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not christians, because we cannot state exactly the time and manner of our conversion. The grand thing to be able to say is, “ One thing I know, that whereas I was once blind, now I see.' A variety of means are frequently combined to bring souls to Christ. Some are piously brought up, and are always accustomed to attend the means of grace; and these means, under God, are often rendered effectual in producing a change of heart and life; but this is effected in a very gradual way. Yet such is the nature of man, and the mixture of human infirmities with our best duties and performances, that many are left to doubt the reality of a change, because they have never felt any sudden transition from darkness to light, and from death to life, and because they still feel the workings of sin within them. Thus many, because they have never had those deep and pungent convictions which others have been the subjects of in their first awakenings, reason themselves out of all spiritual consolation. Some persons, indeed, seem almost to make that a matter of complaint, which should be a ground of praise. Those who have been restrained in youth, and have been gradually initiated into the saving knowledge of Christ, can never be sufficiently thankful for it.
God maintains his sovereignty in all his dispensations. In conversion, the wind bloweth where it listeth,” and in that manner which is most pleasing to God. It may be so strong, as to bear all before it at once, or it may be soft and gentle, and produce the same effects by slower degrees. Thrice happy are they, who, in any way, and by any means, havé been graciously “ brought out of darkness into marvellous light.”
There is an infinite fulness in Christ, and to him the reader is invited. Is he guilty ? Christ can pardon, and his blood cleanseth from all sin. He is the Lord our righteousness; and in him, “whosoever believeth shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” “Being justified by faith we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Is the reader broken hearted? Is his conscience wounded, and does his afflicted soul bleed for past sins and follies? “ There is balm in Gilead, and a physician there." Is he afraid he never fully relied on Christ, or believed in him, for the salvation of his soul? Does he fear that he has only the form of godliness, and is destitute of the power ? Let him not be satisfied with that, but let him come now to Christ, who still receiveth sinners, as lost and helpless in themselves. Decision it may be, is wanted. Well then, where is that decision? How long halt ye between God and the world ? Come now, embrace the Saviour, and build all your hopes upon him, as the sure foundation laid in Zion. The promises are great and precious, and many of them are made to“ the poor and needy," and to the weak and feeble amongst the children of God. "Fear not little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Many humble souls are timorous, but Jehovah says, “ Fear not.” Many of the Lord's people reason againt themselves, and say, " That is indeed a sweet promise to them to whoin it belongs. But I fear it does not belong to me.” Why not to you? Are you not weary and heavy laden? Do you not need “ rest unto your souls ?” You are then the very persons invited, and Jesus is ready to receive you. As the hymn says,
“ Jesus ready stands to save you,
There is one gracious promise which embraces every thing. It is this, “ Whosoever cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast bim out.” Come then, and take the Redeemer at his word. 6 Whosoever believeth in him shall never perish, but have everlasting life." If the fear of God be before our eyes, if we be living under the influence of divine truth, and are desirous to “ glorify God in our bodies and spirits which are his,” why should we not take the comfort of belonging to such characters ? Come, then, doubting christian, banish your fears, and trust in the Lord Jesus, “ in whom it hath pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell.” There is a sufficiency of benevolence, of wisdom, and of power, in him. He is naturally, morally, and officially 6 able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him." His natural ability arises from his own divine dignity, his moral, from the qualifications of his heart, and his official, from those offices which he executes as our Redeemer. Come to him, then, just as you are, repose your everlasting all on his precious and atoning blood. There may be still a want of assurance, and yet, on the whole, the soul may be in a prosperous state. Many towering professors stand on slippery ground, while “ the meek and lowly in heart” walk safely, and in due time 66 shall find rest unto their souls.”
The Holy Spirit is the comforter of all the children of God, and all soul prosperity is derived from his influence. The comforts which the Spirit brings to the soul, are derived from the satisfaction of him “ who died for our sins, and rose again for our justification.” He promised before his death to send the Comforter; and after his ascension, the Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost; and though bis miraculous operations were limited to that age, yet, as the sanctifier and comforter of the Lord's people, he was to dwell in them, and to abide with them for ever.” If we be pardoned, it is through the blood of the Lamb, and so is all the comfort enjoyed by believers in this world, and in that which is to
Let us then look to the Spirit for comfort, and for sanctifying grace, on account of what.Christ has done and suffered for us. The more we feel of our barrenness of soul, the more we shall feel the necessity of divine influence; and the more we shall pray that the Lord the Spirit may fill our souls with joy and peace in believing, and seal us " for the day of Redemption.”
Mr. Fearful was long distressed about l.is state, and applied to Mr. Faithful, his pastor, for spiritual advice. Most cordially and affectionately was he received, and the following conversation took place.
Fearful. Dear Sir, I have made bold to call on you, though I am but a humble individual, to crave a little of your good counsel. My mind is greatly perplexed and distressed.
Faithful. What is the matter? Come, sit down, and tell me freely what is the cause of your distress. If I can render you any assistance, nothing will afford me greater pleasure.
Fearful. O Sir! my soul, I fear, is in a miserable condition. I have heard you preach about soul prosperity, but alas! all is adversity with me. "I walk in darkness and have no light.”
Faithful. Then the prophet tells you what you must do. “ Trust in the name of the Lord, and stay yourself upon your God.” He is faithful, and “ forsaketh not his saints."
Fearful. I am a lost sinner, alas! and have wilfully destroyed myself.
Faithful. So we have all; but “ help is laid on one that is mighty.” “ Cast not away your confidence," but look to the Redeemer for pardon and redemption through his blood. How long has your mind been in this state ?
Fearful. O Sir! I have been partially convinced for some time, indeed almost from my childhood; but now I feel more than ever. The whole creation I fear cannot help me.
Faithful. But the Creator can; and he has promised that he will, if you seek him. “ Seek and you shall find,” &c.
Fearful. “ My sins are gone over my head as a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.” What can I do? Whither can I fly?
Faithful. Fly to him whose arms are open to embrace you, and who is “ as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”
Fearful. O Sir! I fear 1.am utterly undone !