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perilous as that which would release the will from all responsibility. This would represent the will of man as alone efficient, while the other would reduce it to a cipher. In the one case, the unconverted would sink the idea of the will altogether, as if they had none; in the other, they would make it omnipotent. How perverse are the thoughts of trans
It is evident from the Scriptures, that the real truth lies in neither of these extremes. And so our experience proves it to be. For, after every attempt, on the one side, to escape from the guilt of impenitency, it still cleaves to the conscience; and, on the other, many who have been self-sufficient and presumptuous, and depended upon their own strength of purpose, and future good intentions, have been constrained in anguish to confess their hardness of heart, and to acknowledge that, as they had refused the call of God, he had left them to be filled with the fruit of their doings. It is certain, that he who presumes upon his future ability to perform spiritual duties, does not understand the real weakness of his soul towards all that is morally and spiritually good; does not know, nor feel, the corruption of his whole nature, nor the perverting influence which evil affections exercise over his will. The promise of pardon and grace is to those who repent when the testimony is addressed to them; not to those who promise to repent and believe at some future period.. This would be to parley and bargain with God for a continuance in sin. His nature, as well as his word, forbids it. He who thus presumes to defer obedience to the Divine testimony, is a stranger to the dependence of sinful man upon the grace of God for so important an act as that of repentance. Does he know or believe the word of Christ, “ Without me ye can do nothing,” John xv. 5; “ No. man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him," John vi. 44; and does he presume, that of his own unassisted free-will—a will altogether under the influence of corrupt motives hitherto-he can choose at any time to return to God, and change his own nature ? A mortal, sinful man ought to tremble at the thought of such temerity. Or does he imagine that, after suffering the accepted time, now, to pass, in which, compliance on his part would have placed him in a happy conjunction with sovereign power ; that after treating the supreme command with indifference and delay, after resolving to continue unconverted, and willing to reject the present offer, that he might continue in sin—that he shall be able to obtain, or God be obliged to impart, those gracious influences, without which he can neither be converted nor saved ?
In true conversion, there is required, a right affection of the heart: this is that which he cannot give himself ; for which he is dependent upon the grace of God; and which he can have no scriptural warrant to expect, if he neglect the present call, and reject the Lord's accepted time. For that grace he is dependent now. His entire hope of receiving it, is involved in an immediate and humble casting of himself in faith upon the promise, which is implied in the expostulation, “ To-day if ye will hear his voice,” Heb. iii. 7.
8. I must not omit to notice, among the reasons why some have never yet been converted, the predominant love of some easily besetting sin, which holds the soul fast after it has felt itself willing to give up all other sins. This is a cause which extensively operates in the minds of persons awakened to a sense of their danger. Sin, in some of its forms, perhaps in all but one form, may appear exceedingly sinful; but if it retain its dominion in only one particular, the soul is still its slave. This may be an easily besetting sin, a sin which you excuse to yourself, which you extenuate and diminish; but it is a true saying of Scripture, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump,” Gal. v. 9. A little leak will admit water enough to sink a ship. A little spark will kindle a fire that may burn a house or a city. So, what men call a little sin, and which they would have spared, because it is little, and alluring, will corrupt and subjugate the whole soul. Let sin but possess the affections of the heart, and it will run like poison through the blood. How can the salvation of the soul be pursued, if even a single sin is cherished ? The very thought of making provision for it, proves that the heart is not right in God's sight: the attempt to conceal it is vain, and can be attended only with disappointment and disgrace. Be assured, that, in the indulgence of any sin, or sinful affection, there is evil enough to counteract all your anxiety after salvation. Now, it may be the case, that you have long had your thoughts di. rected towards the desirableness of securing by faith an interest in Christ; but, at the same time, you have had a secret inclination to some forbidden iniquity, or you have been living in some sin ful gratification, and if so, here you may discover the reason why you have never found peace or hope. If sin reigns, it is directly hostile to grace. You may have been in the habit of reading the Scriptures, and of attending to other means whereby religious impressions are produced, and religious habits maintained. But these do not constitute conversion. That, as already shown, is the entire surrender of the heart to Jesus Christ. It necessarily implies the sacrifice of every sinful habit, every corrupt affection. Jesus Christ came to save his people from their sins; and that man cannot be a partaker of converting grace, who would desire any one of those sins to be excepted from the destruction to which all are alike doomed. If, then, you feel that you are yet unconverted, though you may have attended to some of the means of conversion, be entreated to consider, whether there is not yet an easily besetting sin, which forms the great obstacle, the counteracting influence, which keeps you from an entire surren der of your heart to Christ. · 9. Another reason why you have not been converted before, may be found in the fact, that you have often neglected impressions made upon your mind, and disregarded convictions which, on many occasions, have been brought home to you. This is frequently the case with those who have attended upon the faithful ministry of the word, and observed some religious duties. Perhaps you have had your sinful state clearly set before you, you have felt anxious for your salvation, you would gladly have attained to the same peace and hope of which you have heard Christians speak; but you have suffered some difficulties to deter you, or some seductions of the world to draw you aside, and so your impressions have subsided, your convictions have been effaced. The Spirit of God may have spoken to you in the still small voice of conscience, or in the solemn warnings of the Holy Scriptures ; but to all these you have turned a deaf ear, or you have endeavoured to forget them. There was, perhaps, a time when you were near the happy decision; but some delay was suggested, or some difficulty arose to view, and all the previous convictions were overcome. The sin and danger of trifling with these convictions is illustrated in other parts of this volume, and need not be enlarged upon here; they are mentioned now, only to remind you how clearly it is your own fault that you have not been converted before.
10. Finally, it may be proper to observe, that the conversion of some is delayed because they labour under mistaken views of what should be done in order to conversion. A mind that is powerfully impressed with the importance of salvation, may be impelled, and frequently is, to set about amendment, and commence a new course of life, without exactly knowing what is the direct method of obtaining forgiveness of sins, and, fre. quently, without employing suitable means for gaining instruction. Those sources of information are not consulted, from which alone it might be at once and clearly learned, that every convinced sinner must first come to Christ, and immediately receive his promise of salvation and life. The inevitable consequence is, a vain and fruitless labouring for life by means of a reformation begun in human strength. If a mistake of this kind is committed, it leads to disappointment, and places conversion at a greater distance than ever. The general mistake is, to place duties before faith, reformation before coming to Christ. And wherever this is the case, there is a manifest neglect of the Divine admonition, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” Acts xvi. 31. A sinner may say he is using the means of