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In thee all treasures lie,
O! come and make me thine,
When standing round the throne,
XXIII. ON CONVERSION.
Wherever we look, we behold some part of God's works; some remembrancer of his power and goodness. Then why are our thoughts so seldom led, “ through nature up to nature's God?”
Here we discover the influence of sin, which fills our hearts with the love of the creature, as to leave no room for the love of the Creator.
When the Saviour was born into the world, there was no room for him in the inn. Just so it is with our depraved hearts. Yet, wonderful condescension! Jesus stands at the door and knocks ; saying: “ if any man hear
the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him and he with me."
And does not every heart fly open to receive the heavenly visitant ? Alas, no! Satan puts on the three-fold bar of unbelief, pride, and prejudice ; whilst inbred sín, afraid of losing its darling gratifications, opposes every effort to admit so kind a friend. The flesh pleads hard for self-indulgence ; the world spreads its painted baubles, its deceitful riches, its empty honours, its intoxicating pleasures; and thus the sinner is held in vassalage to the powers of darkness.
Is then the heart for ever barred against the Prince of
? For ever barred it would be, did not sovereign grace by its almighty power drive out the strong man armed, crucify each rebellious lust, and bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
When grace opens the sinner's heart, all the powers of the soul are made willing to admit the conquering Saviour, and to acknowledge Him to be the Lord.
Old favourite sins now become hateful; darling lusts appear like inbred vipers. Satan is beheld in all his horrors, and vice in its true deformity. The world loses its charms. Heaven opens on the enraptured eye of faith. Holiness captivates the heart by its celestial beauties. Jesus is beheld with rising admiration, and becomes each day more precious to the soul.
Such is the wonderful change wrought in the conversion of a sinner, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
Unbelief gives way to faith ; pride to humility ; anger to meekness; impatience to resignation ; hatred to love; and sin to universal holiness. The idol self, falls prostrate before Jesus Christ; and nothing is extolled or trusted in, or pleaded before the throne of God, but the precious blood and righteousness of Emanuel. All glory is now given to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and the triune God is ALL
It is to be feared, that thousands who call themselves Christians, will never be acknowledged as such in that day when the secrets of all hearts shall
be revealed, and the real character of every professor of godliness distinctly known.
Too many, it is to be feared, substitute a general acknowledgment of the truths of the Bible, for that faith in those truths which purifies the heart, and assimilates the soul to the image of Jesus.
It is no difficult thing to say, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord.” But to feel all the love, reverence and obedience, which as creatures and redeemed sinners we owe to our God and Saviour, is not so easy to fallen nature.
It is no way contrary to our carnal heart, to profess, and even strenuously to contend for those truths which we have been taught from our infancy to consider as sacred; or to extol that church, in whose bosom we have grown up from our earliest years.
But to exhibit the fruit of those doctrines, and to act agreeably to the spiritual formularies of our venerable establishment, is not so congenial to the natural state of our depraved hearts. So long as thousands who bear the Christian name, live in all the gaieties and follies of the world; neglecting the Gospel, and manifesting a spirit in direct opposition to it; we cannot wonder, that such multitudes, carried away by the potent stream of public example, rest satisfied with a faith which passes current in the world, which attaches no odium to the character, which requires no self-denial, no painful sacrifices on the part of its possessors.
Many, no doubt, rejoice that they are preserved from such delusions, as they suppose the people of God labour under, who debar themselves from what they term the innocent gaieties of life, and the delights of fashionable dissipation. These persons pride themselves on their superior wisdom in being able to grasp both worlds at once; to acknowledge the importance of Christianity, and yet to enjoy those animal gratifications, which give such a zest to their existence. Thus they go on, like the rich man in the parable, faring sumptuously every day; and never find out their dreadful mistake, till like him, they open their eyes in hell, being in torments ! How awfully blinded is the soul of man, until illuminated by the Holy Spirit of truth.
Till his glorious light irradiate our minds, we can form no accurate ideas either of God, or of ourselves. All is chaos' and confusion. We do not even see men as trees walking. We are in a state of complete blindness, and all our conceptions are erroneous. We grope in the dark.
in the dark. We stumble even at noon day.
How different from that cold assent of the understanding to the general truths of the Gospel, which satisfies an unbelieving world, is the faith which the Spirit of God works in the hearts of his people.
The believer in Jesus is the new creation of God. His mind is enlightened from above. His heart is made to feel its guilt and misery. He reads the word of God with an interest unfelt before.
He reads it as a revelation of love from the God of mercy, proclaiming pardon to the guilty---peace to the miserable, and purity to the polluted. Every declaration bears, to his mind, the stamp of truth. He requires no other sanction than, “thus saith the Lord;" and finding this, he reads with reverence, and seeks for grace to receive with all meekness, the engrafted word which is able to save his soul. He finds his own character exactly pourtrayed in its sacred pages. He looks within, and is able to trace sin through the dark recesses and secret windings of his heart. He discovers those latent seeds of evil, those bitter springs of misery, unbelief, and pride, and lust, and covetousness, which
are continually pouring forth their deadly streams into his outward life. He traces all this evil to the fall of man, and finds that the deadly poison has contaminated the whole posterity of Adam. He owns himself a sinner, both by nature and practice. He justifies the righteous judgment of God, whose law he has broken, and whose tremendous curse he has so awfully incurred. He no longer tries to palliate his offences, or invent soft names whereby to varnish over the deformity of sin. He frankly and fully confesses himself a rebel, guilty of death, and deserving of nothing less than eternal damnation.
Into this humble, broken, contrite state of heart he is brought by the deep convictions of that Holy Spirit, whose office it is to convince the world of sin."
But does this divine agent leave him in this awakened state of agony and despair? Ah! no ! how good, how gracious, how merciful is God! He wounds in order to heal; he kills in order to make alive. - When a person labours under a violent fever, every expedient is tried to reduce the wasting malady. The means used, seem for a time to increase the weakness and debility of the patient: but he is thus weakened only that he may eventually become strong. No sooner is the consuming fever abated, than cordials and restoratives are freely administered, which given before, would have augmented the dangerous symptoms, and thus have hastened on the fatal consequences of the disease.
Thus our heavenly Physician humbles and subdues the proud heart of the sinner; and destroys the feverish thirst and burning desire after sinful gratifications, before he imparts the reviving cordials of pardon and peace, to restore the sin-sick soul to spiritual health and vigour.