« AnteriorContinuar »
adulterated. Is the fervent, fixed desire of your heart directed towards this particular salvation which you find described in the word of God? I lay stress upon this particular salvation, and upon the reception of it entirely and cordially, because it is no certain sign simply to desire salvation. Most persons will say they desire to go to heaven, and to be saved from the consequences of sin; but, at the same time, a large number of such have no adequate or scriptural conception of the salvation provided in the gospel. Thousands would be glad to be saved from the fear of hell, who have no wish to be made new creatures, to be delivered from the love of the world, the dominion of sin, and made meet for heaven by being made holy. A just apprehension of the salvation Christ has wrought out for us, and of the salvation he works in us, is essential to its right reception. Christ saves none from the guilt of sin, who are not saved from the power of sin. If, therefore, the gospel be rightly understood by you, and if, seeing it in its own light, it appears to you precisely such as you need, and such as you can, not only without hesitation, but with fervent gratitude and love, assent to, accept, and embrace; if you can give yourself up to it, to be guided, governed, and transformed by it, that thereby you may become meet for the inheritance of the saints in light; then may you hope that “ flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee,” but your“Father which is in heaven,” Matt. xvi. 17.
7. If you have experienced conversion, then, you have undergone, and will be able to trace, a great change in your motives, in the ends and aims of your actions. The carnal mind is enmity against God. It is not subject to the law of God. All its motives are either derived from worldly interests, or are self-righteous. An unconverted man may do some actions externally good, and practise some self-denial; but it is to place these as a counterbalance to sin, or as a price for future felicity. The high and pure motive of love to holiness because it is agreeable to the will of God; the hatred of sin because He hates it, and because it is in itself degrading and destructive; the commanding impulse to live to the glory of God, and to identify ourselves with his righteous cause, against sin, and Satan, and the world; all these are introduced into the heart of a sinner by the grace of God, and, wherever they appear, are signs of conversion. “Ye are bought with a price : therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's," I Cor. vi. 20. The soul that is truly converted, is quickened to a sense of this commanding obligation. It is no burden or task to submit to it, and carry it out in practice, but a real pleasure. “Ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you,” Rom. vi. 17. “ None of us” (that is, 'no Christian) “ liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's," Rom. xiv. 7, 8.
It must be felt by us, that Jesus Christ has a just and a first claim; and if that be not inwardly and deeply recognised, then there must be some other object that is first and supreme--that is the idol of our heart, and while that is worshipped the love of Christ is not in us.
It may be proper to observe, in concluding this part of the work, that several other marks of conversion might have been named, which may, however, be understood as included in some of those that have been noticed. We have studied brevity, because our limits would not allow us to go more fully into the subject. At the same time we wish to admonish the reader, that his anxiety, in the first instance, should rather be directed to conversion itself than to its proper signs. The work, as a whole, is written for the unconverted; and though this chapter may more immediately concern the converted, and minister to their consolation and encouragement, yet the discovery which others may make, that they possess none of these marks, may, by the Divine blessing, render this chapter equally serviceable to them, by convincing them that they are yet in an unconverted state, and urgently need that very conversion which the work, at large, is intended to explain and enforce. This chapter, therefore, is designed for both classes of readers, and happy will the writer be if they should derive benefit from the perusal.
PARTICULAR CASES CONSIDERED OF THOSE
THAT NEED CONVERSION.
THE UNBELIEVER AND CAVILLER.
It is but too evident, that many of those who are in an unconverted state are, literally, disbelievers of the word of God. Whether their disbelief is occasioned by what appears to them the too great strictness and severity of that word, or whether by the very fact of its requiring that sort of conversion which is so unacceptable to them, or whether it is upheld by what they consider insufficient evidence of Divine authority, is not the point at present to be considered ; but, simply, the fact that they do not submit to the authority of revelation, and do not admit that they are under any imperative obligation to submit to it.
That there should be such cases does not surprise us. Their occurrence confirms the truth of that volume which clearly foretells the repugnance of human nature to its truths, and predicts both the determined enmity of the heart, and the malignant sophistry to which it has recourse for the vindication of its disbelief. Why most infidels
reject the Bible is sufficiently obvious, in the preference which they show for both a lawlessness of mind, and a lawlessness of life. Their difficulties do not so much respect the question of the evidences, as the question of its nature; they would soon perceive the weight of evidence, if they felt no objection to the purity and spirituality of the gospel. If the Bible were not opposed to sin, no man would be opposed to the Bible. They would entertain not a moment's hostility to its claims, if it did not manifest hostility to their corruptions. I do not intend here to conceal the fact, that some unbelievers profess to have rational arguments against the Bible; but, in so far as reason is concerned in their unbelief, they are either false conclusions from inadequate and partial knowledge, or they are mere covers and subterfuges for the depravity of the heart. It is quite an impossibility that pure and unsophisticated reason should ever conclude against the authority of revelation. The eye might as soon conclude against the light of the sun, denying that it is light, that it can perceive it, or that it is pleasurable. A person who had been very much connected with unbelievers and infidels, was taken dangerously ill; and feeling that he could not recover, became alarmed for the safety of his soul. His infidel principles gave him no comfort. He began, for the first time, to examine into the Christian religion. He embraced it, and found it to be the power of God to his salvation, enabling him to triumph over the fear of death. In the mean time, his infidel friends, hearing of his sickness, and that he was not likely to recover, showed a degree of feeling and integrity, which it was hoped might prove the first step towards their conversion. They were not aware