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even a criminal neglect, of the Divine promise of the Holy Spirit's influence. Many, who hear conversion explained and enforced from the pulpit, as essential to salvation, do entertain occasional wishes that they might be converted; but with how inadequate a notion of its nature, or of the means by which it is to be effected, is evinced in the failure of their good purposes, and subsidence of their anxiety, and their continuance in a state of unregeneracy and uneasiness. May not such persons discover an obvious neglect of which they have been guilty, in disregarding the promise of God's assistance?
1. We may take occasion here, to enforce upon you the necessity, the absolute necessity, of such Divine assistance, from the failure of the many attempts which you have already made.
You have made such endeavours, but it has been without any adequate sense, perhaps without any sense at all, of your dependence upon Divine aid. There has not been, at such times, a distinct recognition of your own insufficiency, nor of your need of Divine grace to help you; hence, all such attempts have failed, and you have been left to feel your own weakness, that you may not trust in yourself, but in the living God. If you look back, therefore, upon your own past experience, you may find the most humbling and emphatic proof of your need of Divine help; and may, hence, derive a valuable lesson, to urge you now to seek that help which is so freely and fully offered to you. If you have found all your resolu. tions fail, and all your convictions subside, you may be sure you have not believed God's word, nor complied with the Divine testimony, concerning conversion. You may look back and see in your own disappointment, the folly of which you have been guilty, in not casting your helpless soul upon the promised grace. Your sins, so often triumphant, and the snares of temptation, so constantly successful, all witness to the weakness of that nature which has been so long and so vainly aiming at a change of heart, in utter neglect and disregard of the inspired intimation, that you must experience Divine power in your soul, and accept Divine assistance. Surely, you will now begin to see, that you have only been deceiving yourselves with vain hopes, and expecting, or seeking to accomplish that by your own unassisted efforts, which you have been forewarned requires the Holy Spirit's grace and assistance.
2. Let me here, then, remind you of the high authority on which such promises of Divine help rest. It is God himself who has granted these promises, and sealed them to you in the most solemn manner, as sure and unfailing. It is impossible for any of God's promises to fail, and that class of them which particularly relate to sinners finding mercy and grace upon turning to him, are as full and clear, as sure and unfailing, as any others. The infinite compassion and kindness of God, in recording such for your encouragement, ought to incline you to an instant renunciation of sin, and an entire reliance upon the grace which is exerted whenever the soul is made willing to turn to God. “Look unto me, and be ye saved,” Isa. xlv. 22. “The Spirit helpeth our infirmities,” Rom. viii. 26. “If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" Matt. vii. 11. In Luke xi. 13, we read “ the Holy Spirit” for “ good things.” “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, John xiv. 16, 17. “And when he is come, he will reprove” (or convince) “ the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment,” John xvi. 8. The very fact that such promises are recorded, shows the helplessness of a sinner, and points out his resource. Their proper effect upon you should be, to awaken a firm reliance upon God for their accomplishment, and should convince you that you cannot take a single step of any importance without his effectual grace. If you neglect, or even if you do not cordially receive and rely upon, these promises of Divine help, you can expect nothing but failure and disappointment. You may lay it down as an infallible truth, that all your efforts will be unavailing to secure your salvation, unless you are brought fervently to plead the promises of God in prayer, and confidently to look for their fulfilment. Think of the Supreme authority, which declares your nature to be as morally helpless as it is guilty, and as much in need of grace to help as of mercy to pardon. The representation of these great first principles is made in the holy word, for the purpose of removing every false ground of hope, of inducing you to despair of your own sufficiency, and of inspiring you with the hope that all your sufficiency shall be of God. Thus emptied of yourself, you will be both prepared and concerned to be filled with God; his power shall then be exerted to work all your works in you. It may appear to some of you not unlike a paradox, to say, that, when you are reduced to a state of desperation, as to yourself, you will then be nearest to hope, as it regards God; for you will find this the only proper state of mind for the reception of his promised and all-sufficient aid.
3. We may here call you to observe, that the blessed and happy result of salvation is pledged, by these infallible promises of God, to all who rest in them, and derive their entire support from them. Here is the object to which faith must direct its eye, the foundation on which faith is to build : it is exhibited so fully, clearly, and graciously, for the purpose of inspiring your mind with confidence; and the very contemplation of it in a right spirit, as it is simply a matter of gracious revelation, will work faith in your heart; that faith will bring you into the enjoyment of the blessing; power shall be given you from God, and cause you to feel your heart warmed with the love which he displays in the gift of his Son, and in all his gracious influence upon your soul, to enable you to receive Christ as yours. You may not be able to perceive beforehand how these things should be; but in submitting your soul to them, in endeavouring to meditate humbly and devoutly upon them, you will become conscious of their wonderful power, and feel the Divine energy they possess, in that only way by which they can be effectually known, even by experience. If, indeed, you are in earnest to enjoy that sound and saving conversion to God, to which it is the humble object of this treatise to direct you, then you will at once abandon all specious objections, and all idle notions, of your own, and just go to the Divine directory to be taught and formed, submitting your heart in all things to be guided by its dictates, and resolved to follow out the path it sets before you, and to pray for that Divine influence which it teaches to be indispensable : and, in all, resting upon the many gracious promises you will there find suited to every stage of your experience, and to every exigence of your soul. If you can indeed humble yourself to receive all as the free gift of grace, and if, in receiving the gift rightly, you can be content to be wrought upon by Him that “ worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure,” Phil. ii. 13, then the joy of salvation shall be yours; “ The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,” Phil. iv. 7; and you shall feel yourselves the subjects of that transforming power of the Spirit, which will work mightily within, to the pulling down of the strong holds of sin and Satan. You desire to know the momentous secret of “joy and peace in believing,” Rom. xv. 13. Is not this the great object you profess to seek? Is it not to be brought into this state of heart that you have long been labouring and striving? Is it not to attain this joyful and happy liberty that you have so often been asking, “What must I do to be saved?” Is it the great, commanding object of your desire; that which really appears to you the most desirable and the most important of all blessings ? Is it indeed that, for the possession of which you have sometimes thought you could gladly give up all, and in preference to which you know of nothing you could either esteem or value? O, then, this is the very blessing which God is willing to bestow; this is the very boon his promises hold forth to you; this is the gift, and the blessing, which he reproves you for not seeking, for not even accepting when offered : and if once you are but brought to an entire reliance upon his promise