Images de page
PDF
ePub

done his part, he can have no excuse for endeavouring to rid himself of the charge of neglecting his salvation. The reasons, therefore, of his continuing so long unconverted, ought to be placed before him, and pressed upon him with all the force that properly belongs to them.

Here we observe, 1. That the free and resolute choice he has made of a sinful life, proves that he has never really desired to be converted. He has delighted in evil things, has given a decided preference to a carnal state, and has entered heartily into the vain and sinful pleasures of this life, considering only how he might gratify his body, or . please his carnal and sensual mind. He can scarcely have done this without a distinct knowledge of the better way; and if with such a knowledge, then his sin is the greater, the more aggravated, because his preference is the more clear and resolute. He knew there was a strait gate and a narrow way, leading unto life; but he preterred to walk in the broad way, that leadeth to destruction, in which the many go.

The unconverted reader cannot but be conscious that he has given his entire heart to the vanities of the world, and to his temporal interests; and that he has done so even to the conscious disregard of his higher interests ; frequently against convictions of his sinful state, and of his need of an entire change. He cannot but have experienced many admonitions and calls, many inward warnings, which have been utterly disregarded, and in defiance of which he has continued to live, and to pursue worldly and temporal good. This obstinate adherence to his own sinful ways

* Matt. vii. 13, 14.

ought now to appear to him as a positive and direct resistance to the will of God. Herein he has shown the depraved tendency of his affections, the perversion of his will to the choice of sin, and the guilty neglect of his eternal interests, with which he cannot but perceive himself to be chargeable.

2. It may be further alleged, that he has been guilty both of inattention to the truth of God, and of disbelief of its most sacred and important principles; and this is another reason why he has not been converted. He has not applied his mind to the humble and candid examination of the gospel; he has not allowed it to operate upon his heart; he has both directly resisted it, and, by indulging dispositions opposed to the truth, has disqualified himself for understanding and feeling it; has raised clouds of evil passions, which have dark. ened the mind and prejudiced the heart against the dictates of the divine word. At times that word may have been powerfully urged, its authority presented to the mind, and its light and power in part perceived, so as to convince the judgment and leave the conscience without excuse. But even all this has been resisted by a corrupt heart and determined will, still urging him forward in the way of disobedience. Probably he has laboured to fortify his mind by sophistical arguments, and by the reading of books designed to prejudice men against the Holy Scriptures. How many have been constrained to confess on a dying bed, that they were kept from an attention to the Bible by the wicked writings of infidels! The following might be a salutary warning. “I was lately called," said the Rev. W. A. Gunn, in a sermon at Lothbury church, “to attend a young man at Hoxton. On entering his room, I found him in

son.

[ocr errors]

the greatest horror of mind. Thinking it perhaps arose from the deep remorse of a penitent sinner, I began to point to Jesus, the sinner's only friend. With an agonizing look of despair, he said, “Ah! sir, but I have rejected the gospel. Some years since, I, unhappily, read Paine's Age of Rea

It suited my corrupt taste. I embraced its principles. After this, wherever I went, I did all in my power to hold up the Scriptures to contempt. By this means I led others into the fatal snare, and made converts to infidelity. Thus I rejected God, and now he rejects me, and will have no mercy on me.' I offered to pray for him. But he replied, Oh! now it is all in vain to pray

for me.' Then, with a dismal groan, he cried out,

Paine's Age of Reason has ruined my soul,' and instantly expired." Reader, you may not have gone quite so far. But you have, probably, never carefully and seriously read your Bible ; never opened it with this impression, “Here I must seek, for here alone I can find, the salvation of my soul.” This, then, is culpable indifference, practical infidelity.

3. This has, no doubt, been accompanied with a real dislike of God's service. The unconverted sinner may be conscious that he has all along disapproved the ways of God. It has appeared to him a very undesirable thing to become a real Christian. He has thought it less pleasant to obey God than to fo'low the corrupt inclinations of his own heart, which he ought to have resisted ; because it is an essential and natural property of a man, to have the power of controlling his propensities by a sense of duty and the dictates of conscience. Is it any wonder that a person should remain unconverted, who has been cherishing a

dislike of the service of God, who has been doing every thing in his power to alienate his heart from His service by a contrary practice, and who has never contemplated seriously either the honour and happiness of serving God, or the guilt and misery of continuing in a state of rebellion? Is it any wonder that he should be still unconverted, to whom the very state of subjection to God, im plied in the term conversion, has appeared odious bondage ; and its opposite state, the only true liberty and the highest delight? Assuredly, there is in these considerations a sufficient explanation of the fact that he is still in an unconverted state.

4. Another reason may be pointed out, in the ungrateful inattention which unconverted persons show towards the Saviour. Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light."* Many such persons profess, indeed, to acknowledge Christ as their Saviour; but how far they are either from cherishing any sincere and supreme respect for him, or any

ardent love, may be inferred from their habitual neglect of him, his teaching, his ordinances, his admonitions and his premises. If he is the divine Saviour, the only Saviour by whom we can be delivered from the guilt and dominion of sin, then, the neglect of him must prevent the enjoyment of the blessings he alone can impart; then, to disregard him is, in fact, to turn away from the only means which could effect our conversion and salvation. Hence it is obvious, that every unconverted person, in a land where the character and gospel of Christ are known, stands chargeable with rejecting the counsel of God against himself, and so of resisting the

1

* John iii. 19.

means appointed for his salvation. Who can say that, if he had attended gratefully to the truth as it is in Jesus, and especially to the claims and instructions of the Saviour of sinners, he might not long since have found the word made the power of God to his salvation ? But though the Saviour has appealed to him, and though the word has been in his hand, and though God's ministers have, in his name, besought the unconverted to be reconciled to Him, yet such persons have not attended to the word and character of their Saviour: they have turned a deaf ear to “ the voice of the charmer, charming never so wisely." Is it, then, any wonder that they should yet be in an unconverted state ? Here, alone, is reason sufficient to account for the deplorable fact. Deplorable, because they may have lost many invaluable opportunities, and much time, which can never be recovered.

5. They may be conscious of the fact, that they have never yet seriously and devoutly chosen to be converted. That very change which they ought to have desired, because it was both reasonable in itself, and essential to their happiness and salvation ; that change which is enforced upon them, and upon all, by the high authority of God, they have never really wished to experience, and never chosen, as a change which they felt to be necessary. Here, then, they may clearly detect the real cause of their continuance in their present unconverted state. While it is thus obvious that they have never wished to undergo it, they have no need to look for any other reason. want of this state of mind is their sin ; just as it is the sin of a thief, that he did not choose to be honest, or of a drunkard, that he did not choose to be sober; and the want of a right will, in a case of

Their

« PrécédentContinuer »