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itself has not clearly defined. The most judicious expositors and most learned divines agree, that, whatever this sin is, it cannot be committed by any one in an age when the Holy Spirit does not manifest his presence by miraculous signs, for that the Scriptures most clearly testify, that every sin known in these days has the promise of forgiveness attached to it upon repentance. Every species of sinners that we can find in the world are exhorted and invited to repent; and this they could not be, if, among the vast multitude and variety of sins and sinners, there were one ex. empted from the mercy of God. Even those Jews who witnessed the gift of tongues on the day of Pentecost, and said that it was the effect of intoxication-" These men are full of new wine," Acts ii. 13, were not abandoned by the apostles as unpardonable, but were exhorted to repent, and were assured, that if they believed on the Lord Jesus, even they should receive the remission of sins. This exhortation of Peter was effectual with many, for “they were pricked in their heart, and said, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Acts ii. 37. And that day more than three thousand believed, and were welcomed by apostolic authority into the Christian church. If, then, those who had at first attributed Divine inspiration to drunk. enness were converted and saved, there can be no sufficient reason derived from Scripture for the hopelessness of any sinner, simply on the conviction that he feels of any particular sin. He may be assured that no temptation has happened to him but that which is common to men. If the guilt of apostacy, of murder, of adultery, of horrid blasphemy, of atheism and infidelity, of the most awful imprecations and denials of God and Christ, have been forgiven, it will be impossible for any one to find a sin for which Divine mercy has not provided a remedy, of the forgiveness of which Holy Scripture does not afford an example. It must be evident, therefore, that all those cases in which sinners are apt to become hopeless, are really not more so in the view of the Divine grace than the case of any other sinner. All need repentance; to all conversion is prescribed ; each is invited to believe; and again and again it is repeated, “ Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed,” Rom. x. 11.
It is clear, that the only hopelessness of all these cases depends upon the adherence of the mind to a false notion—the unpardonable nature of the sin committed, or supposed to be committed. While that delusion remains, there can be no hope. But Scripture directly disproves it; and until the truth and certainty of the promises of God be admitted, there is no hope. Yet the inconsistency and selfcontradiction of the despairing party are shown in this, that he rejects these promises, while he professes to feel the truth and certainty of the threatenings. If he has occasion to fear and tremble at the threatening, he has the very same authority to excite hope; for He who condemns all sin, says he will forgive all sin, on the faith and repentance of the sinner. It is absurd to believe the one and not the other.
There seems to be only one other view of all such cases, which it is important here to notice. Some readers of this section may say, that they do not place their despair upon the ground of the unpardonable nature of their sin, but upon the hardness of their heart. They are hopeless, because, after various and anxious efforts, they
cannot bring their minds to the belief of the Divine promise ; and they are hopeless, simply because they do not and cannot believe. In so far as this is hopelessness of their own ability, it is matter for congratulation, rather than of despair. The feeling of their own inability ought to urge them to ask that of God which they cannot impart to themselves. “ Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God," Rom. x. 17; not by dwelling upon our own inability. Instead of restricting our thoughts and our fears to that, we should be looking to Him that can excite faith; we should be gathering up the promises that inspire it into despairing hearts. You look to the deep gloom of your own helplessness, and say, We are hopeless, because we cannot believe. True : and how should you, when you do not look to that quarter from whence the day-spring visits us? Christ says, “ Look unto me, and be ye saved," Isa. xlv. 22; but you look to yourselves, and say, We are lost! Faith cannot spring up in that heart which is engaged exclusively with its own miseries. When once these miseries are felt, they should urge you immediately to look out of and beyond yourselves for help. So you would do if you were reduced to the extreme of poverty; so you would do if violent disease had seized your frame; so you would escape hastily from the flames, if you awoke suddenly, and found yourself enveloped by the devouring element; so you would cry for help, if you felt yourself sinking in deep waters. Then why not direct your cry to Him that says, “ Look unto me, and be ye saved?” Isa. xlv. 22. A look, a right desire, a true glance of the eye of faith directed towards him, and you would immediately feel that you were strengthened with strength in
your soul; and you would look again and again with growing desire, with declining fear, and rising hope, till you felt Christ formed in your heart, the hope of glory.
Mr. Whitefield, a brother of the Rev. George Whitefield, after living some time in a backsliding and careless state, was roused to a perception of his danger, but shortly after sunk into melancholy and despondency. He was drinking tea with the Countess of Huntingdon one afternoon, while her ladyship was endeavouring to raise his hopes by conversing on the infinite mercy of God through Jesus Christ. For a while it was all in vain. “ My lady," he replied, “I know what you say is true. The mercy of God is infinite. I see it clearly. But ah! my lady, there is no mercy for me. I am a wretch, entirely lost.” “I am glad to hear it, Mr. W.," said Lady H. “I am glad at my heart that you are a lost man.” He looked with great surprise. “What! my lady, glad ! glad at your heart that I am a lost man?" "Yes, Mr. Whitefield, truly glad: for Jesus Christ came into the world to save the lost !” He laid down his cup of tea on the table“ Blessed be God for that,” he said. “Glory to God for that word,” he exclaimed. “Oh what unusual power is this which I feel attending it! Jesus Christ came to save the lost! then I have a ray of hope :” and so he proceeded. As he finished his last cup of tea, his hand trembled, and he complained of illness. He went out of the house for air, staggered, was brought in, and shortly after expired.
And now, my reader, of whatever class, under whatever description you have ranged yourself as the work was proceeding, here we are about to part. The writer has nearly done with his book. He is about to lay down his pen, and you, the reader, are about to lay down the little volume. But we have both done with it only for time. Its thoughts and sentiments must live and recur again. They will, doubtless, in your heart. We must both realize its consequences in eternity. Whatever are your impressions of the manner in which the author has treated the subject, you cannot doubt, after reading the book, that the subject itself is of transcendent importance. If you are disposed to dismiss the book from your thoughts, yet be earnestly and affectionately entreated not to dismiss its subject ; for this momentous reason, that He who says, “ Except ye be converted, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of God,” Matt. xviii. 3, is now the gracious Saviour of the world, is waiting to become yours, and is appointed ere long to be your Judge. From his lips you will assuredly hear your final sentence pronounced. Matters of infinite concernment to yourself depend upon your decision of the question-Are you, or are you not, converted? Will you, or will you not, now be converted ? Heaven or hell through eternal ages is in the answer you finally give! Pause -consider-pray.
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