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with disappointment and disgrace. Be assured that, in the indulgence of any sin, or sinful affection, there is evil enough to counteract all your anxiety after salvation. Now, it may be the case, that you have long had your thoughts directed towards the desirableness of securing by faith an interest in Christ; but, at the same time, you have had a secret inclination to some forbidden iniquity, or you have been living in some sinful gratification ; and if so, here you may discover the reason why you have never found peace or hope. If sin reigns, it is directly hostile to grace. You may have been in the habit of reading the Scriptures, and of attending to other means whereby religious impressions are produced, and religious habits maintained. But these do not constitute conversion. That, as already shown, is the entire surrender of the heart to Jesus Christ. It necessarily implies the sacrifice of every sinful habit, every corrupt affection. Jesus Christ came to save his people from their sins; and that man cannot be a partaker of converting grace, who would desire any one of those sins to be excepted from the destruction to which all are alike doomed. If, then, you feel that you are yet unconverted, though you may have attended to some of the means of conversion, be entreated to consider, whether there is not yet an easily besetting sin, which forms the great obstacle, the counteracting influence, which keeps you from an entire surrender of your heart to Christ.
9. Another reason why you have not been converted before, may be found in the fact, that you have often neglected impressions made upon your mind, and disregarded convictions which, on many occasions, have been brought home to you. This is frequently the case with those who have attended upon the faithful ministry of the word, and observed some religious duties. Perhaps you have had your sinful state clearly set before you ; you have felt anxious for your salvation; you would gladly have attained to the same peace and hope of which you have heard Christians speak. But you have suffered some difficulties to deter you, or some seductions of the world to draw you aside, and so your impressions have subsided and your convictions have been effaced. The Spirit of God may have spoken to you in the still small voice of conscience, or in the solemn warnings of the Holy Scriptures ; but to all these you have turned a deaf ear, or you have endeavoured to forget them. There was, perhaps, a time when you were near the happy decision; but some delay was suggested, or some difficulty arose to view, and all the previous convictions were overcome. The sin and danger of trifling with these convictions is illustrated in other parts of this volume, and need not be enlarged upon here ; they are mentioned now, only to remind you how clearly it is your own fault that you have not been converted before.
10. Finally, it may be proper to observe, that the conversion of some is delayed because they labour under mistaken views of what should be done in order to conversion. A mind that is powerfully impressed with the importance of salvation may be impelled, and frequently is, to set about amendment, and commence a new course of life, without exactly knowing what is the direct method of obtaining forgiveness of sins, and, frequently, without employing suitable means for gaining instruction. Those sources of information are not consulted, from which alone it might be at once and clearly learned, that every convinced sinner must first come to Christ, and immediately receive his promise of salvation. The inevitable consequence is, a vain and fruitless labouring for life by means of a reformation begun in human strength. If a mistake of this kind is committed, it leads to disappointment, and places conversion at a greater distance than ever. The general mistake is, to place duties before faith, reformation before coming to Christ. And wherever this is the case, there is a manifest neglect of the divine admonition, “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."* A sinner may say he is using the means of salvation, while yet he has no other idea than that an external reformation is all he needs. In such a case, he is rather using the means to work out a righteousness for himself, than following the directions of the divine word, to repent of sin, and believe in the blood of Christ for its pardon; and while so doing, he is not converted, nor in the way to conversion. This reason alone, without any previously mentioned, may be sufficient to explain why you have not been converted before.
Repent, therefore, now, and come to Jesus with - a grateful, believing heart, and this will be conversion: then will follow submission to his yoke, obedience to his commands and delight in doing his will. Herein consists the difference between the true gospel of the grace of God, and much that passes under the name of religion. Some place duties and reformation first, and Christ afterwards; the word of God places Christ first, and duties as the fruit of union to him. If you wish to see this matter more fully explained, you are referred to those chapters which treat of the Mis. taken, and the Self-sufficient.
* Acts xvi. 31.
CHAPTER VII. REASONS WHY YOUR CONVERSION SHOULD TAKE
PLACE NOW. If conversion be a real blessing, and most essential to your happiness; if it be a change from a bad state to a good one, from a state of danger to one of safety ; then, assuredly, the sooner it takes place, the better. There can be no reason offerednone, at least, that can be valid-for continuing in a state of sin and danger, while a change is possible, and while every thing invites you to it. But this is not the only view which ought to be taken of the subject; there are others, which will enforce still more emphatically and directly the urgency of this change. These I will now proceed to lay before you with all fidelity and earnestness, hoping and praying that the force of the reasons may constrain you to an immediate acquiescence in the divine call, “ BE CONVERTED.”'*
1. Your conversion should take place now, because you enjoy at this moment sufficient means. I am to suppose that you possess the word of God, that you hear the gospel preached, and have acress to the throne of the heavenly grace through the divine Mediator. I am to suppose you are aware of the great facts which are included in the gospel; that you are not ignorant of the invitation of Jesu Christ, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;'?+ and that you are no stranger to the important and glorious doctrine of his atonement. You already know, that he gave himself to be a ransom for sinners; * Acts iii. 19.
† Matt. xi. 28.
and that he has sent the proclamation forth to all, that whosoever believeth on him shall be saved. All that is necessary, so far as a knowledge of the gospel is concerned, you enjoy at this moment; then, why not close now with the divine call, and receive Jesus Christ into your hearts? “What are you afraid of, that you dare not venture your soul upon Christ? Are you afraid that he cannot save you; that he is not strong enough to conquer the enemies of your soul? But how can you desire one stronger than • The mighty God,' as Christ is called ?* Is there need of greater than infinite strength ? Are you afraid that he will not stoop so low as to be willing to take any gracious notice of you? But, then, look on him as he stood in the ring of soldiers, exposing his blessed face to be buffeted and spit upon by them! Behold him bound, with his back uncovered to those that smote him! And behold him hanging on the cross! Do you think that he who had condescension enough to stoop to these things, and that for his crucifiers, will be unwilling to accept of you, if you come to him? Or are you afraid, that if he does accept of you, God, the Father, will not accept of him for you? But consider, will God reject his own Son, in whom his infinite delight is and has been, from all eternity; and who is so united to him, that, if he should reject Him, he would reject Himself? There is nothing further to be looked for, in the way of any other Saviour, no new revelation of truth, nor any further means of grace. If you indulge an idea that you need any other, you do but deceive yourselves; for God has already granted you the gospel, and that points out to you the free access which is afforded to all through Christ Jesus,
* Isa. ix. 6.