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folly, prostrates himself at the feet af a merciful God,
Ah ! why should we defer so glorious a task? We
On the Delay of Conversion.
ISAIAH lv. 6.
Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon
him while he is near.
(THE SUBJECT CONTINUED.] It is now some time my brethren, if you recollect, since we addressed you on this subject. We proposed to be less scrupulous in discussing the terms than desirous to attack the delay of conversion, and absurd notions of divine mercy. We then apprized you, that we should draw our reflections from three sources—from man-from scripture-and from experience. We began by the first of these points 3 to-day we intend to discuss the second ; and if Providence call us again into this pulpit, we will explain the third, and give the finishing hand to the subject.
If you were attentive to what we proposed in our first discourse, if the love of salvation drew you to these assemblies, you would derive instruction. You would sensibly perceive the vain pretensions of those who would indeed labour to obtain salvation, but who always delay. For what, I pray, is more proper to excite alarm and terror in the soul, negligent of conversion, than the single point to which we
called your attention, the study of man? What is more proper to 'confound such a man, than to tell him, as we then did : your brain will weaken with age ; your mind will be filled with notions foreign to religion ; it will lose with years, the power of conversing with any but sensible ohjects; and of commencing the investigation of religious truths ? What is more proper to save such a man from his prejudices, than to remind him, that the way, and the only way of acquiring a habit is practice ; that virtue cannot be formed in the heart by a single wish, by a rash and hasty resolution, but by repeated and persevering efforts ; that the habit of a vice strengthens itself in proportion as we indulge the crime ? What, in short, is more proper to induce us to improve the time of health for salvation, than to lay before him the portait we have drawn of a dying man, stretched on a bed of affliction, labouring with sickness, troubled with phantoms and reveries, flattered by his friends, terrified with death, and consequently incapable of executing the work he has deferred to this tragic period ? I again repeat, my brethren, if you were attentive to the discourse we delivered, if the desire of salvation drew you to these assemblies, there is not one among you, whom those serious reflections would not constrain to enter into his heart, and to reform without delay the purposes of life.
But it may appear to some, that we narrow the way to heaven ; that the doctrines of faith being above the doctrines of philosophy, we must suppress the light of reason, and take solely for our
guide in the paths of piety, the lamp of revelation. We will endeavor to afford them satisfaction: we will shew that religion, very far from weakening, strengthens the reflections which reason has suggested. We will prove, that we have said nothing but what ought to alarm those who delay conversion, and who found the notion they have formed of the Divine mercy, not on the nature of God, but on the depraved propensity of their heart, and on the impure system of their lusts. These are the heads of this discourse.
You will tell us, brethren, entering on this discourse, that we are little afraid of the difficulties of which perhaps it is susceptible; we hope that the truth, notwithstanding our weakness, will appear
in all its lustre. But other thoughts strike our mind, and they must for a moment arrest our course. We fear the difficulty of your hearts : we fear more: we fear that this discourse, which shall disclose the treasures of
will aggravate the condemnation of those who turn it into wantonness: we fear that this discourse, by the abuse to which many may expose it, will serve merely as a proof of the truths already established. O God! avert this dreadful prediction, and may the cords of love, which thou so evidently employest, draw and captivate our hearts. Amen.
1. The Holy Scriptures to-day are the source from which we draw our arguments to attack the delay of conversion. Had we no design but to cite what is positively said on this subject, our meditation would require no great efforts. We should have but to transcribe a mass of infallible decisions, of repeated