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Chapter XXXIX.

The Conversation Of A Believing Soul With God.

Wilt thou be angry with us forever? Wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations? Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? Shew us thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation.Ps. 85:5-7.

These words contain the familiar discourse of the devout and faithful soul with God. Who would venture to talk so freely to an offended prince? But so indulgent is God to a believing soul, that he gives liberty to come freely and without restraint into his presence. As soon as the believer enters, God asks, “What is thy desire? come near, and be not afraid.” This is represented to us in the case of Bathsheba (1 Kings 1:16), going 302 into the presence-chamber of king David, and making her petition. Upon which, the king sware unto her with an oath. So also in that of Esther, whom, so soon as she came into his presence, the king touched with his golden sceptre. Est. 5:1.

2. It is held to be an act of singular grace and favor, if a king vouchsafe to talk familiarly with his subjects. It was upon this account that the Roman emperor Titus was called The delight of mankind, for his gracious treatment of all who were near him, filled them with joy. But how much greater favor and happiness is it, that God, the Lord of lords, and King of kings (whom the Psalmist calls, “The most high and terrible Lord, a great King over all the earth”), (Ps. 47:2), should not only talk with miserable men, who, as Abraham says, “are but dust and ashes” (Gen. 18:27); but should even converse kindly with rebellious sinners, who are at enmity with him through sin. Isa. 59:2. So that when a Christian considers, on the one hand, the greatness and majesty of God; and the impurity, corruption, misery, and vileness of human nature on the other hand, he cannot but cry out with David, “What is man that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” Ps. 8:4. The most righteous man living must acknowledge himself to be unworthy to converse with God. This was the sentiment of the devout Abraham, who therefore excuses his presuming to intercede with God for the Sodomites, saying, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak” (Gen. 18:30, 32): and yet every time that Abraham speaks, God vouchsafes to answer. And as he is the father of “them which are of faith” (Gal. 3:7), he gives us a notable example of the devout soul's conversation with God.

3. It is therefore a most certain and undoubted truth, that whensoever the faithful soul calls upon God by prayer, he never fails to answer by the divine consolations of his Spirit. An instance of this we have, where the Psalmist calls upon God in these words: “Lord, thou hast been favorable unto thy land. Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people; thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger. Wilt thou not revive us again? Shew us thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation. I will hear what God the Lord will speak.” Ps. 85:1, etc. The answer he received in his heart; therefore he says: “His salvation is nigh them that fear him.” Ver. 9. And as he here prays, that he may hear what the Lord God will say concerning him; God answers him, “Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee.” Ps. 50:7. The afflicted soul prays, “O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger.” Ps. 6:1. To which God answers, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” Ps. 103:8. The soul says, “Whither shall I flee from thy presence?” Ps. 139:7. To which the Lord answers, “Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28. The soul says, “I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh, to direct his steps.” Jer. 10:23. To which it is answered, “I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way in which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye.” Ps. 32:8. The believing soul prays, “Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth.” Ps. 86:11. To which the Lord answers, “I am the way, the truth, and 303 the life” (John 14:6); the way, if thou wouldest not wander; the truth, if thou wouldest not be deceived; the life, if thou wouldest avoid eternal death. The believing soul complains, “There is no soundness in my flesh, because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones, because of my sin. My wounds stink and are corrupt, because of my foolishness.” Ps. 38:3, 5. To which it is answered, “The chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Isa. 53:5. The devout soul says, “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed: save me, and I shall be saved.” Jer. 17:14. It is answered, “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases.” Ps. 103:3. The soul complains, and cries out: I have sinned above the number of the sands of the sea. To which God answers by the prophet Isaiah, “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and as a cloud thy sins.” Isa. 43:25; 44:22. The soul cries out, Alas! I am a grievous sinner. And Jesus Christ answers, “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Matt. 9:13. The soul prays, “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions.” Ps. 25:7. To which God answers, “If the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him.” Ezek. 18:21, 22. The soul cries out, “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” Ps. 51:3. To which God answers, “Though your sins be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isa. 1:18. “Lord, enter not into judgment with thy servant; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.” Ps. 143:2. To which it is answered, “God sent not his Son into the world, to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned.” John 3:17, 18. The soul prays, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Ps. 51:10. To which it is answered, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes.” Ezek. 36:26, 27. The soul says, “I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.” Ps. 38:6. To which it is answered, “The Lord hath sent me to comfort all that mourn.” Isa. 61:2. It is said, “Look upon mine affliction and my pain.” Ps. 25:18. And it is answered, “To him will I look, that is poor, and of a contrite spirit.” Isa. 66:2. “Thou tellest my wanderings.” Ps. 56:8. To which the Lord answers, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Matt. 10:30. The soul cries out, “When shall I come and appear before God?” Ps. 42:2. To which is answered, “Where I am, there shall also my servant be.” John 12:26. The soul complains, “How long, O Lord, wilt thou forget me? forever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?” Ps. 13:1, 2. To which is answered, “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee.” Isa. 54:7, 8. Compare thy present suffering with God's eternal grace. Wait for the promise, which, though late, will surely be fulfilled at last. Hab. 2:3. The soul says, “Thou art my God; be not far from me; for 304 trouble is near; for there is none to help.” Ps. 22:10, 11. To which it is answered, “I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him.” Ps. 91:15. The soul prays, “Lighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.” Ps. 13:3. To which it is answered, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death.” Hosea, 13: 14. The soul says, “I have a desire to depart, and to be with Christ.” Phil. 1:23. To which Christ answers, “To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43.

4. In a word, the Holy Scripture is nothing else but a conversation of the devout soul with God. Whenever the soul raises itself to God, and spreads its misery and complaints before him, then God answers it by some internal comfort, or by the words and promises of the Holy Scriptures.

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