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converting the soul; the proclamation of divine mercy, addressed to you as a rebel; the charter of all your hopes. You must read it, till you find its light penetrating the dark chamber of your heart revealing the mystery of iniquity that works there; read it, till it makes you feel that you are both guilty and condemned ; read it, till it makes you despair of escaping the wrath of God, or satisfying his justice for your past sins; read it, till you are penetrated with holy awe, under a sense of the divine purity and righteousness—until you tremble before its resistless truth and high authority, as you would before the presence of the eternal Judge. In short, you will have read the word of God to no purpose, unless it has made you shudder and shrink at the view of your sinful and lost condition. It is designed for your conviction and conversion: if you have not found these there, you have read it in vain; and if ever you are converted, remember it must be by this word of God. But you are to read it not only for conviction; you must search there for those views of the Saviour which will suit your case, and inspire a hope of mercy. Jesus Christ, in his divine character, his infinite ability, his perfect atonement for sin, the efficacy of his mediation, his readiness to save repenting sinners, must be sought for by you in the sacred book. The object for which it has been written and preserved in the world, is to proclaim salvation unto sinners; and you must find salvation in those sa cred pages, salvation through the divine Saviour there set forth, or you will remain in an unconverted and lost state. Whatever you hear from Christian ministers, or read in good books, concerning your salvation; or whatever alarms, convictions, and inquiries may be excited in your mind by these ; nothing short of the authority of God in the Bible must be laid as the basis of your faith and hope. Let all other helps, all other prompters, all other voices, point you to this sufficient and infallible guide. If they are rendered serviceable to you in the matter of your conversion, it must be through the medium of that safe and salutary advice, “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."* Every other book or tract, friend or minister, must be as a finger-post pointing to the Scripture, and saying, “ Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”+ There you must find, and there you will find, if you search for him, a divine deliverer from the wrath of God, an atoning sacrifice for all your sins, and a Mediator whose intercession you must engage on your behalf. This is the discovery essential to your conversion and peace of mind. This is the Rock on which you must build your hope, and against which no storms or tempests will be able to prevail. ever liveth to make intercession for them."* “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”+ “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men.”! “ There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.”'S “ Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins."'ll “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” “ This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting."**
Further, as to the frame of mind with which you are to employ this means of your conversion. You must be deeply impressed with the duty of implicitly believing in the grace of that Saviour whom the Bible presents to you. The divine ability, the atoning blood, and perfect righteousness of Christ are fully set forth in the Scriptures, that you may cordially receive them, and make them the sole foundation of your hope. If you have any doubts of the authority of God's word, then these must first be removed. For you cannot come to the Bible, to discover your salvation in
the Saviour it exhibits, unless you are thoronghly convinced that it is the word of God, and that the Saviour it exhibits is able to save your soul. But supposing, as I have yet supposed all along, that you are no infidel, no denier of this divine book, no speculator nor quibbler, then I simply urge upon you here the duty of opening the Bible with the firm conviction upon your mind—“This is the word of God; salvation is here; my Saviour is here set forth; and I must proceed to search in this book for those truths which are to reach my case, those promises that are to relieve my fears, and become the basis of all my hope of salvation. Here is divine light to instruct my mind, divine love to cheer my heart, divine mercy to forgive my sin, divine grace to renew my soul. If I can but find and appropriate these to myself, I shall be converted, I shall be blessed, and become eternally happy in defiance of all my sin and guilt, weakness and misery. I will, therefore, come to this divine volume, as many sick, or blind, or lame, came to the Saviour, saying, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean ;'* • Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me ;'ť • Lord, I believe ; help thou mine unbelief.'”I To quicken your faith in his ability, it will be of importance to impress upon your mind, how wicked and ungrateful it would be in you to harbour one unbelieving thought of his power or his willingness to save, not men in general, but you in particular. Since his promise of salvation refers to all who both need it and are willing to accept it, and contains no exception against any but the unbeliever and the impenitent, you can have no pretence for sup
posing yourself excluded from that general proclamation of mercy, which is ratified by the oath of God, and sealed by the blood of Christ. It were an impious reflection upon the wisdom and mercy of God, to suppose that he could have promised forgiveness to all who repent, and yet have intended to reject any one that might thus apply unto him. The following passages may satisfy you upon this matter. They ought to remove all hesitation, and they will, if you are in earnest, and read them aright, that is, with a just view of their design; for undoubtedly they were intended for you, ain such as you. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord : though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”* Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”+ “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”] “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”'S “ Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” « The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." “ Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he
These passages may suffice as specimens; but if you have an earnest desire to find more, you have only to open the book, and gather them in abundance for yourself.
3. Prayer is a means which God has appointed, and which you can employ. It is the direct application of your soul to the God of mercy and salvation. This is a privilege which he allows, though you are a rebellious and sinful creature; but it is a privilege accompanied with two absolute and universal conditions. The first is, that you shall pray as a guilty sinner; as one who has utterly forfeited all claim and right, and who
Matt. xii. 31. q Col. i. 14.