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suppose, that we shall not see war any more. And there are instances wherein this calm has continued, not only for weeks, but for months or years. But commonly it is otherwise: in a short time the winds blow, the rains descend, and the floods arise" anew. They who know not either the Son or the Father, and consequently hate his children, when God slackens the bridle which is in their teeth, will show that hatred in various instances. As of old," he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now; "the same canse still producing the same effect. The evil which yet remains in the heart, will then also move afresh; anger, and many other roots of bitterness, will endeavour to spring up. At the same time, Satan will not be wanting to cast in his fiery darts; and the soul will have to wrestle, not only with the world, not only with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers, with the rulers of the darkness of this world, with wicked spirits in high places." Now when so various assaults are made at once, and perhaps with the utmost violence, it is not strange if it should occasion, not only heaviness, but even darkness, in a weak believer;―more especially, if he was not watching; if these assaults are made in an hour when he looked not for them; if he expected nothing less, but had fondly told himself,-"the day of evil would return no more."
2. The force of those temptations which arise from within, will be exceedingly heightened, if we before thought too highly of ourselves, as if we had been cleansed from all sin. And how naturally do we imagine this, during the warmth of our first love? How ready are we to believe, that God has “fulfilled in us the [whole] work of faith with power?" That because we feel no sin, we have none in us; but the soul is all love! And well may a sharp attack from an enemy, whom we supposed to be not only conquered, but slain, throw us into much heaviness of soul; yea, sometimes, into utter darkness: particularly when we reason with this enemy, instead of instantly calling upon God, and casting ourselves upon Him, by simple faith, who "alone knoweth how to deliver [his] out of temptation."
III. These are the usual causes of this second darkness. Inquire we, Thirdly, What is the Cure of it?
1. To suppose that this is one and the same in all cases, is a great and fatal mistake; and yet extremely common, even among many who pass for experienced Christians, yca, per
haps take upon them to be teachers in Israel, to be the guides of other souls. Accordingly they know and use but one medicine, whatever be the cause of the distemper. They begin immediately to apply the promises; to preach the Gospel, as they call it. To give comfort, is the single point at which they aim; in order to which they say many soft and tender things, concerning the love of God to poor, helpless sinners, and the efficacy of the blood of Christ. Now this is quackery indeed, and that of the worst sort, as it tends, if not to kill men's bodies, yet without the peculiar mercy of God, "to destroy both their bodies and souls in hell." It is hard to speak of these "daubers with untempered mortar," these promisemongers, as they deserve. They well deserve the title, which has been ignorantly given to others: They are spiritual mountebanks. They do, in effect, make "the blood of the covenant an unholy thing." They vilely prostitute the promises of God, by thus applying them to all, without distinction. Whereas, indeed, the cure of spiritual, as of bodily diseases, must be as various as are the causes of them. The first thing, therefore, is, to find out the cause; and this will naturally point out the cure.
2. For instance: Is it Sin which occasions darkness? What sin? Is it Outward Sin of any kind? Does your conscience accuse you of committing any sin, whereby you grieve the Holy Spirit of God? Is it on this account, that he is departed from you, and that joy and peace are departed with him? And how can you expect they should return, till you put away the accursed thing? "Let the wicked forsake his way; "cleanse your hands, ye sinners; " "put away the evil of your doings;" so shall your "light break out of obscurity;" the Lord will return and “abundantly pardon."
3. If upon the closest search, you can find no sin of commission, which causes the cloud upon your soul, inquire next, If there be not some Sin of Omission, which separates between God and you. Do you "not suffer sin upon your brother?" Do you reprove them that sin in your sight? Do you walk in all the ordinances of God? In public, family, private prayer? If not, if you habitually neglect any one of these known duties, how can you expect that the light of his countenance. should continue to shine upon you? Make haste to "strengthen the things that remain;" then your soul shall live. "To day, if ye will hear his voice," by his grace, supply what is lacking. When you hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the way, walk thou in it," harden not your heart; be no more "dis
obedient to the heavenly calling." Till the sin, whether of omission or commission, be removed, all comfort is false and deceitful. It is only skinning the wound over, which still festers and rankles beneath. Look for no peace within, till you are at peace with God; which cannot be without "fruits meet for repentance."
4. But perhaps you are not conscious of even any sin of omission, which impairs your peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. Is there not, then, some Inward Sin, which, as a root of bitterness, springs up in your heart to trouble you? Is not your dryness, and barrenness of soul, occasioned by your heart's departing from the living God?" Ilas not "the foot of pride come against" yon? Have you not thought of yourself "more highly than you enght to think?" Have you not, in any respect, "sacrificed to your own net, and burned incense to your own drag?" Have you not ascribed your success in any undertaking to your own conrage, or strength, or wisdom? Have you not boasted of something "you have received, as though you had not received it?" Have you not gloried in any thing, "save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ ?" Have you not sought after or desired the praise of men? Have you not taken pleasure in it? If so, you see the way you are to take. If you have fallen by pride, "humble yourself under the mighty herd of God, and he will exalt you in due time." Have not you forced him to depart from you, by giving plece to anger? Have you not "fretted yourself because of the wiredly," or "beea cuvious against the evil-dee.. ?" I've yet not been ended at any of your brethren, looking at their (real or imagined) sin, so as to sin yourself against the great law of love, by estranging your heart from them? Then lock unto the Lord, that you may renew your strength; that all is sharpness and coldness may be done away; that love, and peace, and joy, may return together, and you may be invariably kind to each other, and "tender hearted, forgiving cne another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Have not you given way to any foolish desire? To any kind or degree of inordinate affection? How then can the love of God have place in your heart, till you put away your idols? "Be not deceived: God is not mocked : he will not dwell in a divided heart. As long, therefore, as you cherish a Delilah in your bosom, he has no place there. It is gain to hope for a recovery of his light, till you phuck out the right eye, and cast it from you.
O let there be no longer delay! Cry to Him, that he may enable you so to do! Bewail your own impotence and helplessness; and, the Lord being your helper, enter in at the strait gate; take the kingdom of heaven by violence! Cast out every idol from his sanctuary, and the glory of the Lord shall soon appear.
5. Perhaps it is this very thing, the want of striving, spiritual Sloth, which keeps your soul in darkness. You dwell at ease in the land; there is no war in your coasts; and so you are quiet and unconcerned. You go on in the same even track of outward duties, and are content there to abide. And do you wonder, meantime, that your soul is dead? O stir yourself up before the Lord! Arise, and shake yourself from the dust; wrestle with God for the mighty blessing; pour out your soul unto God in prayer, and continue therein with all perseverance! Watch! Awake out of sleep; and keep awake!-otherwise there is nothing to be expected, but that you will be alienated more and more from the light and life of God.
6. If, upon the fullest and most impartial examination of yourself, you cannot discern that you at present give way, either to spiritual sloth, or any other inward or outward sin, then call to mind the time that is past. Consider your former tempers, words, and actions. Have these been right before the Lord? "Commune with him in your chamber, and be still;" and desire of him to try the ground of your heart, and bring to your remembrance whatever has at any time offended the eyes of his glory. If the guilt of any unrepented sin remain on your soul, it cannot be but you will remain in darkness, till, having been renewed by repentance, you are again washed by faith in "the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness."
7. Entirely different will be the manner of the cure, if the cause of the disease be not sin, but Ignorance. It may be, ignorance of the meaning of Scripture; perhaps occasioned by ignorant Commentators; ignorant, at least, in this respect, however knowing and learned they may be in other particulars. And, in this case, that ignorance must be removed, before we can remove the darkness arising from it. We must show the true meaning of those texts which have been misunderstood. My design does not permit me to consider all the passages of Scripture which have been pressed into this service. I shall just mention two or three, which are frequently brought to
prove, that all believers must, sooner or later, "walk in darkness."
8. One of these is, Isaiah 1. 10, "Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." But how does it appear, either from the text or context, that the person here spoken of, ever had light? One who is convinced of sin, "feareth the Lord, and obeyeth the voice of his servant." And him we should advise, though he was still dark of soul, and had never seen the light of God's countenance, yet to "trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." This text, therefore, proves nothing less than that a believer in Christ “must sometimes walk in darkness.”
9. Another text which has been supposed to speak the same doctrine, is Hosea ii. 14, "I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her." Hence it has been inferred, that God will bring every believer into the wilderness, into a state of deaduess and darkness. But it is certain, the text speaks no such thing; for it does not appear that it speaks of par.icular believers at all: It manifestly refers to the Jewish nation; and, perhaps, to that only. But if it be applicable to particular persons, the plain meaning of it is this:-1 will draw him by love; I will next convince him of sin; and then comfort him by my pardoning mercy.
10. A third scripture, from whence the same inference has been drawn, is that above recited, "Ye now have sorrow : but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.' This has been supposed to imply, that God would, after a time, withdraw himself from all believers; and that they could not, till after they had thus sorrowed, have the joy which no man could take from them. But the whole context shows, that our Lord is here speaking personally to the Apostles, and no others; and that he is speaking concerning these particular events, his own death and resurrection. A little while," says he, and ye shall not see me," riz., whilst I am in the grave: "And again, a little while, and ye shall see me;" when I am risen from the dead. "Ye will weep and lament, and the world will rejoice: but your sorrow shall be turned into joy."-"Ye now have sorrow," because I am about to be taken from your head; "but I will see you again," after my resurrection, "and your