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"Christ suffered for sins, the just for the unjust." "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin," Isa. xlv. 22; John i. 29; 1 Pet. iii. 18; 1 John i. 7. It is not so much my object, in this place, to explain the important doctrine of the Christian atonement, as to impress upon your mind the important fact, that you will find true peace with God by pleading it, and only by pleading it; for all other efforts of your desire, or hope, or faith, or repentance, will be unavailing for your acceptance, till you say with the fervour of true penitence," Behold, O God, our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed," Psa. lxxxiv. 9.
"Consider all the dying pains
That my Redeemer felt;
And let his blood wash out my stains,
In connexion with your Saviour's atonement for sin, it is necessary you should devoutly confide in the efficacy of his mediation. The doctrine is taught you in the Bible, that "he ever liveth to make intercession," Heb. vii. 25; that he pleads for those who come to God in his name, and condescendingly takes up their suit, and says, "Father, forgive them," Luke xxiii. 34. He has "entered into heaven, now to appear in the presence of God for us," Heb. ix. 24; as a great High Priest, who has entered into the heavenly sanctuary with his own blood. Upon this subject, if you are not already well informed, you should read what is recorded in the Epistle to the Hebrews, chap. ii. 10-18; iv. 14-16; the whole of chap. v. and viii. Until you realize the great doctrine of Christ's mediation, set forth in these chapters, and implore the mercy of Christ, and his gracious, all
prevailing intercession, your prayers cannot come up with acceptance. We wish you to feel that there is no one beside Christ to intercede for you; and that this office he has willingly undertaken, and will faithfully perform. Beseech him to raise your mind to a full assurance of his successful interposition. If you come to God only by him, making mention of his name, and of his only, then you will be accepted in the Beloved.
"Give him, my soul, thy cause to plead,
Address him in language like this:Saviour, by thy tender love, and by the riches of thy mercy to sinners, I beseech thee, give me thy grace, that I may grieve for my sins, and trust in thy atonement for their pardon. Soften this stony heart; enlighten this dark mind; subdue my flesh to the dictates of thy Spirit; subject my reason to the authority of thy word; and let my joy be found in thy forgiving love. Pour into my heart the precious streams of thy grace; speak peace and pardon to my guilty conscience, and leave me not to my unbelief, my guilt, my darkness. Let thy precious blood cleanse me from all my sin, and heal all my wounds. Then will I rejoice and bless thy name for evermore.
There is one more important consideration, and but one more, in reference to prayer, which I will here lay before you. This, however, it is essential to press upon your attention. Your prayers must contain the earnest expression of your dependence upon the influence of God's Holy Spirit, to work in your mind all the requisite dispositions. For you will probably feel, even in the duty of prayer, considerable distrust and uncertainty, whether
you possess any right dispositions, or whether you have at all experienced Divine grace. Suspicions of your own heart will arise; and Satan will endeavour either to prevent you from feeling aright, or to persuade you, that whatever your feelings have been, they are of no importance, because they are not gracious; or that they are merely the effect of fear, and not of love and true penitence; and will, therefore, prove unacceptable to God. Let me entreat you, therefore, to depend upon, and to implore, the aid of God's Spirit, both to excite right feelings, to give them power and strength in your heart, and to render them permanent. For it is the doctrine of the Divine word, that you can do nothing effectually of yourself; that no saving change can take place without God's assistance; and that every good purpose, good feeling, and right prayer, must be wrought in you by the operation of the Divine Spirit. You will, perhaps, distressingly feel the weakness of your own heart, and will be left to experience the inefficiency of all purposes made in your own strength, unless He strengthens you with his strength in your soul, and enables you both to will and to do according to his good pleasure. Therefore, let this truth be ever present to your mind in all your prayers, that you need his Spirit, and can do nothing right without his aid. This is to be sought fervently and constantly. With a believing, importunate spirit, you are to implore this precious gift, this fruit of Christ's mediation, that the Spirit may help your infirmities, and work all holy, pious, and devout dispositions, and the work of faith with power.
prayers upon this subject are especially to be prompted by the "exceeding great and precious promises" of the Spirit's aid: "Ask, and it
shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you," Luke xi. 9. "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" Luke xi. 13. Is this precious, all-important gift to be obtained by asking? How then can one in your circumstances abstain from asking, or forget to ask, or refuse to ask? since, without it, your heart cannot be thoroughly and savingly turned to God.
4. Another means which you are to employ, if you desire to be converted, is, the hearing of the gospel preached. This is a Divine appointment for the express purpose of converting sinners. God has sent his ministers to preach his gospel to every creature; and if it is their duty to preach, it is a corresponding duty on your part to hear; to hear it constantly, seriously, attentively, and with devout prayer that it may convince and convert you. But how should you either believe or be saved, if you do not hear the gospel with immediate selfapplication?"Faith cometh by hearing," Rom. Christ has commanded his ministers to preach the gospel to every creature. This is the public announcement of God's mercy, of Christ's love, of the fulness, freeness, and sufficiency of the promised pardon. Can you neglect it now without neglecting your own interests, without injuring your own souls? You have abundant opportunities of hearing God's testimony of Christ by the gospel. You can scarcely be placed in any part of the kingdom but it is within your reach. Perhaps you have even a superabundance, you have a choice out of many faithful preachers. Take heed, then, both of hearing with an unbelieving heart,
and with a reserve for a future day of salvation. Listen to that minister who most faithfully reproves sin, most affectionately warns you of the danger of continuing in impenitence, and most scripturally sets forth the Saviour, in his Divinė ability, his full redemption, his love to souls, and his grace sufficient for all. I conceive that I need not enlarge further upon this topic. Surely, if you are desirous of being converted, you will readily find a minister to direct you to Christ. Only hear for salvation, and, looking up to God for his blessing, you will not hear in vain.
5. And lastly, I notice under one general observation here, there are miscellaneous means which you may use, and which, though important, can receive only a short notice in this brief treatise. They are such as these: Next to your Bible, consult such books as are appropriate to your state of mind, or as your means may enable you to use. Such as Alleine's Alarm, Baxter's Call to the Unconverted, Baxter's Now or Never, Jesus Showing Mercy, Pike's Eternal Life, Doolittle's Call to the Unconverted, James's Anxious Inquirer, Doddridge's Rise and Progress of Religion; and many other little works, in some of which you may find the truth of the gospel enforced in a manner appropriate to your case.
At the same time, avoid opening any book that might divert your mind from the great subject of your salvation. Even though such works might be innocent, instructive, and proper enough at another time; yet, if you are in concern for your soul, you must pursue the subject with an ardour not to be quenched, with a daily thirst to find the water of life. You must make this the great business, which is to be pursued with the utmost avidity,