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forget it. I will not perplex myself with these distressing considerations; for if I do, I foresee I shall get worse, become melancholy, or sink into despair. I will try to rid myself of such thoughts, by mingling in worldly amusements.” But gay amusements will not heal a wounded heart, nor effectually quiet an accusing conscience. A French physician was once consulted by a person who represented himself as subject to the most gloomy fits of melancholy. The physician advised his patient to mix in scenes of gaiety, and particularly to frequent the Italian theatre; and added, “If Carlini (a most famous comic performer) does not dispel your gloomy complaint, your case must be desperate indeed.” The reply of the patient is worthy the attention of those who frequent such places in search of happiness, as it shows the utter emptiness and insufficiency of their amusements. “ Alas! sir,” said the patient, “ I am Carlini ; and while I divert all Paris with mirth, and make them almost die with laughter, I myself am dying with melancholy and chagrin.” The utter folly of resorting to such amusements to dissipate serious thought has been proved by thousands. Cardinal Richelieu, after he had given law to all Europe for many years, acknowledged the unhappy state of his mind to a friend. When he was asked why he was so sad, he replied, “ The soul is a serious thing; it must either be sad here, or be sad for ever.” Now I forewarn you particularly as to this matter, and at this point. You may succeed, if you try to escape from these troublesome reflections, but it will only be for a time; or if that time should be all the rest of your time, you will find that you have effected nothing for your own welfare and happiness, but, on the contrary, been the greatest enemy to your own real interest. You would not admire the mariner who, on the first appearance of a storm, should make no preparation to meet it. You would not commend that person who, on being awakened in the night by the cry of fire, should still close his eyes and recline again for sleep, without an effort to escape! Then you are called to awake from your sleep of sin, to “arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light,” Eph. v. 14. You may perhaps just hear the warning, and resign yourself again to fatal lethargy and carelessness; but what will be the result ? I tremble to write it! Oh, may you shudder and tremble to read it! You may perish, and perish for ever, because you here resolve to think, or read, or reflect no more upon this subject. It may give you pain; but better that it should, if it may lead to your conversion and salvation, than that you should go on till you perish, and find in the pangs of eternal perdition the consequences of not considering your danger, when you might have escaped it; the consequences of not inquiring into your own real case, when you might have found a Divine Physician waiting to effect a cure.
Be then entreated to consider your case: unused as you may be to reflection and meditation, especially of this kind, yet your case urgently demands it; and without it there is no hope. All other means will be unavailing, if you will not reflect upon the present state of your soul. Till you are brought to examine and think seriously and deeply, there is no hope for you; there can be nothing done ; you cannot be saved.
2. The word of God is the great means of conversion. « The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul,” Psa. xix. 7. “ Faith cometh
by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” Rom. x. 17. “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces ? ” Jer. xxiii. 29. Before I proceed to point out to you the testimony of God concerning the way of salvation, and to press upon you the invitations and promises of the Divine word, it seems important to remind you of the necessity of concentrating your attention upon the one subject, and that the most momentous which can engage your thoughts. You are directed to the book of God, to seek instruction upon this one subject-how you are to be saved. It is to afford you the means of possessing exact knowledge upon this point, that the Bible has been written; and if you search not the Scriptures with a desire to attain this knowledge, if you seek not this pearl of great price, this treasure hid in a field, whatever else you may have learned from Holy Scripture, you will have read in vain, as to your soul's real advantage. Think, therefore, what it is you now wish to find; what is essential to your peace of mind, to your preparation for death, judgment, and eternity. Let nothing divert your attention from the one great and absorbing subject-your salvation. You come to the word of God for ihat, and therefore, in reading it, you must not be satisfied with curious information of ancient times; with the discovery of things deep and high, beautiful and entertaining, wonderful and gratifyingthings that may enlarge your understanding, augment your stock of knowledge, delight your imagination, improve your practical wisdom : but you must read it as the law of the Lord, perfect, and converting the soul; the proclamation of Divine mercy, addressed to you as a rebel; the charter of all your hopes. You must read it, till you find its light penetrating the dark chamber of your heartrevealing the mystery of iniquity that works there; read it, till it makes you feel that you are both guilty and condemned; read it, till it makes you despair of escaping the wrath of God, or satisfying his justice for your past sins; read it, till you are penetrated with holy awe, under a sense of the Divine purity and righteousness-until you tremble before its resistless truth and high authority, as you would before the presence of the eternal Judge. In short, you will have read the word of God to no purpose, unless it has made you shudder and shrink at the view of your sinful and lost condition. It is designed for your conviction and conversion : if you have not found these there, you have read it in vain; and if ever you are converted, remember it must be by this word of God. But you are to read it not only for conviction; you must search there for those views of the Saviour which will suit your case, and inspire a hope of mercy. Jesus Christ, in his Divine character, his infinite ability, his perfect atonement for sin, the efficacy of his mediation, his readiness to save repenting sinners, must be sought for by you in the sacred book. The object for which it has been written and preserved in the world, is to proclaim salvation unto sinners; and you must find salvation in those sacred pages, salvation through the Divine Saviour there set forth, or you will remain in an unconverted and lost state. Whatever you hear from Christian ministers, or read in good books, concerning your salvation; or whatever alarms, convictions, and inquiries may be excited in your mind by these; nothing short of the authority of God in the Bible must be laid as the basis of your faith and hope. Let all other helps, all other prompters, all other voices, point you to this sufficient and infallible guide. If they are rendered serviceable to you, in the matter of your conversion, it must be through the medium of that safe and salutary advice, “ Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me,” John v. 39. Every other book or tract, friend or minister, must be as a finger-post pointing to the Scripture, and saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” John i. 29. There you must find, and there you will find, if you search for Him, a Divine Deliverer from the wrath of God, an atoning sacrifice for all your sins, and a Mediator whose intercession you must engage on your behalf. This is the discovery essential to your conversion and peace of mind. This is the Rock on which you must build your hope, and against which no storms or tempests will be able to prevail.
Further, as to the frame of mind with which you are to employ this means of your conversion. You must be deeply impressed with the duty of implicitly believing in the grace of that Saviour which the Bible presents to you. The Divine ability, the atoning blood, and perfect righteousness of Christ, are fully set forth in the Scriptures, that you may cordially receive them, and make them the sole foundation of your hope. If you have any doubts upon the authority of God's word, then these must first be removed. For you cannot come to the Bible, to discover your salvation in the Saviour it exhibits, unless you are thoroughly convinced that it is the word of God, and that the Saviour it exhibits is able to save your soul. But supposing, as I have yet supposed all along,