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issue of sin. The more your conscience is irrored to the possible consequences of transgression, while yet those consequences are at a distance, the less does conscience feel or fear; the longer you practise evil, the less does conscience feel it to be evil, the more familiar does it become with the evil, and the less moved by the dread of its termination. These are facts observable in the history of sin and sinners, and they ought to make you afraid of conrinuing any longer under the dominion of sir, lest
grow insensible, even past recovery.
No sin per can tell when that time
be passed, or at what period he may become so callous that no future means may be powerful enough to quicken him to an alarming sense of his danger, and of the evil of his sin. As al sin tends to lull the conscience and the moral feelings, just as any sleepy drugs tend to overpower the senses ; so, in both cases, there may be a point beyond which no powers of alarm that can be used will be of any avail. (2.) But there is another view which you ought to consider here. The unconverted very often delay conversion, under the idea that something in providence will arise, some event occur, or some impression be made upon their minds, which will suggest to them, that “Now is the set time come:" for these extraordinary signs they wait, instead of going at once to confess their sins and seek divine for. giveness. We have shown already, that God's time for your repentance is, when he calls you to it. That time, therefore, has arrived. Improve it now.
If you delay past the present moment, in which God employs his summons to arouse you, it is possible that he may be so offended by this additional act of inattention, as to afford neither
means nor grace any longer, but in anger withdraw both, and proceed to judgment, by giving you over entirely to yourself. There is such a fearful thing sometimes occurring; and though we cannot say in what cases it has really taken place, yet we may suspect it, when it becomes evident that God, in anger, leaves men entirely to themselves. He said of some, “So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels."* “Ephraim is joined to idols : let him alone.”+ This abandonment of the sinner by God, must, indeed, be a most fearful thing; for, in it, the case of the unhappy transgressor becomes as hopeless as if he had already passed into the place of punishment, and the eternal state of suffering. Suppose it perfectly true, that we do not know, and cannot fix the period in any particular case, when this has taken place, and, therefore, cannot, and dare not of
any individual, he is absolutely abandoned of God; yet, this very fact, of the difficulty of saying when and where a man has arrived at this crisis, should make us shrink from risking it, and earnestly endeavour to prevent it, as an evil of the most fearful and stupendous nature.
THE PROMISE OF CONVERTING GRACE.
Most who will take the trouble to read this book, will have had some previous exercise of mind concerning their conversion, and, perhaps, will
• Ps. lxxi. 12. t Hos. iv. 17.
be conscious of having made some ineffectual efforts towards it. Perhaps some will read it, who have been long convinced of the necessity of conversion, and have been desiring it, as they may think, very earnestly; but they have found hitherto little encouragement, and, perhaps, no ground at all to conclude that they have undergone the great and momentous change. There must have been some serious error, or deficiency, in all these states of mind; there mast be some radical principle wanting, or else, just views already gained, and right feeling already experienced, might have led on to the full enjoyment of the blessing. Perhaps there has been an over sight, or even a criminal meglect, of the divine promise of the Holy Spirit's influence. Many, who bear conversion explained and enforced from the pulpit, as essential to salvation, do entertain occasional wishes that they may be converted; but with how inadequate a motion of its nature, or of the means by which it is to be effected, is evinced in the failure of their good parposes, the subsidence of their anxiety, and their continuance in a state of uneasiness and unregeneracy. May not such persons discover an obvious negleet of which they have been guilty, in disregarding the promise of God's assistance?
1. We may take occasion here to enforce wpon 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 withoua 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 resolutions 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 then remind you of the high au thority 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 relates 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 them for your encouragement, ought to incline you to an instant renunciation of sin, and an entire reliance upon the grace which js exerted whenever the soul is made willing to turn to God. “Look unto me,
and be “The Spirit helpeth our infirmities.”+ “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 (or, as it reads in Luke xi. 13, the Holy Spirit) to them that ask him ?” I “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth.''5 "And when he is come, he will reprove” (or convince) " the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment."| 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 to 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 Isa. xlv. 22. Rom. viii. 26. # Matt vii. 11. & John xiv. 16, 17.
| John xvi. 8.