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him such sweet discoveries and comfort, seemed to conceal its wonders; the light shined not on it as usual; therefore David's petition, "shew me wonders in thy law," was very seasonable to him. He found himself much straitened in prayer also; he had not that freedom of access with confidence as formerly, and therefore little delighted in it. These things are very trying to a poor soul that has been brought into tender favour, and indulged with sweet communion with the Lord; the poor soul is like a child that is weaned from his mother, yea such a soul is like a weaned child, Psalm cxxxi. 2.
Ahimaaz. I know what that is, my soul has had a sad experience of that; to be debarred the heavenly freedom, to find divine comfort suspended, to go mourning under the sensible frowns of the best of fathers, is one of the sorest afflictions that a new-born soul can labour under.
Cushi. It really is; but Prodigalis did not stay here; for he found the word of God preached had no effect upon him; it neither gave him reproof nor comfort; he appeared in one of the worst of frames, cold, stupid, and insensible; and in this state he continued many days, until reading the Bible became a burden, and prayer a task; he went about his devotions like a galled horse to the collar, or an unaccustomed bullock to the yoke; his service was mercenary, and performed with reluctance, and so he continued until his soul was shut up in legal bondage. What to make of this trial he
knew not; it was a frame that he had never experienced before. In process of time he began to give way to a peevish fretful temper, which his conscience often smote him for, as it cast a gloomy shade upon the glorious religion of Jesus Christ; besides, he had made a great stir in religious matters, which had brought the eyes of many upon him; some watched for his halting, and some for his persevering; those that watched for his halting, could make his anger appear by cruel mockings; while those that loved him were grieved, for they saw that his soul was not healthy, because his countenance was not comely. When peace reigns in the conscience, God is the health of the coun
This dark, cold, and lifeless frame, brought on a fit of unbelief, to which he so much yielded as at times to give up prayer, which was adding sin to sin; and when some of his associates came to him for spiritual conversation and instruction, he withdrew, and, like Jeremiah, determined to speak no more in the name of the Lord, Jer. xx. 9. This was doubling his transgression; and at last he neglected the sanctuary service, and began to draw wretched conclusions concerning his state, and even gave way to doubts and fears, and consequently to murmuring and complaining. Now was the time for Satan to work again; accordingly he entered another action against him, and brought him to the court of common pleas, and there he attempted to appeal even to the divine oracles. The plaintiff
shewed that a child of God could not sin; "Whosoever is born of God sinneth not," 1 John v. 18; but that Prodigalis was not one of them, for he sinned in heart, in thought, and in word, and was guilty of the sins of omission and commission, yea, of the sin of rebellion also, both in heart and in lip.
Then the plaintiff asked if he could use the common pleas of bible saints. Canst thou say, with Hezekiah, "I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight," 2 Kings xx. 3. Has thy heart been perfect? has it not been altogether perverse and froward? and have not thy lips muttered perverseness, and thy tongue used deceit? yea, and thou hast even fled from the work of God. And canst thou plead like Jeremiah; "As for me I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee?" Jer. xvii. 16. Thou art so far from being able to use such pleas as these, that thou hast run from the work, and by thy peevish temper hast cast a slur it. Canst thou say, "Remember me, upon O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for the offices thereof?" Nehem. xiii. 14. Nay, said the plaintiff, thou hast been at times so far from this, that thou hast secretly wished that thou never hadst opened thy mouth at all. The plaintiff further shewed that Prodigalis had been at times so hot upon religion as to neglect secular
business, instead of being a prudent man, and guiding his affairs with discretion, Psalm cxii. 5; therefore could never use the common plea of Job; "If my land cry against me, or that the furrows likewise thereof complain,—let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley," Job xxxi. 38, 40.
Ahimaaz. O what a malicious plaintiff, what a subtle attorney, and what a keen accuser that old serpent is! with what diligence does he watch for his opportunities to tempt poor thoughtless mortals! It seems to be his whole study and anxiety; as the Saviour intimated to Peter, when he 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," Luke xxii. 31, 32.
Cushi. To dishonour God, oppose his gospel, disturb his saints, and ruin sinners, is his whole employ; however, all his accusations could not sink Prodigalis into despair, for he had got a good hope at the bottom, which is an anchor of the soul both sure and stedfast, Heb. vi. 19. Prodigalis was persecuted by Satan, but not in despair; he was cast down, but not destroyed, 2 Cor. iv. 9. Indeed, at last he made a very good use of Satan's accusations; for as Satan accused him of various sins, Prodigalis began to confess them to God as fast as the devil brought them forth; this is making the best of a bad matter, and outshooting the enemy with his own bow. The accuser, finding
Prodigalis at this work, soon ceased his accusations, and began to dispute with him about his sonship. The plaintiff shewed, that the saints of God in the days of old could work miracles, and cast out devils; but Prodigalis was so far from that power that he could not deliver himself from a temptation, much less work miracles. The poor soul on a sudden began to find the word of God flow in upon his mind, and he opened his mouth against his accuser in the following manner:
The defendant sheweth, that many have worked miracles that will never be saved. 66
Many will say in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?" Unto whom the Saviour will say, "I never knew you." The Egyptian magicians worked miracles, and yet were no children of God. Devils may work miracles, or lying wonders, and be devils still. Many workers of miracles the Saviour will refuse in the great day; but a pardoned sinner, a believer in his name, he will never disown. The defendant shewed moreover, that the devil wanted the Saviour to satisfy him of his being the Son of God, by starting an 'if,' and desiring a miracle : "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." But the Saviour would not satisfy his adversary by a miracle, but left him to doubt who he was, or to find it out: which Satan soon did, when he perceived that no temptation gained ground. But he felt who he was