« AnteriorContinuar »
case, you have, indeed, deep need of his grace to bring you to a decision; for without it you can have little hope that so weak a heart will be sufficient to overcome all your difficulties; yet, with it, all those difficulties will vanish away, and you will find all the paths of the Lord plain and smooth to those that walk therein. But how sad a case will yours be, if, through a timid spirit, or a wavering resolution, or a want of confidence in the promise of that very word you profess to receive as Divine, you should be found to be that servant who knew his Lord's will and did it not! for to such the threatening is, that he shall be beaten with many stripes, Luke xii. 47.
There is another case of the undecided, which it may be useful to meet. It is of some who profess to see no very urgent necessity for a public profession of their adherence to Christ, beyond what is involved in an occasional, convenient attendance upon religious ordinances. They assume that they can be just as good Christians by remaining as they are; and that if they rest their faith on Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, and live a moral life, nothing more can be reasonably required of them.
But all this evinces very inadequate views of Christian principle and Christian duty. The parties who maintain them must either be very ignorant, or very inconsiderate; for if they would but reflect, they might perceive that, upon their principle, the cause of Christ must be left without any systematic support, or any adequate countenance. They cannot suppose that the religion of Jesus Christ admits of two principles in the profession of it, and that while some are bound openly to profess and maintain it, others may consistently stand aloof and withhold their influence. They must surely see and admit, that there can be but one principle of adhesion for all. No duty can be imposed upon one class that is not imposed upon another. The law of the Lord must be a universal law, and by it all must stand. It must be uniform and universal. Therefore, if any are obliged to confess Christ openly, all must be obliged ; and if but one is exempted, then all might be exempted, by a parity of reason; and if one may excuse himself, then why might not all, upon the same grounds ? But the absurdity of this timid policy any mind can detect. Only let it be followed out in this manner, and it may be readily exposed. Suppose that some are exempted from the duty of confessing Christ; then, why not I ? and if I, why not others ? and if others, why not all ? and then, if all, what is to become of that cause of truth for which the Son of God bled upon the cross, and to the support and acknowledgment of which he has called all his faithful servants ? Is it not, therefore, evident from this reasoning, that you have formed wrong notions both of faith and duty ? that you have erred at the very outset, and never can go on well while such notions prevail ? It is important that you should review, even from its very foundation, the faith which you profess, and inquire whether you have not mistaken even those first principles which are essential to your acceptance. In so far as your profession goes, you have withheld a most material part, and a part which may well be conceived to vitiate all the rest, and to set aside, in fact, the very claim you make to a true faith. It is more likely that you have never yet been converted at all, than that a true conversion should present such an anomaly, such a palpable inconsistency. Your heart, it is probable, is not yet given to God; and though you have received strong convictions of the truth of Christianity, and expressed some external respect for its ordinances, yet it is mani. fest that you have withheld from it that entire subjection which it demands, and are still halting betwixt two opinions. It must be that some worldly and temporal considerations detain you from fulfilling the claims of Christ; for you could never have derived any warrant from the gospel itself to justify so inefficient and inadequate a profession of the religion of Christ, as that which you have imagined might pass for a true surrender of yourself to God.
It is high time that you should consider this matter in another light, or you may find your whole profession no better than direct, though secret, unbelief; and the infidel opposer less inconsistent than yourself. Hitherto you have been evidently thinking, rather of how lillle will do to secure to you an interest in Christ, and save you from the words of condemnation, than how much you owe to your Divine Lord and Saviour to prove the sincerity of your love, and express your devotedness to his service. Your hesitation is a sinful hesitation ; and if persisted in, after it has been exposed, will prove that you have never yet felt the love of Christ and your vast obligations. Let me, then, affectionately entreat you, as a poor undecided and timid professor, to take upon you at once the solemn responsibility from which you shrink, and declare yourself on the Lord's side. If you have, indeed, any faith in his words of promise, or any inclination to act upon them as faithful and true, you will undoubtedly trust him foi all that grace which is necessary to bring you through whatever trials or sacrifices a practical faith may incur; and if you have not that measure of faith that might enable you so to trust him with the issue of any temporal risk, how can you infer that you have that faith which is to trust him with the eternal interest of your soul ? How can you trust that his atoning blood can save you from the denunciations of the Divine law, if you cannot believe that his Divine power can bring you through any of the adversities of this present life, which you may incur by a faithful adherence to his cause, and a full profession of his name? Apply to him now at once for grace to pardon your sins, to enable you to show your faith by your obedi. ence, and make you, and keep you, “ faithful unto death,” that you may receive “a crown of life,” Rev. ii. 10.
THERE is, undoubtedly, a large class of persons included among the general professors of Christianity, who are mistaken in their views of con. version. Most of these have been brought up from their infancy under some sort of religious instruction, and have been habituated to attend upon its ordinances. They profess what may be denominated an educational, or historical faith. They admire Christianity as a very pure and
benevolent religion, undoubtedly the best in the world; but as to any change of heart under its influence, or any spiritual experience of its renovating power, they deem it fanaticism.
1. Some of these consider that conversion means nothing more than simply giving their assent to Christianity, or perceiving that the gospel attests itself to be a Divine religion. If they show it a decent external respect and submission, have been baptized into the name of Christ, and educated in a belief of his religion, they conceive that there is not any other kind of conversion which can be required of them. They would restrict the use of the term conversion to those, who, having previously been heathens, embrace the religion of the gospel; or to such as had been infidels, or grossly vicious characters, when they renounce their evil courses.
In these instances, they would admit that there is something which amounts to an entire change, and would, therefore, account very properly for the use of the word conversion in reference to them. But, as to themselves, they cannot perceive any propriety in requiring conversion, or in enforcing it as essential to their salvation.
Yet, surely, if the words of Christ are correct, these persons are fearfully mistaken ; for nothing can be more certain and clear from Scripture, than that Jesus Christ and his apostles urged the necessity of conversion upon many individuals who were of fair religious reputation, and even esteem. ed among the most devout, so far as an outward observance of forms and ceremonies can go, but who gave no evidence of a change of heart. He said to the Jews, who were firm believers in the authority of revelation, and to his own dis