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fearful consequence of dying in impenitency, but they were made to feel it: they had no aspiration of heart after the holiness of the Christian character, or happiness of the Christian hope; but they have cherished these aspirations, and do now feel them as living principles in their heart. These, then, are evidences that human nature, your nature, is susceptible of the great change, called conversion. Those who have undergone it were no way different from yourselves, as to their powers of mind, as to their moral state, as to their natural endowments, or as to their sinful condition; and yet these facts show that they have changed their views, have cherished other feelings, and have become new creatures. The change, therefore, which has passed upon thousands of them, may pass upon you, in so far as this, which is all I am at present concerned to establish, that your nature presents no greater obstacles than theirs; and whatever the Divine word, fitly received, has taught them, it is able to teach you, if you will attend to it seriously; and whatever the Spirit of God did in their case, in disposing their minds rightly to feel the word of truth, he is ready to do for you, and you are just as susceptible of his influence as they were. I have no wish to infuse into your mind any self-confidence; I would not, on any account, induce you to think that you can effect this change unaided or unblessed by God's Holy Spirit. But I would have you view your own nature, however bad it may be, as in no worse condition than that of multitudes who have already been made subjects of converting grace.
3. It is quite certain, that many have been converted, and become eminent and happy Christians, who were once as averse from conversion,
as ignorant of what it is, and as unwilling to renounce a carnal and worldly state for the sake of the pleasures of religion. Of this you may be quite sure, for many such have testified to these facts, and stated, that no hearts could be more fortified by prejudice, or disinclined by evil habits, to submit to the Divine authority of Christ, or obey him as their Lord and King; and yet their opposition was subdued, and their hearts inclined, and at last they submitted, and found peace and joy in believing. Now, from these general facts, it may be inferred, that there is nothing in your case that can place you beyond the reach of that effectual grace which has been granted unto so many others. I know it is a part of an unbeliever's disposition, to indulge doubts, and to place imaginary difficulties in the way, for the very sake of seeming to throw responsibility from the sinner. He would gladly find reason to lay his destruction at God's door, and prove that, if he is lost, it is not his own fault, because there are, as he pretends, insurmountable obstacles in his way. Something of this may be discovered in the case of almost every sinner. He will find himself looking about for excuses by which he may escape from the charge of having destroyed himself; and a sinful heart is always prone to cleave to the idea, that there is an awful fatality, a dire necessity, or impossibility, in his case, which prevents him from being saved, though willing, as he would pretend. Hence, many solace themselves, if I may use such a term, with the idea, that if they remain unconverted, and are lost, they shall be able to prove that it was not their fault. Satan will, with unceasing effort, labour to maintain such a notion; and as long as it is maintained, there is an effectual barrier placed
in the mind against believing, because the sense of responsibility in this particular case is destroyed, or the heart is deceived into a careless state.
Now, there can be little hope of bringing you to a right view of your duty, as to repentance, and faith in God's appointed medium of salvation, as long as any idea of this sort remains. If you apprehend there is any barrier to your conversion, placed by nature, or Providence, or the Saviour, you are not likely to make any effort. He who believes any result to be impossible, is not likely to use the means of effecting it, even though he may see those very means accompanied with success in many similar cases. So the alarmed, but yet unbelieving sinner, is apt to imagine his own case to be a solitary exception, and to indulge this fancy against all fact and reasoning, as well as against the general assertion of Scripture, rather than give up his unbelieving thought of the insurmountable nature of the barrier which he fancies is laid in his way. But all such discouraging and desperate notions ought to be relinquished. It is impossible that you can have any foundation for them. The gospel is intended for all, without a single exception. Its Author says, he “ will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth,” 1 Tim. ii. 4. If your vague suspicion, that you are excluded by some insurmountable obstacle, were true, then the testimony of God, and of Jesus Christ, would be false. Besides, multitudes who have had the same suspicions, and laboured under them for long periods, have at length discovered them to be false, and have cordially believed God's testimony, and found the joy of acceptance and reconciliation. And why should not you? Moreover, you cannot know
for certain that any such difficulty really lies in your way. You must admit that it is mere suspicion, and that you have never resolutely tried to overcome the supposed difficulty, nor earnestly sought Divine assistance to remove it out of your way. “Who art thou, O great mountain ? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain,” Zech.iv. 7. Be entreated, then, by one who is earnestly desirous of your salvation, who has seen many such suspicions melt away before the truth, to try the effect of fervent continued prayer. But let your prayer be prompted by a conviction of the ability and willingness of your Saviour, to remove this and every obstacle out of your way. Select out of the Scripture, and use in prayer, and in faith, some passages which freely promise salvation to all, even the chief of sinners; such as exhibit the abounding of grace above sin, Rom. v. 20, 21; such as display the infinite power of God to remove every difficulty, and gather out all the stumbling-stones, Isa. lxii. 10; such as challenge the doubting to produce any ground for their fears, Jer. viii. 22; such as encourage you to disclose all your heart to God: “ Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord,” Isa. i. 18. Then would your difficulties vanish, your doubts be relieved, and Divine succour be afforded, to work in you both to will and to do according to God's good pleasure, Phil. ii. 13.
4. It is very common for the unconverted, when they become a little acquainted with their miserable and guilty condition, and are somewhat alarmed on account of it, to imagine that there exists a positive decree of the Almighty against them, which absolutely excludes them from forgiveness, and seals them up to despair and final ruin.
Sometimes they even plead this as an excuse for their total neglect of religion, and abandonment of themselves to a careless and dissolute life. But if any reader has entertained such a notion, let me entreat him to consider and examine the foundation upon which it rests, or rather, its want of all foundation. He will no where find in Scripture any such decree. He would not, surely, pretend that there is any special determination of God against himself. He would not pretend that any such exists in the Bible; he would not allege that he has had any special revelation of it made to him. The only ground, therefore, which he can state for such an opinion, must be some strong impression upon his mind, or some general denunciation of Scripture, in which, by inference, he supposes himself to be included.
As to any impression upon his own mind, however strong it may be, he has far more reason to think that it is a mere vain imagination, suggested by a guilty conscience and a despairing heart, or a direct insinuation of the enemy of his soul, than any portion of revealed truth, or any impression wrought by the Spirit of God. It is quite certain that God's Spirit calls upon him, in common with all sinners, to repent; and this He would not do, if his case were absolutely sealed. There cannot be admitted to exist any disagreement between the dictates of the Spirit in the written word, and the impressions produced by the same Spirit on our hearts. If the Spirit by the word commands and urges the sinner to repent and believe the gospel, the same Spirit cannot suggest to his mind that repentance and faith would be useless, because of a Divine determination against his salvation. Hence, he ought to give up and abandon