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the subject into consideration, and when you have seen the propriety of it, then obey. But at once, and on the spot, and in the same moment in which He announces the Creator's will, He requires the compliance of the guilty creature; and, by allowing no space for delay or dispute, He forbids you to hesitate even for an hour, but obliges you to an immediate compliance. And do not think this either strange or hard. For herein God does but assert his proper prerogative, and place you in your proper situation, as a rebel against his authority, and a guilty offender, dependent altogether upon his free mercy for salvation. In no other way, certainly, could an offended God treat with rebellious creatures: submission, instant submission to his authority, and instant reliance upon his free and sovereign mercy in Christ Jesus, is the only method which it becomes him to adopt. This is conversion; this is immediate conversion; this is what we intend by your conversion taking place now. Here, then, we say, is a reason—a reason paramount to all others- -a reason against which you cannot appeal, and the force of which, it is hoped, you both admit and feel, why you should at once be converted to God. "God commandeth all men every where to repent," Acts xvii. 30. "Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace," Job xxii. 21. Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near," Isa. lv. 6. Our Saviour says, "Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him," Matt. v. 25.
These views might be further confirmed, by showing how God has expressed his anger against those who have refused and delayed, and by referring to those scriptures which express his
displeasure generally against all who do so. the Book of Proverbs, he says, "Because I have called, and ye refused," etc., Prov. i. 24. The 25th of Matthew, in the parable of the ten virgins, shows what shall be the treatment of those who neglect the accepted time. The shutting of the door against the foolish virgins teaches us, that delayers may apply too late, and that if they refuse God's appointed time, he may, in anger, swear, They shall not enter into my rest," Heb. iii. 11.
3. It is proper here distinctly to remind you, that you do not know that you shall enjoy any other time beside the time present. You cannot look forward and say, I shall live till next year, or till I find more leisure, or till I have settled affairs that now engross my time and attention. You cannot say, I shall live till to-morrow, and will then give my best attention to my soul's affairs. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away," James iv. 14. Even while you think to enjoy some future period, the fatal sentence may have passed the lips of your patient and longsuffering Lord, "Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?" Luke xiii. 7. Do you not constantly hear of sickness and death invading persons at all ages, and under all circumstances? Even those that felt most secure, and seemed, according to human judgment, most likely to live, have been cut off in a moment, or so severely affected by disease, as to be incapable of attending to their most important concern. And I may say, not only have these things been, but they are constantly occurring around you on every hand; so that no man can say, "I am safe; I have made a covenant with death.” God grants you the
time for the discharge of this imperative duty, the first, the highest, and the most essential, an immediate turning of your heart from the love and practice of sin, a full and unaffected confession of guilt, and the earnest entreaty of the Divine forgiveness through the blood of the great atoning Sacrifice.
4. Your conversion ought not to be delayed longer, because you may effectually, and for ever, exclude yourself from that grace which is now offered. This may take place in two ways, from either of which the utmost damage may result to your immortal soul. (1.) By the hardening effect of that state of impenitence in which I suppose you to continue, and to continue by a direct purpose of your mind. You resolve not yet to seek, not yet to receive the grace of God for your conversion. The very effect of that resolve upon your mind and heart, is to produce an increased degree of insensibility to your sin and danger, a greater degree of hardihood against God, and a more reckless spirit in reference to the threatened issue of sin. The more your conscience is inured to the possible consequences of transgression, while yet those consequences are at a distance, the less does conscience feel or fear; the longer you practise evil, the less does conscience feel it to be evil, the more familiar does it become with the evil, and the less moved by the dread of its termination. These are facts observable in the history of sin and sinners, and they ought to make you afraid of continuing any longer under the dominion of sin, lest you should grow insensible, even past recovery. No sinner can tell when that time may be passed, or at what period he may become so callous, that no future means may be powerful enough to
quicken him to an alarming sense of his danger, and of the evil of his sin. As all sin tends to lull the conscience and the moral feelings, just as any sleepy drugs to overpower the senses; so, in both cases, there may be a point beyond which no powers of alarm that could be used might be of any avail. (2.) But there is another view which you ought to consider here. The unconverted very often delay conversion, under the idea that something in providence will arise, some event occur, or some impression be made upon their minds, which will suggest to them, that "now is the set time come:" for these extraordinary signs they wait, instead of going at once to confess their sins, and seek Divine forgiveness. We have shown already, that God's time for your repentance is, when he calls you to it. That time, therefore, has arrived; improve it now. If you delay past the present moment, in which God employs his summons to arouse you, it is possible that he may be offended so by this additional act of inattention, as to afford neither means nor grace any longer, but in anger withdraw both, and proceed to judgment, by giving you over entirely to yourself. There is such a fearful thing sometimes occurring; and though we cannot say in what case it has really taken place, yet we may suspect it, when it becomes evident that God, in anger, leaves men entirely to themselves. He said of some, 66 · So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels," Psa. lxxxi. 12. Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone," Hosea iv. 17. This abandonment of the sinner by God, must, indeed, be a most fearful thing; for, in it, the case of the unhappy transgressor becomes as hopeless as if he had already passed into the place of punishment,
and the eternal state of suffering. Suppose it perfectly true, that we do not know, and cannot fix the period, in any particular case, when this has taken place, and, therefore, cannot, and dare not say of any individual, he is absolutely abandoned of God; yet, this very fact, of the difficulty of saying when and where a man has arrived at this crisis, should make us shrink from risking it, and earnestly endeavour to prevent it, as an evil of the most fearful and stupendous nature.
THE PROMISE OF CONVERTING GRACE.
MOST who will take the trouble to read this book, will have had some previous exercises of mind concerning their conversion, and, perhaps, will be conscious of having made some ineffectual efforts towards it. Perhaps some will read it, who have been long convinced of the necessity of conversion, and have been desiring it, as they may think, very earnestly; but have found hitherto little encouragement, and, perhaps, no ground at all to conclude that they have undergone the great and momentous change. There must have been some serious error, or deficiency, in all these states of mind; there must be some radical principle wanting, or else, just views already gained, and right feeling already experienced, might have led on to the full enjoyment of the blessing. Perhaps there has been an oversight, or