may be alone in the Lord, my Redeemer; yea, God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!, Give me rest, through his labour; health from his wounds: and life, by his death!
Grant also, O my Heavenly Father, that I may know what is the exceeding greatness of his power in them that believe ! Let thy Spirit be a living spring in my heart, springing up unto everlasting life. Make me a living branch in the true vine, that I may bring forth much fruit to thy glory. May I feel the joy of the Lord, to be my strength; and find, in every trial, his grace sufficient for me!
Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, in sending these thy promised mercies !-and that thy hand may be with me in my station, keeping me from the evils and temptations which attend it! Bless me, and make me a blessing to those whom I serve, to those that serve with me, and to all my relations!
As a servant, enable me to walk before thee; acting as in thy sight, and as serving thee, while