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of the eyes, or the pride of life, you must be conscious that you have greatly offended that divine Spirit, who made you sensible of the great wrong you have done to your own souls by such sensual, worldly; or devilish imaginations in former parts of your life. You cannot be too deeply humbled for such impiety; but you must not think that your condition is desperate. Wounds, though dangerous, and requiring the speedy application of a remedy, may be healed. God is rich in mercy. He delights to glorify his mercy. It was the glory of our Redeemer that he died for many who were his mur. derers; for many who long rejected and despised him, and persecuted him in his person or members. It is no less the glory of the Spirit to purify many hearts that long refused to be made clean. “How long ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity !” says God. “Behold I pour out my Spirit unto you, I make known my words unto you."
It is a very grievous aggravation of sin to fall into it after men have been awa. kened and convinced. It is a greater aggra. vation of sin to be overcome by it after men have been made partakers of sanctifying grace. But who could be saved, if there were not forgiveness with God for such sins ? " Who is a god like unto our God, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy,"_" Where the of. fence hath abounded, grace hath much more abounded.”
One sin cannot atone for another. You have sinned by resisting the Holy Ghost, and prefering the suggestions of abominable lusts to the holy motions of the Spirit. Be afflicted, and mourn, and humble yourselves to the dust ; but limit not the Holy One of Israel, by saying, "Thus far shall his mercy and power reach, but no further.' Can you number the multitude of his mer. cies? When you bewail those of your sins that have done you most harm, forget not to bewail an evil heart of unbelief.
Perhaps, you may allege that you do not set bounds to the mercy of God. You know that the greatest sins have been forgiven by him ; but you find your own hearts so treacherous, that you despair of ever finding them any better than they have hitherto been. Your corruptions have so often gained the victory over your convictions, your resolutions, your vows, that no hope of amendment is left. What is the meaning of such despondent thoughts? They mean either that there is no hope for you but in yourselves, or that the God who must be your helper is not able to deliver you. If you have hitherto depended on your own illuminations, your vows, your resolutions, it is no wonder that you have been disap. pointed. Perhaps God has left you to yourselves, that you might learn no more to trust in yourselves, but in God, who has all hearts in his hands, and who can make the new creature as easily as he made your bodies and soul. But if all your hope is in God, do you suppose that his arm is now shortered that it cannot save, after performing so many wonders of grace in former days?
The story of Augustine's conversion is worthy of remembrance. There was a great struggle in his heart between his conscience and his sinful inclinations, before he knew the grace of God in truth. He often prayed for conversion, with a secret wish that his prayer might not be presently heard. Life appeared to him quite insipid without the gratification of his prevailing lusts. But when he was renewed in the temper of his mind, by the blessing of God accompanying the reading of Paul's exhortation to the Row mans, chapter xiii. 11,–14. he detested his former lusts more than he had ever delighted in them, and found infinitely purer pleasure in the Scripture than he had ever tasted in the enjoyments of sense.
7. Beware of those mistakes, which may embarrass your exercise when you endeavor to believe on Christ. You know how natural it is for man to err about the things of God.
Beware of mistaking the nature of faith. James cautions you against placing it in a dead assent to the truth, James ii. 14,--25. It must correspond to the testimony of God in his word concerning Christ. God testi. fies, that he hath sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. He offers Christ freely to you in the gospel, and calls upon you not only to believe that salvation is to be found in him, but to trust in him for salvation to yourselves. Your faith is required to those declarations and promises of grace, which give you a sufficient warrant to depend upon his blood and grace for your salvation from sin and misery. The rebellious Israelites in the desert perished, because they did not believe God, and trust in his pro. mised salvation. We are warned against falling after the same example of unbelief. A promise is left to us of entering into God's rest. To us the glad tidings of a promised rest is brought, as well as to them, and the glad news will not profit us unless they are mingled with faith, with a faith of the promise of rest. If we are Abraham's children, we must walk in the steps of his faith, and we are expressly told, that he and the other holy patriarchs saw the promises afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, Heb. ii.
We must not only believe that the flesh of Christ is meat indeed, and that his blood
is drink indeed, but we must eat his flesh and drink his blood. By faith we receive the reconciliation, and rest upon Christ as the foundation of all our hope. Thus did all the ancient believers find joy and peace in believing, for their faith was the substance of things hoped for, as well as the evidence of things not seen. If God makes a grant of Christ and salvation to us in-his word, shall we not possess that which the Lord our God gives us to possess?
It is a great mistake, as we have already observed, to think that we must seek a right to believe on Christ any where else but in the word of God, in which we are every where taught that our salvation must be the gift of God, the gift of his free and abundant grace. We must not, therefore, imagine, that we are first to sorsake our sins, and then come with confidence to Christ, as if he were the Say. jour, not of sinners, or not of great sinners, but of the righteous, or of those sinners who have first done something to deliver themselves from sin. Our whole salvation from the power, as well as from the guilt of sin, must be in Christ. Doubtless it is our duty at all times to cease to do evil, and it is extremely dangerous, after we are awakened to a sense of the evil of our former sins, to persist in them. Although we have not sanctifying grace given us, we ought to improve restraining grace, lest we provoke the Spirit