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all in my power to hold up the Scriptures to contempt. By this means I led others into the fatal snare, and made converts to infidelity. Thus I rejected God, and now he rejects me, and will have no mercy on me.' I offered to pray by him. But he replied, “Oh! now it is all in vain to pray for me.' Then, with a dismal groan, he cried out,
Paine's Age of Reason has ruined my soul,' and instantly expired.” Reader, you may not have gone quite so far. But you have, probably, never carefully and seriously read your Bible; never opened it with this impression, "Here I must seek, and here alone I can find, the salvation of my soul." This, then, is culpable indifference, practical infidelity.
3. This has, no doubt, been accompanied with a real dislike of God's service. The unconverted may be conscious that he has all along disapproved the ways of God. It has appeared to him a very undesirable thing to become a real Christian; and that because he thought it less pleasant to obey God, than to follow the corrupt inclinations of his own heart, which he ought to have resisted, because it is an essential and natural property of a man, to have the power of controlling his propensities by a sense of duty and the dictates of conscience. Is it any wonder that a person should remain unconverted, who has been cherishing a dislike of the service of God, who has been doing every thing in his power to alienate his heart from it by a contrary practice, and who has never contemplated seriously either the honour and happiness of serving God, or the guilt and misery of continuing in a state of rebellion ? Is it any wonder that he should be still unconverted, to whom the very state of subjection to God, implied in the
term conversion, has appeared odious bondage, and its opposite state, the only true liberty, and the highest delight? Assuredly, there is in these considerations a sufficient explanation of the fact that he is still in an unconverted state.
4. Another reason may be pointed out, in the ungrateful inattention which unconverted persons show towards the Saviour. “ Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light,” John iii. 19. Many such persons profess, indeed, to acknowledge Christ as their Saviour ; but how far they are either from cherishing any sincere and supreme respect for him, or any ardent love, may be inferred from their habitual neglect of him, of his teaching, his ordinances, his admonitions, and his promises. If he is the Divine Saviour, the only Saviour by whom we can be de. livered from the guilt and dominion of sin, then, the neglect of him must prevent the enjoyment of the blessings he alone can impart; then, to disre. gard him is, in fact, to turn away from the only means which could effect our conversion and salvation. Hence it is obvious, that every unconverted person, in a land where the character and gospel of Christ are known, stands chargeable with rejecting the counsel of God against himself, and so of resisting the means appointed for his salvation. Who can say that, if he had attended gratefully to the truth as it is in Jesus, and especially to the claims and instructions of the Saviour of sinners, he might not long since have found the word made the power of God to his salvation ? But though the Saviour has appealed to him, and though the word has been in his hand, and though God's ministers have, in his name, besought the unconverted to be reconciled to God, yet such persons have not at
tended to the work and character of their Saviour; they have turned a deaf ear to “the voice of the charmer, charming never so wisely.” Is it, then, any wonder that they should yet be in an unconverted state ? Here, alone, is reason sufficient to account for the deplorable fact. Deplorable, because they may have lost many invaluable opportunities, and much time, which can never be recovered.
5. They may be conscious of the fact, that they have never yet seriously and devoutly chosen to be converted. That very change which they ought to have desired, because it was both reasonable in itself, and essential to their happiness and salvation; that change which is enforced upon them, and upon all, by the high authority of their God, they have never really wished to experience, and never chosen, as a change which they felt to be necessary. Here, then, they may clearly detect the real cause of their continuance in their present unconverted state. While it is thus obvious that they have never wished to undergo it, they have no need to look for any other reason. Their want of this state of mind is their sin; just as it is the sin of a thief, that he did not choose to be honest, or of a drunkard, that he did not choose to be sober; and the want of a right will, in a case of clear duty, instead of extenuating the crime, proves that it is crime; and it is on account of that bad and immoral state of mind the unconverted stands guilty both before God and man. Had the sinner chosen to be converted, that is, had his will been inclined or determined to the change, it would have taken place long ago; yea, the very moment his will had been turned effectually, he would have found the power of God working within his soul. But he would not come unto Christ; and
he knows it. He knows that he never has yet felt his heart determinately fixed upon that conversion which God requires. This is what, I think, you will be conscious you have never felt. You cannot but know that you never did calmly and fully resign and commit yourself to the hand of Christ. Although you are conscious that you have often heard his command to repent and believe the gospel ; although you have often felt convinced that you were a sinner, and in danger of eternal perdition; although you have all along known, and perhaps secretly confessed, that you are bound to repent and seek the salvation of your soul; yet this very act of choosing to do so, and proceeding to put your choice into execution, you have never done. But, on the contrary, you have trifled with the great business, delayed it, and excused yourself, perhaps in some very subtle and sophistical manner, for this hesitation and reluctance. Now, this is the very state of mind which the Scripture represents, as proving those who are in it guilty of that sin of sins-unbelief. The Saviour says, “ Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life,” John v. 40. When he mourned over the people of Jerusalem just before his death, he reproached them with this, “ How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not !” Matt. xxiii. 37. Now, could he, or would he, have laid this at their door, if there had been no sin in it, or if it admitted of any reasonable and valid excuse? Assuredly he would not. He could not have reproached them if they had not been in this respect highly culpable. And is it possible you can deem it any other than a very grave and awful matter, never yet to have solemnly willed to be changed in heart and character, when called to it by so high an authority, when urged to it by a clear sense of your sin and danger? Surely you must not merely admit the fact that it has been so, but that it involves very deep guilt, so to have neglected your soul's salvation, or so to have persisted in a course that you have known was opposed to the will of Jesus Christ. When there ought to have been a perfect agreement, an absolute identity, between your will and his on this matter, there has been the most direct opposition. He would, but you would not. Yea, when he expressed his will in the plainest language, and enforced it in the most commanding manner; when he even condescended to add entreaty the most affectionate and urgent, to admonition the most solemn and awakening; still you did not coalesce, nor feel at all more inclined to comply, but resolutely held out, or drew back, to the indulgence of your sinful heart, under cover of some excuses as vain as they were delusive.
Unconverted reader, let me entreat you to look back, and consider how very often you have distinctly detected this opposition of your will to the Saviour's, and always maintained your resolution, always retained the secret decision of your will still to continue as you were. It is grievous to think that this has been the case every time God has made a direct and distinct appeal to your conscience, every time you have been sensible of the authority of his word in any powerful command to repent, every time a light has been inwardly granted, either to show the way to the cross by repentance, or the way to perdition by disobedi. ence. So that if you have been a hearer of the gospel, or religiously educated, you must many