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peace, and for a weary period are buffeting the waves and billows of God's wrath. The faith of others lands them at once in the haven of rest, and thence they survey, with contrite gratitude, the storm which they have escaped. On the minds of some converts the light breaks gradually, as on the eyes of him who first saw men as trees walking. On the minds of others, conviction flashes suddenly. Our part it is to proclaim to every sinner among you the glad tidings of great joy. Christ is yours freely, fully, without money and without price. All that he has done, and all that he has suffered, all that he is and all that he has, is yours. Stand not doubting and disputing ; enter forthwith into the joy of your Lord. And blessed are you if, whatever your past experience, you be indeed renewed in the spirit of your mind; if, with him whose eyes had been opened by the Saviour, you too can say, “ One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.” 3
The Holy Spirit has various ways of bringing sinners to the Saviour; and, as if purposely to exclude any system on this vitally important point, as if purposely to convince you that if you be now, at least, deeply humbled in the conviction of your sinfulness, if really stablished in Christ + ? Mark viii. 24.
3 John ix. 25. 2 Cor. i. 21.
and anointed by his Spirit, the motive and the steps which first prompted you to arise and led you to him are not so much the question; there is, in the New Testament, very little mention ade of the mental process which took place in the several conversions there recorded. Of Peter we read, that after his denial of his Lord and Master, he went out and wept bitterly :5 but further information as to his inward feelings we have none. He
may have undergone for a season the terrors of despair, lest, in return for this denial, Christ should deny him before his Father and the holy angels. Or it may be, more probably, that oppressed by no such dread, overwhelmed by no dark despair, the bitterness of his spirit was due to sorrow at his offence, and a conviction of his baseness. Certain it is, that on his resurrection from the dead, Jesus sent a message to that disciple, unshackled by conditions, in which it was enjoined on him especially and by name to repair to his Lord at Galilee. And when, too, he would test the soundness and sincerity of the conversion of his disciple, it was not by an investigation into the nature of his past experience, while under the conviction of his sin, but by an inquiry into the present state of his heart's affections;
“Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?”? They, also, who 5 Matt. xxvi. 75. 6 Mark xvi. 7. 7 John xxi, 16.
on the day of Pentecost were pricked to the heart by the sword of the Spirit, received gladly the word, and were, the same day, baptized into communion with the Lord.8 The fact that the converts here spoken of were, previously to their conversion, unbaptized, affects not the present argument. The case into which we are now inquiring is that of those members of the church who have abandoned their christian privileges, have wandered as fugitives from the home into which they were baptized, and now are returning from the far country to the presence of their Father. In so doing, what do they else than return to their first baptism? Again, of the experience of Paul during his three days' blindness we have no record in the Gospel. The jailor, too, who fell down trembling before Paul and Silas, and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved ?” believed and was baptized, he and all his straightway:9 he brought them into his house, where he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God. Lydia, whose heart the Lord opened that she attended to the things which were spoken by Paul, was at once baptized, and welcomed with cheerfulness to her house the apostle and his companions. The conversion of Zacchæus 2 is related in similar terms;
8 Acts ii. 41.
Acts xvi. 15.
9 Acts xvi. 33, 34.
of the thief's experience on the cross we have received no record ; and the eunuch who believed and was forth with baptized, went on his way rejoicing. 3
In reading, therefore, the life of any christian convert, think not that it is necessary you should be led by the same footsteps to the Rock of ages : the experience of converts is very various; and though it is a frequent, it is a groundless anxiety by which the mind of the inquirer is often harassed, when he attempts to realize in his own case the very process by which another has been brought from the darkness of nature into the light of divine truth.
In this instance, therefore, as in the former, it is true, that if you measure yourselves by yourselves, and compare yourselves among yourselves, you are not wise.
III. We come now to the third instance in which the same truth is exemplified; and it is the case of those who have become now actually turned from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God.
Now, there prevails among even the serious professors of a true and vital Christianity, an habitual disposition to neglect the authentic standard
3 Acts viii. 36-39.
of the will of God, and to take as their standard of authority the attainments of their fellow-Christians. And no error is there which contributes more to reduce among us the tone of practical Christianity.
Some have even encouraged themselves in the commission of a known sin by the example of their fellows. It was, of old, the complaint of St. Augustine, in discoursing on the fall of David, that from his example many framed to themselves also this excuse, “ If David did thus, then why not I ?” “ You prepare,” says he, “ your heart to sin ; you deliberately plan your purpose ; you look into the word of God to the intent that you may sin; you listen to the Scriptures, that you may yourself learn to do that which is displeasing to the Lord.”
Now, it may be, you are not seduced to this deliberate perpetration of a known sin by the example of another, yet may you be suffering yourself to be beguiled into a false opinion of certain actions by the conduct of those whom you regard as eminent for their piety. You suffer the countenance of their example to legitimate in your eyes a line of conduct which the unerring word of the Most High has explicitly condemned. It was the observation of a heathen moralist,
" Whosoever,” says Seneca, “ charges Cato with drunkenness, will more easily prove drunkenness to be a