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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 it. 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 Mistaken, and the Self-sufficient.
REASONS WHY YOUR CONVERSION SHOULD TAKE
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,” Acts iii. 19.
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, a preached gospel, and access 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; and not ignorant of the invitation of Jesus Christ, “ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Matt. xi. 28; and no stranger to the important and glorious doctrine of his atonement. You already know, that he gave himself a ransom for sinners; 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, Isa. ix. 6? 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, any new revelation of truth, or 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, that they may come to God in prayer, and plead the efficacy of that blood which was shed for the remission of sins. Think of this, then : the price of true wisdom is placed in your hands; if you use it now, you will obtain the gift; if you neglect it, you do virtually refuse it, or unreasonably continue in a state of hostility against God, which is itself exceedingly sinful, and, if persisted in, must draw upon you a sentence of exclusion from his favour for ever. What a culpable delay would he be guilty of, who, while labouring under disease, with a physician standing before him and offering a remedy known to be effectual, should show reluctance, and, from some trifling excuse, defer the use of the means prescribed! I am well aware, that many sinners imagine they may safely defer this important step; and that they often delude themselves with the fancy, that there will come a more favourable opportunity, or some more effectual means; and thus they cheat themselves out of the proper use of those they now possess, under the false notion, that they are to wait for something further, or to expect a more favourable conjuncture. But the present, in fact, is the only time allowed ; and those who neglect it, may find. that the golden opportunity has been lost, lost for ever. “Now is the accepted time,” 2 Cor. vi. 2. If this is the acceptable time, what more could be desired by any one? It is the Divine authority which declares this; and it is equally certain, that this is said of no other period. He, therefore, who rejects this, or who still pleads for delay, loses the only time to which God himself has attached this important epithet, accepted, which surely means that you may, and indeed shall, find he will accept you. Would any man wish for any other? Could he fix upon a period which should afford a brighter hope? Or what beyond such a pledge of Divine acceptance could be desired? If conversion includes acceptance with God, as well as a change of your mind, and both these must concur at some time if you are ever saved ; if, further, you cannot command God's favourable acceptance of you, but must receive it as an act of his free grace; then, his accepted time should be yours-gratefully, fervently embraced, lest that which you may deem a time more acceptable
to yourself, should prove not to be so with Him.
2. But let me distinctly press upon you the consideration, that God expressly calls upon you to be converted now. He does not say, Take