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resisteth and in his deep poverty he had called the covetous blessed, whom the Lord abhorreth.

Eighthly, The Plaintiff further shewed, That Prodigalis had not only given in to them in heart and word, but that he had been brought into сарtivity to the law of sin that is in his members.

Ninthly, The Plaintiff appealed to the heart, thoughts, and conscience of Prodigalis for confirmation; and asked if he could say, That his rejoicing was in the testimony of a good conscience, as Paul did? Could he say, "Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth?" Rom. xiv. 22. Nay, said the Plaintiff, you are so far from this, that thy own thoughts condemn thee. Therefore thou canst not lay thine hand upon thy heart and say, in an holy triumph, "In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul," Psalm xciv. 19. The Plaintiff added, He that is born of God sinneth not.

Ahimaaz. Why, the devil sticks to his old text, Cushi. Yes; and he will stick to it, until the poor believer either find out the real meaning of it, or else fall into error, or despondency under the devil's temptations about it. Satan threw down Adam with a text of scripture, and took the same method when he tempted the Son of God.

Ahimaaz. I think this is one of the most puzzling trials that ever Prodigalis had. It is a dreadful thing to a soul that is quickened, humbled, and blessed with a tender feeling of the evil

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of sin, and with a filial fear of God, and an heart bent to honour him, for such an one to be so left of God, as for his old wretched customs to be pursuing his mind, and entangling his thoughts, after he has so sorely suffered under the sight and sense of them. But, as poor Job says, such possess the iniquity of their youth, even in that sense, though not the guilt of them.

For my part, I have often wished that God had took me to himself in my first love; or else had granted me a residence where I might never see man, woman, or child; yea, neither sun, moon, nor stars. For the world is full of nothing but evil; look which way you will, sin presents itself: and if that steals on the heart, then my comforts die; I wish either for heaven, or for the lonely cot of a hermit.

Cushi. If you had died in your first love, how could you have served your generation? and if you were shut up like a hermit, how could you let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works?

Your first request savours of a distrust of God's power to keep you; and the last savours of cowardice, and of a narrow spirit: just as if the devil was to be left sole ranger of the world, because he has spread the earth with traps. No; it well becomes the saints, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, to seek the welfare of the children of Israel, and the kingdom of their ever blessed Lord; to oppose the devil's reign, and expose the devil's works

also; and so to weaken his interest as much as possible. And though we find it a perilous work, and are in imminent danger at it, yet the battle is the Lord's; the cause of truth is the Lord's cause; and his truth is our armour; and the promise of victory is sure to all the seed. The Lord tells us to quit ourselves like men, instead of creeping into holes and we may depend upon it, that his strength will be made perfect in our weakness, because he hath promised it. And when he comes to say in the great day, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord," that will pay for all.

Ahimaaz. Pray how long did Prodigalis labour under this trial?

Cushi. For many months; yet no man could hate sin more; no man mourned over it, struggled with it, or prayed against it, more than he did; but notwithstanding all his efforts, he found himself to be a man burdened with the body of sin and death, which, God knows, he sorely groaned under. Besides his situation was none of the most pleasing; he had a large flock to feed, whether his own soul was flourishing or barren; he had many enemies in the world, as well as friends; his enemies watched for his halting, and his friends looked to him as a copy; the first looked for destruction, and the latter for perfection, and both were deceived; for though he had as base a heart as the worst of them, and more temptations to grapple with than all of them, yet God did not permit him to be

utterly cast down, to gratify his enemies, though there was enough exposed to convince his friends that he was not perfect, but that the treasure was in an earthen vessel.

The poor creature travelled in this way till his very soul was bowed down within him, and Satan tempted him even to choose strangling rather than life, Job vii. 15; or to drown himself, rather than suffer thus; yea, he wanted him to imitate Jonah, leave the work, and flee from it; he was so beset with temptations, and with conscience, that his very heart and soul failed him. However, at last he went to his Lord with as heavy a heart as mortal could bear. He first sat down in his chair and reasoned with his Lord, until his sorrow began to give way; he then kneeled on his knees, he confessed, he wept, he pleaded, he supplicated, until he obtained these sweet words as an answer to his prayer; "If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things," 1 John iii. 20; he immediately felt strength communicated to his soul; his accusing conscience was silenced; he got up from his knees, and put the devil to flight with this text; "My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever."

Now was the dear Redeemer more precious to Prodigalis than ever; his soul was sweetly becalmed, and blessed with a doubled portion of life and peace; every evil thought of his heart vanished, every besetting sin was detested and

abhorred, and heaven itself seemed, if possible, to be in full view; and the poor man vainly thought, and indeed often said, that he was ripening for glory; that his work was pretty well done; that he should not be long in this world, and that he was too happy to live. But the Lord counterbalanced his anxiety for heaven, by laying the concerns of his flock in the midst of wolves, his wife, family, and friends, on his mind, which brought him into a strait between two, "having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better; nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you," Phil. i. 23, 24, says Paul, and so Prodigalis thought, and therefore he prayed for submission to the will of God, that whether he lived he might live to the Lord, or whether he died he might die to the Lord; that whether he lived therefore or whether he died, he might be the Lord's, Rom. xiv. 8.

Ahimaaz. That is a most safe and a most blessed frame of mind, to be resigned to the will of God. There is no galling cross when our wills lay straight with the will of God; it is our perverse will contradicting, or laying counter to God's will, that makes the cross, and the loss is all our own; for when we have made it we are compelled to take it up. In this we act like Haman, who erected his own gallows at his own expence. The Saviour has coupled self-denial and the daily cross together; if self be denied, the cross will lay easy; if self be consulted, then the cross galls us. But

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