"He restoreth my soul." - Psalm xxiii. 3.

My ever-gracious Lord has been pleased of late to show me that I am not a stranger to the Psalmist's experience, nor he to mine, as expressed in these words. But here my thoughts turn upon the greatest of all restorations, regeneration, and I ask myself, how could I experimentally say, "He restoreth," unless I were able to add, "He restored my soul." O, I feel that it is the one thing needful, (Luke x. 42,) vast, and essential; no language is adequate fully to speak its importance; it has for its foundation the everlasting love of the Triune Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; it was the first heavenly blessing communicated, and was manifestively the time commencement of the covenant, the almighty and effectual work of the Spirit. At this dour only admittance is gained to the treasury of grace, secured in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. All real, genuine religion hangs upon this, so that, if my beginning be wrong, my whole course must be wrong, and my end ruin; if my conversion be false, everything connected therewith must be false too; if here I am deceived, what must I be in all matters of a spiritual nature beside! I consider that it is here that so many are grossly deluded. It is the main cause of so much deception, detected by the living family of God in professors, and of their empty, flimsy, spurious religion, and their errors in doctrine, practice, and experience, a system awfully fostered by letter preachers and blind guides. But, "Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law;" (Psalm xciv. 12,) and again, "Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causeth to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple." (Ps. lxv. 4.) I trust I can attest the truth of these words by the work of God in my soul. At the decreed period he put a full stop to my wicked course. "God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise: and his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand; and there was the hiding of his power." (Hab. iii. 3, 4.) Herein is described my conception of what I then saw of the eternal God. He came to me on earth in the power of the Spirit, and revealed his glory, greatness, majesty, and holiness. I felt the requirements of divine justice in my very heart and conscience, demanding full satisfaction for my crimes from my youth up. I then felt the damning and defiling nature of sin, and not till then did I feel that I had an immortal soul, sinful and guilty, which needed salvation, justification, and sanctification, exposed to bear the sentence, "Depart, ye cursed," or chosen to receive the benediction, "Come, ye blessed;" and that this depended entirely on the sovereign will of God. "Behold, all souls are mine, as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine; the soul that sinned', it shall die." (Eze. xviii. 4.) I also felt that none but he could pardon sin, take away its burden from the conscience, and set the sinner free; and, blessed for ever be his sacred name, he did all this for me, and much more; he brought to the birth, and gave strength to bring forth, hound up the broken in heart, proclaimed liberty to the captive, made the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb to sing; (Isa. xxxv. 6;) in a word, he gave me Christ manifestively, savingly, wholly. I had then all that my heart desired and justice demanded. O most ineffably precious gift! I apprehended and received the Lord by that faith which is peculiar to the redeemed of him, and he further put his fear into my heart, and I feared him greatly, thirsted after righteousness, hated sin, and believed in him without suspicion. Humility, thankfulness, and affection flowed into my heart; I walked in his ways with cheerfulness, proved his commandments easy, and obedience pleasant, and read the Bible with delight. It was a happy season, but I soon experienced a reverse, by coming down from this mountain of blessedness into the valley of wretchedness. As all God's children more or less pass through tribulation, so I must have my share, and not be an exception unto them. An inward noisome pestilence now broke forth, infidelity and blasphemy raged, the devil tempted, and a deceitful world allured. I had felt the power of God to convert, and was to feel his power to uphold and preserve. I had tasted his grace and was to realize his faithfulness. I had found his mercy, but I did not know that it endured for ever, and is from everlasting to everlasting. I discovered the helplessness of my lapsed condition, and now know that my old nature remains the same, that it cannot be altered nor improved. I was assured that salvation from the lowest grave is of the Lord; and I have learned that all its parts and bearings, knowledge and enjoyment are of him also. My life and feelings have undergone a continuation of changes, (Ps. lv. 19,) of backslidings and reclaimings, wanderings and restorings, declensions and revivings, falls and recoveries; indeed "he restoreth my soul." But as my soul is within, so my failings have been. No thanks to me, or they would have been outward, and to live free from them I fins must be by the perpetual influence of the Holy Spirit. I am a monument of superabounding grace. I am a debtor alone to this. I trust I can say, without hypocrisy, with the apostle Paul, "By the grace of God I am what I am." (1 Cor. xv. 10.) I believe also that I am a sinner saved. My departures from God have produced much bitterness and anguish of spirit; they are against my better will and inclination; I have often loathed myself on their account; and the words of the prophet have frequently suited my case, "Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy, when I fall I shall arise, when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me." (Micah vii. 8.) While I carry about this vile body, I shall be subject to the same ups and downs. "The whole head is sick and the whole heart faint;" every faculty is polluted and paralysed. I have made resolutions to honour the Lord more by believing, trusting, and confiding in him. But I have again and again proved that my strength is perfect weakness, and the absolute necessity for God to "work in me to will and to do of his own good pleasure." Notwithstanding all my infirmities and untowardness, weakness and ignorance, "he restoreth my soul." I then lament my rebellion, hardness, and folly; darkness is dispelled, doubts remove, unbelief sinks, faith prevails; foes internal and external are vanquished, corruptions subdued, love springs up, evidences of my oneness with the dear Redeemer appear, his atoning blood is felt, God glorified, and grace reigns triumphant; and I believe that the Lord, having brought me thus far, will carry on his own work and perform it until the day of Jesus Christ; for he saith, "I will heal their backslidings, I will love them freely, for mine anger is turned away from him." (Hosea. xiv. 4.)

G. T.