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rescued from the flavery of sin. Nay, God himself 'vouchfafes to give him his love and favour; he is brought umttt the care of his indulgent providence; he enjoys the conduct of his grace; and is now therefore likely to be fase for ever in his heavenly kingdom. He is become, in a word, one of those sheep, concerning which our Lord tells us, that " he knows "themy and will give unto them eternal lise; that "they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them ** out of his hands (c)."
Thus you see the happy state of a sinner upon his conversion, the comfortable change produced in his circumstances. He that was dead in sin, and under the curfe of the law, is now made alive to God, and restored to the hope of eternal lise. He that was lost to the service of God, and every moment in danger of perishing, is now brought home to the fold of Christ, and under his care shall be for ever fase.
But, Lastly, This is mentioned in the text as a justisiable ground of the highest joy. "Let us eat and "be merry: for this my fon was dead, and is alive *f again; he was lost, and is found."
Now, this will be evident, if we consider either the glory that thereby redounds to God, or the benesit and happiness which accrue to the converted sinner himself. *'
1. The conversion of a sinner will appear to be * folid ground of the highest joy, if' we consider the glory which by that means redounds to the Almighty. 'she advancement of the divine glory is certainly the most justisiable ground of joy. And nothing surely is more eminently conducive to this, than a sinner'sconversion: for this is the work of God himself; a work which, above all others, manisests the glory of hfs insinite mercy and omnipotent grace. Hence, it is spoken of in scripture as that which shows^the exceeding greatness of his power, aad the glory and X F 2 riche*
riches of his grace. By this means, Christ obtains the most glorious triumph over his enemies, and erects his throne on the ruins of Satan's empire. By this means, there is one subject more added to his .kingdom, and one child to his family; one more, in whose falvation the virtue of Christ's atonement (hall be displayed, and the victorious influence of his grace for ever magnisied. By this means, in a 'word, one sheep more is added to the fold of Christ, and one member to his mystical body, whose suture dignity and happiness shall be an accession to the glory of his exalted Head and Lord, when he comes to be glorified in hib faints, and admired in them that believe. And surely, when the glory of God and the Redeemer is fo highly advanced by a sinner's conversion, this is, and will be, ground of real joy to every sincere believer.
2. This will appear, if we consider the benesit and happiness that thereby accrue to the sinner himself.
Christian charity should dispose us to desire the welfare and happiness of others, and to welcome the tidings of it with unse/gned joy. Now, the conversion of a sinner is the greatest blessing he can be possessed of; it is a favour in which the falvation os his foul is concerned, and a mercy unspeakably greater than can be conceived: for by means of it, he that was dead in sin and under the curse, is now made alive to God; jftid he thit was lost, is happily found. And surely, is the -temporal good of others be the ground of joy, much more should their spiritual and eternal welfare. Is it matter of joy when a diseased patient is recovered, and a miserable captive set at liberty? and shall we not rejoice when a dead sinner is restored to spiritual-lise, when a Have of Satan is Yedeemed from his wretched bondage, and a child of wrath becomes an adopted child of God, and heir of heaven? This we are told is a subject of the highest joy to the blessed angels above; for there is joy in heaven over one
sinner finner tnat rcpentcth: And if these benevolent spiritsrejoice at the conversion of a sinner, it becomes Us t» do fo likewise.
It now only remains that we bring home what has been faid to your consciences, by a particular application.
I would, 1/?, Address myself to unconverted sinners. And oh that I knew what words to choose, or what arguments to urge, that might possibly prevail'with you.
(i.) Reflect serioufly upon the misery os your present state.
You are here represented as dead, dead in sin, and under the curse. Though you live and act in a natural sense, and with respect to the affairs of this world; yes, with respect to those of your fouls and eternity, you. are under the power of spiritual death. Now, to convince you of this, look into your own hearts, and try if.the following signs of spiritual death do not belongto you. You have no sense or seeling of your miserjr and danger; no such sense, I mean, as thoroughly ta awaken you to fly to Christ the only remedy. You have no spiritual motions towards Christ, or things that are spiritual, no breathings aster communion with God, and conformity to him: a sure sign of spiritual death; for, were there a principle of lise in your fouls, it would point towards heaven, and be in you. a well of water springing up to- everlasting life. You have no appetite for spiritual food; you favour jiot the things that be of God; nay, during the whole period of your lives, you can remain without any com<munion between God and your foals: a thing that could never take place, if you were not spiritually dead. You have no heat or spiritual warmth in vour affections to God and things above. Your hearts indeed are warmed to the world by your lusts ; but howtold and dead are they towards Christ and spiritual % F 1 objects S objects! And sinally, you have no real concern for your own preservation: the wrath of God hangs over you; you are upon the very brink of destruction; and yet will make use of no means to avoid it. How plain is it, then, that your fouls are spiritually dead! Nay, you are proceeding from spiritual death to death eternal, being bound over thereto by the righteous sentence of the law of God, and every moment in danger of the execution of it. Now, if this be your dreadsul condition, be not at rest till you are made alive to God by Jesus Christ. Of all things, the most dreadsul and lamentable is the death of thy precious foul. Awake, then, ye that are dead in sin; arise-, and Christ will give you lise.
You are alfo represented as lost. With regard to all those excellent purposes for which you were created, you are useless and unserviceable to God. You have hitherto frustrated the design of redeeming grace. Nay, you are estranged from God, the flaves of sin, and in danger of eternal misery. And is this a situation in which you would wish to continue? Is this a state in which you caq rest fatissied? Will you not open your eyes to see your danger? Will you not at last come to yourselves, and entertain serious thoughts of returning to God?
a. Be persuaded then to return to God, that fo it may be faid of you, that though you were once dead, you are now alive; though you were lost, you arc now found. To persuade you to this, let me urge upon you the argument suggested in the text.
Consider what a folid foundation of joy your conversion will be. The great God himself will rejoice in it: He has no pleasure in the death of sinners, but in their repentance and falvation. The blessed angels will rejoice in it: It will be welcome news to them, if any of you are delivered from the power of darkness. a^nd tranflated into the kingdom of God's dear Son. The children of God, and the faithful
ministers ministers of Christ: will rejoice in it. Nay, let me tell you, you yourselves will have the greatest reafon to rejoice in it, and will review this change in your nature and state with the highest fatisfaction.
I now conclude with a sew advices to those who are converted to God.
1. Rejoice in your own conversion. Bless God, and be thanksul. Consider how important the favour; how sew there are who partake of it; and in the midst of how much opposition his grace has laid hold on your fouls.
2. Rejoice in the conversion of others; and let it appear you do. fo by your earnest endeavours to promote it. Labour to be the happy instruments of turning fome sinner from the error of his way; for in consequence of this, you will fave a foul from death, and cover a multitude of sins.
Lastly, Wish and long for that blefled world, where your falvation shall be complete, where Christ, who is your lise, will receive you to himself, and make you dwell for ever in his immediate presence. Amen.