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You feel that your heart is quite indifferent to your conversion. You will, perhaps, frankly confess it. And what a confession that is !
Well, then, you have been careless—not about your property, your health, your interests in this life, your mental improvement, your pleasuresbut about your soul. The principal reason is, because you have been enamoured and enslaved by some sin. Yet it is as certain as that you are rational, and can feel and judge, hope and fear, suffer and enjoy, that you cannot continue in sin, and possess the hope which makes life happy and deprives death of its sting. You are not in the possession of true happiness, and a hope beyond death, just because you are not converted; and you are not and will not be converted, because you love sin. You may, perhaps, deny this, or attempt, by some sophistry, to evade it. I know that human minds in your state often do deny this, and try to hide it from their consciences. I know that they will pretend any reason and every reason for not becoming true Christians, rather than admit that it arises from their love of sin. But it is so, and they will find it so at last. It is one of the masterpieces of satanic deception, to induce men to believe that, if they are finally lost, it will not be their own fault. Yet this is mere empty sophistry. Many thousands have experimentally proved that it is utterly delusive, and vanishes when once conscience is roused to deal faithfully with them. They really love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil: and whatever they may say when surrounded by gay and jocular companions, yet, when serious, alone, terrified by the fear of death, or anticipating the presence of God, they feel it to be no comfort that they have lived
in sin, despised religion and laughed at conversion. They are then conscious that they have really preferred sinful pleasures to the salvation of their soul, or else they would not have turned from the one and pursued the other. They are conscious and all such, when they think at all upon the matter, are conscious—that their own free will, without any constraint or necessity, has led them to seek their gratification in the ways of sin, rather than in the ways of God. But is not this a fact solemn enough-perilous enough to startle you from your dream of pleasure-sufficient to appal any mind with the tremendous thought of being soon consigned to endless torments ? A little further progress in the same course, and you will find no possibility of retracing your steps! The die will be cast; the sentence, already gone forth, will be executed. Yet, the only true and adequate reason that can be stated, why you are not a true and happy Christian, is, confessedly, that you have been careless; careless to such a degree, as you would not have been in any other matter, important to your health, your worldly interest, or your happiness. The only cause why you have not been converted is to be attributed to the evil disposition of your own heart. You have shown by your own conduct, that you would rather continue under the leprosy of sin, the moral plague of your heart, than be made whole by the hands of the divine Physician. Do not, I entreat you, by all that is solemn in eternity, by all that is precious in the immortal soul, do not shrink from bringing home to your own conscience the charge of being wilfully in a sinful state. It is a true charge, and you will find it so when it is enforced by your Judge. You are now resigning yourself to the fatal influence of the most deadly malady unde, which the soul can labour. You are folding you) arms to rest, just as the storm is about to break on your frail vessel. You are sliding smoothly down to the brink of a precipice, from which your eyes are averted, while you are amused and pleased with the scenery around, from which you will soon disappear. A little more of this kind of self-delusion, and you will be irrecoverably gone ; you will drop into destruction. Awake, thou that sleepest! Be willing to think of Christ, of your soul, of eternity, of that conversion without which you cannot be saved. Admit the plain truth, though it may be disagreeable. Learn the worst of your case, though it may fill you with alarm; for you may learn it when alarm cannot lead to escape. There is more hope in candour and sincerity than in self-flattery, false peace and indifference. Sin will, sin must, destroy the soul, or sin must be destroyed by the grace of God now. You may not like to make the sacrifice required in order to be saved, but you make a much greater sacrifice to retain your sins. · Careless, enslaved sinner! have you yet a desire to live a new life and taste real happiness? It is not too late, neither are the blessings placed beyond your reach. If you are in earnest for your everlasting salvation, there is One mighty to save, waiting to receive the confession of your sinfulness, willing to give eternal life to all that come unto him. Haste to his throne of mercy, believe his promise, and receive, without money and without price, the precious gift of his ineffable and everlasting love.
THERE are many persons whose minds have been brought into the lamentable state indicated by the
ter, from very different causes. Some have trifled with convictions till they have become insensible and reckless. Others are, perhaps, in an equally hopeless, but a less hardened and careless state. They are conscious that they have repeatedly broken through all the dictates of their consciences and the warnings of the divine word; and, sensible that they have no strength to carry out their good purposes, they have ceased to form any; thinking that, at least, they will contract no more guilt by breaking their solemn vows. Others there are, who have become hopeless through an overpowering sight of their own guiltiness. Such a view has been set before them of the law of God, and of their own long-continued and aggravated transgressions of it, that they have yielded to the suggestions of the adversary, who tells them there is no possibility of their salvation. They may feel, and deeply feel, that they need conversion, but they look upon it as an impossibility. Some such have even gone so far as to say God could not save them, even if he would. They feel quite sure that he has given them up to hardness of heart and eternal wrath. Hence, they reject every word of consolation, and refuse the plainest promises of mercy, though addressed specially to the chief of sinners.
There is another class of the hopeless, who have fallen into this forlorn and wretched state through mistaken views of the divine method of reconciliation. It is no uncommon case for those to lapse into this condition, who have been trying to work out a righteousness for themselves, but have failed. The inference by which they are entangled and fast bound is this: because they have made an earnest and a long effort to work themselves up to the hope of salvation, and this has proved utterly abortive, therefore there is no hope for them; there is some divine decree of reprobation against them, and they must forever despair of escaping from that wrath they deserve. This is the issue to which the enemy of souls would urge all who have been awakened to a sense of their sin and guilt, by the application of the law to their consciences. One of this description on a sickbed was addressed thus : “ The gospel affords a balm for every wound which sin has made in the soul.” “True," said he ; “but that gospel, despised through life, affords me no balm in my death. There is no mercy for me now."
Some persons have had such a state of mind fixed upon them by the casual reading or hearing of some awful text of Scripture, which has come to them with such force, been so appropriate to their case, that, instead of taking it only as a salutary and merciful warning, they have construed it into a direct revelation of their inevitable doom. Ye. all the hopelessness, even of such extreme cases, consists not in the greatness of the sins committed, but in rejecting the promise of forgiveness. The decision of such minds is made in direct contradiction to the fulness of divine mercy; and could they be convinced that they