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of grace, the blessing shall be yours, nothing can prevent your possession and enjoyment of it, for it is sealed to each, to all that lay hold on the promise of eternal life. The Spirit takes of the things of Christ to show them unto you, John xvi. 14.
Let me, therefore, entreat you once more to think what inexpressible excellences meet in Him who is recommended to you as the only Saviour. "What is there you could desire should be in a Saviour, that is not in Christ? Or, wherein should you desire a Saviour should be otherwise than Christ is? What excellency is there wanting? What is there that is great or good; what is there that is venerable or winning; what is there that is adorable or endearing; or what could you think of that would be encouraging, which is not to be found in the person of Christ? Would you have your Saviour to be great and honourable, because you are not willing to be beholden to a mean person? And is not Christ a person honourable enough to be worthy that you should be dependent upon him? Is he not a person high enough to be appointed to so honourable a work as your salvation? Would you not only have a Saviour of high degree, but would you have him, notwithstanding his exaltation and dignity, to be made also of low degree, that he might have experience of afflictions and trials, that he might learn, by the things that he had suffered, to pity them that suffer and are tempted? And has not Christ been made low enough for you? And has he not suffered enough? Would you not only have him possess experience of the afflictions you now suffer, but also of that amazing wrath that you fear hereafter, that he may know how to pity those that are in
danger and afraid of it? This, Christ has had experience of; which experience gave him a greater sense of it a thousand times than you have, or any man living has. Would you have a Saviour to be one who is near to God, that so his mediation might be prevalent with him? And can you desire him to be nearer to God than Christ is, who is his only begotten Son, of the same essence with the Father? And would you not only have him near to God, but also near to you, that you may have free access to him? And would you have him nearer to you than to be of the same nature, united to you by a spiritual union, so close, as to be fitly represented by the union of the wife to the husband, of the branch to the vine, of the member to the head; yea, so as to be one spirit? For so he will be united to you if you accept of him. Would you have a Saviour who has given some extraordinary testimony of mercy and love to sinners, by something that he has done, as well as by what he says? And can you think or conceive of greater things than Christ has done? Was it not a great thing for him, who was God, to take upon him human nature? to be not only God, but man, thenceforward to all eternity? But would you look upon suffering for sinners to be a greater testimony of love to sinners, than merely doing, though it be ever so extraordinary a thing that he has done? And would you desire that a Saviour should suffer more than Christ has suffered for sinners? What is there wanting, or what would you add if you could, to make him more fit to be your Saviour?”
Then let me call you to reflect upon the happiness and peace which you will experience in feeling the Spirit bearing witness that Christ is yours,
and that you are his. There is one method, and but one, whereby these joys can ever be experienced by sinners. That is the way of faith. Other ways you have tried in vain. Now try this-store up the word of promise in your heart, direct your desires to the Spirit of grace, contemplate his gracious work with confidence and satisfaction, and cry unto Him, and say, Come, O Divine Spirit, take away the heart of stone, and give me one of flesh! and if you are still conscious, deeply conscious, that you do not yet feel his quickening influence, let your supplications be unceasingly and fervently renewed, wrestle in prayer till Christ be formed in your heart the hope of eternal glory. Faint not at delay, yield not to discouragement. The cause of such delay, and of such discouragement, is yet in yourself.
THE MARKS OF CONVERSION.
Ir is only intended in this chapter, very briefly to state the principal marks which indicate the reality of conversion. Those which we shall name, may not all appear at once. The reader is, therefore, cautioned not to be discouraged if he cannot find every mark in the early stage of his experience. They may all appear in due course. Let him observe, that there are some signs which will speedily become apparent, when the Spirit of God has commenced his work in the
soul. Other signs may exist in principle, but it may require time to call them into exercise, and to bring them to that strength and maturity which can alone make their existence obvious and satisfactory. A seed, as soon as its first germ appears, proves its vitality, and begins to show its own peculiar properties, just as certainly as when it has reached its perfection. Some of its peculiar properties appear immediately; all the others are there vitally and in embryo, and, in due time, the entire developement of all the essential properties of the plant will take place. The same is true of human nature. It would be impossible to discover, and absurd to seek, all the properties of the perfect man in the new-born babe; yet they are there. and will display themselves in the order of nature. We make these remarks, to guard those who, in the commencement of the work of grace in the soul, are anxious to perceive evidences of conversion, against being discouraged if they cannot discover at once all the signs that may be here named, or that they may find detailed in treatises written expressly upon the evidences of a state of grace.
1. Perhaps the first symptom of which the converted become conscious, is a change of their feelings in reference to sin, the pleasures of the world, and the chief objects of their former pursuit and delight. These cease to please. The soul that is converted receives a new nature, to which sin is offensive, and the very thought of it alarming. The change which a converted sinner has experienced, consists essentially in a turning of the thoughts and affections, the will and the conscience, to God's commands; and by the light and authority of these, he is made sensible to the great
evil, great guilt, and great misery of all sin. He ceases to make provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof; and though he may feel the law of his flesh warring against the new law of his mind, yet the very existence of that war shows that a Divine principle, counteractive of sin, has entered, and is in active operation among the powers of his soul. This is a sign which, if calmly considered, can hardly be mistaken. A nature that delights in sin cannot be confounded with one that hates it, feels contaminated by its approach, and pained by its touch. The nature that takes no delight in holiness, and feels no anxiety to become holy, and to please God, is directly opposed to that which views sin as the cause of all its misery, and purity as essential to peace and salvation. Hence, if a man is converted, he begins immediately to mortify the flesh with its af fections and lusts; to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. There is to him a force and meaning which he never perceived before, in such passages of Holy Scripture as the following: "Now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life," Rom. vi. 22. "I delight in the law of God after the inward man," Rom. vii. 22. "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" Rom. vi. 2. "Follow holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord," Heb. xii. 14. The true convert not only must not be, he will not be, disinclined to forsake even his easily besetting sin, and to strive after that purity of heart which will identify him with a holy God and a holy Saviour. Say then, reader, whether you are brought to that state of